7 Cleaning Mistakes You’ve Been Making Your Whole Life

Plus simple solutions that will save you precious time.

June 3, 2016
dirty pot
Benoit Daoust/shutterstock

If you’re like us, you probably don’t want to spend any more time cleaning than you have to. But whether you realize it or not, you could be creating extra work for yourself simply by doing as you've always done. Check out these common housekeeping inefficiencies and the simple solutions that will make your life so much easier.

washing windows
Washing Windows

It’s common sense not to bust out the squeegee on rainy days, but it turns out that sunny days are a bad time to clean windows, too. Experts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension note that when the sun is shining directly on glass, your cleaning product dries too quickly, leaving you with streaky windows. Wait for cloud coverage to avoid a smeary surface.

wine spilled on carpet
Mukhina Viktoriia/shutterstock
Carpet Stains

It sounds counterintuitive, but putting some muscle behind your sponge will actually make things worse when it comes to tough carpet stains. The University of Illinois Extension’s extensive Stain Solutions database explains that scrubbing can permanently damage your carpet’s texture and even work the stain in deeper. They recommend blotting with a clean cloth or sponge instead for best results.


Related: These Easy Green Tweaks Can Save You Serious Cash

cat in litter box
AFrica Studio/shutterstock
The Litter Box

Every cat owner understands how unpleasant cleaning out the litter box is, especially when odor lingers even after the box has has been freshly cleaned. To mask smells, The Humane Society recommends sprinkling a layer of natural air fresheners like baking soda in the bottom of the box before filling it up with fresh litter. Your nose will thank you.

dirty pot
Benoit Daoust/shutterstock

According to Melissa Maker, host and cocreator of the popular Clean My Space YouTube channel, spraying cleaner on a surface and wiping it up immediately is one of the most common mistakes people make at home. Instead, give the product “dwell time” (a highly technical term) of about five to 10 minutes to let disinfectants do their job and to give gunk a chance to come loose.


Related: 5 Ways To Clean A Mucked-Up Wooden Spoon

The Shower Head

Mineral deposits can build up in the holes of the showerhead, sending water spraying every which way and weakening the stream. Simply scrubbing won’t get all the gunk out of those tiny little crevices, but Jenny Melrose, who blogs at The Melrose Family, devised a simple cleaning hack to get the job done. First, fill a small plastic bag with white vinegar, and add a few drops of lemon essential oil. Then submerge your showerhead in the bag, using a rubberband to secure the bag around the showerhead’s neck. Let it sit overnight to dissolve the crust, and give it a quick wipe in the morning. 

Related: The Only 10 Things You Need To Buy To Make All Your Own Natural Cleaning Products

messy blender
A Kitchen Blender

If you refrain from making your favorite smoothie recipe because you hate reaching inside the blender to scrub that deadly little blade, this hack will rock your world. Simply fill your blender halfway with warm water, add a drop of dish soap, blend away for 30 seconds, and then rinse. Over at The Kitchn, they recommend tossing in a coarsely chopped lemon, too, to combat hard water stains.


Related: What’s The Best Way To Wash Dirty Dishes: Dishwasher Or Sink?

spilling coffee at work
Shirt Stains

When you spill coffee down your shirt, your first instinct is probably to reach for the nearest napkin and wipe desperately. But the better thing to do is to remove your shirt, place the stain against a clean rag or paper towel, and blot from—and this is key—behind the stain with a nontoxic stain remover. This way, you force the stain off the fabric instead of through it, explains The University of Illinois’ Stain Solutions database.