10 Cleaning Mistakes You’re Probably Making That Are Making Your Home Dirtier
Correct these common cleaning mistakes and your home will sparkle.
Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links.
Cleaning gone wrong
You probably feel good after you complete a household cleaning task; it’s not much fun, but needs to be done and is definitely beneficial. Or is it? Frustratingly, there is a right and a wrong way to clean. Find out if you’re making any of these mistakes that could actually be sabotaging your home’s cleanliness. When you’re cleaning around the house, make sure you know these 12 items that shouldn’t be cleaned with paper towels.
Mistake 1: Using the same rag around the house
Why it’s dirty: Despite spritzing it with a cleaning solution, when you use the same rag in multiple spots around the house, the rag hangs on to the grime from the previous surface and spreads it to whichever surface it touches next. That means bathroom germs get wiped onto kitchen counters, the living room coffee table, and anywhere else that cloth is used, definitely making this one of the ways you’re cleaning your kitchen all wrong.
How to fix it: Use a new wad of paper towel for each surface cleaned, or have a microfiber cleaning cloth designated for each area of your home. Microfiber cleaning cloths can be tossed in the laundry or thoroughly washed after each use to remove gunk or grime.
Mistake 2: Using a feather duster
Why it’s dirty: No matter how much the advertisements for these dusters say the feathers “trap and lock dust,” they don’t. Feather dusters are notorious for spreading dust around a surface or pushing it off to fall to the ground, rather than removing it.
How to fix it: Use a microfiber cleaning cloth or a disposable paper towel with an appropriate cleaning solution, depending on the surface being dusted. The idea that feather dusters actually “dust” is one of the common cleaning myths you can stop believing.
Mistake 3: Not cleaning the vacuum
Why it’s dirty: When a vacuum filter hasn’t been changed or cleaned in a while, not only is the vacuum unable to pick up as much dirt and dust as it should, due to decreased suction, but dirt also is blown back into the air and carpet by the dusty vent.
How to fix it: Change or empty vacuum bags or canisters immediately after they become full. Wipe vacuum attachments, the hose, and the vent with either a damp microfiber cleaning cloth or a moist paper towel, double-checking that the vacuum is unplugged first. And make sure you’re not vacuuming these things you should never vacuum.
Mistake 4: Tossing any kitchen tool into the dishwasher
Why it’s dirty: Smaller kitchen tools like a garlic press, zester or cheese grater have small nooks and crannies that a dishwasher isn’t always able to blast. When food is left in these tools, it can become moldy and get into food the next time it is used.
How to fix it: Skip the dishwasher and wash by hand with dish soap and hot water, paying particular attention to corners and small holes. You can also try these other helpful cleaning tips for hard-to-clean objects.
Mistake 5: Placing a toilet brush back into its holder immediately
Why it’s dirty: If a toilet brush is put right back into its holder right after use, the moisture and germs from the toilet get trapped in the container and the brush, where they breed and multiply. These germs are then rubbed back into your toilet the next time the brush is used.
How to fix it: After scrubbing, allow the toilet brush to dry completely before returning it to its holder—voilà, you’ve eliminated one of the most common ways you’re cleaning your bathroom wrong. However, maybe it’s time to ditch the toilet brush entirely. If you’re not interested in keeping and cleaning a toilet brush, try out a toilet wand with disposable heads instead.
Mistake 6: Skipping the sink
Why it’s dirty: Whether it has a standard drain or a garbage disposal, sinks rapidly grow germs and bacteria due to being a moist environment where food particles tend to get stuck. This issue is compounded when food or standing water is left in the sink, the drain or the garbage disposal.
How to fix it: Wipe down the sink after each use. You should also try out these home cleaning hacks from professional house cleaners.
Mistake 7: Cleaning from the ground up
Why it’s dirty: When sweeping, mopping or vacuuming the floor before cleaning the furniture, dust, and crumbs fall from tables, counters, and shelves, requiring you to re-clean the floor.
How to fix it: Clean a room from the top down. Start with windows, working down to tables and counters, chairs and couches, side and coffee tables, ending with the floor. You’ll also want to try these 35 nearly forgotten house cleaning tips from the past.
Mistake 8: Spraying cleaner directly on a surface
Why it’s dirty: Spraying a cleaner directly onto furniture, countertops or glass can cause a buildup of the solution, leading to greasy furniture and surfaces, and streaky windows. This also could cause dirt and dust to stick to them more firmly.
How to fix it: Spray cleaning solution on a microfiber cleaning cloth or disposable paper towel, then wipe down surfaces. Don’t miss these household products that kill the coronavirus.
Mistake 9: Not cleaning the washing machine
Why it’s dirty: The skin cells, dust mites, and stains from clothes can linger in a washing machine drum as well as on the lid or door and detergent dispenser. This leads to washing clothes in dirty water, and eventually, they’ll turn stinky.
How to fix it: For a top-loading washer, start it on its longest and hottest wash setting. When the drum is nearly full of water, pour in 1 liter of vinegar and 1 cup of baking soda, leaving the lid open and allowing the mixture to sit in the paused cycle for at least an hour. While the cycle is paused, clean the lid and any other visible nooks and crannies. Close the lid, allowing the wash cycle to run. Repeat vinegar and baking soda wash, if needed, then wipe down the inside of the washer and leave the lid open to allow the washer to dry completely.
For a front-loading washer, pour a solution of 1/4 cup each baking soda and water into the detergent compartment and pour 2 cups of vinegar into the drum. Set your machine to the hottest temperature and let it do its thing. When the cycle is over, wipe the drum clean, along with the door, detergent compartment, and exterior. Pay extra attention to the gasket. Remember to leave the door ajar between loads for the best air circulation. Bet you didn’t know that you should absolutely be adding these ingredients to your laundry.
Mistake 10: Washing a cutting board with dish soap
Why it’s dirty: While dish soap and hot water remove visible food residue from a cutting board, the cuts in wood and plastic cutting boards trap microscopic food particles. These breed bacteria that transfer to any foods you prepare on that cutting board.
How to fix it: Don’t put it in the dishwasher! A wooden cutting board can warp and crack, while a plastic cutting board can melt in the hot water and steamy environment of a dishwasher. Instead, soak your cutting boards in hydrogen peroxide or a bleach solution (2 tablespoons of bleach and 1 gallon of water), rinse with water and dry completely. Next, find out some other ways you’re not using bleach—but should be.
- The Guardian: “The new household rules: ditch your toilet brush and wash much, much more”