When it comes to spiffing up the home, some common cleaning habits could actually do more harm than good. As you tackle your chore list, slow down and consider whether your strategies could be improved.
Avoid these cleaning mistakes that could make your home dirtier, and follow these fixes instead for a safer, more effective routine.
1. Use clean tools
Before you begin, ensure your cleaning tools are in good order to avoid spreading bacteria, dirt and dust all over the house. Wash cleaning cloths, scrub brushes and mop heads often, and sanitize germy items like toilet brushes after each use. Empty your vacuum as soon as it becomes full, and change or wash the filter often for optimum performance.
2. Clean, then disinfect
While cleaning can physically remove germs from a surface, disinfecting uses chemicals to actually kill the germs. If the surface is covered in dust or dirt, however, the disinfectant won’t be able to effectively target the germs, which is why cleaning is an important first step. Before you reach for the disinfecting spray, ensure the surface is free from residue and debris so the chemicals can do their job.
3. Blot, don’t rub stains
Spills and splatters often require quick action to avoid set-in stains, but scrubbing is likely to make the problem worse. Rubbing a stain could cause it to spread, push it deeper into the material or even damage upholstery fibers. Always blot stains with a clean white cloth to draw the residue out, then use a stain-removal method that’s appropriate for the material.
4. Be patient
Getting the best clean isn’t always as simple as spray, wipe and walk away. Disinfectants take time to work, so patience is key. In some cases, the surface needs to be visibly wet for several minutes to effectively eliminate germs. Always read the product’s label to determine the recommended contact time for sanitizing or disinfecting.
5. Beware the sponge
Think twice before reaching for the sponge to wipe countertops. Kitchen sponges are notorious for harboring bacteria, which can transfer to other surfaces as you clean. To avoid spreading germs, use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe down surfaces, or disinfect your sponges regularly and replace them about once a month.
6. Use designated cloths
Reusing the same cleaning cloth throughout the home might seem efficient, but it can transfer germs and grime between rooms. You definitely don’t want bacteria from your bathroom ending up on your kitchen counters, for example. Designate various cloths to use in different rooms and launder them often. If you’re using disposable wipes, use one per cleaning job.
7. Provide good ventilation
When using cleaners containing ingredients like ammonia or bleach, good ventilation is vital. The fumes from these products can release into the room and irritate your airways. To help clear the air, turn on the vent fan, open a window or switch on an air purifier. As soon as you’re done cleaning, leave the room.
8. Work your way down
Gravity can put a damper on your cleaning efforts if you begin with the floors. As you clean other areas, crumbs, dust and other debris can drop to the floor, which means you might have to vacuum or mop twice. Instead, start at the top of the room and work your way down, so you can catch everything in one go.