· Homekeeping Tips · 11 Housework Mistakes That Probably Sound A Little Too Familiar

11 Housework Mistakes That Probably Sound A Little Too Familiar

Common Household Mistakes

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.

But a lot of the time there is a better way to do something, and making those adjustments can save you a significant amount of time, money, and effort! So in the spirit of being open-minded about alternative methods for doing household chores, today we’ll be exploring some of the most common housekeeping “mistakes” along with easy ways to correct them.

And I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been guilty of every single thing on this list—nobody’s perfect, after all. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn something and improve, and learning how to correct these 11 mistakes will make you feel like a housekeeping pro in no time!

Related: 9 Secrets About Everyday Items That Will Make Your Life Easier

11 Common Housekeeping Mistakes (And How To Fix Them)

Common Household Mistakes

1. You Don’t Load Utensils Into Your Dishwasher Correctly

There are a lot of opinions out there about the best way to load utensils into your dishwasher. It doesn’t make much of a difference for spoons and forks, but you should definitely load your knives into the caddy with the blade pointing down to ensure no one hurts themselves when they go to empty the dishwasher.

The main issue you can run into with spoons is that they can end up “spooning” each other in the caddy may not get washed thoroughly. You can avoid this by putting some of the spoons in with the handle pointing up and some pointing down (or you could put a mix of forks and spoons in the same slot.)

The last thing worth noting about loading the utensil caddy is that distribution is important! Make sure you’re evenly distributing your utensils across the caddy, and not loading up a few sections while leaving others empty.

Common Household Mistakes

2. You Don’t Replace Your Sponges Often Enough

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 soak it with water and then microwave it for two minutes. The second option is to put it in your dishwasher and run it through a full wash and dry cycle.

And not only should you be keeping your dish sponge clean, but you should replace it regularly as well. Aim to replace your dish sponges every few weeks.

Common Household Mistakes

3. You Wash Your Garlic Press In The Dishwasher

My garlic press is one of my favorite time-saving kitchen gadgets. The only problem I have with it is that all those nooks and crannies in the press can be tricky to clean, especially because dishwashers aren’t very helpful in cleaning out all those tiny holes!

The best way to clean a garlic press is just to hand wash it. That way, you can use your fingers or an old toothbrush to dislodge those sticky garlic bits and get your garlic press properly clean.

Common Household Mistakes

4. You Don’t Clean Your Reusable Grocery Bags

Using reusable grocery bags is an easy way to help protect the environment, and the only thing you need to worry about is keeping them clean. A lot of cloth bags are actually machine washable, so you can just toss those in with your laundry.

If you have reusable bags made of vinyl or plastic, you can clean those by wiping them down inside and out with hydrogen peroxide. (And for more peroxide tips, check out my eBook Hydrogen Peroxide Magic available in my shop, or download it free as an OGT Plus member.)

Related:  Keeping Your Reusable Shopping Bags Clean

Common Household Mistakes

5. You Use Too Much Laundry Detergent

It’s easy to fall into a pattern of “overdosing” on store-bought laundry detergent, but using more detergent doesn’t necessarily get your clothes cleaner. You need to add a bit more detergent when washing a large load, but in most cases, adding more detergent will just make it harder for your washer to rinse it all out.

Overtime, detergent residue can build up on your clothes and make them increasingly difficult to clean. So next time you measure out laundry detergent, make sure you’re following the instructions on the back of your detergent bottle (or try a natural DIY laundry detergent!)

Related: How To Avoid Detergent Overdose

Common Household Mistakes

6. You Don’t Replace 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 serves as a wall of defense between the dust and dirt getting sucked into the system and the that gets pushed out of it into your home.

As dust and dirt builds up on the filter, it won’t work as effectively and eventually won’t do much at all. Check your HVAC system’s user manual (or look it up online) to find out what size filter it uses and how often you should be replacing it.

Related: 10 Important Home Maintenance Tasks You Might Be Neglecting

Common Household Mistakes

7. You Don’t Test Your Smoke Detectors Regularly

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 test your smoke detector once a month or so by pushing the “test” button to make sure it’s working correctly.

If your smoke detector is battery-powered or has a backup battery, you should replace the batteries twice a year (or any time the detector starts to beep intermittently.)

Common Household Mistakes

8. You Use The Wrong Type Of Plunger

There are two types of plungers—one is designed to help clear clogged toilets, and the other is designed to unclog sink drains. Are you using the right kind of plunger for the right drain?

Sink plungers have a cup shaped like half a sphere designed to cover drains in relatively flat surfaces like the bottom of a sink or tub. This type of plunger doesn’t work well in toilets because it won’t form a very good seal around the drain.

Toilet plungers have more of a mushroom shape, and the lower part (or the “stem) that extends down helps forms a tight seal that allows for proper plunging. But if you’re shopping for a toilet plunger, be aware that the lower part may be pushed up into the upper part of the plunger so that it resembles a sink plunger.

To make sure you’re buying the right type of plunger, look into the cup to see if it’s hollow (meaning it’s a sink plunger) or has an extension that you can pull out (meaning it’s a toilet plunger).

Common Household Mistakes

9. You Store Your Iron With Water In It

I didn’t know this until recently, but apparently you should empty the water out of your clothes iron after each use. Storing your iron with water in it can lead to mineral buildup that can eventually damage the iron’s internal parts.

After using your iron, take an extra couple of seconds to dump out the water before putting it away. It’s also a good idea to use distilled water when filling your iron to help avoid mineral issues entirely.

Common Household Mistakes

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 as much as possible! Slow cookers rely on the heat trapped inside of the pot to cook your food.

Opening the lid allows a significant amount of that heat to escape, meaning the more you peek inside, the longer your food will take to cook!

Common Household Mistakes

11. You Don’t Check The Temperature Of Your Freezer

If you have your freezer set to low or an energy-saving setting, it may not be staying as cold as it should be to keep your food safe to eat. Use a fridge/freezer thermometer to find out how cold your freezer is. (The optimum temperature for long-term freezer storage is 0°F, so adjust your freezer setting according.)

Do you have any tricks that help you stay on top of household chores?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Homekeeping Tips

  • Re:Plungers. Honestly, if you are having problems with commodes in your home getting clogged up all the time (thanx, low flow toilets), you really might just want to do what we did over 20 years ago and replace the commode(s) with one(s) that is (are) equipped with a Sloan Flushmate pressure tank (just Google them). Short of throwing a brick or a roll of t.p. in the bowl, you’ll never have a clog issue again, and the high speed flow will also keep the lines leaving the house clear. Then you can just throw the plunger away. You can thank me later.

  • I learned a long time ago to use distilled water and to always pour out any remaining water from your iron. I have started to iron and it would spit out brown looking gook and I would have to rewash that garment. Lots of good useful info in your posts, Jillee, thank you. I look forward to reading your daily posts. Have a blessed day!!

  • Once every few days I take just a bit of bleach and pour into my sponge with dishwashing soap then put into a bowl of hot water – or a dishpan if I’m wiping counter tops and handles down. Kills the germs and keeps it sweet smelling.

  • Kool article. I really like reading these simple lists in life of this website. I often come here to find useful tips. Thank you for creating such an interesting and useful web like this.

  • I have a couch not sure of what material (soft) while it is only a few years old the dogs have drooled on it we have spilled drinks & food on it. I have tried my shampooer & also resolve fabric cleaner but they don’t work & take forever drying anyone have suggestions?

  • I see someone asked about the plungers and you answered, but I still need a visual. I’m just not getting it. I’ve only ever seen one kind of plunder that I’m aware of.

    • The one if the photograph has an added piece of plastic on the bottom that goes down into the hole of the toilet a bit. That piece of plastic narrows the output of the plunger, making it more effective for toilets.

      The other type of plunger doesn’t have that piece of plastic added, so it is just flat with a wide hole at the bottom :-) You can see the difference here: https://jillee.co/2GaJhTK

  • Maybe because I was born and raised on a farm amidst a ton of germs, I don’t worry about germs nearly as much as others. You are never going to eliminate the billions of germs in the world. The only way you build up an immunity to germs is to be exposed to them. That’s probably why I haven’t even had a cold in over 7 years. Kids today are so protected from germs, they are always getting illnesses. As far as sponges – I don’t pay attention to days or weeks. When it gets dirty enough, I just throw it away. I’m sure that sounds gross to many of you, but has worked for me for almost 73 years.

    • I strongly agree with you. There should be cleaning but not OCD or paranoia about germs. They will always be there, period.

      I actually don’t use a sponge at all. To be kinder to the environment I use a terri washcloth and I simply throw it in the wash with the other laundry about once/week when it needs to be cleaned. Otherwise boiling water over it here and there. Best part is: no using plastic or adding to the landfill!

  • Can you tell me what type of freezer thermometer you use and do you have one in your frig too? My frig and standup freezer both have electronic displays but with an in the door ice maker I find sometimes the temp must not be right as ice isn’t being made(too many people opening and closing the doors) and would love to double check…

  • I’ve found that the accordion style plunger works better than the rubber style in both the sink and the toilet. I have dedicated plungers for the bathrooms and one that I keep under the kitchen sink. One good thrust with this style usually does the trick.

  • I feel grateful reading your article on housekeeping mistakes. Spot on . Thanks. It is soo easy to want to add more washing soap but am sure it is not necessary. Good tips. Thanks, Mary Ann

  • Why does ANYONE still use kitchen sponges? Use microfiber cloths instead! I don’t know how many I have, but I wash a whole load of them every week. What do I use them for? Dish washing. Dish drying. Dusting. Cleaning spills. Washing tables, counters, even range top. Wrapping sandwiches. I use them as napkins. Bibs. Even for nose blowing if I’m working in the kitchen. (Yes, of course I use laundry sanitizer!) One warning: If you use them for draining fried food, keep those separate from the others and NEVER put them in the dryer, as that is a fire hazard. (So is using a paper bag to pop corn in the microwave, which is why I cringe when this suggestion keeps turning up in your newsletter.) I advise everyone to ditch that dirty, ssmelly, unsanitary sponge and stock up on microfiber.

    • Every couple of days put that wet sponge into the microwave for one minute, and it is good to go. I especially like the sponges that have a rougher side to clean my Blue Diamond frying/saute` pan, as metal pads, such as Brillo will ruin the non-stick surface.

  • I don’t use Oxyclean in any of my washloads. Over time it destroyed my towels. I think it can be used safely on items like stains on man made threads like carpet.

  • Do people really get injured with the butter knife? I get stabbed more by the forks than I do the knives. I solved this problem by pulling out the whole silverware caddy and then grasping from the side not the top.

  • I use one tablespoon of liquid laundry detergent, Persil, in a HE washer. I add a 1/8 to 1/4 cup mixture of (1) box Borax, (1) box washing soda and (1) container Oxiclean from Dollar Tree, for each load. As a rinse, I add a mixture of 2 parts white vinegar to 1 part water. I will at times, pretreat stains but not too often.

    All dirty laundry is not the same. In our household, it is only my husband and I. I think what works for me, may not work for others. A household with kids will most likely use more or a different type of detergents or additives. And it also depends on your water, some water is soft or hard, or different levels of Ph. Or whatever is added to the water supply.

    I am going to try Jillee’s No-Grate Liquid Laundry Detergent since it contains Borax and washing soda.

    For the heater/AC filters, you should use what is recommended by the manufacturer. We were using a premium filter, more expensive, on our unit and was told by the technician that it would put a strain on the system.

  • Consumer Reports says that the pleated filters, for the heater…..are no better than the old spun fiberglass……they must must must be MRV 14 or higher….anything less is an overpriced joke, designed to lure suckers

  • Jillee, can you please clarify the two different plungers? I got confused (maybe I haven’t had enough coffee yet). I only have the plunger that is shaped like a bell with a wide opening, without the part that forms it into a smaller hole. I have always used this on for my toilets. I’m not sure I’m using the correct one. Thank you!
    P.S. I learned so much from your blog over the past 5 years!!!

    • I was also confused about this! I have the most common type with the big round opening on the bottom. I wasn’t aware of ones having extra narrow rubber cup on the bottom, and after reading the post, I still didn’t understand the difference. I also never knew there was a part that may be pushed up inside. Pictures of each kind showing where they are to be used would really help.

    • I have noticed something, and it may help you. The sink one, WITHOUT the extra pull-down piece, is usually those reddish-colored ones. The toilet ones, WITH the piece that pulls down, are usually black. At least all of the ones I see work this way. Good luck!

  • Microwaving a sponge has been recently demonstrated as a very bad thing to do in a serious scientific study. To quote it, “Microwaving your dirty sponge will only kill some of the bacteria on it, leaving the strongest, smelliest and potentially most pathogenic strains” and “When people at home try to clean their sponges, they make it worse”. Apparently, the correct way to clean sponges is to “run it through a laundry machine at the hottest setting using a powder detergent and bleach and then use it somewhere other than the kitchen that is less hygiene-sensitive, like the bathroom”

    • I hate sponges. After one use, they are on the way to the trash. I don’t buy them, but sometimes the Hubby does. Life is to short to take time the time to clean and disinfect such a simple, unnecessary household item.

      • Rinse your sponge as well as you can. Place it in the microwave for only 1 minute. Kills bacteria and good as new. You can also put them in the dishwasher where the utensils go and give them a good cleaning once a week or more, depending on how often you use them.

    • After washing / rinsing mine by hand, I have done this for years with great success. Also wash them in the dishwasher as well.

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