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Doing All The Dirty Work?: Experts Brush Up The Mistakes We Make When Cleaning Our Homes

February 2, 2024

Many of us (if we’re honest) are stuck in a cleaning rut. We might do it every week but tend to stick to a routine and focus on ‘getting through it’ rather than thinking about what we’re doing and the products we’re using.

However, did you know that there are right and wrong ways to clean and that many of the methods we use are counterproductive – often making things dirtier, rather than cleaner?

For instance, when you’re cleaning a room – the best way to do it is top to bottom. This is so that any dust/dirt and debris fall downwards and can be cleaned up properly from floors and surfaces when you damp dust and hoover, sweep, or steam clean.

If you’re using cleaners with a disinfecting element – then it’s important to give them time to work on the surface they’re being sprayed on, as simply applying and wiping off doesn’t give the active ingredients time to work and kill bacteria and germs.

common home cleaning mistakes 2

The same goes for steam cleaning. It’s important to give 10 seconds of application time to each area you’re cleaning so that the high-temperature steam can get to work, kill bugs, and leave surfaces clean and safe.

These days, sustainability and eco-friendly products are key to keeping our homes clean and healthy without damaging the environment. How we clean appliances affects how effective they are and how long they last.

One misconception many people still believe is that they need to use strong chemicals to deep clean things like their washing machine or dishwasher when this isn’t the case. Oxygen and enzyme-based products work quickly, effectively, and gently to maintain the efficient running of important household appliances without causing detriment to the world around us!

If you’re still not sure, then read on and check out some of the comments we’ve garnered from experts in their field – they’re here to sort out the sparkling microfibres from the dirty dishcloths! Let’s take a look and see what they say about the best ways to make sure your home is sparkling clean.

Is cleaning the same as disinfecting?

“There’s a difference between cleaning and disinfecting, and the distinction can make or break the way you clean surfaces. While cleaning can physically remove germs from a surface, disinfecting uses chemicals to actually kill the germs. If the surface is covered in dust or dirt, however, the disinfectant won’t be able to effectively target the germs, which is why cleaning is an important first step. Before you reach for the disinfecting spray, ensure the surface is free from residue and debris so the chemicals can do their job.”

– Jessica Bennett writing for Better Homes and Gardens

What are two of the biggest no no’s when it comes to cleaning?

Adding dish soap to the dishwasher.

You might not know if you’ve never had a dishwasher that you should be using dishwasher-specific soap. One Redditor learned the hard way that normal dish soap will leak out of the appliance and into the kitchen, creating a thick, foamy mess.

common home cleaning mistakes dish soap dishwasher

Mixing bleach with other chemicals.

One of the cardinal rules of cleaning with bleach? Don’t ever mix it with other chemicals. Back in college, a Redditor and his roommates had the very valid thought to combine two strong cleaners — bleach and ammonia — to deep clean their messy apartment. They learned the hard route that the off-gasses can pose major health risks, but luckily, they only ended up with burning eyes and throats.”

– Ashley Abramson writing for Apartment Therapy

What is the biggest floor cleaning error people make?

“Does your mop and bucket just get shoved in your cleaning closet as soon as you’re done? Turns out you need to do a bit more than that to get it ready for its next outing. Mopping using a dirty mop head will spread dirt and bacteria all around your floors so be sure to use a clean one for every use. Luckily, most mop heads are removable and machine washable so they can be cleaned easily. Ensure the water you are using to mop is also clean, as mopping using dirty water is going to be counterproductive.”

– Eve Smallman writing for Real Homes

Are there any commonly overlooked areas in homes or offices that people tend to neglect while cleaning?

“I would say the most commonly overlooked areas that people tend to neglect while cleaning would be: air vents. Specifically air vents that are in ceilings or the tops of walls. It’s funny, if you ever look up in stores or restaurants, you’ll always notice dusty air vents. But you see them in houses too not houses that are cleaned by though!”

Warren WeissScrub! Residential Cleaning

Can you share some insights into the impact of using incorrect cleaning products on various surfaces?

“Using incorrect cleaning products can have a significant impact on both the surfaces themselves and the individuals using them. When the wrong products are used, surfaces can be damaged, leading to discoloration, scratches, and even permanent marks. For example, using a harsh chemical cleaner on a delicate surface like marble or granite can cause etching and dullness. Similarly, using a bleach-based cleaner on a surface that is not compatible with bleach can result in discoloration and deterioration– not to mention bleach is toxic for your skin and lungs!

Incorrect cleaning products can also pose health risks to the people using them. Strong chemicals in cleaning products can emit harmful fumes that can irritate the respiratory system, trigger allergies, and worsen existing health conditions. In some cases, using the wrong cleaning products can even lead to chemical burns or skin irritation.

To avoid these negative consequences, it is essential to carefully read labels and instructions on cleaning products before using them. Additionally, it is crucial to understand the compatibility of cleaning products with different surfaces to ensure proper cleaning and maintenance. By using the right cleaning products, surfaces can be effectively cleaned without causing any damage or health risks. With so many natural and less toxic alternative cleaning products available these days, it’s much easier to keep both your home’s surfaces and your health in mind while still having a clean home to work and relax in.”

Amanda May, CEOThe Purple Fig Cleaning Co

How do you adapt your cleaning methods to different spaces or unique challenges?

“We’ve seen countless cleaning mishaps, some harmless, others leaving homeowners with bigger messes. So, let’s shed light on some common mistakes and offer solutions to keep your cleaning routine efficient and damage-free.

Mistake 1: One-Size-Fits-All Cleaning Products: Various surfaces demand tailored solutions. Different surfaces need different cleaners. Harsh chemicals can damage delicate surfaces like granite countertops or wood floors, causing etching, dullness, or warping. Always check labels and choose the right cleaners for each surface.

common cleaning mistakes towel scaled

Mistake 2: Neglecting the Microfiber Magic: Ditch the all-purpose cloths! Microfiber cloths are your best friend for dust and grime removal. Their unique fibers trap dirt without harsh chemicals, minimizing the risk of scratching delicate surfaces. Plus, they’re eco-friendly and reusable.

Mistake 3: Forgetting the Power of Pre-Treatment: Stains become a nightmare when set in. Tackle them immediately with pre-treatment solutions, especially for greasy spills or food stains on carpets and upholstery. Follow product instructions and blot, don’t rub, to prevent spreading the stain further.

Mistake 4: Overlooking the Vacuum’s Potential: Vacuuming carpets isn’t just about surface dirt. Regularly adjust the height setting to extract deep-seated dust and allergens trapped within the fibers. Empty the canister frequently to maintain optimal suction power.

Mistake 5: Ignoring the Hidden Corners:Dust loves to hide in those tricky spots under furniture and behind appliances. Grab a crevice attachment for your vacuum or a long-handled duster to tackle those hidden areas with ease. Happy cleaning

By avoiding these common pitfalls and adopting simple strategies, you can transform your cleaning routine from a chore to an efficient and satisfying experience, leaving your home sparkling and protected.”

What are some practical tips you can offer to prevent individuals from making common cleaning errors

  1. Cleaning from the Ground Up: Starting cleaning tasks from the ground can result in dust and debris settling on already-cleaned surfaces, requiring rework. Begin cleaning from the top and work downward to prevent this.
  2. Using Dirty Tools Before Cleaning: Employing dirty tools such as mops or cloths spreads germs rather than eliminating them. Always ensure tools are clean and sanitized before use.
  3. Not Cleaning Before Disinfecting: Disinfectants are less effective on dirty surfaces. Clean surfaces with soap and water before applying disinfectants to maximize their efficacy.
  4. Not Providing Proper Ventilation: Using harsh chemicals without proper ventilation can lead to respiratory issues. Ensure adequate airflow by opening windows or using fans when cleaning with chemicals.
  5. Wiping Surfaces Too Soon: Rushing to wipe surfaces after applying cleaning solutions can diminish their effectiveness. Allow sufficient contact time as per product instructions before wiping.
  6. Cleaning Out of Order: Randomly cleaning different areas can lead to missed spots and inefficiencies. Follow a systematic approach, starting from one corner and progressing logically through the space.

“By avoiding these common mistakes, you can enhance the effectiveness and safety of your home cleaning routine, ensuring a healthier and more pleasant living environment.”

Michael A. Gomez, President of Building Services, Inc

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Ava Thompson

Ava Thompson is a cleaning specialist and home organization guru. Her profound knowledge, honed through years of experience, is thoughtfully shared in her thorough walkthroughs here on our blog. Ava’s pragmatic tips and innovative strategies empower individuals to transform their living spaces into models of cleanliness and order. She’s a go-to source for those seeking to enhance their home environment efficiently and effectively. She has become a key contributor on the ACTIVE blog.

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