5 Ways Your Cleaning Efforts Could Be Backfiring

Ditch these bad cleaning habits right now. 

5 Ways Your Cleaning Efforts Are Backfiring, lemon on marble
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When you devote time every single day to caring for and cleaning all of the surfaces and items in your home, you hope that all of the dusting, scrubbing, and elbow grease will result in your belongings lasting for longer. But unfortunately, if you've adopted some bad cleaning habits, your efforts could be backfiring. Despite your best intentions, little mistakes, like cleaning a marble countertop with lemon juice or using chemical drain cleaners to clear a clog, could be creating more problems than they solve. To make sure you're making the most of your time and using the correct cleaning strategy the first time, here are five cleaning habits to avoid. Sidestep these common mistakes to avoid a bigger mess down the line.

Using Chemical Drain Cleaner

If you're dealing with a clogged drain, you may think you're doing the responsible thing by pouring store-bought chemical drain cleaner into your sink. But if it's a persistent problem or the pipe is so clogged that the chemicals sit in the pipe, you could be doing more harm than good. These cleaners generally contain harsh chemicals like lye, peroxide, or bleach, which can eat away at pipes (especially fragile older pipes) over time.

For a gentler fix, try this: pour 1/2 cup baking soda, followed by 1/2 cup white vinegar, down the drain. The combination will fizz up, helping to unclog the drain. Cover the drain with a wet cloth and let sit 5 minutes. Then, flush the drain with a kettle of steaming hot water.

Cleaning a Stone Countertop with Lemon or Vinegar

OK, so vinegar can clean almost anything and lemons are fabulous natural cleaners, but neither of these ingredients belong on your stone countertop. It may be tempting to mix up one multi-purpose cleaning spray to use for everything in your home, but the lemon juice and vinegar in many DIY solutions will eat away at the surface of the stone, creating dull spots called etches. The safest bet is to buy a cleaner specially formulated for marble or granite.

Putting Garlic Presses, Graters, and Zesters in the Dishwasher

Sure, you can clean almost anything in a dishwasher, but kitchen tools with lots of little nooks and crannies are better off washed by hand. In fact, if you wash a garlic press in the dishwasher that still has food remnants trapped inside, the moisture in the machine can encourage the growth of mold. Instead, wash these tools by hand and allow them to air-dry before returning to a drawer or cabinet. And if you do want to toss a grater in the dishwasher, just be sure to remove all food particles with a thorough pre-rinse first.

Using Extra Detergent

When you're washing extra-grimy T-shirts or bath towels, you may think that adding some extra detergent to the wash cycle will get them extra clean, right? Unfortunately, it could have the opposite effect. When soapy residue remains on fabric, it actually makes dust and dirt cling more easily to the fabric.

Instead, stick to the recommended amount of detergent, considering the size of the load and your specific washing machine.

Using a Disinfecting Wipe on Everything

If you want to de-germ your entire bathroom, you may reach for the disinfecting wipes. But if you're using that same wipe to clean the countertops, and then the faucet, then the toilet, and the light switch plate, you're likely spreading germs all over the room. To prevent the spread of bacteria, you'll need to use one wipe on the counter and faucet, and another on the toilet. For a greener clean, follow the same method, but use separate cleaning cloths.

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