I may have spent the last decade researching ways to make cleaning faster and easier, but my “shortcuts” haven’t always worked out. I’ve done all sorts of things while cleaning that ended up making it harder or more time-consuming in the long run, and if you’re anything like me, you may have developed some of the same bad cleaning habits!
In order to help us all avoid getting in our own way in pursuit of clean and comfortable homes, today I’m sharing 13 counterproductive cleaning habits with explanations as to why each should be avoided. Some may simply undermine your efficiency, while others can actually cause harm!
But as common as these behaviors might be, they’re not difficult to correct or avoid, and you’ll save yourself time and money by doing so!
13 Bad Cleaning Habits You Should Avoid (And Why)
1. Using Too Much Cleaning Product
If a little bit of cleaner works, then more will work even better, right? Nope! Advertisements for soaps and detergents often show small mountains of suds, but using more soap or detergent than you need can leave behind a film that attracts grime or reacts with other cleaning agents.
The safest way to use any cleaning product is use the amount indicated on the label according to the directions provided—including rinsing, if called for.
2. Not Reading Directions
And speaking of labels, skimming over the directions on a cleaning product label can lead to underwhelming results. Having to clean that area again is just a big waste of time and effort!
Make sure to read the directions on the label so you know how long to let it sit to get the best results. Taking 30 seconds to read the label could save you 30 minutes of extra scrubbing!
3. Using Unnecessarily Harsh Cleaners
If you’re using a cleaning product that’s harsher than it needs to be, you can end up doing more harm than good. Harsh chemicals can strip away protective finishes or even create hazards for pets and family members.
A good rule of thumb is to use the gentlest cleaning agent(s) you can to achieve the results you want.
4. Cleaning With Dirty Tools
All cleaning tools and appliances get grimy over time, but ignoring how dirty they are isn’t doing you any favors. A dirty washing machine can make your laundry smell bad, a full vacuum won’t have as much suction, and a germ-ridden sponge will only spread those germs around.
5. Using Disinfecting Wipes Incorrectly
While using too much cleaner can be bad, using too little isn’t great either. A single disposable disinfecting wipe can keep your bathroom countertop sanitary, but one wipe won’t clean your entire bathroom.
In order to actually disinfect a surface, most wipes need to leave behind enough solution to keep the surface wet for 4 minutes. (If you’re only looking to clean the surface, rather than disinfect it, that’s another story—learn more about that here.)
6. Wearing Shoes In The House
The few moments it takes to remove your shoes as you enter the house can save you hours of sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping time. Keep a shoe tray near each door that leads outside where people can put their wet or muddy shoes, as well as a rack or bin for dry shoes.
7. Storing Supplies Wherever
Save yourself the time and effort of scouring the house for the right cleaning solutions and tools by keeping supplies near the areas you use them in. Also, don’t forget to store light-sensitive cleaners like hydrogen peroxide or bleach in dark locations (or bottles that keep light out) so they don’t break down and become ineffective.
8. Keeping Unwanted Foods In The Fridge
For everything from leftovers that no one wants to eat to a condiment you tried and didn’t like, you’re better off tossing them out rather than keeping them in your fridge. Otherwise, that uneaten food will likely sit around getting moldy and making it harder to keep your fridge clean and organized.
9. Overlooking Drips Or Leaks
A small drip, a slow drain, or a toilet tank that keeps refilling itself can be easy enough to ignore, but minor problems like these can become big problem in a hurry. Rather than waiting for something to overflow or a pipe to burst, address plumbing issues ASAP to prevent them from getting worse.
10. Ignoring Beeping Detectors
Your desire to ignore the annoying beeps from your smoke or carbon monoxide detectors — usually a sign the batteries need to be replaced — isn’t worth risking your life over. Check the functionality and battery levels of your detectors regularly to ensure they’ll work properly in an emergency.
11. Using Paper Towels For Everything
Paper towels are great for cleaning thick grease or grime that would be tricky to wash out of a cloth, but relying on paper towels for every cleaning task is bound to tax your budget (not to mention the waste!). Doing most of your cleaning with washable cloths and rags while using paper towels sparingly and strategically can save you a lot of money over time.
12. Loading Your Dishwasher Improperly
Improper loading can make your dishwasher less efficient and less effective. Look for guidance about loading your specific dishwasher correctly in your user manual, or get general guidance from my dishwasher guide.
Don’t forget to clean your dishwasher regularly too. If your dishes aren’t coming out as clean as they ought to be, that’s a good indication it’s overdue for a good cleaning!
13. Scrubbing Spills On Carpet
When you see something spill onto the carpet or a rug, your knee-jerk reaction might be to grab a towel and start scrubbing, but that may just end up making things worse. Scrubbing can not only wreak havoc on the fibers of your carpet, but it can spread the staining substance around and make the stain larger too.
The key to treating carpet stains is to blot the spill with an absorbent cloth to absorb as much of the stain as possible—ideally until the spot is dry, or nearly so. Once you’ve done that, use a carpet stain remover according to the directions on the label to remove any remaining residue.
What’s your best piece of time-saving cleaning advice?