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7 Cleaning Mistakes to Avoid
You work hard to keep your home spotless. But your efforts could be doing more harm than good. Avoid these common cleaning blunders to prevent undue damage to your home.
1. Forgetting to clean your kitchen sink
Your kitchen sink is a hideout for a multitude of harmful bacteria. Rinsing dishes, cups or silverware in a dirty sink will spread germs and cause serious illnesses like E. coli. What’s more, allowing debris to collect and decay in your sink and disposal can also cause offensive odors.

The fix: Scrub your sink daily with dish soap and a non-abrasive sponge. This will knock down any buildup and eliminate harmful bacteria. Also use bleach to sterilize your sink once every few months. A mixture of vinegar and baking soda will help clean your disposal. Be sure to chase the baking soda-vinegar mixture with boiling water to clean off the blades. Grinding ice, salt and lemon peels in your disposal will also eliminate any odor-causing buildup.
2. Using the wrong cleaning products
A one-product-cleans-all approach can result in unsightly damage to your home. Here’s a quick list of product-related mistakes to avoid:
  • Scrubbing stainless steel with scouring pads. Abrasive materials will leave unsightly scratches on stainless surfaces. Use a soft rag or cloth to clean stainless steel.
  • Cleaning natural stone with acidic chemicals. Acidic cleaners will seep into your natural stone surfaces and stain or dull the finish. Light water-detergent mixtures are perfect for lifting stains and mopping up messes.
  • Using corrosive or soapy cleaners on hardwood floors. Chemicals like bleach, ammonia, lemon or Tung oil and furniture sprays will dull the finish of your floors and attract more dirt. Always use approved cleaners for your hardwood surfaces.
  • Applying chlorine or bleach to stainless and copper appliances. Corrosive chemicals can react with metal surfaces and leave behind unsightly stains and corrosion. Always use approved cleaners on metal surfaces. Also, never use bleach or ammonia to eliminate rust. This will set the stain and make it more difficult to remove.
The fix: Research all new cleaning supplies or chemicals before use. It is especially important to ensure that your cleaning methods and products are approved for your cabinet-countertop setup.
3. Mixing cleaning chemicals
Most household cleaners use a potent mix of chemicals to remove stains and buildup. But, if mixed incorrectly, those same chemicals could pose unnecessary health risks.

The fix: Avoid mixing the following cleaning products:
  • Drain cleaner and drain cleaner: Drain cleaners are potent chemical cocktails. Mixing two or more brands can result in an explosion and serious damage to your plumbing.
  • Hydrogen peroxide and vinegar: This is a popular cleaning solution. But combining hydrogen peroxide and vinegar in the same container can result in peracetic acid, which is a skin, eye and respiratory irritant.
  • Bleach and vinegar: When mixed together, bleach and vinegar create chlorine gas. This mixture can cause breathing problems, eye irritations and coughing.
  • Bleach and ammonia: This combination creates a gas called chloramine. Chloramine has an effect similar to that of chlorine gas, but with the added symptoms of chest pain and shortness of breath.
  • Bleach and Pine-Sol: Mixing these two chemicals in large amounts will create chlorine gas and can restrict your breathing.
4. Putting off cleaning
Cleaning isn’t always a top-of-mind task. But waiting too long to clean can just make it more difficult and time-consuming. This is especially true with the smaller, hard-to-reach spaces of your home. Over time, blinds, baseboards, ceiling corners and window sills can become major filth magnets.

The fix: Create a cleaning calendar. Dividing up cleaning to-dos into manageable chunks will reduce stress and ensure a consistent cleaning cycle. Scheduled cleaning also ensures that each area of your home receives adequate attention — including easily forgotten spots.
5. Cleaning bottom-up or side to side
This may seem trivial, but cleaning windows, walls, mirrors cabinets and countertops in the correct direction is crucial to ensuring a spotless surface. Incorrect cleaning can result in dust, dirty water or cleaner dripping onto clean areas.

The fix: If you’re cleaning upright surfaces like walls or windows, work from the top down. This keeps dirty water from dripping onto already-cleaned areas. Similarly, it’s important to wipe down countertops and even cookware with an S or V motion. Wiping side to side will only spread gunk over the same area and make it more difficult to remove. Finally, be sure to clean from top to bottom — starting with light fixtures, then countertops, then flooring.
6. Not maintaining cleaning supplies
Working with faulty tools makes completing any task difficult — and cleaning is no different. Slacking on the upkeep of your cleaning supplies spreads messes and can even damage your home.

The fix: Make a note of which cleaning supplies are disposable and which are reusable. Reusable supplies will require a quick clean after each use. The upkeep of vacuums and dish sponges is especially important. Vacuuming with a full filter will spread more dust, dirt and grime around your home. This can damage carpeting and irritate asthmatic or allergic family members. Forgetting to clean your sponges will spread harmful bacteria and cause unpleasant smells. Run your sponge through the dishwasher or soak it in a bleach-water mixture after each use. It’s a good idea to replace sponges — and other scrubbing tools — after a month of use.
7. Not cleaning handles and knobs
Handles and knobs are a major — and frequently overlooked — source of germs. Forgetting to wipe down these areas will contribute to the spread of illnesses like the cold and flu.

The fix: Always include handles and knobs in your cleaning calendar. Keeping sanitary wipes near doors and in your kitchen and bathroom will help eliminate a buildup of germs. You can also install hygienic door pulls in your bathrooms, mudrooms or garage to prevent the spread of bacteria.

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