Housekeepers say you're probably making these common cleaning mistakes that damage your home

Because those light switch plates are grimier than you think.

ByBDG Commerce
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There’s perhaps never been a better time to learn clever new cleaning tricks. With Netflix shows on organization and countless TikTok videos on viral cleaning products, there’s so much content out there. But with that also comes an overwhelming amount of advice that can sometimes be contradictory. That’s where the professionals come in.

These cleaning experts revealed the common mistakes they see — and how those mistakes can be corrected. From using too many cleaners to forgetting to wipe down your baseboards, read on to see the solutions to these housekeeping errors.


Mistake: Using too many cleaning chemicals

Solution: This caddy that keeps what you have organized

Michael Silva-Nash, executive vice president at Molly Maid of Greater Little Rock, says that a common mistake he’s noticed is people using too many cleaning chemicals. “More is not always better,” he says. “Using too many chemicals can leave the surface sticky, and cause damage, as well as residue build-up.” That’s where this cleaning caddy comes in handy. It keeps your supplies organized and visible, so you’re not reaching into a dark cabinet for a jumble of bottles. Coming in three sizes, it also has a shoulder strap and removable waist strap so you can tote it with you.


Mistake: Spraying cleaner directly on a surface

Solution: Using these wipes that don’t even require cleaner

“When cleaning, it’s important to spray directly on the rag, not the item being cleaned,” Silva-Nash says. “This helps avoid damaging the surface and provides a more even and consistent cleaning application.” Or you can try these reusable cloths that don’t even require cleaning agents — just dampen them with water and wipe them down. They’re made to replace the waste and expense of paper towels, and they’re designed to leave behind a streak-free surface.


Mistake: Not cleaning items before polishing

Solution: Using a polish that also cleans

“For those items that require polishing, take a moment to clean them first,” Silva-Nash says. He recommends using water and soap to wash the item first to remove dirt and built-up polish. You can also use this furniture polish that cleans as it polishes. Formulated to remove grease and grime, the polish also helps restore cabinets, tables, etc to their former glory.


Mistake: Using the same rags to clean everything

Solution: These microfiber cloths that can be color-coded

If you’re using the same two rags to clean every surface, remember to “designate your rags for different purposes” as Silva-Nash recommends. This 12-pack of microfiber cleaning clothes is ideal for this — choose one color for each area of cleaning. Pink can be for polishing, yellow for bathroom counters, and so on. “Using different cloths also prevents cross-contamination and prevents germs from spreading from one area to another,” he adds.


Mistake: Forgetting to check your vacuum & air filters

Solution: Setting a reminder to replace them

It can be easy to forget about those air or vacuum bag filters that stay hidden out of sight. But once those allergies flair up, you’ll be left wondering why. “You should also check your air filters regularly to ensure that the dust is not just being cycled through your home,” Silva-Nash tells Mic. This two-pack of air filters is designed with a three-in-one system to trap particles such as smoke, sneeze debris, bacteria, and viruses. They’ve earned a high 4.8-star rating from reviewers who say they’re “great for people who have allergies or asthma.”


Mistake: Realizing your laundry didn’t dry properly

Solution: This detangler that keeps bedsheets wad-free

You know that sinking feeling that occurs when you reach in the dryer, only to see that your sheets have gotten tangled and everything’s damp? “Not only does this damage the laundry appliances themselves, but they also waste endless energy and water by creating more unnecessary extra loads and cycles,” Cyndi Bray, founder of Wad-Free for Bed Sheets, says. This bed sheet detangler set helps prevent sheets from balling up and wet items from getting caught in sheets. Each package contains enough detanglers to work for two sheets (flat or fitted), and they attach easily to sheet corners.


Mistake: Cleaning your rugs with the wrong vacuum attachment

Solution: This attachment made for shaggy rugs

Jessica Samson of The Maids offers an underrated tip for effective vacuuming. “If you have a nice rug or carpeting in your home, if you are using the wrong attachment to vacuum your home, this can do some serious damage to your carpeting or rug if you are careful,” she says. If you have a shaggy area rug that’s collecting debris, this vacuum attachment is made specifically for carpets with thicker piles. It’s designed to be a universal fit for most vacuum brands, from Bissell to Eureka, Dirt Devil to Shop Vac.


Mistake: Oversaturing your hardwood floors

Solution: This spin-mop that wrings out excess water

“It is very important to use light amounts of water and soap when cleaning hardwood floors,” Samson adds. “If you are soaking your mop and applying it directly to your hardwood floors, you are likely going to warp them and ruin your expensive and nice hardwood floors.” This microfiber spin-mop and bucket wrings out excess moisture from the mop, so you’ll be using only what you need on your floors.


Mistake: Using harsh chemicals on your wood floors

Solution: This vinegar-based floor cleaner

Jennifer Rodriguez, chief hygiene officer at Prohousekeepers, warns against using harsh chemicals on sensitive surfaces. “Always check the label and avoid using products with ingredients like bleach or ammonia on delicate surfaces,” she says. Instead, look for “natural and gentle cleaning solutions” like this vinegar-based floor cleaner from Aunt Fannie’s. Using plant-based ingredients and lavender essential oils, this cleaner earned an A rating for the Environmental Working Group. Use on hardwood, tile, concrete, and linoleum.


Mistake: Scrubbing stains too hard

Solution: This stain remover that's tough on stains, but gentle on surfaces

When a wine stain finds itself on your carpet, it’s tempting to scrub frantically to remove it. But Rodriguez says this “can cause damages to surfaces.” Instead, she recommends a “gentle touch” and using a cleaning solution that’s made specifically for the type of stain you’re wanting gone. Emergency Stain Rescue’s stain remover spray is formulated to target stubborn stains, from blood to grass, coffee to grease. It’s also free of peroxide, sulphates, perfumes, and other potentially irritating ingredients. With over 2,400 five-star ratings, one reviewer wrote “from an OR nurse this stuff really works!” and another: “I wish I had taken a before and after photo. Magic!”


Mistake: Not properly ventilating your cleaning area

Solution: Using an air purifier

“When cleaning with strong chemicals, it's important to open windows and use fans to ensure proper ventilation,” Rodriguez stresses. While cleaning, remember to open windows, turn on fans, and consider using this air purifier that has a three-stage filtration system to filter odors, smoke, allergens, and more out of your air. You can even add a few drops of essential oils for aromatherapy.


Mistake: Letting wet clothes get mildewy in the washing machine

Solution: This cleaner that descales & deep-cleans your machine

It can be all too easy to leave wet clothes in the washing machine to get mildewy and smelly overnight. “Make sure to remove clothes promptly and dry them thoroughly to avoid this,” Rodriguez says. Meanwhile, to deodorize and clean a washing machine that’s gotten a little funky, this cleaner is made to break down grime and hard-water buildup, leaving your machine sanitized and better-smelling. With over 5,900 five-star reviews, shoppers are pleased: “I've used other brands of washing machine cleaner, and this is the only one that totally got rid of that funky odor in my front loader,” one person wrote. “I mean it is completely gone and my laundry actually smells clean again.”


Mistake: Not cleaning appliances properly

Solution: Using cleaners tailored to the area you’re cleaning

“Kitchen appliances like ovens, stovetops, and refrigerators can easily become dirty and greasy, leading to potential damage or malfunctions,” Rodriguez says. “Be sure to clean them regularly with appropriate cleaning solutions to prevent this.” This kitchen cleaner and degreaser is affordable at under five dollars, and it’s formulated specifically to cut through grease and grime on stovetops, countertops, and more. It’s also an antibacterial cleaner that eliminates virus-causing bacteria.


Mistake: Scrubbing with abrasive sponges

Solution: Cleaning with cloths specifically for sensitive surfaces

“Using abrasive sponges or scrubbers on delicate surfaces like glass or stainless steel can cause scratches and damage,” Rodriguez says. With this cleaning kit made for stainless steel, only water is needed to dampen the microfiber cloth that cleans and polishes ovens, refrigerators, microwaves, and dishwashers — anywhere there’s a stainless steel surface. The cloth has a textured side for brushed stainless steel and a softer side for polished stainless steel. Another perk: It’s reusable so you won’t have to worry about being wasteful, and it’ll be sensitive while removing those fingerprints and streaks.


Mistake: Forgetting to clean those hard-to-reach areas

Solution: This ceiling fan duster that makes dusting high areas easier

If you’re like me, turning on your ceiling fan right now might result in plumes of dust flying off. This ceiling fan duster makes cleaning high areas easier with an extendable pole up to 47 inches and a microfiber head that traps dust on large surface areas. The duster is also washable and reusable so you won’t have to worry about buying refills.


Mistake: Thinking everything can be cleaned with vinegar

Solution: Trying another natural cleaning option

“While vinegar is a great natural cleaning and disinfectant agent, not everything in your home should be cleaned with it,” Sara San Angelo of Confessions of a Cleaning Lady tells Mic. “Because of the acidic nature of vinegar, it can eat away at some surfaces like natural stone and hardwood.” Instead, she recommends Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap. The concentrated formula is made using organic, fair trade palm kernel oil, and Dr. Bronner’s is famously free of synthetic preservatives, thickeners, or foaming agents. It’s also super concentrated, so you’ll get more out of each bottle. “Mix about 3 tablespoons per gallon of water,” San Angelo suggests. The three-pack comes in unscented, peppermint, and lavender fragrances.


Mistake: Not cleaning your exhaust hood

Solution: Cleaning it with this degreaser

“There are certain areas of your home that, if left unclean, could pose a fire hazard,” Rachel Rios, general manager of Guelph Maids, warns. Aside from chimneys and fireplaces, Rios says that exhaust fans are another hazard that’s easy to overlook. “My best recommendation is to remove them from the hood and wash them thoroughly with a degreaser and hot water every 1 to 3 months,” she adds. “It's also critical to clean the surrounding areas of the hood, including the fan blades and housing to prevent grease from building up.” This powerful cleaner and degreaser is concentrated specifically for grimy areas, from exhausts to outdoor furniture and car wheels.


Mistake: Mixing potentially dangerous cleaning products

Solution: This book that shows you how to make DIY cleaning products

If you find yourself wowed by every cleaning product circulating on TikTok, you might find yourself with a lot of products — and some bad chemical reactions. Rios shares that “the wrong combination of products can create a potentially hazardous substance...” She continues, “Viral TikTok challenges such as the ‘Product Overload’ trend repeatedly encourage these extremely dangerous practices, which is why spreading awareness is vital to prevent accidents, and ensure the safety of everyone in the household.” To streamline some of your cleaners, The Organically Clean Home is a book with DIY cleaner recipes. From homemade laundry detergent to hand sanitizer, these recipes use simple ingredients that you likely have around the house already.


Mistake: Not using microfiber clothes for dusting

Solution: This microfiber glove so you can wipe down surfaces

This dusting glove lets you easily wipe down surfaces with a microfiber cloth that has a magnet-like grip on dust, even in hard-to-reach places. Use it dry to collect dust and hair, or use it wet to wipe down stains — no detergent required. Rios also suggests a wipe-down technique: “It's critical to wipe surfaces in an S-shaped motion, as this helps collect dust into the fabric, instead of just pushing it over the surface, which is another common mistake with other wiping techniques.”


Mistake: Using a sponge to clean surfaces

Solution: These deep-cleaning cloths that don't require products

“Though a sponge is the appropriate tool for your dishes, the same cannot be said when it comes to cleaning surfaces,” Steven Ip, founder of Cleanzen Cleaning Services, says. “Sponges are known to be breeding grounds for bacteria and germs, which can be transferred to your surfaces as you clean when using the same sponge.” Instead, Ip recommends using a basic microfiber cloth, particularly for windows and mirrors. Best of all, this towel cleans with only water — similar to the last product, no detergents needed. “No more smears!” one five-star reviewer shared, while another added: “The best ever for no streaks on glass and mirrors!”


Mistake: Not properly cleaning your mops & sponges

Solution: These reusable, washable mop pads

“Cloths, mops, sponges and brushes, when left damp or wet, can be breeding places for bacteria, molds and germs,” Ip continues. “I suggest that after every use, these cleaning tools are cleaned and properly dried off, either through tumble dry or air dry.” With these reusable mop pads, instead of constantly buying refills, you can use these microfiber cloths to clean your floors and toss them in the washing machine when you’re done. They’re compatible with Swiffer Wetjet mops and other 10- to 12-inch microfiber mops. With a 4.7-star rating and over 8,000 five-star reviews, shoppers say they’re “easy to use and saves money” and “picks up dog hair and crud well.”


Mistake: Using the wrong cleaning tools for your stone countertops

Solution: This quartz & stone cleaning spray that also polishes

“Unfortunately, using the wrong cleaning tools can make a mess even worse,” Justin Carpenter, owner of Modern Maids, says. “For example, using an abrasive scrub pad on a delicate surface like marble can result in scratches and permanent damage.” Consider using this quartz and stone countertop cleaner that also polishes as you wipe. The pH-neutral formula removes grease and other stains without damaging quartz resins — and it helps protect the stone from fading or darkening due to sunlight. Plus, it’ll make your stone countertops shine and leave behind a citrusy scent that reviewers say “smells good too!”


Mistake: Forgetting to clean the baseboards

Solution: A cleaning tool that gets in those crevices

“Sometimes the only way to get a truly clean surface is by taking your time and paying attention to every area of the room,” Carpenter says. “This means paying special attention to corners, crevices, baseboards, and other hard-to-reach spots that are often overlooked.” This baseboard cleaning tool is tailor-made for the weird crevices of molding and baseboards with a 360-degree rotating head that adjusts up to four feet. It can be used wet or dry, and it’s also good for those other hard-to-clean areas: chair rails, banisters, etc. The kit comes with one swiveling head and three reusable pads.


Mistake: Not cleaning before disinfecting

Solution: First, giving surfaces a wipe down with a general cleaning spray

Lily Cameron, a cleaning supervisor at Fantastic Services, says that “cleaning only physically removes germs” from surfaces (whereas disinfecting surfaces removes germs entirely). She continues, “However, if the surface you’re treating is covered in dust or residue, the disinfectant won’t be able to effectively target the germs and bacteria.” Before you disinfect counters in your kitchen or bathroom, give them an initial wipe-down with Mrs. Meyer’s All-Purpose Cleaner Spray. A general surface spray, it’s made for almost any nonporous surface around the house and will rid your counters of debris so they can be properly disinfected.


Mistake: Using too much of a cleaning agent

Solution: Cleaners where a little goes a long way

The Pink Stuff is a TikTok-viral product that’s notably pink and notably handy for pretty much any around-the-house cleaning project. Described as a “mild abrasive paste cleaner,” it removes stains and grime from metal, ceramics, porcelain, wood, shower doors, toilets — the list goes on. “For most surfaces, a little goes a long way,” Cameron says. “A small amount of concentrated cleaner mixed with water is very effective for cleaning floors, countertops, and other surfaces.” As one reviewer noted, “a little bit goes a long way” with this cleaning paste, with another writing, “I’ve never experienced easier cleaning”.


Mistake: Ignoring high-touch areas

Solution: These tiny brushes for tight spaces

There is some ASMR-level satisfaction going on with this set of small cleaning brushes that are made for the nooks and crannies of electronics, lightswitch plates, etc. “High-touch areas include light switches, doorknobs, and remote controls and they can harbour germs and bacteria,” Cameron tells Mic. “Don’t forget to clean these areas regularly, especially during flu season.” This set of eight tiny brushes are built to scrap, scrub, and detail any crevice you can think of, from the base of your faucet to your oven knobs, storage lid grooves to sliding door tracks.


Mistake: Failing to replace your cleaning tools regularly

Solution: This trio of dish brushes

If it’s been a while since you’ve replaced your sponge, it probably desperately needs to be swapped out. Old sponges are breeding grounds for odors and germs. Cameron suggests replacing them regularly to ensure they’re not harboring bacteria. With this set of three dish brushes, you’ll get a bottle brush, a long-handled brush, and a round dish scrubber.


Mistake: Neglecting your shower curtain

Solution: This spray bottle to DIY your own cleaner

“You can wash it in the washing machine on a gentle cycle with mild detergent,” Cameron recommends for shower curtains. “Alternatively, use a solution of white vinegar and baking soda. Mix equal parts white vinegar and baking soda, apply it to the shower curtain and scrub it with a soft-bristled brush.” With this set of minimal-chic spray bottles, make the above recipe and spritz it on your curtain easily. According to the brand, the amber glass helps protect the bottle’s contents from UV rays.


Mistake: Not dusting before you vacuum

Solution: This multi-purpose microfiber duster

“If you value your time and air quality, you'll want to prioritize dusting before any vacuuming is done,” Javier and Rebeca Medina, owners of Tidy Home Cleaning Services, say. “Without this, you'll be kicking up dust everywhere and spreading it around instead [of] removing it.” Before you vacuum, use a tool like this microfiber duster with an extendable pole and two replaceable heads. “Oh my goodness do these work great,” one reviewer shared, while another said they’re “very easy to wash.”


Mistake: Using the wrong cleaner on your cooktop

Solution: A cleaner & polish made specifically for cooktops

“All surfaces are not alike,” the Medinas add. “For example, you shouldn't use the same type of hard brush you use to clean stone surfaces on your delicate glass cooktop!” For delicate glass stovetops, this cooktop cleaner is made specifically to remove burned-on food and stains without damaging the surface. A non-abrasive cooktop pad scrubs without scratching, while the polish cleans and shines.