Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years

Guest post by Corrie Pelc

1 Not Freshening Your Garbage Disposal

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
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Don’t let a stinky garbage disposal smell up your kitchen. Food odors can get trapped in the drain and permeate throughout your home. This next cleaning tip is a DIY project that can get rid of those odors, fast.

Freshen up your kitchen with homemade lemon cubes. Just mix white vinegar and lemon slices in an ice cube tray. Place it in the freezer until frozen. Then toss the ice cubes into the garbage disposal. Your sink will smell so much better as the ice cube melts. The ice tackles clumped on food and the lemons leave a citrus scent.

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2 Forgetting About Your Reusable Bags

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
Apartment Therapy
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Ok, so the thought of this one just totally grossed us out because it makes total sense, yet we’ve never thought about this either! Nowadays, we all have piles of reusable bags in our cars that we just grab on the way into the grocery store, pharmacy, or really any other everyday type of store. Those bags are just thrown into dirty shopping carts, handled by different people who pack them with whatever you’ve purchased, unloaded at home, and tossed back into the car until the next time you need them.

When you think about it, they probably have a wealth of germs hanging around on and in them, between dirty surfaces and leaky packages. Who wants to then throw fresh fruits and veggies into that mess? If your reusable bags are machine washable, that’s a great way to get them clean. If not, or you’re not sure, some soapy water should do the trick or spray them with a disinfectant spray and let them air dry.

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3 Not Cleaning Your Comforter And Pillows

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
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Laundering your sheets and pillowcases is something everyone probably does every week on autopilot. But when it comes to bulkier bedding like comforters and pillows, when was the last time you thought of cleaning those? Probably never, and that’s ok because we’re here to remind you!

For your comforter, make sure to read the washing instructions on the tag and follow suit. If the instructions are no longer available, running it in the washing machine on a delicate cycle in cold or warm water is your best bet. As for pillows, again look for those washing instructions. If they’re not available and it’s a standard old bed pillow, it should be safe in the washing machine on the delicate cycle in cold water or wash it by hand in the sink. Then dry in the dryer on the low setting or let it air dry.

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4 Keeping the Lights On When Cleaning

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
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This one may sound like the direct opposite of what you should do when cleaning, but we’ll explain. Believe it or not, lighting can make it harder to see things like the dust on tables, crumbs on the kitchen counter, dust on TV and computer screens, or smudges on mirrors.

Give it a try next time you’re in your kitchen and you turn the overhead lights off. We promise you’ll see dirty spots you missed on your last house cleaning. So next time you need to clean the house, consider cleaning at dawn or dusk when it’s not fully bright outside, or on a cloudy day, keeping the overhead lighting off inside your home.

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5 Not Cleaning Your Vent Covers

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
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One overlooked item in the home that often gets dirty is the air vent covers. Mold and mildew can grow on them, so it’s important that you clean them of dust and grime. It’s challenging to wash between the small slats, but we’ve simplified the process with this next hack.

Clean your air vent covers in the bathtub. Fill your bathtub up with warm water and add a few drops of dish soap. Leave the covers soaking in the water for a bit. Finally, rub a washcloth over the vent to remove all the dirt.

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6 Never Disinfecting Your Sponges

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
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Kitchen sponges can be filled with bacteria, so you need to make sure to keep them clean and sanitized. This will prevent the spread of germs as you use the sponges. What the best and quickest way to clean your sponges? Try sterilizing them in the microwave. 

Make sure that the sponge is damp and place it in the microwave. Run it on the high setting for one minute, which will kill any bacteria. Use caution when removing the sponge because it will be hot and nobody enjoys being burned. Allow 15 minutes or so for it to cool off. 

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7 Dusting With A Dry Cloth

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
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Sorry to be the bringer of bad news, but when you dust with a dry cloth or rag, you’re literally just moving dust from your coffee table or bookcase to the air and the floor, where it’s going to just reform in the air where you can inhale it and/or end up right back on your coffee table or bookcase. When dusting, you definitely want to use a wet cloth or rag.

You can moisten the cloth with a liquid cleaner made just for dusting—just make sure not to use too much!—or even in a pinch of plain water will help. Just make sure your cloth or rag has some sort of moisture on it so it more effectively captures the dust.

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8 Not Getting Rid Of Bathroom Mold

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
The Krazy Coupon Lady
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It can be all too easy to discover mold or mildew in your bathroom. These toxic spores often grow in the caulking of your bathtub or between tiles. We have a tip that comes from an unexpected source and you could find it in your liquor cabinet.

It might surprise you to learn Vodka removes mold and mildew. Fill a spray bottle with the alcohol and spray it onto the surface you wish to clean. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then use a toothbrush to scrub it in. Your bathroom will gleam in no time.

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9 Cleaning Windows On Sunny Days

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
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Cloudy days are also the perfect time to clean the windows of your home. When you spray glass cleaner on your windows and the sun is coming in strong, it will actually dry the cleaner before you have the chance to wipe it, leaving major streaks on your windows—the complete opposite of what you want to accomplish.

So make sure to pick cloudy days to clean your windows to make this task a lot easier and more effective.

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10 Not Disinfecting Your Kid Toys

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
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Kids love playing with bath toys, but their rubber ducky can get dirty from exposure to water and dirt. What’s the best way to clean their favorite toys? We have a hack that makes disinfecting those bath time friends easy and simple.

We suggest using the dishwasher. If it’s good enough to clean your dishes, then why couldn’t it work for plastic toys? Just toss all the items into the dishwasher, select a cycle, and let the dishwasher do all the work. Your kiddo’s bath time will be fun and you’ll feel better knowing the toys are nice and clean.

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11 Never Checking The Temperature Of Your Fridge Or Freezer

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
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Refrigerators and freezers are those background appliances that you never really think about… until you’re hungry. Then you’re expecting to open their doors and find food ready for you to consume. In order to make sure the food in there is something you can—and actually want—to eat, you must ensure that your refrigerator and freezer are staying at the right temperature.

Too warm and your food will quickly come from yum to eww as food will spoil and defrost. In general, you should always keep your fridge at or below 40°F and your freezer at 0°F to ensure proper food safety.

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12 Not Sanitizing Your Small Kitchen Appliances

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
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Looking at you, microwave and toaster. These two small appliances are workhorses in the kitchen, but always get overlooked when it comes to cleaning. If you’ve ever reheated anything with a sauce in your microwave, chances are really good there’s some crusted on goo in there you need to get rid of. And toasters = crumbs on the bottom.

To get your microwave clean is super simple—just take a bowl, fill it halfway with water, and add about two tablespoons of baking soda or white distilled vinegar. Heat it up for about five minutes in the microwave—the steam will penetrate the crusted-on bits, allowing you to wipe them clean with a damp sponge. As for the toast, toaster ovens are easy—just slide out the crumb tray, dump the crumbs and clean it. With a slice toaster, turn it upside down over the sink and shake it to remove most of the crumbs. And if it has a crumb tray, slide that out and clean it well.

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13 Never Checking For Signs Of Water Damage

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
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Wherever there are water pipes coming into your home, they should be checked about once a month for any signs of water damage. Water damage can be very expensive and time-consuming to fix, so just doing a quick check once a month under sinks and around showers and toilets can mean you can jump on any small sign before it becomes a large problem.

Signs of water damage can include any warping in hard flooring, sagging or soft spots in the cabinets under sink pipes, or water rings or mold in the ceiling above showers. If you see any signs like this, be proactive and call a reputable plumber to come out and take a look.

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14 Not Letting Your Washing Machine Dry Out

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
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After doing a load of laundry, your first instinct is always to close the door. However, that does not give your washing machine the chance to fully dry out from any moisture still left in the machine after your load is moved to the dryer.

If that moisture is trapped inside the machine, it can potentially grow mildew in the washing machine drum. And now what you think will be clean clothes will be left with a funky smell that no one wants. So the next time you wash your clothes, try leaving the door open for a few hours afterwards so it can fully dry.

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15 Not Getting Underneath Things

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
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If you’ve ever moved from one place to another, there’s nothing quite as gross as seeing all the dirt, crumbs, pet hair, small items and who knows what else that accumulates over time under beds, dressers, refrigerators, sofas, and other large furniture and appliances.

In addition to being embarrassing, all that dirt trapped there for a long period of time can be a continual cause of pollutants and allergens in the air of your home. So every six months to a year, move the big pieces of furniture and appliances so you can vacuum out whatever’s hanging out behind or under them before they become an issue.

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16 Wiping Electronics With The Wrong Cleaner

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
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While glass cleaners are great at cleaning glass items like your windows and mirrors, it is not the right cleaner for electronics with screens, such as televisions, computer screens, tablets and cell phones. But wait, you say—aren’t those glass? Technically, in a lot of cases yes, but because those screens lay on top of electronics that are sensitive to moisture, you don’t want to spray something around them that could end up in the wrong place.

Additionally, glass cleaners normally contain harsh chemicals like ammonia and alcohol that can damage the screens of flat-screen TVs and other electronic devices. So for these items, either use a cleaner made just for them or just simply clean them with a microfiber towel moistened with a bit of water.

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17 Scrubbing Stains On Carpet Or Upholstery

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
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While it may provide more satisfaction to vigorously scrub at an annoying stain on your carpet while shouting “out with you!” at the top of your lungs, you’re actually doing more harm than good.

When treating stains on fabrics like carpeting, rugs, upholstery—even clothing!—you don’t want to scrub as it can damage the fibers of the fabric and even cause the stain to sink deeper into the fibers. Instead, blotting is the way to go. While the blotting process may take longer, in the long-run, it will be even more effective because you won’t damage the fabric’s fibers.

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18 Never Cleaning Your Mattress

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
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Just like anything else in your home, even your mattress needs a good cleaning about every six months, according to experts. After all, mattresses are not cheap and even though they are generally covered by sheets when you’re laying on them, they can still accumulate dust, hair, oils, sweat, crumbs—you get the icky picture.

While this one is a bit time-consuming, it’s pretty easy to clean. Just sprinkle the entire mattress surface with baking soda to let it absorb any bad odors or moisture lingering on it, and then vacuum it up. You can use a stain remover to spot-treat any stains you may find. And lastly, when all is done, if your mattress allows for it, flip it to ensure both sides stay clean and preserve its life.

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19 Putting Off Housekeeping For Too Long

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
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Like we said earlier, we all know that cleaning the house is not something people rush home to do. However, it is a task that needs to be done on a regular basis, and the more you wait in between house cleanings, the worse it will be. Try scheduling your house cleanings like you do doctor appointments—they’re on your calendar, scheduled at regular intervals that work for your home and lifestyle, and if you miss one, there’s a penalty.

And don’t forget to make it fun! Try creating a house cleaning list on Spotify and swirl and twirl your way through your chores. And schedule a reward for after the house cleaning is done, so you have something to look forward to after your hard work.

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20 Using Too Much Cleaner

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
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You know the old adage about less being more? Well, that’s completely true when it comes to cleaners. For example, when doing the laundry it may make sense to add more detergent than the bottle says to. After all, doesn’t that mean it will make your clothes cleaner? And when spraying on glass cleaner or floor cleaner, bigger spritzes equals a cleaner window or floor, right?

In the laundry, using too much detergent can cause build-up in the machine or even affect the materials of your clothing. And too much cleaner on windows or floors can also make for a build-up that can impact the way they look. Always read the instructions on any cleaner you’re using and follow their guidelines.

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21 Not Disinfecting What You Clean With

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
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When you stop and think about it, why would you want to clean with something that is, well, not clean? For instance, when was the last time you changed that sponge in your kitchen sink? Or have you ever even thought of cleaning your vacuum? Probably not!

So make sure to add a new box of sponges to your next Target order, and before you vacuum change or wash its filter and take a look at the brush roller—the bottom part that picks up dirt as you vacuum—to make sure there’s no hair and debris that can cause it from working properly. And don’t forget you can also clean your major appliances like the dishwasher and the washing machine—check your appliance’s product guide or website for how they suggest you do that.

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22 Not Cleaning With Hot Enough Water

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
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We get it—hot water is hot and not comfortable to be sticking your hands in. However, if you’re using warm, lukewarm or even cold water to clean things like your kitchen and bathroom sinks, bathtub, shower and flooring, then your cleaning is going to take more time than it needs to be and will not be as effective as it can be.

For instance, hot water is what it takes to loosen up shampoo and soap build-up in the shower and tub. And for killing bacteria, hot water is essential. So next time you’re cleaning your bathroom or kitchen, try turning up the heat to help your housekeeping.

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23 Not Making The Most Of Your Vacuum

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
Prudent Reviews
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At first glance, a vacuum seems pretty easy to use—plug it in, move it around the floor so it sucks up the dirt on the flooring, unplug it and put it away. However, the everyday vacuum can be a much more effective tool when you know how to use all of its parts. Most vacuums come with a few attachments you’ll want to get to know.

For instance, the crevice tool—which is normally solid with a slanted tip—is the perfect tool for cleaning edges and baseboards of the floors or getting into tight spots like behind soft cushions or in the corners of rooms. The extension wand can help you get that crevice tool into the top corners of rooms or other hard-to-reach areas. And the upholstery tool helps you vacuum pet hair off your sofa.

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24 Forgetting To Clean Switches And Remotes

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
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Here’s another one that grossed us out a bit when we started thinking about it. When was the last time you cleaned the TV or Roku remote… if ever? And when was the last time you even thought about cleaning your light switches? Remotes are constantly manhandled, sometimes by super-grubby hands, and then just left on a table or sofa for the next person to use.

And light switches are constantly touched every day, meaning there’s bound to be a good build-up of dirt and oils from your fingers on there. Get those clean with a soft cloth moistened with a light cleaner and you’ll be good to go.

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25 Cleaning in the Wrong Order

Common Housekeeping Mistakes You’ve Been Making For Years
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When it comes to cleaning the house, there’s a particular order that should be followed for most tasks. For instance, you should always work from top to bottom in your house. For example, you should always dust before you vacuum—any dust that does not get trapped by your wet cloth on tables and counters will float to the floor on the bottom and can then be vacuumed up.

And you should always work from dry to wet. So when you’re cleaning your bathroom or kitchen, dust off the counters and sweep the floors to collect any dirt, hair and crumbs you’ve knocked on there, and then follow up with a wet disinfectant on the counters and wet mopping of the floors.

Guest Contributor

From the most beautiful travel destinations to the best restaurants to discover, as well as the best beauty tips to try, BetterBe's team offers entertaining bilingual content every day.

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