House cleaning obviously isn't anyone's favorite task, but did you know that sometimes cleaning incorrectly can be worse than not cleaning at all? We asked experts about the most common house cleaning mistakes, and we were astounded by what we discovered: while some mistakes simply leave your house not nearly as clean as you’d expect, others can even be dangerous to you and your family.
Be sure that you're not falling victim to any of the following common house cleaning mistakes.
1. Forgetting to Vacuum After Dusting
Dusting should always go hand-in-hand with vacuuming for one good reason: even if it looks as though your rag has picked up most of the dust, a lot of it falls to the floor, keeping allergens in your house.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, dust allergies can trigger a variety of symptoms ranging from simple itchiness or sneezing to serious coughing, wheezing, and even asthma attacks.
Lauren Haynes, a cleaning expert at Star Domestic Cleaners, says that you should always vacuum after dusting to make sure you’ve picked up every last trace of dust.
2. Washing Windows When It’s Sunny
It might seem like a good idea to wash your windows on a nice, sunny day, but according to Haynes, you should actually wait until it’s a bit cloudier to perform this task.
“The hot sun will make glass cleaners evaporate much quicker and cause unwanted streaking,” she says. (It's just a bonus that you won't be sweating in the afternoon sun while you clean.)
3. Ignoring the Dangers of Mold and Mildew
While some molds are more dangerous than others, and some people are more sensitive to mold than others, cleaning mold and mildew is an important issue for everyone to be aware of. In 2004, the Institute of Medicine found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with everything from coughing and wheezing in otherwise healthy people to increased asthma attacks, and one common type of mold called Chaetomium was even linked to the development of autoimmune diseases in a 2004 study conducted by the Department of Environmental Health, National Public Health Institute in Kuopio, Finland.
The real concern is that some people believe that they've removed mold from their house simply because they've wiped away any visible traces. But as Amy Kilvington of Wooden Blinds Direct explains, this isn't necessarily the case.
Instead, Kilvington recommends washing surfaces vigorously with household detergent and hot water and then applying a disinfectant to kill off any remaining traces. Soft items, like curtains or carpets, should be entrusted to professional cleaners to make sure that all traces of mold and mildew have been removed.
4. Forgetting to Clean Your Tools
Given the bacteria that your cleaning tools encounter every time you use them, they also need to be cleaned, notes Olon Hyde, Director of Operations at Office Pride Commercial Cleaning Services.
Sponges should be replaced regularly, though you can run them through a hot cycle in the dishwasher if you would rather not toss them. Just be wary of putting them in the microwave: while studies have shown that microwaving your sponges can kill bacteria, a recent study from the University of Furtwangen in Germany found that some potentially pathogenic bacteria, like Moraxella osloensis, actually survives this method and encourages the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Mop heads can be run through the washing machine, as can microfiber cloths, though Hyde notes that it's important to run them through the wash separately from your clothes and other laundry items and to steer clear of fabric softener.
“Fabric softener will clog the open spaces in the microfiber no longer allowing it to 'trap' soil in the fibers,” he says.
And while you're at it – don't neglect your sink.
“Kitchen sinks take a surprising amount of abuse as rotting food bits, raw meat drippings, hand fecal residue, and more are constantly being washed off into the basin,” says MaidPro Chief Cleaning Officer Melissa Homer. “Forgetting to clean your sink properly can result in spreading germs onto all the other items you try to clean in it."
To make sure that your sink is squeaky clean, she suggests scrubbing it down thoroughly with dish soap before rinsing it clean and misting it with a sanitizing solution, allowing it to sit for at least five minutes before rinsing.
5. Working Too Quickly
It's no surprise that most of us would rather our house cleaning be done as soon as possible, but rushing through cleaning can actually be more trouble than it's worth, especially not when using spray disinfectants on surfaces around your home.
“All sanitizers and disinfectants require anywhere from 60 seconds to 10 minutes to kill germs," explains Homer. "If you just spray the product and immediately wipe it dry, lots of live germs will be left behind.”
Instead, she suggests cleaning the surface and leaving it slightly damp when you're done. This will allow the disinfectant to continue to work as it dries, leaving your home fresh and truly clean.