7 Things These Professional House Cleaners Wish You’d Stop Doing ASAP

updated Mar 29, 2021
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Planning an afternoon cleaning session later today? Be sure to read this post first. We spoke with a few professional house cleaners to make a list of the things they wish people would NOT do. Because while almost any effort you spend cleaning is going to be time well-spent, some things can create more work for you, wind up being completely ineffective, or have dangerous outcomes (like if, say, you mix certain cleaning solutions).

Here are seven things you should never do when you clean, according to professional house cleaners.

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1. Cleaning your hardwood floors with a ready-to-use mop pad.

Ready-to-use mops are great for occasional spot cleaning, but according to Irina Nikiforova, owner of Rocket Maids LA, the accompanying pads, which are soaked in cleaning solution, can leave residue on hardwood, creating a foggy look over time. “The best solution for hardwood floors is to use a microfiber mop, slightly dampened in a mixture of water and a drop of Dawn,” she says.

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2. Overusing vinegar.

While vinegar is a great, versatile cleaning solution, it’s not a solution for everything: Just as you’d do with a store bought cleaner, it’s important to use caution (and strategy) when you clean with vinegar. Vinegar is acidic, so it’s best to avoid using it on granite, marble, wood furniture, and most hardwood floors, Nikiforova points out. Nikiforova’s favorite way to use vinegar is to remove hard water stains on faucets and on glass shower doors.

Read more: The Very First Thing You Should Do with a New Bottle of Vinegar

3. Cleaning with oil-based products.

Oil-based products, like some stainless steel cleaners and canned dusting agents, can be convenient, but Laura Smith, founder of All-Star Cleaning Services in Colorado, says that convenience can be costly. If you ever hire a professional cleaner, they’ll have to strip the oil off kitchen surfaces before deep cleaning, and customers often end up with horrible streaks.

4. Attempting to remediate mold yourself.

Rooms with poor ventilation can accumulate mold quite easily, and you might be tempted to grab some bleach and handle it yourself. Nikiforova says it’s best to leave remediation to a professional — visible mold is often just the tip of the iceberg, and dealing with it yourself can pose health risks. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

5. Forgetting to clean the outside of your fridge.

You probably deep clean the inside of your fridge somewhat regularly, but how often do you scrub the top and outside of your fridge? Because accumulated dust on the refrigerator will mix with grease from cooking — resulting in a more stubborn mess later on — it’s best to clean it regularly. Nikiforova recommends adopting a strict rule to clean the outside of your fridge once a month to prevent tough-to-clean jobs down the road. Tip: You can even add some newspaper or wax paper to the top of your fridge to help with this.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

6. Using the same sponge or cloth for everything you clean.

Using the same cloth to clean every room in your house is a surefire way to spread more germs than you’re killing, points out Val Oliveira, founder of Chicago-based Val’s Services. As a rule of thumb to avoid cross-contamination, Oliveira suggests designating specific cloths or sponges for rooms. Her team color-codes microfiber cloths by job, too — for example, pink cloths are for cleaning glass, while blue cloths are for cleaning with all-purpose spray.

7. Using cloth for germy jobs.

Paper towels aren’t ideal for most household jobs, as they’re single-use and wasteful — and microfiber is actually much more absorbent! But Oliveira says it’s best not to use cloth for jobs involving potentially hazardous germs, like cleaning your toilet. Instead, she says to go with paper towels here. It may also be a good idea to use paper towels for cleaning surfaces with foodborne germs (like leaked meat juice) — especially if you’re not going to wash the germ-covered cloth right away and might accidentally reuse it.

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