9 Cleaning Mistakes That Make Your Home Dirtier

Plus, how to fix them.

Do you ever feel like you're constantly spending hours cleaning, only to find that your home seems to be dirtier than before? It happens to the best of us. You might be surprised to find that some of the things you do to get a tidier space might actually be making your home more dirty in the future.

Below, we tapped two experts to explain the cleaning mistakes that make your home dirtier, and how you can avoid making them next time you clean. 

Woman cleaning stove with gloves

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  1. Only running water and dish soap to clean the garbage disposal.
    “Water and soap won’t fix everything—you need to thoroughly clean your garbage disposal to avoid mold and buildup,” explains Vera Peterson, President of Molly Maid, a Neighborly company. “You can fix this issue by running ice cubes while cold water is running. Next, add a cut-up lemon through the disposal to cut through the grime.”

  2. Rubbing carpet fibers to remove a stain.
    When you do this, you actually open up the carpet fibers to hold more dirt in the future. “Spots that are rubbed too much will appear dirtier for the life of the carpet as a result,” explains Jessica Ruenz, the VP of Maid Right, a Charlottesville, Virginia-based cleaning service concept that’s nationally recognized. “Instead, dab at a stain or use an all-purpose product and press on it with a clean microfiber cloth. If the stain is set (usually longer than 24 hours), you should have a professional carpet cleaner address it.”

  3. Buying fancy cleaning items to clean stovetops.
    According to Peterson, the most expensive cleaning items aren’t always the best. “You normally already have cleaning supplies at home for the most effective cleaning solution,” she explains. “Sprinkle baking soda directly onto the stovetop and add water to the baking soda to make a paste to cover the stain.” Leave a warm, damp rag on top of the spot and let it sit for 30 minutes. Afterward, wipe it clean. 

  4. Overusing dish detergent to clean everything.
    Dish detergent is great at attracting grease, and it is handy for cleaning, especially in the kitchen. But, soaps attract dirt. That's how they clean! “If you use dish detergent too broadly, you might be leaving a dirt-attracting residue behind,” explains Ruenz.

  5. Ignoring your dishwasher.
    Most people think dishwashers clean themselves, but they need to be cleaned and maintained frequently. “For a fresh clean, begin by removing the baskets and racks,” suggests Peterson. “Spray the inside of the dishwasher with a 50/50 water and vinegar solution—then, wipe down the door, sides, and bottom using a clean cloth.” Make sure you replace the racks and baskets. For an extra clean, run the empty machine on its highest temperature setting without detergent.

  6. Using Stainless polish on your fridge.
    The flip side of stainless polishes on your fridge is that they leave a bright, attractive, reflective finish. “Although they really make stainless appliances pop, and they smell fantastic, they also attract fingerprints and pet hair,” explains Ruenz. “If you have a shedding pet, you might actually end up with a hairy fridge from knee level down.”

  7. Not removing dust and dirt pile-up on the fridge.
    It’s important to remove dust pileup in your fridge—this can get unsanitary since the dust can circulate in the air of your home. “Begin by using a vacuum cleaner attachment and long-handled brush to clean the dust and dirt from condenser coils on the bottom grille/kick plate,” suggests Peterson.

  8. Taking a Magic Eraser to the walls.
    Magic Erasers are wonderful for cleaning so many surfaces, especially in bathrooms and kitchens. The one area to avoid, though, is using them to clean scuffs off walls. “They will actually buff off the top paint layer in the process, leaving a dull patch next to the rest of the wall,” says Ruenz. “In certain lighting, you'll see patches on the walls.” Instead, use a slightly damp light-use sponge (not the Scotchbrite green ones, which are too abrasive) or a microfiber cloth to wipe scuffs from the walls.

  9. Overusing floor polish.
    According to Ruenz, there are so many things that can go wrong in mopping: too much product, water that's too cold, and the biggest issue of all, using dirty water to mop. “But too much product specifically will leave a sticky or filmy residue that attracts dirt, and it may feel tacky when you walk on it,” she says. “For most mopping, you should start by removing all debris with a high-powered vacuum, or at least a good sweeping. Next, use a minimal amount of product with warm clean water.” Hand-cleaning edges under counters and by baseboards in bathrooms is a good idea, too.
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