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Are You Using Cleaning Supplies Right? 10 Common Mistakes

Cleaning supplies can either make or break a home, literally. As cleaning experts keep stressing to us, there is definitely a right and a wrong way to use cleaning supplies, but some people keep making the same mistakes over and over, ruining their homes as a result. The important thing to understand is that the improper use of cleaning supplies can appear as if it doesn’t harm the surfaces, furniture, and appliances in your home at first glance, but the damage builds up over time and become more apparent after several uses.
So, if you’re wondering why your hardwood floors suddenly cracked or started looking dull, or why the faucets in the bathroom lost their shine despite being high quality and new, we just might have the answer. Here are 10 wrong ways to use cleaning supplies.

1. Not being careful when using bleach and ammonia

Bleach and ammonia are two of the most popular ingredients, period. Bleach is present in many toilet and stovetop cleaners, and stain removers, whereas ammonia is in most glass and window sprays, multi-surface cleaners, furniture polish, and bathroom cleaners. So, avoid those two ingredients while cleaning your house is close to impossible. What most people don’t realize as they’re scrubbing the tub, the stove, and the tile, is that they should never do so with their windows shut.
Cleaning Supplies Mistakes Cleaning Window
Ventilation is key when working with cleaning products that contain bleach or ammonia, as breathing in the fumes of these cleaners can irritate and damage the respiratory tract, cause allergic reactions and headaches. Over time, the damage piles up, too. So, always make sure to crack the window before using a cleaning product with bleach or ammonia, and use these products outside whenever possible.
Also, keep in mind that not all surfaces can take bleach or ammonia. For example, bathroom faucets and shower-heads will become discolored and damaged when cleaned with bleach. Thus, make sure to read the instructions and only use the product on the surfaces listed on the bottle or on the manufacturer’s website.
Another dire mistake people can make is mixing products that contain bleach or ammonia, which generates chlorine gas - an incredibly toxic substance that could cause permanent lung damage or even death. All in all, it’s a good idea not to layer or mix cleaning supplies, as these products often have potent active chemicals in them that don’t mix. For more information on cleaning products that you should never mix, read our previous article titled Mixing These Cleaning Liquids Creates Toxic Fumes.

2. Disinfectant wipes mistakes

Cleaning Supplies Mistakes Disinfectant wipes
Let’s be honest, we’re all a fan of disinfectant wipes, especially now that we have to keep our homes extra clean - you just whip out a few wipes, and all the counters, door handles, and light switches are clean in no time. Unfortunately, it turns out that many people use disinfectant wipes wrong, which renders their ability to disinfect a surface completely ineffective.
The first mistake people make when using disinfectant wipes is actually using too few of them. For most wipe varieties, one wipe is usually enough to clean about 3 square feet (or 0.28 square meters). So, if you’re using the same wipe to clean the entire counter and expect it to kill all the germs, it’s probably the wrong approach.
In addition, it's important to remember that the cleaning liquid from the disinfectant wipe must remain on the surface for at least 4-5 minutes to kill microorganisms. Therefore, make sure that the wipe is fresh and damp before cleaning a surface, and use more wipes than you think you’d need, enough to cover the entire cleaning area with the cleaning liquid from the wipe.

3. Using the same product to clean everything

Cleaning Supplies Mistakes bottle with homemade cleaner
Saving money is definitely a great idea, but that’s not what you’ll be doing if you choose just one multipurpose cleaner for your entire home. Why? The answer is simple - there is no product that would be both effective and safe to use for all surfaces. And usually, the first surfaces that start showing wear and tear are the most expensive ones, too: stone countertops, hardwood floors, wood furniture, and kitchen appliances.
In fact, when the bottle of some cleaning product says it’s a universal or all-purpose cleaner, it’s just a marketing ploy, even if it’s a natural cleaning solution that contains products like vinegar or baking soda. So, to avoid ruining expensive items around your house, try to go for specialized cleaners intended for different surfaces instead of a multi-use product. Since you will be only using little amounts of these dedicated cleaners every time, they will last longer than one product, too, and you won’t end up wasting money.

4. Hydrogen peroxide

Cleaning Supplies Mistakes hydrogen peroxide
There is a rising interest in the potential of hydrogen peroxide to disinfect surfaces, which is completely understandable given the constant shortages of other disinfectants like bleach and disinfectant wipes these days. Since it is sold in pharmacies, most of us don’t think that hydrogen peroxide may be an effective cleaning product, but in reality, the 3% solution of the stuff works great for disinfecting and cleaning the house.
However, hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent, and it shouldn’t be used on fabrics, especially dark ones. Also, many people don’t realize that hydrogen peroxide is somewhat unstable and it uses effectiveness quite fast. Therefore, you must use it up within just a few months. Once the hydrogen peroxide stops fizzing once you apply it, it’s essentially ineffective and will no longer have a disinfecting power.

5. Be careful with oven cleaners

Cleaning Supplies Mistakes cleaning oven
Oven cleaners are some of the most concentrated and powerful chemicals we have in our homes. In fact, they’re so strong that you should never use them without gloves, otherwise you may get a chemical burn. Also, while scrubbing the oven, avoid applying the cleaner onto the heating element and oven light, as these parts can easily be permanently damaged by the strong acids present in oven cleaners.
Finally, make sure to only use the cleaning product in a cold oven, as heating it up could create toxic gases in your kitchen.

6. Water

Cleaning Supplies Mistakes floor cleaning
Yes, you read that right, there is a wrong way to use plain old water while cleaning your home, and it involves wood. The reason why you should be careful with the amount of water you use when cleaning hardwood floors and wood furniture is the issue of warping and discoloration.
As James Scott, a cleaning expert from Miami pointed out, “Too much water on wood floors causes them to warp. Although it may not be noticeable at first, prolonged usage of excess water on wood floors will lead to permanent damage.” Therefore, use as little water as you can when cleaning wood.

7. Cleaning the bathroom

Cleaning Supplies Mistakes Cleaning the bathroom
Your bathroom needs a bit of special care, too, and using abrasive scrubby brushes to clean the tub and the tiles will only damage the bathroom. So, choose a soft fabric cloth, like an old T-shirt or a microfiber cloth to clean the bathroom. When it comes to bathroom cleaning liquids, there’s another trick to consider.
If you’re wondering why the product isn’t working, try letting it sit on the surface for 10-15 minutes before rinsing it off. This way, less scrubbing will be required and the results will be better, too, guaranteed.

8. Glass and window cleaners

Cleaning Supplies Mistakes man cleaning glass
When it comes to glass and window cleaners, less is more. Seriously, overdoing it with the spray is guaranteed to leave the surface with streaks and drips all over, and it will take you twice the time to polish the windows or mirrors clean and shiny. Try using half the amount of cleaner the next time you’ll be cleaning your windows, you’ll be surprised with the results!

9. Vinegar

Cleaning Supplies Mistakes Vinegar
We love using vinegar to get rid of persistent odors and remove burnt-on grime, but like any cleaning product, it’s not perfect or universal. For example, using vinegar to clean rubber or stone surfaces can be detrimental to their integrity.
After all, vinegar is an acid, and over time, it will ruin your stone countertops and floors, as well as kitchen and bathroom appliances with rubber parts. To read more on the topic of items that shouldn’t be cleaned using vinegar, read our article titled 11 Things You Should Never Clean With Vinegar.

10. Cleaning tools matter, too!

Cleaning Supplies Mistakes Cleaning tools matter
Last, but not least, let’s touch upon the rather broad topic of cleaning tools, meaning all the sponges, brushes, cloths, and mops you use to clean your home. While most people do pay attention to the types of cleaning liquids they use around the house, the cleaning tools we use often fly under the radar. First of all, make sure that the cleaning supplies you use are clean. After all, how do you expect to clean your kitchen with a greasy sponge or make the mirrors clean and streak-free if your microfiber cloth isn’t fresh? To do so, get in the habit of washing all the cleaning tools after you use them.
You should also avoid using harsh and scrubby brushes and sponges and scrubbers made of wire on any surface other than the inside of the oven and regular (not nonstick) pots and pans. The reason why is pretty clear - these are pretty abrasive and can scratch the surface of glass, tile, stone, wood, and even plastic. So, make sure to keep that steel wool for extreme circumstances only.
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