Cleaning is something I am pretty darned good at. At least, that is how I feel most of the time, but there are days when I question my methods. The online world is wonderful at sharing information that you probably wouldn’t have known otherwise. It is also great at opening your eyes to things you are doing wrong. Cleaning is one of those things. Many of my cleaning tricks I learned from my parents, but I have slowly realized that some of those ideas aren’t working. Here are 13 of the worst cleaning mistakes you could make; you might be guilty of doing some of them.
1. Cleaning Glass Windows When It Is Sunny
I always notice the streaks and handprints on the windows when it is the sunniest part of the day. Naturally, I get out my cleaner and begin wiping down the glass, but this is a mistake. The sun causes the cleaner to dry too quickly, and while the handprints are gone, there are plenty of streaks left behind.
2. Overusing Vinegar
I talk a lot about cleaning with natural cleaners to prevent chemicals from harming your lungs and eyes, but vinegar can’t clean everything. It is not a great disinfectant, so put it away when you are cleaning the toilets or a countertop that has chicken juice on it.
3. Using Too Much Cleaner
When you see a stain, it is tempting to pile on the cleaner. More is better, right? Wrong! Take advantage of water and use it to soak areas, then use cleaners to help disinfect and wipe it up.
4. Not Letting the Toilet Brush Dry
My mother spent her entire life hating the toilet brush; she never owned a single one. She used a rag and her hand to clean the dirtiest parts of the toilet. Why would she allow her hand to enter such dark places? She saw the toilet brush for what it was: a breeding ground for germs. Allowing the brush to dry across the toilet before placing it in the holder will prevent bacteria from growing wildly on the brush.
5. Putting Things In the Garbage Disposal That Shouldn’t Go In It
People are constantly telling me about wonderful deodorizers to put in the kitchen drain, and I can’t help but raise an eyebrow or two. Coffee beans are one of these tricks I have both heard and read about, but they should never be placed in the garbage disposal. They will get stuck and could slowly clog your drain. Instead, use lemon ice cubes; they will sharpen the disposal and then melt away.
6. Scrubbing Carpet Stains Out
When a glass of juice is splashed onto the carpet, it is human instinct to grab a wet rag and begin scrubbing hard. This will fray the carpet strands, spread the stain, and force the stain deeper into the carpet. Instead of scrubbing, try using a spoon to remove most of liquid. Then, dab gently at the area to get the remainder of the juice. Once most of it is removed, use carpet cleaner to get the rest of the stain out.
7. Using Furniture Polish to Dust
Furniture polish is an interesting cleaner. Most people don’t realize that polish is used best on natural wood as a way to protect it. Most furniture today already has protective coats, is laminated, or is painted. When you use polish on furniture that isn’t natural wood, you are only making it oily and gross. Instead, use a damp rag to dust and shine up areas.
8. Using the Wrong Tools to Clean
Many years ago, I didn’t own a sponge. I washed all of the dishes with a rag, and boy, did it take forever. Instead of scrubbing away burnt food, I would have to let it soak for an entire night before I could wipe it away. It was ridiculous, and it was a lesson in using the right tools for cleaning. Don’t use a scratch pad to wipe down cabinets, but don’t use a soft sponge to clean a dirty pot.
9. Vacuuming Occasionally to Avoid Hurting the Carpet
I don’t know where this myth came from, but vacuuming will not harm your carpet. It doesn’t wear it out, but it protects dirt from permanently sticking to the carpet. You should vacuum the busiest rooms every other day to keep carpet looking and feeling fresh.
10. Forgetting to Clean the Shower Curtain
People never forget to scrub the toilet, shower, and sink, but the curtain is somehow shoved aside, literally. Every time you clean the shower, the curtain should be disinfected and wiped dry to prevent bacteria and mold from happily growing.
11. Bleaching Everything
There was a time in my life when bleach was my best friend. I used it to wash the counters, the refrigerator, the bathrooms, the doors, and the laundry. After every cleaning day, I would have to take a break to breathe fresh outside air. Bleach is a great disinfectant, but it is a terrible cleaner. It doesn’t break down food or buildup and is awful on the lungs.
12. Not Using the Exhaust Fan
It took many years for me to realize that the exhaust fan was for more than just airing out a smelly bathroom. Turning it on during and after a shower will prevent humidity and moisture from harming a room. Humidity makes it easy for mold to grow and rags and towels to smell like mildew.
13. Forgetting to Clean the Cleaning Tools
Once you have scrubbed down the counters with that sponge, toss the sponge in the laundry or cook it in the microwave for a few seconds. Wash your toilet brush, your rags, and the gloves on your hands when the job is over. There is no reason to let germs find a home after an entire day of battling them. Cleaning is something that you continually get better and faster at, and now that you know these 13 mistakes to avoid, you can also get smarter at cleaning.