Gross, These 9 Cleaning Mistakes Actually Make Things Dirtier

Gross Cleaning Mistakes

For the most part, there’s no “correct” way to keep your home clean. Whether you prefer dusting surfaces around the house or wiping them down with a wet cloth, things still end up cleaner than than they were before! But even though there aren’t any hard and fast rules to cleaning, there are certain “mistakes” that could actually make things dirtier!

The mere idea of spending time and effort on a cleaning task, only to realize afterward that my efforts actually made things worse, is enough to fill me with (hypothetical) despair. And I wouldn’t want anyone else to experience that despair either! So today I thought I’d address some of those cleaning mistakes in this post, so that we can all avoid these backfiring behaviors! :-)

Related: These 7 Cleaning Mistakes Are Making Your Life Harder

9 Cleaning Mistakes That Are Making Your House Dirtier

Gross Cleaning Mistakes

1. Overloading The Dishwasher

You can help conserve both water and energy by only running your dishwasher when it’s full. However, there’s a line between full and jam-packed, and crossing that line can do more harm than good! If your dishwasher is overly full, there’s a good chance that some of your dishes won’t get properly cleaned.

Related: 11 Dishwasher Do’s And Don’ts You Need To Know

Gross Cleaning Mistakes

2. Overusing Your Cleaning Rag

Most people have a rag that they use for a variety of different tasks when they’re working in the kitchen. I know I do! I’ll use it to clean my hands off, wipe up overspray at the sink, clean up stove splatters, and more. Having a kitchen rag like this isn’t a bad thing, but it can be if you’re not cleaning it regularly!

If you use your kitchen rag several times a day, swap it out for a clean rag daily. If you use your rag a bit less frequently, swap it out for a clean one every other day.

Related: 9 Things In Your House You Should Never Clean With Water

Gross Cleaning Mistakes

3. Neglecting Your Coffee Maker

The warm, moist environment in your coffee maker and coffee pot can make a comfortable home for bacteria and mold. Make sure to clean the coffee pot and any removable parts in your coffee maker after each use. A clean coffee maker is a happy coffee maker, and it makes better tasting coffee too! Check out the link below to learn how to use denture tablets for a cleaner coffee maker.

Related: 11 Unexpected Ways That Denture Tablets Make Cleaning Easy

Gross Cleaning Mistakes

4. Neglecting “Touch Points”

It’s easy to forget to clean “touch points” (places or things that are frequently touched or handled) around the house. But it’s crucial to keep these surfaces clean to avoid the spread of germs! Clean or disinfect touch points like faucets, handles, light switches, remote controls, and door knobs every few days. (You may even want to clean them daily during cold and flu season!)

Gross Cleaning Mistakes

5. Using A Feather Duster

Feather dusters can move dust around, but they aren’t that great at picking it up off of surfaces. Replace your feather duster with microfiber (either a microfiber cleaning cloth or a microfiber duster.) Microfiber creates a bit of static electricity as it glides over surfaces, which helps grab onto and lock in dust much more effectively than feathers.

Gross Cleaning Mistakes

6. Storing A Wet Toilet Brush

While there’s really no such thing as a “clean” toilet brush, putting it away while it’s still wet is only going to make it dirtier. Instead, let it dry for a while before you put it back in its holder.

I learned a great trick for this from a woman who cleaned professionally for years! Just prop your wet toilet brush between the bowl and the toilet seat, so that the brush is suspended over the water. Any drips will go right into the toilet, and the brush will be dry in no time!

Gross Cleaning Mistakes

7. Using Dirty Sponges

Kitchen sponges can be a hotbed for bacterial growth, which is why it’s so important to replace them regularly (about every other week). Cleaning your sponge can also help eliminate the most harmful strains of bacteria. To clean your sponge, pop it in your dishwasher with a heated dry cycle, or get it wet and microwave it for a minute.

Questions or concerns about cleaning your kitchen sponge? Check out this helpful article on NPR that clears up some of the misinformation that has been floating around on this particular topic.

Gross Cleaning Mistakes

8. Using Too Much Detergent

Using more detergent in your washing machine won’t necessarily yield cleaner clothes. In fact, it could product the opposite effect! Using too much detergent for your washer or load size will make it less likely that your clothes get properly rinsed during the rinse cycle.

The detergent residue that lingers in the fibers of your clothes can attract dirt and grime, leaving them dirtier than ever! So make sure to follow the detergent recommendations on your detergent bottle and in your washing machine’s user manual.

Gross Cleaning Mistakes

9. Neglecting Your Reusable Bags

Reusable bags that you use at the grocery store can collect food bacteria overtime. Failing to clean those bags properly can lead to the spread of bacteria, and no one wants that! To clean your reusable bags, either wash them in your washing machine on a gentle cycle, or spray them inside and out with hydrogen peroxide and let dry.

Do you know of any other counterproductive cleaning “mistakes” that could be included in this list?

Read This Next

Jill Nystul Photo

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

  • I will be checking out the stores in my area for OUI yogurt. The local havens quit carrying my favorites.
    Where did you get your tan and white printed rug?

  • DON’T follow the detergent manufacturers’ recommendations! They’re whole purpose is to sell more detergent. If you check the book that came with your washer, you’ll find the washer recommendations are always less! Pay attention to that!

  • I recently moved to a new (old) house and the first thing I noticed was the very dirty light switches. I removed the cover plates and scrubbed the outlets with a plastic toothbrush (plastic so I would not get a shock). Mentioned it to several friends and they told me that because of what I said they went home and cleaned their outlets. I am a big fan of disinfecting wipes and regularly wipe down a lot of contact points.

  • I almost always use the short cycle on my washing machine, unless I have something that requires a substantial wash. No matter what cycle I use, I always choose the extra rinse option. Along with switching to “free from” detergent, it has eliminated the dermatitis both my husband and I suffered from.

  • Many years ago, I overused laundry detergent. It took a few days of intense itching and redness to realize the cause. Now I am careful to follow the product recommendation.

  • One thing that I learned early on to do (and where one could believe that common sense would dictate- but realistically often times doesn’t! lol) and learned from trial and error is to clean from the “the TOP down”! It’s a steadfast rule of cleaning for me – (yes I have rules, lol) and I have a love affair with my Webster as I recall dusting down strings of dust webs using a heavy broom before they came out)

    When I trained housekeepers I was amazed at how many had never heard of doing things in any particular order, let alone from the top down. There were many times when I went to inspect a room after a trainee had cleaned, who did an excellent job upon first view, but where it was obvious upon closer inspection, that they had dusted the ceiling but did it as an “snap” oh yea! afterthought, based upon the debris that landed upon the freshly cleaned/dusted furniture below where they had to return to a room to correct it.

  • I never thought of spraying my grocery cloth bags with hydrogen peroxide but I think that is a great idea and easier and faster than washing them and would do that more often then washing them. Thanks for the tip.

    • better than hydrogen peroxide, is RUBBING ALCOHOL. It’s less expensive than h. p. and there’s no threat of spotting (bleach marks) which will over time weaken the material (if fabric). So much easier and faster to spray which sanitizes the bag…………………….

  • I dedicated the small drawer by my sink to my towels & rags. I prefer white bar mop rags & towels from Walmart that can be bleached when needed. I can get 10 of each in that drawer with them folded & standing vertically – rags across the front, towels front to back filling the rest. That guarantees that no matter what the mess I have plenty right at hand. It doesn’t matter how much they get used in a day, even if just a couple of times, they get tossed in the kitchen hamper when dry & a new set comes out each morning because bacteria multiplies quickly. My kitchen hamper is one of those small plastic trash cans with the swinging lid. Works perfectly & doesn’t take up much room. Biggest plus is it’s cut way down on paper towel use. I tend to reserve those for the rare pet accident or wiping up spilled raw meat liquids before disinfecting the counter.

  • I agree with Kim. The toilet brush must be disinfected. I put the brush in the bathroom trash can with hot water and bleach for a few minutes then turn it upside down to dry. Do not store it wet.

    • That would be a great time to spray it with rubbing alcohol……………..disinfects and dries quicker………………………..

    • Ok, but are these ‘disposable’ scrubbers compostible or just adding to our horrendous contamination of our planet? A toilet brush, like the various cloths and sponges Jillee mentioned, can be disinfected by various environmentally friendly methods and pretty much used for ever.

    • I agree about the toilet brush being very dirty. To clean toilets I use baking soda, Dr. Bronners and white vinegar. I wipe the outside with homemade cleaning wipes then using disposable gloves scrub the inside especially under the rim. This leaves my toilet sparkling clean. It is a bit more work, but it’s worth it!

    • I live out in the country, not on city sewer just the septic tank and the less that goes in there the better. Not to mention the waste of “disposable” scrubbers and the mess things like this are doing to our environment

  • >