Cleaning probably isn’t the best part of our day. As much as we enjoy having a clean house, actually cleaning can be annoying and time-consuming. Most of us would rather be doing something else. This means we need to make sure that, when we’re cleaning, we’re doing it properly. We don’t want to clean something the wrong way and just have to do it over again, or accidently ruin something with good intentions.
Those of us looking to streamline our cleaning and get the most out of our time and effort should make sure to avoid some of the most common cleaning fails.
- Scrubbing a painted surface. If you’re confronted with a large stain or piece of children’s artwork on a painted wall or molding, pause before you get out the brush. Using enough pressure to remove the marks can damage the paint itself and even the plaster or drywall beneath it. If a stain looks like it’s going to take hours and a lot of elbow grease, you’re better off repainting.
- Mixing cleaners. For big jobs and tough, set-in grime, you might be tempted to combine your best weapons into one super-powered elixir, but don’t give in. Bleach can cause a dangerous chemical reaction when mixed with ammonia, vinegar, or rubbing alcohol, and the fumes can harm your lungs, skin, and eyes. If you want to make your own cleaner, look for a DIY recipe that uses common household items like vinegar and lemon juice.
- Using a Magic Eraser on shiny surfaces. Magic Erasers really do seem to live up to their name, but they’re not meant for reflective surfaces. Instead of cleaning the outside of your microwave, countertop, shiny wood floors, or anything painted with semi-gloss paint, the Magic Eraser will cause dull spots.
- Washing windows on a sunny day. It might seem like the best time, especially when you have to wash the outsides, but the sun is actually working against you. It can heat up and dry the windows before you’re able to use the squeegee, leaving you with streaks. Wash the windows on a cloudy day so the soap doesn’t dry too quickly and you can enjoy the streak-free view.
- Putting wooden cutting boards or cooking utensils in the dishwasher. Dishwashers are amazing at sanitizing non-porous items like plastic and silverware, but they’re not good for your wooden items. When wood soaks in hot water, it can end up drying out and cracking. Wash your wooden kitchen implements by hand with soap and water and treat them with a mineral oil rub afterward to keep them for years of use.
- Disinfecting before cleaning. It might seem like the easiest first step is to disinfect before wiping the crumbs off the counter, but disinfecting should actually come last. Brushing dry crumbs off first will prevent pets or small children from getting into chemical-laden scraps on the floor. You should clean all surfaces, including dusting and vacuuming, before disinfecting.
- Picking the wrong scouring pad. Don’t use steel wool to clean your stovetop, whether it’s enamel or glass – it’ll scratch. Don’t use an abrasive pad to clean your stainless-steel appliances, such as the inside of your oven. The same goes for non-stick or ceramic pans. In these cases, a yellow sponge is better, and wiping up spills directly after they happen so they can’t cake on is best.
- Spraying wood polish onto the furniture. Spray the polish onto your cloth and wipe your furniture down to make it gleam. Spraying directly onto the wood will concentrate the polish in one area and make things uneven. If you do this often enough, you could even get stains. Spraying your cloth instead will prevent build-up from forming and keep your furniture even and gleaming.
- Using fabric softener on towels. It makes them fluffy and soft, but also gives them a coating of chemicals that stop them from absorbing water. This also goes for microfiber cleaning towels – fabric softener ruins their surfaces and makes them useless. Try adding a splash of vinegar the next time you wash your bath towels. They’ll still be soft and smell fine, and they’ll also be able to get you dry.
- Cleaning in a circle. Using a buffing motion is great for when you actually want to buff, but not for cleaning. The circular motion just shifts dirt around without removing it. Instead, practice your beauty queen wave and move your hand left to right as you slowly go down a surface. This means you’re moving the dirt away and getting the surface clean.
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