7 Cleaning Mistakes You Might Not Even Realize You’re Making

updated Jun 14, 2019
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Lately my dog has been eating a lot of weird things. (Don’t worry, he’s totally fine!) In the past few months he’s eaten a shoe, a Christmas ornament, and the cord of my upright vacuum. It wasn’t until he gnawed on the tube of my canister vacuum, though, that I found myself unable to deal with the animal fur and other dust bunnies collecting in my Brooklyn apartment (while both vacuums were at the shop). So I called in a professional.

I promise my house is pretty clean, I heard myself say over the phone. Her reply? Everyone (literally everyone) says exactly the same thing. Her point? We could all — myself included — be doing a better job cleaning. And you can start by not making these cleaning mistakes you might not even realize you’re making.

Credit: Cat Meschia

1. You’re not cleaning up messes as they happen.

You’ve probably heard this one over and over again: If you clean as you go, cleaning becomes so much easier. That goes for everything from your stovetop to your sink drain to your backsplash. Wipe down spaghetti sauce splatters as they happen, don’t let grease just hang out, and run some soapy water down your drain a few times a week. Your future self will thank you.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. You’re using bleach all wrong.

It’s possible that you’re not using bleach in the kitchen at all (which is a big mistake, in my opinion), but if you are, chances are you’re doing something wrong. Maybe you’re using too much or too little. Are you mixing bleach with hot water? Don’t do that! And definitely, definitely don’t mix bleach with other cleaning agents.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. You’re also using Clorox Wipes the wrong way.

Apparently there’s a wrong way to use Clorox Wipes, and practically none of us use them correctly. We should be using enough wipes so that the treated surface remains visibly wet for four minutes. Four minutes!

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. You’re not cleaning top to bottom.

Have you ever swept your floors and then wiped down your counters, only to get food bits all over your clean floors? I definitely have. And it’s a mistake. Start at the top — the counters, maybe, or the tippy-tippy tops of your cabinets if you’re feeling really ambitious. And clean your floors last. Like at the very end. Seriously, it should be the last thing you do.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

5. You’re not cleaning your cleaning supplies.

If you’re using the same sponge or dishcloth for weeks on end, we’ve got news for you: You’re probably just spreading around germs. Your cleaning supplies need cleaning too! You should be washing your dish towels every other day (or at least throwing them in the laundry to get washed) and you should give your sponges the heave-ho every couple weeks. And even your broom bristles could afford a good shaking out from time to time.

Credit: Diana Liang

6. You’re cleaning around things.

If you’re doing the five-minute clean-up before company comes, a clean-around-stuff approach is totally fine. In fact, it’s more than fine! We support a lazy pre-party clean. But if you’re actually cleaning, you know, for real — not just for show — you have to actually move things, like the KitchenAid mixer that’s sitting out on your counter and also that toaster.

7. You’re not wearing dish gloves.

Dish gloves help protect your hands from hot water. Which means, if you pull on a pair, you can make the water hotter. Which means dishes become easier to clean.

How many of these mistakes have you been making?