When it comes to cleaning up your home, most people have their routine down to a science. Personally, my Sunday involves my day of chores, laundry, routine household maintenance and tidying up for a less-chaotic week.
But what if I were to tell you that all of your hard work and effort could actually cause more harm than good? As in, not only are you losing money but could be doing more damage to your possessions?
Have no fear. We’re turning to home repair expert Bob VilaTM, who has supplied a handy list of common household products you’ve been using wrong. And, solutions that will take your house sparkle and shine to a whole new level.
Maintenance Myth: All Cleaning Supplies are Created Equal
Sorry, mom. Turns out, what you’ve been taught your whole life could be hiding under the surface.
The most common maintenance myth is the true cleaning power of vinegar. Sure, it is cheap and natural but it doesn’t belong on every surface. In fact, if used on hardwood floors, it can actually strip the finish and ruin the overall shine.
Speaking of hardwood floors, these more hygienic alternative to carpet are still harboring dirt, dust, and grime. Try to avoid washing them with good old fashion soap and water. Water can cause the wood to warp over time. Instead, use a neutral-PH cleanser and work the product into your floor with a slightly damp mop or cloth.
For carpet stains, it’s best to steer clear of club soda. Although it can tackle stains right away, it won’t do much for those that are oil-based. This also includes ink from ballpoint pens, which can actually set the stain further. For those types of stains, it’s best to go for cornstarch or talcum powder. Apply it to the area, let it sit for about an hour and then blot it out using a damp rag.
For stains caused by dark-colored liquids such as red wine, don’t soak it in water. This tends to make the stain spread. And, scrubbing it with baking soda can cause damage to the fibers in the fabric. Instead, blot the stain with a clean towel. For clothing spills, make sure to repeat the blotting as much as necessary and then toss it in the wash using the hottest water recommended for the fabric.
And, when washing your clothes, more detergent doesn’t mean cleaner. In fact, it takes money out of your pocket while adding sudsy buildup in the fabrics. The “less is more” mindset can also play a role in how you wash your towels. It might be tempting to wash with fabric softener, but it actually reduces the absorbency of the fabric. This causes a much-needed clean towel to give off a mildew smell that reveals anything but.
Maintenance Myth: A Mess out of Sight is out of Mind
When it comes to cleaning up messes, you could be turning them into bacterial hazards.
For starters, the fibers from a paper towel often leave a streak due to detaching during wiping. Use a newspaper or a microfiber towel for the best clean.
If you’re using wipes to avoid catching this year’s flu epidemic, avoid contact with your computer monitor. This doesn’t mean a “get out of jail free card” for avoiding doing actual work. But it is a great way to eliminate certain viruses that could keep you away from work — just not by choice.
Instead, try disinfecting your area the right way that won’t corrode your screen. Not to mention killing your computer with electrical issues. Then, I am sure your IT department would have an easier time combatting a computer with a virus rather than rebuilding one on life support. The best way to keep your electronics clean by taking a barely-soaked rag and wiping it down with a soft rag.
Just like most objects that carry a plethora of gross, so does your sponge. In fact, unless you are constantly cleaning it vigorously after spillage, it is more often than not harboring a nice buffet of germs ranging from runny eggs to the juices of the raw meat. Luckily, sponges are pretty affordable and cost much less than a trip to the doctor for a self-induced stomach issue. Toss out any old sponges immediately and reach for a disposable rag instead.
If the mess happens to fall on the floor, make sure to wipe it up any wet spillage with a rag first. A broom always comes second and reserved for debris only. Attempting to clean up wet messes with a broom could get caught up in the broom’s fibers which are a hotbed for bacteria.
And, if you haven’t cleaned your broom: do it immediately. Use vinegar and water to disinfect it. Just remember to let it completely dry before you use it again.
Typically, you should disinfect any item used to clean up wet messes.
I’ll be honest: after cleaning my toilet I tend to absentmindedly plop the scrubber back into its holder. This is a big “no-no” unless you are all about adding additional bacteria to your “clean” toilet. The brush grows bacteria and germs in the container. Make sure to soak it in antibacterial cleaner every once in a while, and wait until it is completely dry before putting it back in its storage container.
Maintenance Myth: If it Sheens, It’s Clean
Most people who enjoy preparing a delicious meal have been taught a thing or two about the perils improper usage of bacteria-infested ingredients. For example: if you happen to touch any type of raw bird, or if it gets near or on the counter, you always scrub your hands plus every surface to ensure you or your guests don’t get E-Coli.
And, for many, when cooking a chicken dinner, you probably watched your parents wash the poultry in the sink to kill off any kind of bacteria. That’s another maintenance myth. Today, experts warn against this practice, which is now outdated. Since holding the chicken under the running water you risk splashing microbes on towels, countertops and other types of kitchen surfaces.
The good news? You can save less time preparing and rubbing your hands all over slimy, uncomfortable uncooked poultry. Minimize the risk of salmonella poisoning by taking it directly from the package to the pan. Just remember to wash your hands afterward.
Dishwashers are one of the best inventions of man. They save you from creating a tower of unwashed dishes that take over an hour to scrub and dry. However, not everything is perfect, and neither is the capacity to properly clean everything from our kitchen drawers. If you have a set of go-to, sharp kitchen knives its best to hand wash. Dishwashers dull the blade over time, which not only adds more time to the dreaded, tear-filled task of chopping onions but can also make them more dangerous to use. For best results, carefully hand-wash them to keep them sharp, sparkly and efficient.
This also goes for cast-iron cookware. For durability, regular cleaning is a must — just not in the dishwasher. Hand washing is a must, but just avoid using dish soap or allow them to air-dry. Both of these methods could cause rust spots.
Ovens, for example, have a self-cleaning mode to eliminate the leftover food particles. This setting can actually cause more bad than good and compromise your home’s air quality. You can avoid this issue by pouring a bit of salt over the spills, and heat the oven until the salt turns the food into ash. Once the oven cools, wipe it away with a tool.
Can’t quite identify the funky smell coming from your pristinely clean kitchen? Check your garbage — disposal that is. Often, these get overlooked when you’re going through your regular cleaning routine. Freshen up your disposal by adding a few ice cubs or citrus peels into your sink drain and then turn on the disposal. Most major retail also sells odor-eliminating supplies made specifically for garbage disposal.
Maintenance Myth: Try your Luck, Save a Buck
According to Clint Eastwood’s character in the movie Gran Torino “Any man worth his salt can do half the household chores with just those three things.” He’s talking about WD-40, vise grips, and a roll of duct tape. And he may be right, but taking the idea too far is a pretty common maintenance myth.
Let’s start with WD-40. You should not depend on WD-40 to fix a squeaky hinge. Instead, use a cheap and useful lubricant, petroleum jelly, as your go-to. Don’t get me wrong. WD-40 is a fantastic product that can be used to displace moisture and lubricate moving pieces throughout your home. To avoid the squeak, you can actually use common bar soap.
The do-it-yourself craze has turned many homeowners into self-proclaimed repair experts. Unfortunately, some cost-cutting practices should always be done by an expert. This often includes times when vice-grips are necessary. Often used to cut live wires, these grips do not provide protection against electrical shock.
DIY handymen often cite duct tape as the top go-to, all-purpose repair tape. It can do anything from patching to joint sealing to bundling lumber–even repair a bear-shredded plane. However, this versatile tape does have its limits. For instance, if you are repairing your HVAC duct, sealing a hole in a furnace or really anything that has to do with heat, you could produce toxic smoke. This is because the heat softens the adhesive causing it to lose strength and slip off the attachment.
Maintenance Myth: Cleaning is a Chore
Most people would agree that the act of cleaning in itself is not a favorite pastime. Generations tend to pass these traditions down. But, before you call your mom to gloat about how she’s been cleaning her floors all wrong (which I wouldn’t blame you if you did), the real fun can actually come from the act itself.
I recommend turning on your favorite music and creating your own dance routine with your mop as a dance partner. Or, turn your laundry trek up and down the stairs into a workout. You’d be amazed at how many steps you actually can clock in from this make-shift Stairmaster. Instead of trying to knock it all out at once, break up the chores into increments for less of a daunting task.
Either way, just make sure you are using the proper products and procedures for the job. Have any additional tips and tricks we missed? Feel free to leave it for us in the comment section below.