Home Cleaning 7 Cleaning Mistakes That Are Actually Unsafe Avoid these dangerous errors when cleaning your home. By Katie Holdefehr Katie Holdefehr Instagram Website Katie Holdefehr is the associate editorial director at Real Simple. Real Simple's Editorial Guidelines Updated on October 27, 2022 Fact checked by Emily Peterson Fact checked by Emily Peterson Emily Peterson is an experienced fact-checker and editor with Bachelor's degrees in English Literature and French. Our Fact-Checking Process Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Getty Images Aesthetic purposes aside, one of the main reasons we clean our homes is to keep them as safe and germ-free as possible. But if you accidentally mix the wrong chemicals or don't follow certain safety instructions, these seven cleaning mistakes could put you in danger. Plus, cleaning the wrong way could potentially spread germs around your house. Keep your home as safe as possible by remembering these simple tips the next time you mix up a solution to mop the floors or do a load of laundry. 66 All-Natural Cleaning Solutions 01 of 07 Accidentally Mixing Bleach and Ammonia You've probably heard this warning before, but it bears repeating. Mixing bleach and ammonia is incredibly dangerous, as it can create toxic chloramine vapor. Inhaling these fumes could cause respiratory damage, throat burns, or worse. And it's not just the pure forms of bleach and ammonia that can cause this reaction, but also mixing bleach- and ammonia-based products. To be sure, simply avoid mixing bleach with any other cleaner. 02 of 07 Not Disinfecting After Preparing Raw Meat Cross-contamination of cooking tools, such as using a knife to cut raw meat before using it to chop vegetables without cleaning in between, can spread harmful bacteria. To prevent making you and your family sick, wash your knives with hot, soapy water after preparing raw meat. Consider investing in color-coded cutting boards (like a set of four on Amazon, $14), so you can designate one for meat, another for veggies, and a third for fish. 03 of 07 Using the Self-Cleaning Feature on Your Oven The self-cleaning oven feature is hotly debated. It uses high temperatures up to 700 F to burn away bits of food and grease, saving you from having to manually clean the appliance. However, some warn that the high temperatures can end up causing damage to parts of your oven, and the fumes may even be harmful. Many self-cleaning ovens are lined with Teflon, which at very high temperatures can produce fumes that are toxic to small pets like birds, and may cause respiratory irritation in humans. And while being in the house during the self-cleaning process could expose you to fumes, it's also a good idea to be present in case of excess smoke as food burns off. To play it safe, avoid the self-cleaning button and try our easy method for cleaning your oven instead. RELATED: 7 Oven-Cleaning Hacks That Don't Involve Any Harsh Chemicals 04 of 07 Not Properly Ventilating the Area It's common knowledge that we should only use harsh cleaning products in a well-ventilated area, yet how often do we worry about it? According to one study, prolonged use of cleaning products (the study looked at professional cleaners) can have the same effect on lung function as smoking cigarettes. Even if you don't clean every day, consider more natural cleaning alternatives, like mixing your own solutions or swapping in vinegar for harsh chemicals where possible. And the American Lung Association recommends skipping the air fresheners. Try potpourri or an essential oil room spray instead. 05 of 07 Forgetting to Clean Out Dryer Lint We know we're supposed to remove lint from the dryer after every load of laundry, but learning more about the risk of dryer fires could convince us to take this simple chore more seriously. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, about 2,900 dryer fires are reported each year, one-third of which are caused by an accumulation of lint. To prevent a fire, clean the lint filter after every load, and clean out the ductwork at least once per year. 06 of 07 Not Cleaning Out Your Fridge Often Enough Cleaning your fridge often can prevent you and your family from accidentally eating expired foods. If your little ones are able to grab food from the fridge themselves, check your fridge frequently, making sure to toss out any expired packaged foods, dairy, or old leftovers. If done at the end of every week, the task shouldn't take too long and could help your family avoid illness. 07 of 07 Ignoring Mold and Mildew Sure, mold and mildew are unsightly, but you may be more inclined to fix the problem when considering their health effects. Mold allergies can make you cough or cause your eyes to itch. Pay special attention to signs of mold in your bathroom, kitchen, and other damp areas, particularly around the caulking of your bathtub or around an exhaust fan. Besides appearing on surfaces around the home, mildew can grow on clothing and bath towels. Clean your washing machine of mildew, and be sure to put away only completely dry, not damp, clothing. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Real Simple is committed to using high-quality, reputable sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we fact check our content for accuracy. CDC, Facts about chlorine. Svanes Ø, Bertelsen RJ, Lygre SHL, et al. Cleaning at home and at work in relation to lung function decline and airway obstruction. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2018;197(9):1157-1163. doi:10.1164/rccm.201706-1311OC. U.S. Fire Administration, Clothes dryer fire safety outreach materials.