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The 9 Cleaning Mistakes That Are Undermining Your Efforts

cleaning mistakes

We all try our best to keep our homes as clean as we can, but it’s not easy! It can be time-consuming, labor-intensive, and you probably have a thousand things you’d rather be doing instead. And even when you do find the time and motivation to clean, you may accidentally be doing things that are less-than-helpful.

But don’t worry, because today’s post is all about helping you avoid those habits, so you can make the most of the time you spend cleaning your home. Because if you’re going to invest the time and effort to clean something, it’s worth making sure you’re doing it right the first time around! :-)

I wrote a similar post a couple of years ago, listing 7 common “cleaning mistakes” that can make your life harder. (If you missed it, you can check out that post here!) Today’s post will be something of a follow-up to that one, because I’ll be sharing 9 all new mistakes along with easy tips for avoiding them!

9 Cleaning Mistakes That Undermine Your Hard Work

Cleaning Don'ts

1. You Wash Your Windows When It’s Sunny

A warm, sunny day might seem like the perfect time to scrub the grime off your windows, but that’s actually one of the worst times to do it! Bright sunshine will warm up your windows considerably, which will cause any cleaning solutions you use to evaporate quickly.

If your cleaning solution evaporates before you can rinse your windows, you’ll be left with a streaky mess! This is much less likely to happen if you clean your windows on an overcast day, out of direct sunlight.

cleaning mistakes

2. You Spray Cleaning Solutions Directly Onto Surfaces

Some surfaces need to be cleaned carefully, and spraying a cleaner directly onto it can be too harsh or too wet. Spraying cleaners onto a surface also releases more of the cleaner into the air, which can be irritating to people with asthma or allergies. Instead, spray your cleaner onto a cleaning cloth, then wipe the surface.

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

cleaning mistakes

3. You Wipe Your Counters With Dirty Cloths

Your countertops are usually the last thing you tidy up before you’re done cleaning up the kitchen, but don’t use a dirty cloth or used dishwater to clean them. You’ll just end up spreading more germs around! Use a clean cloth or a sanitizing wipe (or one of my homemade reusable kitchen wipes!)

cleaning mistakes

4. You Clean Stainless Steel In Circular Motions

Stainless steel can be finicky when it comes to cleaning. If you wipe a stainless steel surface using circular motions, you’ll likely see those marks once the cleaner dries. Instead, identify the direction of the “grain” in the stainless steel, and follow that while cleaning. It makes a big difference!

cleaning mistakes

5. You Clean Mirrors With Newspaper

When it comes to cleaning with newspaper, the paper isn’t the problem; it’s the ink! Some of the ink is likely to come off once the paper gets wet, and you don’t want that on your windows, mirrors, or anything else you’re cleaning. You can use a brown paper bag instead, which has all the lint-free benefits of newspaper, without any of the ink.

cleaning mistakes

6. You Clean Stone Countertops With Vinegar

Vinegar is acidic, which makes it a great cleaner for many types of surfaces. However, you shouldn’t use it to clean stone countertops, because the acid can actually wear down the protective coating on the stone and leave behind etching, scratches, and other noticeable marks. Instead, use a cleaner that’s labeled as safe for stone.

Related: This Easy Homemade Cleaner Makes Granite Countertops Sparkle

Cleaning Don'ts

7. You Clean Your Best Knives In The Dishwasher

You can keep your kitchen knives nice and sharp by hand washing them, rather than putting them through the dishwasher. And avoid using vinegar to clean them, as vinegar can cause etching in the steel. Just use a bit of dish soap and some warm water!

Related: 7 Ways You’re Ruining The Most Important Thing In Your Kitchen

cleaning mistakes

8. You Clean Your Non-Stick Pans In The Dishwasher

You can extend the lifespan of your non-stick pans by hand washing them, rather than running them through the dishwasher. The hot water that circulates in the dishwasher can actually wear down the non-stick coating over time. A bit of dish soap and warm water is much gentler!

Related: 11 Ways You’re Ruining Your Non-Stick Pans

Cleaning Don'ts

9. You Use Bleach To Remove Rust Stains

Bleach might actually set a rust stain, rather than cleaning it up. Instead, use a cleaner that’s specially formulated to use on rust, like CLR or Lime-A-Way.

Which cleaning mistakes would you add to this list?

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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

  • I always wipe dry my knife blades (and razor blades). The edges seem to stay keener longer for doing so. I prefer carbon blades to stainless ones as they sharpen better and stay sharper longer. You do have to keep them dry when not using; they will rust if not kept properly. I use a ceramic sharpener as well to get a good edge.

  • I HIGHLY recommend e-cloths for cleaning & polishing! They’re like microfiber cloths on steroids. They wipe up 99% of germs USING ONLY WATER and the germs just rinse off the cloth under the faucet (eventually you have to throw it in the washing machine). My absolute favorite is the glass polishing e-cloth. I was dumbfounded when I cleaned an all-glass china cabinet using only water, wiping everything only once and not getting even one streak! I really can’t say enough about them.

  • I agree not too hot sun on your windows. I use a gallon bucket of water and put 1 drop (not a squeeze) of Sun liquid hand dish soap in the bucket. Gently with my hand so I don’t cause bubbles give it a stir. I use a microfiber towel dunk it in and wash one window. Moving quickly I Then (don’t rinse) use a squeegee to dry the window using a dry microfiber towel to dry squeegee with each pass making S pattern with the squeegee. Be careful your windows sparkle like new and may not be able to see there is a window there

  • I buy roll ends from our local newspaper — super cheap and no ink! Lots of other uses, too. But I tried your coffee filter suggestion — it was great!

  • I have found an overcast day is best, you can see any streaks you are leaving. Unless it is a winter day, then you need the heat of the sun to keep stuff from freezing.

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