Want a cleaner home in half the time? Stop doing these things ASAP. 

By Katie Holdefehr
Updated October 03, 2019
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When it comes to cleaning, we probably all want the cleanest home possible, achieved in the least amount of time possible. But there are certain common cleaning habits that could be side-tracking us on our way to a cleaner home. Things like forgetting to clean our cleaning appliances (yes, you can wash your washing machine), or failing to pre-soak dirty pots and pans, could be costing us valuable time. In the hopes of getting our cleaning routines done as quickly and efficiently as possible so that we can move on to more important things, here are seven time-wasting cleaning mistakes to avoid. Make a few tiny changes in your cleaning habits now to save precious time every single week.

RELATED: 7 Two-Minute Habits That Will Keep Your Home Cleaner All Week

1

Dishwashers and washing machines are designed to clean things, so they don't need to be cleaned themselves, right? Wrong! If you're not periodically cleaning your dishwasher, food particles and residue can build up, causing an unpleasant sour odor. If freshly-washed dishes are coming out cloudy, or your freshly-laundered clothes have a funky smell, it's a surefire sign you've been neglecting to clean these appliances. Instead of wasting time (not to mention, water) running everything through a second wash cycle, clean your machine to make it work more efficiently.

The Solution: Learn how to clean your dishwasher the right way (yes, placing a cup of white vinegar on the top rack really does work). For your washing machine, order these cleaning tablets on Amazon that dissolve residue hidden inside the machine. 

2

If you're wiping kitchen counters and cleaning windows with a dirty rag, let's face it, you're not actually making anything cleaner. Not only could you be unintentionally spreading bacteria around your home, but you could be making mirrors and glass windows even streakier than when you found them. 

The Solution: Ditch the dirty cleaning cloths, and opt for microfiber cloths that won't leave lint behind and can be tossed into the washing machine whenever they need a refresh. The tightly-woven fibers are even capable of brushing away bacteria (with or without the help of chemical cleaners) to take your cleaning to the next level. 

3

Sometimes specialized gadgets really aren't worth the money, and sometimes they're totally worthwhile investments that save time and make your life easier. When it comes to cleaning, there are several tools that make tedious, time-consuming tasks much easier. If you're still cleaning window blinds with a paper towel or pulling out a step stool to dust the crown molding, there's an easier way. 

The Solution: Invest in an under-$10 blind-cleaning brush that shaved minutes off of my cleaning routine this year. And if you're not currently using an expandable telescopic duster for those hard-to-reach spots (the tops of kitchen counters, above the window frames), you'll want to order one now

4

If you leave pots and pans on the stovetop as you eat dinner, you're only allowing the cheese and sauce to set into the skillet. When the meal is over, you'll be greeted with baked-on food that will require a serious (read: time-consuming) scrubbing.

The Solution: Once you're done cooking, get into the habit of transferring food out of the pots and pans it was cooked in and soaking the dishes in warm, soapy water. Note: If you're cooking with aluminum pans, let them cool down slightly first. Cold water can potentially warp a piping-hot aluminum pan.

5

By the time you're done vacuuming the entire house, the last thing you want to do is spend time emptying the bag or cleaning out the brushes, but if you don't, you could be wasting your own time later. As the bag fills with debris and the brushes get clogged with pet fur and hair, it won't work as well.

The Solution: Take two minutes to empty the bin now, to cut down on vacuuming time in the future. The ultimate solution: invest in a robotic vacuum, which can do most of the work for you (psst...this Roomba model even empties its own bin).

6

Think about your typical cleaning routine for the kitchen. Do you start by vacuuming or sweeping the floor, then wiping down the counter, and finally dusting above the kitchen cabinets? If so, by the time you're done, you may notice that crumbs and dust have fallen onto your freshly-cleaned floor. There's a better way.

The Solution: Adopt the habit of cleaning from top to bottom. Start by dusting upper cabinets, surfaces, and counters before moving to lower surfaces and floors. This way, you won't be undoing your prior work, which could cause you to backtrack and waste precious time.

7

Do you clean up as you go, or do you prefer to save it all up for one big weekend cleaning session? While there's no wrong way and a hectic weekday schedule could make the latter option more feasible for you, you'll save time if you clean as you go. By the time Saturday rolls around, stains will be set in, the piles of clutter will be bigger, and the task will seem more daunting.

The Solution: If you can, take a few minutes to clean up spills as they happen—you'll thank yourself later when you're not trying to remove a set-in red wine stain in your carpet. Before you go to bed, take five minutes to clean up kids' toys, papers, or clothes that are strewn around the house. When five minutes is up, it's time for bed. It may not be enough time to tidy up everything, but it will make your big weekend cleaning session much quicker.