05 Jan The 22 biggest cleaning mistakes you’re making
Author of Australian Style, Little Black Book and owner of an impeccable Instagram
You’ve got the tools, but it’s all about how you use them. The following mistakes are just some of the things that might be making a bigger mess than you started with.
1. POURING TOO MUCH FABRIC SOFTENER. We get it: You want to sleep on the softest sheets possible. But using more product than is recommended by the manufacturer will have the opposite effect: Just pouring it in usually adds too much and that can make fabrics stiff and scratchy, or even greasy, and reduce towels’ absorbency.
2. USING TOO MUCH LAUNDRY DETERGENT. Raise your hand if you’ve ever poured in a little extra detergent for an extra dirty load of laundry. Well it turns out if you use too much, the cleaner and your stains might not rinse out of clothes. Yikes!
3. USING A FEATHER DUSTER. It only spreads dust from one surface to another. Try a microfibre cloth instead, which will grab and hold onto particles.
4. USING THE SAME RAG EVERYWHERE. Streaky surfaces? You might be over-using your cleaning cloth and spreading germs while you’re at it. Even if your towel doesn’t look old, it should be replaced often if it’s used on high-traffic (read: dirtier) areas.
5. OVER-LOADING YOUR DISHWASHER. Stacking dishes or putting too many utensils in your basket could impact your appliance’s ability to reach items with soap and water — meaning they wont get clean. Even worse: If you pre-wash your dishes, you might not notice.
6. TOSSING CERTAIN TOOLS IN THE DISHWASHER. Since garlic is so sticky, bits of the food might get stuck in the crevices of your garlic press after you use it — so you should always hand wash your tool to ensure it’s clean for tomorrow’s dinner prep.
7. USING DISH SOAP ON YOUR CUTTING BOARDS. When it comes to wooden chopping blocks, soap and warm water don’t always cut it. After using one to slice and dice meat and poultry, soak it in bleach solution to prevent cross-contamination when preparing your next meal.
8. SPRAYING FURNITURE WITH POLISH. When you spray furniture directly it creates build up that’s tough to remove and attracts even more dust. Avoid this, spray your cloth with the cleaner then rub the cloth on the dusty surface.
9. FORGETTING TO CLEAN YOUR VACUUM. Forget this step and you’ll end up pushing dirt around.
10. NOT DUSTING YOUR WINDOWS. Before washing them, that is. If you forget to tackle the dust on your sills, any window cleaner that drips onto the frame will become a muddy mess of dusty liquid (yuck). A vacuum or microfiber cloth can tackle it nicely.
11. IGNORING SUPER GERMY REMOTES. These are handled by a lot of people everyday, and need a good wipe with disinfectant wipe weekly.
12. NEGLECTING YOUR BIGGEST TOUCH POINTS. Taps, handles, and door knobs are some of the most-touched areas in your home — so it makes sense that they’re also the germiest. Take to ‘em with a disinfectant wipe to keep germs at bay.
13. RUSHING YOUR TILE CLEANER. Give tile cleaners a few minutes to work before wiping them away. Letting them sit helps dissolve grime, so less scrubbing is required.
14. IGNORING CRUMBS IN CREVICES. Before you take to your keyboard with a disinfectant wipe, make sure you turn it over and tap out food crumbs first.
15. STORING A WET LOO BRUSH. Well hello, breeding ground for bacteria! Instead of just dropping your wet brush into the holder, set it across the seat so it can drip-dry over the bowl before putting it away for good.
16. KEEPING TOOTHBRUSHES IN THE DARK. Sure, the medicine cabinet might seem like a safe, germ-free environment, but the lack of light actually makes it a breeding ground for bacteria. Instead, keep your brush out in the light — just make sure you close the lid on the toilet when you flush.
17. FORGETTING YOUR RUBBISH. If you notice an unpleasant odor (especially in your kitchen), it might mean you haven’t been cleaning your rubbish bin enough. Wipe it down once a week with a cleaner containing bleach to keep nasty smells under control.
18. OVERLOOKING REUSABLE BAGS. Especially green grocery bags, which might have lingering food bacteria on them. You should treat them like any other fabrics in terms of care, but just turn them inside out before tossing them into the washing machine.
19. WASHING WINDOWS WHEN IT’S SUNNY. The heat will cause your window cleaner to dry before you can finish cleaning, leaving streaks in its wake. Cloudy days are better.
20. USING DISH SOAP FOR EVERYTHING. While this grease-fighting product is powerful, it leaves streaks behind on surfaces that aren’t plates and cups. So you should steer clear of using this liquid soap on your car windows, and mirrors.
21. USING DIRTY SPONGES. These cleaning superheroes won’t, in fact, be that helpful if you don’t sanitize ‘em every few days. To do this, soak your sponge in water, place it in a microwavable dish, then heat it on high for a minute.
22. FORGETTING TO CLEAN YOUR DISHWASHER. The sad truth is sometimes food gets stuck around your dishwasher’s filter, which might make it smell. So about once a month, you should remove the filter, rinse it thoroughly, then run a cycle with a machine cleaner.
Author Melissa Penfold: melissapenfold.com