These common items have somewhat surprising cleaning methods. 

By Katie Holdefehr
January 30, 2020

Once you get in the habit of cleaning something the same way, most of us don't ever even consider another option. But as it turns out, there may be a faster, more effective, or safer way to clean common household items. Here, we've called out six things we're most likely cleaning the wrong way, from laptop screens to kitchen sponges. But don't worry, it's not too late to change your cleaning routine, and these switches are easy to make. 

RELATED: 7 Cleaning Mistakes That Are Wasting Your Time

1
Knives

Many of us are probably guilty of doing so, but technically we're not supposed to put our "good knives" in the dishwasher. Especially if they have wooden handles, the water, heat, and steam from the dishwasher can warp the wood and cause them to crack. 

Instead, hand wash your knives using mild dish soap. To prevent rust and damage to wooden handles, dry the knives immediately with a clean dish towel rather than letting them air-dry. 

2
Tech (Especially Laptop and Phone Screens) 

Think about it: we all know that our fingers are covered in germs, which means our touchscreen devices are too. But if you're currently cleaning your phone, tablet, and laptop screens with harsh cleaning wipes or sprays, you could be damaging the device. 

Instead, try this safer method: Grab a microfiber cloth—even dry, this tightly woven cloth is capable of removing germs from touchscreen surfaces. If the screen is grimy and you have a specialized cleaning spray for tech devices, spritz the cloth lightly first, then wipe the screen and follow with a clean, dry cloth. Never spray cleaning fluid directly onto a screen or keyboard. 

3
Kitchen Sponges 

Okay, so this is sort of a trick answer. Studies have determined that attempts to clean and disinfect kitchen sponges in the microwave or by boiling them simply don't work. So, basically, if you are currently in the habit of "cleaning" your kitchen sponges, you'll want to stop. 

Instead, get in the habit of replacing your kitchen sponge once per week. Want a more eco-friendly solution? Switch to a dish cleaning brush or a silicone sponge that lasts longer. 

4
Oven

Why wouldn't you choose pressing the "self-clean" button on your oven, rather than spending hours scrubbing the appliance yourself? While the self-cleaning feature sounds great, most of us have likely heard a horror story about someone's oven getting overheated and breaking in the process. The self-cleaning mode works by reaching temperatures of up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit, which has been known to cause damage to electrical components in newer ovens (not to mention, it can fill the room with smoke). 

Instead, follow our oven-cleaning guide, including some all-natural ideas, like using baking soda and vinegar to form a paste to scrub the oven door. 

5
Drains

If you're cleaning a clogged drain regularly with store-bought gel clog remover, you might want to rethink. While the chemicals in clog removers are typically effective at clearing pipes, over time, they can also cause damage to the pipes themselves. 

Some alternatives: try using a drain snake, and get in the habit of periodically pouring a tea kettle of boiling water down the drain. The water will help break down soap scum or other debris caught in the pipes. 

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