Common household cleaning mistakes

Private Property South Africa
Veronica Logan

While cleaning our homes is pretty straightforward and forms part of most of our everyday routines, there are a few common cleaning mistakes that we could be making without even realising it! Below are just a few of these mistakes, as well as tips on how to avoid them:

1. Not packing the dishwasher correctly

Due to their common presence in most homes, many people assume that they know how to effectively load the dishwasher. That said, there is a definite art and skill to it that most people aren’t even aware of. For example, any dishes that held starchy foods, like mashed potatoes or pasta, should be placed where they can be directly sprayed by the spray arms as they require a mechanical kind of washing action for effective cleaning. Similarly, any dishes with residue from protein dishes, like steak or chicken, should be placed around the outside where they intermittently get hit by the water but have a longer soak time thanks to the lack of constant and direct spray action. Finally, your silverware should be placed in an alternating “up and down” fashion i.e. one piece placed upwards and the next downwards. This is because if all your silverware is placed in one direction, they end up blocking each other, preventing exposure to any water and will therefore remain dirty.

2. General use of natural cleaning products

While the term “natural cleaners” conjures up the image of harmless, yet highly effective cleaning, there are some natural options that cause more hassle than help. For example, baking soda and vinegar have been notoriously dubbed the natural alternatives to most mainstream cleaning products however, despite their lower levels of toxicity, they can still pack a mean punch chemical-wise and can end up doing damage to your household goods and surfaces i.e. the acidity of vinegar can actually damage stone countertops. With this in mind, be sure to research which natural cleaners are best for which areas of your home, rather than assuming that “natural” always means “harmless”.

Read more: Keeping your home clean for less

3. Making the bed

It might seem counterintuitive, but making your bed could be one of the simplest cleaning mistakes you could be making. This is because dust mites, the microscopic organisms that live in bedding, are often happiest in closed-in, stuffy environments with limited airflow. A well-made bed therefore provides the perfect breeding ground for them which could play a significant role in aggravating any allergies or asthma you or your family might have. With this in mind, occasionally leaving your bed unmade during the day can help remove any moisture from your sheets and mattress which, in turn, causes the mites to dehydrate and eventually die.

4. Cleaning the windows when it’s sunny outside

Although a day filled with sunshine might seem like the best time to wash your windows, you’re more likely to end up with streakier windows than when you started. This is because the heat and light from the sun will cause your window cleaner to evaporate too quickly and leave behind nothing but streaks. Rather, aim to clean your windows in the early morning or on a cloudy day for that much-needed sparkly finish.

See more: 3 easy cleaning hacks for your home

5. Using the wrong products on wooden furniture

Cleaning your wooden furniture with the traditional waxy, lemon-scented products we grew up with might seem like a good idea, however this is often not the case. Wood and wooden finishes are a lot more delicate than most of us realise and don’t do well when covered in oils, waxes or other common household cleaners. For example, using a cleansing oil can leave your wooden furniture with smear stains or worse, a buildup of residue which ends up trapping dust. It’s far better to gently wipe your wooden furniture and finishes with a slightly damp cloth.

6. Using fabric softener

While there are few scents that top that of freshly washed laundry, fabric softener can often lead to a decreased level of usability when it comes to certain fabrics. Due to the prevalent mix of animal fat and synthetic chemicals found in most conventional softeners, they are not good for fabrics where absorbency and breathability is important, such as towels or active wear. This is because they tend to coat the fibres of the fabric and render them useless as a result so rather opt for vinegar during the rinse cycle on these fabrics for all the softness and none of the chemical coating.

When it comes to cleaning our homes, the goal should always be to clean smarter and not harder. At the end of the day, by being aware of the small mistakes you could be making when cleaning, you can hopefully avoid being left with more of a mess than when you started!

Read more: Marie Kondo's top tidying up tips

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