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Household Chores You’re Definitely Doing Wrong | Part 1


While you may break out the vacuum or duster on a regular basis, any cleaning professional will tell you that there’s a major difference between cleaning your home and cleaning it correctly. Even the most avowed neatniks may find themselves making critical errors when it comes to getting their home spotless—ones that can cost time and money in the long run. So, what mistakes are you making around the house? Read on to discover which household chores you’re doing wrong.

#1 Hand Washing Your Dishes Without Soaking them First.

Tackling those dishes without giving them a pre-soak only increases the likelihood that you’ll have to give them another pass with that dish brush later.

“If you don’t soak your dishes and separate [greasy dishes] from other dishes, you are making it way harder for yourself,” says Arthur Ruth, vice president of operations at Memphis Maids. “If you have hard-to-remove solids, you should leave it to soak for a while to remove it more easily later saving you time and resources.”

#2 Not Running Your Dishes on a Hot Enough Cycle.

A little hot water goes a long way when it comes to getting those dishes spotless. A 2006 study published in the Saint Martin’s University Biology Journal reveals that E.coli grew quickly in 98.6-degree Fahrenheit environments, but had significantly less growth at 113 degrees, meaning that, whenever possible, it’s best to hit the hot cycle on your dishwasher to keep dangerous bacteria at bay.

#3 Cleaning the Gaps Around your Tub without Scrubbing.

Think those crevices around your tub are being effectively cleaned by simply spritzing some cleaning solution? Think again. “You need to scrub with a brush and baking soda” to get those caulked areas spotless, says Ruth.

#4 Scrubbing the Interior of Your Tub with Room-Temperature Water.

Sure, lukewarm water may be easier on your hands, but if you want to get that tub spotless, it’s time to turn up the heat. “You should be using hot water to really clean your tub,” says Abe Navas, general manager of Dallas-based Emily’s Maids. “[Room temperature] tap water is just not enough to clean all of the buildup that soap and shampoo create over time.”

#5 Using Only One Vacuum Attachment.

Your vacuum came with a handful of attachments, but you still use just one—and that means you’re making more work for yourself as you straighten up the place. “Every accessory has a purpose,” says Ruth. “If you use just one, you’re limiting yourself and possibly causing harm to your machine.”

#6 Moving Too Quickly While Vacuuming.

Slow and steady wins the race, especially when it comes to vacuuming. “When vacuuming, take your time! Move your vacuum slowly over carpeted floors to ensure fibers are agitated enough to release dirt, dust crumbs, or anything else trapped in there,” says cleaning expert Kait Schulof, founder of cleaning blog A Clean Bee.

#7 Vacuuming in Only One Direction.

If you’re not pushing your vacuum back and forth over your carpet, you’re likely leaving a significant amount and dirt and debris behind. “You need to pass over the carpet forward and then backward to sweep and vacuum effectively,” says Jeremy Powers, the owner and operator of Office Pride Commercial Cleaning Services in Cincinnati. He also recommends going in one direction around a room to make sure you’re tackling the most dirt without inadvertently redistributing it in the process.

#8 Cleaning your Mirrors with Too Much Cleaning Spray.

You definitely can have too much of a good thing—especially when it comes to cleaning your mirrors. “The secret to streak-free mirrors is very, very little liquid,” says Laura Smith, a cleaning expert with All Star Cleaning Services. “Spray lightly across the bottom where the toothpaste splatters are likely to be, and then wipe upward from there using a microfiber cloth and that small amount of moisture for the rest of the mirror.”

#9 Cleaning your Mirrors with the Lights On.

As surprising as it may seem, cleaning your mirrors with the lights on can actually do more harm than good. According to Smith, those spots are far more visible with the lights off, so when in doubt, flip the switch before you break out your cleaning supplies.

#10 Cleaning Stainless Steel with a Metal-Specific Cleaner.

Just because a cleaner is billed as safe for stainless steel doesn’t actually mean it’s the best product for the job. “Fancy stainless steel cleaners actually compound the streak problem over time,” says Smith. “The best thing to do is to wash it all off with hot water (sometimes it will take a few passes to remove the buildup), and then maintain with plain water on a microfiber cloth going forward.”

#11 Using the Wrong Cleaner on Granite Counters.

While DIY cleaners have their place, certain ingredients in them may be doing more harm than good. “Stone countertops are porous, so using a harsh, acidic cleaning agent (like vinegar or lemon juice) can damage these surfaces over time,” says Schulof. For daily cleaning, Schulof recommends a combination of one teaspoon dish soap dissolved in two cups of water, while for disinfecting, a 50/50 mix of isopropyl alcohol and water will do the trick.

#12 Dusting with the Lights On.

Some things are just better with the lights off. Get your mind out of the gutter: we’re talking dusting, here, folks! “People dust with all the lights on, which, in general, actually makes the dust harder to see,” says Smith. “[It’s] best to dust with the lights off and the blinds open on a sunny day. Natural light is your best friend when dusting!”

#13 Dusting from Bottom to Top.

If you’re starting with your baseboards and working your way up to your crown molding as you dust, you’re only making more work for yourself. According to Sean Parry, founder of Neat, a high-end domestic cleaning company based in the United Kingdom, if you want to get your home dust-free, it pays to start at the top and work your way down to the bottom—otherwise, you’re simply redistributing dust as you go.

#14 Mopping All Your Flooring with the Same Cleaner.

Not all cleaning products are created equal—and that’s especially true when it comes to preserving the health and appearance of your floors. “It is important to know what type of flooring you’re working with to avoid streaks and ensure a thorough clean,” says Smith. “Wood flooring and natural tile is extremely porous and requires more water to dissolve buildup properly, whereas laminate flooring needs very little water or it will streak badly, as all the water just sits on top.”

#15 Dusting After You Vacuum.

There is a right order when it comes to tackling your cleaning tasks—namely, you should dust first and vacuum after. If you dust after you vacuum, you’re knocking a significant amount of that dust onto your freshly-cleaned floor, meaning you’ve got more work ahead of you if you want to get it clean again.

So, how did you do? I definitely learned a few new things today—things like I’ve been using way too much detergent and loading my appliances all wrong. Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Speaking of new tricks, feel free to share yours below and be on the look out for part two!


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