When it comes time to spiff up your home, it’s easy to run through your normal cleaning routine without thinking twice about it. Although it can feel like second nature, some common cleaning habits could actually do more harm than good. Plus, leaving behind bacteria, dust, and grime only creates more work for you in the long run.
As you tackle your chore list, slow down and consider whether your strategies could be improved for better results. Avoid these cleaning mistakes that could make your home dirtier, and follow these fixes instead for a safer, more effective routine.
1. Using Dirty Cleaning Tools
Your cleaning routine is only as good as the supplies you use. Before you begin, ensure your cleaning tools themselves are in good order to avoid spreading bacteria, dirt, and dust all over the house. Wash cleaning cloths, scrub brushes, and mop heads often, and sanitize germy items like toilet brushes after each use. Empty your vacuum as soon as it becomes full, and change or wash the filter often for optimum performance.
2. Not Cleaning Before 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.
3. Rubbing Stains Instead of Blotting
Spills and splatters often require quick action to avoid set-in stains, but if your first instinct is to start scrubbing, you’re likely making the problem worse. Rubbing a stain could cause it to spread, push it deeper into the material, or even damage upholstery fibers. Always blot stains with a clean white cloth to draw the residue out, then use a stain removal method that’s appropriate for the material.
4. Wiping Surfaces Too Soon
Getting the best clean isn’t always as simple as spray, wipe, and walk away. Disinfectants take time to work, so patience is key. In some cases, the surface needs to be visibly wet for several minutes to effectively eliminate germs. Always read the product’s label to determine the recommended contact time for sanitizing or disinfecting.
5. Cleaning Surfaces with Sponges
Think twice before you reach for the sponge to wipe down your countertops. Kitchen sponges are notorious for harboring bacteria, which can transfer to other surfaces as you clean. To avoid spreading germs, use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe down surfaces, or disinfect your sponges regularly and replace them about once a month.
6. Using the Same Cleaning Cloth Around the House
Reusing the same cleaning cloth throughout your home might seem more efficient, but it’s also a great way to transfer germs and grime between rooms. You definitely don’t want bacteria from your bathroom ending up on your kitchen counters, for example. Designate various cloths to use in different rooms and launder them often. If you’re using disposable wipes, use one per cleaning job.
7. Not Providing Proper Ventilation
When using cleaners containing ingredients like ammonia or bleach, good ventilation is vital. As you clean, the fumes from these products can be released into the room and irritate your airways. To help clear the air, turn on the vent fan, open a window, or switch on your air purifier. As soon as you’re done cleaning, leave the room.
8. Cleaning from the Ground Up
Gravity can put a damper on your cleaning efforts if you start with the floors. As you clean other areas, crumbs, dust, and other debris can drop to the floor, which means you might have to vacuum or mop twice. Instead, start at the top of the room and work your way down, so you can catch everything in one go.