Change these tiny things to effortlessly make your home cleaner. 

By Katie Holdefehr
March 21, 2018

When you devote time every day to keeping your home clean, it may be surprising to learn that little habits in your everyday routine could actually be inadvertently making it messier. The good news is that once you know the problems, you can introduce tiny changes to make your home neater. It doesn't require any extra work, but it's just a matter of knowing the right tools, learning the correct technique, and making micro adjustments to your everyday routine. Want to learn more unexpected cleaning ideas you didn't know you needed? Pre-order Real Simple Spring Cleaning ($14; amazon.com), your new guidebook for editor-approved cleaning tips and tricks. 

Not Leaving the Washing Machine Door Open

If your habit is to shut the washing machine door the second you finish a load of laundry, you may want to reconsider your routine. While the closed door will make the laundry room look neater, the habit traps moisture inside the machine, which could cause mildew. If even your freshly-laundered towels have that funky towel smell, this little habit could be to blame. Fortunately, the fix is easy—just remember to leave the door slightly ajar. Of course, if you have small children or curious pets, you may want to continue closing the door for safety reasons. 

Using Paper Towels Instead of a Microfiber Cloth 

If your first instinct is to reach for the roll of paper towels when you clean the bathroom mirror or the kitchen windows, you may want to swap them out for a microfiber cloth ($12; amazon.com). Paper towels not only cause streaks, but they can leave tell-tales trails of lint on mirror or glass surfaces. Instead, opt for a smooth microfiber cloth that won't leave lint, is streak-free, and wipes away bacteria. 

Using a Spray Cleaner on Car Windows 

If you've ever washed your car windows with a spray cleanser, then you likely already know how this technique creates unsightly drips down the windshield as it dries. Instead, buy a foam cleanser that won't create those distracting drips. 

Assuming Your Kitchen Sponges Are Clean

Last year, studies showed that microwaving kitchen sponges to disinfect them isn't as effective as we once thought. If you're microwaving your sponges and then using them to wipe down your kitchen counters, you could unknowingly be smearing bacteria around. Instead, commit to replacing your kitchen sponge regularly (ideally, once a week) to ensure that this cleaning tool is actually clean. 

Forgetting to De-Germ Your Cell Phone

If you're spending all of your time disinfecting your counters and cutting boards, but then set your germy cell phone down on every surface in your kitchen, you could be undoing your best efforts. Studies have found that a cell phone could be carrying more germs than a toilet seat. To make sure you're not spreading these germs around your home, disinfect your cell phone regularly, following these electronic-safe cleaning methods that won't destroy your device. 

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