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The Worst Cleaning Advice Experts Have Heard

Plus, how to correct it.

Someone holds a bucket of cleaning equipment
Natali _ Mis/Shutterstock.com

For many people, cleaning is a necessary evil. It takes a lot of time to tidy up our homes, so it’s not surprising that we’re drawn to tips, tricks, and hacks that promise to make the chore easier. However, a lot of this advice is bogus and can actually lead to more problems later on.

We spoke with three cleaning experts about the worst cleaning advice they’ve heard and what they recommend doing instead. It’s time to set the record straight!

Rubbing a Carpet Stain Until It Lifts

A woman scrubs the carpet

Leanne Stapf, COO of The Cleaning Authority, often hears that people like to attack carpet stains with all they’ve got. She recommends against this strategy, as it will cause it to spread and soak deeper into the carpet fibers or fabric. This will make it significantly harder to get the stain out.

Instead, Stapf says to approach carpet stains gently. Immediately blot the carpet stain with a paper towel or washcloth to soak up any remaining liquid.

Then, mix a solution of water and mild detergent or carpet cleaner according to the instructions on the bottle. Let the solution sit for a few minutes before blotting it until all the moisture has been absorbed.

Utopia Towels Cotton Washcloths Set

Perfect for blotting carpet messes.

Piling on the Product

Someone squeezes dish soap onto a sponge

Many people think that using more than the recommended amount of a cleaning product will help the job get done more effectively and more quickly. But according to Kathy Cohoon at Two Maids, this can be a wasteful and even harmful habit.

“Using too much cleaning solution or laundry detergent can leave a residue, and this residue actually becomes a magnet for more dirt and build up over time—even leading to damage of surfaces or furniture,” she said.

Cohoon recommends sticking to the amount suggested in the directions of whichever cleaning product you’re using. This will also save you money in the long run, since you’ll only use as much product as you really need.

Mixing Cleaning Products

Someone pours a cleaning product into a bucket

Mixing cleaning products might seem like a harmless way to make them work harder, but Katrina Keith, the owner of Molly Maid of DFW Metro Northwest, says otherwise. Many cleaning products contain chemicals, and those chemicals can react with each other when mixed.

For example, vinegar is considered a safe cleaning product, but can release a toxic gas when mixed with bleach. Play it safe and never mix cleaning products unless you have verified that they can (and should) be combined.

Aunt Fannie's Floor Cleaner Vinegar Wash Concentrate

Efficient on its own---no need to mix it with anything.

Putting a Magic Eraser in the Toilet

A pile of Magic Eraser sponges

Mr. Clean Magic Erasers seem to live up to their name with their ability to clean pretty much anything. A lot of people think this is because of a secret formula contained in the sponge, which leads to advice like sticking an eraser in the toilet to clean it. According to Stapf, the idea is that the eraser will dissolve and the chemicals will eat away any toilet bowl stains.

Unfortunately, this thinking is flawed because Magic Erasers don’t contain any chemicals. They work because they are made from melamine foam, which acts like a very fine sandpaper on stains.

If you want to tackle toilet bowl stains, put away the Magic Eraser and get a toilet bowl scrubber and toilet cleaner. To keep your toilet fresh between deep cleans, Stapf suggests making your own DIY fizzy bombs with baking soda, citric acid, and essential oils. These are essentially the same recipe as bath bombs, although smaller in size and without any coloring.

Magic Sponges Eraser

A budget-friendly alternative to Mr. Clean.

Ignoring Remotes

Someone uses a remote control

Cohoon rarely hears people talking about how to clean remote control devices, and she thinks this is a big problem. These items can pile on dust and grime, especially since they are touched so often.

“TV and device remotes are at the top on the list when it comes to items people forget to clean!” she said.

To clean your remote, Cohoon explains to first remove the batteries. Then use an anti-bacterial wipe or a microfiber cloth sprayed with disinfectant to wipe down the entire surface of the remote. You can also use a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol to carefully clean the buttons if they are grimy. Replace the batteries, and they should be good to go.

Lysol Disinfectant Handi-Pack Wipes

Great for wiping down everything in the house.

Using Glass Cleaner for Everything

A bottle of glass cleaner
Andrei Kuzmik/Shutterstock.com

You may have been told that you can swap your multi-purpose cleaner for glass cleaner in a pinch, but Keith does not recommend this advice, especially when it comes to cleaning certain parts of your home.

“You should never use glass cleaner on monitors or TV screens,” she said. “They are delicate surfaces, and you could leave a residue or cause permanent damage.

To clean a TV, computer, or another electronic screen, first turn off the power. Then, use a microfiber cloth or a screen cleaning solution specially designed for electronic screens to gently wipe the screen in circular motions. Avoid using harsh chemicals or paper towels that may scratch or damage the screen, and never spray any liquids directly onto the screen.

Windex Original Blue Glass and Window Cleaner Bundle

Perfect for keeping glass clear and clean.

Spraying Hairspray on an Ink Stain

Someone sprays a can of hairspray
Zyn Chakrapong/Shutterstock.com

Some old advice you may still hear is that spraying an ink stain with hairspray can help remove the stain. According to Stapf, this is outdated, since it relied on the idea that the alcohol in hairspray could help lift the stain.

However, most hairsprays today don’t contain alcohol, so they won’t do anything to help remove ink from fabric. They can actually make stains harder to remove.

Instead, soak the stain in rubbing alcohol for about 15 minutes and gently blot it up with a microfiber cloth or an absorbent paper towel. If the ink stain is on a piece of clothing, run it through the washing machine after you’ve let the rubbing alcohol sit.

Cleaning is an important part of maintaining a healthy and comfortable living space. However, it’s important to be aware of the myths and misconceptions that can lead to ineffective or even harmful cleaning practices. Here is some advice to ignore and what to do instead, straight from cleaning experts.

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read Full Bio »
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