There’s a lot to know when it comes to running a household! Between washing dishes, doing laundry, cleaning and maintaining appliances, and a thousand other things that need to get done, it’s easy to just rush through things without considering if there’s a better way. I’ve found that a lot of the time there is a better way to do something, and that making even little adjustments to your routine can end up saving you a significant amount of time, effort, and/or money!
In the spirit of being open to better ways of doing things, today I’ll be sharing 11 common “mistakes” that people make when it comes to household chores, as well as how to fix them. And I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been guilty of every single mistake on this list at one time or another! Nobody’s perfect, so there’s no reason to feel ashamed. Every mistake is just a learning opportunity, and learning to correct these 11 mistakes will make you feel like a housekeeping pro in no time!
1. You’re Not Loading Utensils Correctly In Your Dishwasher
There are a lot of opinions out there about the best way to load utensils into the utensil caddy in your dishwasher! Spoons and forks aren’t as much of a concern, but you should definitely load your knives into the caddy with the tip facing down. This reduces the chance that you’ll hurt yourself on the blade when it’s time to empty the dishwasher.
The concern with spoons is that if you put a few of them next to each other, they’ll “spoon” each other and won’t actually get cleaned. You can avoid this by putting some of them with the handle up and some of them with the handle down. Or you can just mix up your forks and spoons!
The final thing worth noting about your utensil caddy is distribution is important! You want to make sure you’re evenly distributing your utensils across the caddy, and not loading up a few sections while leaving others empty.
2. You’re Not Replacing Your Dish Sponge
You use your sponge to keep your kitchen clean, but when was the last time you cleaned the sponge itself? Experts recommend cleaning your sponge every 3-4 days in one of two ways. First, you can microwave it for two minutes (but make sure it’s thoroughly soaked in water first!) The second way to clean a sponge is to run it through a full wash and dry cycle in your dishwasher.
And not only should you be keeping your dish sponge clean, but you should replace it regularly as well. You should replace your dish sponges about once a month!
3. You’re Washing Your Garlic Press In The Dishwasher
My garlic press is one of my favorite time-saving kitchen gadgets. Mincing garlic with a knife used to take forever, but I can do it in seconds with my garlic press! The only issue is that all those nooks and crannies in the press can really get gummed up with garlic. And dishwashers aren’t really built to clean out all those tiny garlic bits!
The best way to clean a garlic press is just to hand wash it. Your fingers are your best tools in the kitchen, and you’ll have a much easier time clearing out the garlic bits than your dishwasher will!
4. You’re Not Cleaning Your Reusable Grocery Bags
Using reusable grocery bags is one of the simplest changes you can make for the environment. And the only thing you need to worry about with your bags is keeping them clean! A lot of cloth bags are actually machine washable, so you can just toss those in with your laundry. The plastic-y vinyl bags can be cleaned by wiping them down inside and out with hydrogen peroxide.
(If you’re interested in learning more surprising things you can do with hydrogen peroxide, check out my eBook Hydrogen Peroxide Magic! And don’t forget, OGT Plus members can download all of my eBooks for free!)
5. You’re Using Too Much Laundry Detergent
It’s easy to fall into a pattern of “overdosing” on store-bought laundry detergent. More detergent must clean your clothes more effectively, right? Not necessarily! You need a bit of extra detergent for a big load, but adding extra detergent to most loads will just make it harder for your washer to rinse all of it out. Eventually, detergent residues will buildup on your clothes and make them increasingly difficult to clean. Next time you measure out laundry detergent, make sure you’re following the instructions on the back of your detergent bottle!
Related: How To Avoid Detergent Overdose
6. You’re Not Changing Your Air Filter
Ignoring the air filter in your HVAC system can eventually defeat the purpose of having one in the first place! The filter acts as a barrier between the air being pumped through your house, and all of the dust and dirt getting suck into the system. But as that dust and dirt builds up on the filter, the filter will start to work less effectively and you’ll be back to square one. Check your HVAC system’s user manual (or look it up online) to find out how often you should be changing your filter.
7. You’re Not Checking Your Smoke Detectors
A smoke alarm could save your life in the event of a fire, but it won’t do you much good if it isn’t working correctly! You should check to make sure your smoke detector is functioning once a month by pushing the “test” button. You should also aim to replace the batteries twice a year, or any time the detector starts to beep intermittently.
8. You’re Using The Wrong Plunger
There are two types of plungers—one is good for toilets, and the other is better for sinks. Are you using the correct kind? Sink plungers have a rubber cup at the end that is designed to work on flat surfaces like a sink or tub drain. This plunger type doesn’t work well in toilets because it can’t form a good enough seal to create suction.
The other type of plunger has more of a bell shape that’s perfect for toilets. The lower part of the bell forms a tight seal in toilets that allows for proper plunging. But when you buy this type of plunger, the lower part of the bell shape may be pushed up into the upper part, making it appear more like a sink plunger. To tell for sure which type you’re buying, make sure to look into the cup to see if it’s hollow (like a sink plunger) or has a part you can pull out (like a toilet plunger).
9. You Store Your Iron With Water In It
I didn’t know this until recently, but apparently you should empty your iron after each use! Storing your iron with water in it can damage the internal parts and cause harmful mineral buildup. Take an extra couple of seconds to dump out the water before you put your iron away, and use distilled water in it to help avoid internal mineral buildup.
10. You Lift The Lid On Your Slow Cooker
It’s tempting to lift the lid on your slow cooker to check how your food is coming along, but you should resist the urge! Slow cookers use the heat trapped inside the pot to cook your food. Opening the lid causes a significant amount of that heat to escape, meaning your food will take longer to cook if you keep peeking at it!
11. Your Freezer Isn’t Cold Enough
If you have your freezer set to a lower or energy-saving setting, it may not be getting as cold as it should be. Use a fridge/freezer thermometer to determine how cold your freezer is. The optimum temperature for long term freezer storage is 0°F, so adjust your freezer setting according.