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15 Common Cleaning Mistakes You’re Probably Making

15 Common Cleaning Mistakes You’re Probably Making

You may be one of the many people out there who was never really taught how to properly clean all the different areas in a home. Either you had no one to show you, or your parental figure didn’t know how.

So when you became an adult with a home of your own, household chores were tackled as best you could, which often meant they were done incorrectly.

While there are dozens of cleaning mistakes you could be making, let’s discuss 15 of the most common, and how to perform them correctly.

Common Cleaning Mistakes You’re Probably Making and How to Do Them Right

Before we dive in, I think it’s important to note that these are very common mistakes made by many people everyday. So there’s no reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed for not knowing how to do these things properly — we’ve all been there.

These are fifteen of the most common cleaning mistakes:

          1. You use disinfectant to clean
          2. You don't allow for dwell time
          3. You use feather or disposable dusters
          4. You don’t clean your sponge
          5. You use chemical cleaners on your devices
          6. You over-clean surfaces
          7. You use a steam mop on hardwood floors
          8. You use abrasive cleaners
          9. You use paper towels to clean
          10. You don’t clean from top to bottom
          11. You scrub carpet spills
          12. You clean windows when it's sunny
          13. You don’t dry your toilet brush after use
          14. You use too much cleaning solution


1. You Use Vinegar To Clean Everything

You may be one of the many people opting for more natural cleaning products because of health and environmental reasons. So you’ve likely been using vinegar as a cleaning agent.

Vinegar contains acetic acid, which makes it an excellent cleaning solution for some soils, like dirt, grease, hard water, and even some bacteria strains. But there are some surfaces that you should avoid using vinegar on, such as stone floors, metal, grout, hardwood floors, and more, as it could damage them.

How to Clean With Vinegar

Use caution when cleaning with vinegar. It might be all-natural, but the acidic content can damage surfaces and appliances quickly. To prevent this from happening, use vinegar sparingly throughout the home, limiting it to hardy plastic, glass, and non-stone surfaces.

2. You Use Disinfectant To Clean

Disinfectants are great for surfaces, like kitchen countertops, toilets, and showers. They come in various forms, such as bleach, isopropyl alcohol, or vinegar solutions. But they are not cleaners.

A common mistake that many people make is, they don’t clean surfaces first. When dirty, most surfaces will develop a biofilm layer, which is essentially a build-up of soils. Your disinfectant won’t work properly if you haven’t cleaned this off first.

How to Disinfect Properly

Ideally, clean a surface first before you disinfect. This means using a mild detergent or all-purpose cleaner and a high-quality microfiber towel or flat mop first to remove that layer of soil. Then apply your disinfectant, and allow it to sit, known as “dwell time,” before wiping it off with a clean microfiber towel.


Microfiber does the heavy lifting when cleaning thanks to its microscopic fibers that cling on to dirt and debris. In many cases, you can clean surfaces with good-quality microfiber and just water.

3. You Don't Allow For Dwell Time

As just mentioned, dwell time is how long you leave a solution on a surface for it to work. We are all probably guilty of spraying and immediately wiping down a surface. But many cleaning agents require you to leave the product on the surface to give it ample time to do its job.

How to Allow For Dwell Time

Every product will have different instructions, so always read the label before use. A general rule of thumb for cleaning solution dwell time is anywhere from three up to ten minutes.

It can take some time management skills to incorporate dwell time into your routine. Instead of sitting around twiddling your thumbs for ten minutes each time you use a cleaning spray on a surface, spray the cleaner or disinfectant and while that’s working, clean something else.

marble countertop and stainless sink

4. You Use Feather Or Disposable Dusters

Feather dusters and disposable dusters, like the infamous Swiffer, seem like a great option for dusting surfaces. But these are highly ineffective at actually removing dust. All they do is move dust from one spot to another, and usually sending debris flying through the air, creating allergens, never really solving the issue.

How to Dust Properly

Dusting properly requires the use of microfiber, as it’s really the only material that grabs onto dust. A good-quality microfiber duster — either a fluffy, soft duster for delicate furnishings, or a more robust, chenille duster for hard-to-reach surfaces — is your best option to quickly and efficiently pick up dust without it flying everywhere.

5. You Don’t Clean Your Sponge

The kitchen sink is one of the dirtiest places in the home. Even dirtier than the toilet, in some cases. So it’s important to keep your kitchen tools clean in between uses.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they don’t clean their kitchen sponge. So every time you use the sponge on countertops or to wash dishes, you’re spreading germs and bacteria.

How to Clean Your Sponge

Most sponges can be tossed into your dishwasher every couple of days. Or you can soak dirty sponges in bleach or vinegar. Just be sure to rinse the sponge out thoroughly afterwards. When a sponge is visibly soiled, smelly, or cannot be cleaned, throw it away.

scrubbing tiles with a brush

6. You Use Chemical Cleaners On Your Devices

Another mistake often made when cleaning is using cleaning chemicals on your devices, like TV screens and laptops. Most electronics these days have touchscreen abilities and anti-glare properties. But cleaning chemicals can actually damage these features.

How to Clean Your Devices

Most devices can be cleaned without the need for chemicals. Even if they've got fingerprints and smudge marks on them, a suede cloth or a damp high-quality microfiber towel should be able to lift those soils off easily. To polish your devices, like TV screens, use a lint-free microfiber cloth.

7. You Over-Clean Surfaces

Since the pandemic, our hygiene habits have skyrocketed. While that doesn’t seem like a bad thing, studies have shown that when we limit our exposure to microbes by disinfecting and sterilizing our environment too much, it puts us at greater risk of developing allergies.

Not only that, but when you over-clean surfaces, you could also be damaging them.

How to Avoid Over-Cleaning

Unless someone is ill, immune-compromised, or you are cleaning a high-risk surface, like a toilet, you don’t need to go crazy with the cleaners and disinfectants. A general guideline to follow when cleaning and disinfecting could be something like this:

        • High-touch surfaces (kitchen countertops, etc.) daily.
        • Kitchen sinks and toilets every few days.
        • Low-touch surfaces (bedrooms, living rooms, etc.) every 1-2 weeks,
        • Floors (no indoor pets) every 1-2 weeks.
        • Floors (with indoor pets) every few days.

8. You Use A Steam Mop On Hardwood Floors

Steam mops are having a moment, with homeowners and even cleaning professionals opting to use these chemical-free cleaners. But use them with caution, as high heat and moisture do not play nice with certain surfaces, like hardwood floors. Using steam on natural or engineered hardwood floors — or any wooden surface for that matter — can cause warping.

How to Clean Hardwood Floors

When you clean your hardwood floors, it’s best to use as little moisture as possible. To achieve this you want to use a damp high-quality microfiber flat mop and either a large spray bottle or a bucket of extremely hot water with hardwood floor cleaner mixed in. Make sure the mop pad is wrung out completely, and using an S or figure-8 pattern, mop backwards towards the exit.

9. You Use Abrasive Cleaners

It can be tempting to use abrasive cleaners on surfaces that are caked-on with dirt and debris. Surfaces like shower glass, windows, and stainless stove tops are prone to stuck-on messes. Hard water, soap scum, mud, and spilled food don’t always come off easily. But using abrasive cleaners can scratch and damage these surfaces.

How to Clean Difficult Stuck-On Soils

Avoid using abrasive cleaners on any high-shine or stainless steel surfaces as scratches will show up very easily. For most glass surfaces, use a microfiber waffle weave towel, or for stubborn soils, a plastic scraper or very fine steel wool with an all-purpose cleaner. For stainless steel, use a damp waffle weave or standard microfiber towel to remove soils, and polish with a lint-free microfiber cloth.

10. You Use Paper Towels To Clean

A common tool often used to deep clean high-risk surfaces is good old paper towel. They’re convenient and single-use, unlike other cleaning towels and rags that can promote cross-contamination if used across various dirty surfaces.

The problem with paper towels is, they aren’t designed for deep cleaning. The paper construction is ineffective at picking up germs and bacteria, and they leave a trail of lint behind.

What to Use Instead of Paper Towel

Get yourself some disposable microfiber wipes. Not only will these effectively deep clean surfaces, but they are 100% lint-free and can be tossed in the trash when you’re done. You can also launder them a few times if you really want to.

11. You Don’t Clean From Top To Bottom

If you’re a professional cleaner, then you probably already do this. But for the rest of us, cleaning from top to bottom, and left to right in a room — also known as the Spiral Method — is a trade secret. Cleaning this way helps you save time and work more efficiently as you move seamlessly through each room.

How to Do It

Start in the top left corner of the room from the entry point, move top-to-bottom, left-to-right, dusting all surfaces with a microfiber towel. Then go over surfaces with your disinfectant if needed. And finally dust and wet mop the floor backwards to the entryway.

12. You Scrub Carpet Spills

If you’ve ever spilled red wine on carpet, then you’ll know the normal reaction is to grab the nearest cloth and panic scrub the stain. But doing so is a top cleaning mistake, as it can push the soil further into the fibers and spread discoloration. It also risks damaging the carpet fibers, which can lead to fraying.

How to Clean Stains From Carpet

First, remove any excess moisture using a plastic scraper, spoon, or blunt knife. Then, blot the spill with a microfiber towel to absorb extra moisture before applying a carpet cleaning solution.

Gently work the cleaner from the outer edges of the stain towards the center, focusing on blotting rather than scrubbing, and rinse your cloth frequently.

Wipe away any cleaning product residue with a damp microfiber towel and then use a dry microfiber towel to soak up remaining moisture.

13. You Clean Windows When It's Sunny

We’ve all been there where we spend time cleaning all of our glass and mirrors, only to finish and find new streaks all over the surface. This is usually when we’ve cleaned them under direct sunlight or overhead lights. The heat from the light source dries the cleaner, which then creates streaks.

How to Clean Glass Properly

You don’t need to use a glass cleaning solution, like Windex. All you need is a very damp microfiber towel to clean the glass from dirt and smudges. While the glass is still wet, use a lint-free microfiber cloth to polish the surface. Just make sure to do it on a cloudy day, out of direct sunlight, or with overhead lights turned off to prevent the water from drying up and creating streaks.

14. You Don’t Dry Your Toilet Brush After Use

The toilet brush is undoubtedly the filthiest tool in the home — I don’t have to tell you why. But after use, most of us immediately put the brush back into its holder until the next time we need it.

Germs and bacteria thrive in moist environments, and because your toilet brush is already exposed to nasty microbes, this is the perfect place for them to grow.

How to Dry Your Toilet Brush

If you follow any cleaning influencers on social media, then you’ve probably seen this trick. After use, simply place it under the seat so it can drip dry, and then put it back into its holder later. It’s also a good idea to clean your toilet brush holder regularly — I recommend doing it outside if possible — using an all-purpose cleaner, then spraying it with a disinfectant.

15. You Use Too Much Cleaning Solution

The final mistake commonly made when cleaning is to use too much cleaning solution. Every product has guidelines and instructions, and using too much is a waste. Some chemicals emit toxic fumes, so using them excessively increases your risk of eye and respiratory damage.

How to Use the Right Amount of Cleaning Solution

This one is easy — always read the label. You’ll find everything you need to know about a cleaning product on the label, so you won’t make any mistakes.

cleaning a surface with a microfiber towel and spray

It’s Never Too Late to Learn How to Clean Properly

As an adult managing your own household, it’s easy to tackle chores without proper guidance and making cleaning mistakes. But with the right resources and tips, you can improve your skills and maintain a cleaner and more comfortable home. It's never too late to learn new cleaning methods for a happier living space.

Our curated cleaning kit for homeowners

We’ve curated a cleaning kit of our favorite must-have products to keep a home in top shape. It contains two types of microfiber towels, a microfiber duster, and a heavy duty mop it. Check it out!

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