35 gross mistakes you're making in your home & car

Your space is about to get a lot cleaner.

Originally Published: 
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When it comes to home and car upkeep, there are gross mistakes, and then there are really gross mistakes. For example, a gross mistake is letting trash build up in your vehicle, but a really gross mistake is letting a potato roll out of your grocery bag and under your seat where it sits for a couple weeks until it starts to smell really, really bad. (I once unwittingly let this happen.) Save yourself this kind of trouble and check out these disgusting home and car mistakes and their foolproof solutions

Now that I’ve shared one example from my own personal lowlight reel with you, I want to tell you that no matter the problem, there really is an answer out there. Best of all, nine times out of 10, the answer isn’t expensive, difficult, or time-consuming. It just takes jumping on it — because like that potato, problems don’t tend to get better the longer you let them fester... they tend to just get more problematic.

Don’t just take my word for it, though. Read through this array of easy fixes for gross home and car problems.


Mistake: Littering your car with wrappers & receipts

Solution: The car trash can that keeps everything contained

If your car collects fast food wrappers and other detritus faster than you can keep up with, this car trash can will help you rein in the mess and get it all into one place for convenient emptying. Waterproof and leakproof, it has a 2-gallon capacity, and the built-in strap lets you attach it to your center console or seat headrest. It comes with 20 trash bags.


Mistake: Brewing coffee in a machine you haven’t descaled

Solution: This descaling solution that removes hard water buildup

Hard water can build up in your coffee machine and really affect how your coffee tastes, giving it a metallic flavor. Get rid of that buildup with this descaling solution that deep cleans your machine so that each cup tastes rich and delicious. Formulated with odorless, nontoxic ingredients, the descaling solution is simple and easy to use.


Mistake: Driving your dog around without protecting the seats

Solution: A car seat cover that’s sturdy & waterproof

Crafted from thick, waterproof Oxford cloth, this car seat cover is the easiest way to protect your vehicle’s interior from muddy paws and claw marks. It hooks to the car seat headrests, and even creates a barrier between the back and front seats, so your pup stays where he’s supposed to. Now you can enjoy bringing your best friend everywhere you go without having to get your car detailed every time you return.

  • Available trim colors: 4


Mistake: Washing clothes without cleaning the machine occasionally

Solution: These tablets that whisk away machine residue

We do loads and loads of laundry without once thinking about our washing machine’s performance and what we can do to keep it working at peak condition — until, that is, it starts to leave a sour smell on clothes. Eliminate residue and odor-causing bacteria with these washing machine cleaner tablets. Just throw one in and run it through a regular wash cycle on hot (no clothes) and you’re all set.


Mistake: Giving up on the dust in tiny car crevices

Solution: This flexible cleaning gel that gets into those impossible-to-reach cracks

Whether it’s those small spaces between the keys in your keyboard, the impossibly small gaps in electronics, or the air vents and other small areas of your car, this cleaning gel is the easiest and fastest way to get things spic and span. Just roll it over the area in question, and it pulls up any dust, crumbs, and dirt without leaving any stickiness behind. Just keep it in an airtight container, and you can reuse it until it turns dark with dirt.


Mistake: Leaving your mattress unprotected when you eat & drink in bed

Solution: A waterproof mattress protector that blocks liquids & more

If you like to have breakfast, or — let’s be honest — lunch, dinner, or a glass of wine in bed, you should definitely make sure you have this mattress protector in place in the event of spills. Not only does it protect your expensive mattress against damage from fluids, but this noiseless, cooling protector also blocks dust mites, allergens, and other irritating elements.

  • Available sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Full XL, Queen, King, California King
  • Available pocket depths: 5


Mistake: Neglecting to scrub grout & bathroom fixtures

Solution: This power scrubber that deep cleans without elbow grease

There’s nothing that makes a bathroom look cleaner than restoring your grout to sparkling white, but man, is getting down on your hands and knees to scrub it a pain. Thankfully, trusted brand Rubbermaid came up with this cordless power scrubber that’s like a super-charged electric toothbrush for your grout and bathroom fixtures. Battery-powered, it provides all the elbow grease you need. Try it on your faucet and the cracks between the sink and counter, too.


Mistake: Leaving crumbs & dirt in your car

Solution: This car vacuum with attachments to remove all the debris

A professional detail job on your car can cost upwards of $75 to $100, but it is important to remove all the dirt and crumbs that otherwise get ground into the carpet. To maintain your vehicle between detailing splurges, use this car vacuum cleaner that comes with multiple attachments, so you can get into all those nooks and crannies. With suction strong enough to handle dog hair, it has an easy-to-handle ergonomic design and a HEPA filter which is great for those with allergies. Plus the 16-foot cord is long enough to reach your cargo space, and it plugs into your car’s 12-volt outlet.


Mistake: Letting stains & odors ruin your carpet

Solution: This spray that dissolves stains & odors with enzymes

A reviewer favorite with more than 17,000 reviews, this odor eliminator and enzyme carpet cleaner is a go-to when it comes to removing even the most set-in stains and locked-in odors. It utilizes the power of enzymes to break down and destroy spots and smells. Not only is it great for carpet, but it can also be used on upholstery, hardwood, tile, and other surfaces.


Mistake: Guessing when chicken & other foods are done cooking

Solution: An instant-read thermometer that prioritizes food safety

Don’t waste another expensive cut of meat by undercooking or overcooking it. Get this instant-read thermometer that puts you in control of the doneness of your chicken, steak, roast, turkey, and more. This ultra-accurate thermometer has a backlit LED screen for ease of viewing and a handy imprinted chart that shows you safe food temperatures.


Mistake: Letting your family & friends ride in your car when it’s really smelly

Solution: The air freshener that absorbs unwanted odors naturally

One time my car developed this awful, funky odor and it took me weeks to figure out why — it turned out that at some point in the past, a tiny potato had rolled out of my groceries and under the seat, and boy, did it smell nasty. No matter the source of your unwanted odors, this air freshener will absorb them the natural way, using the power of bamboo charcoal. Fragrance-free, it works for more than a year, and at the end of its useful life, you can use it to fertilize your plants.


Mistake: Getting hair all over your sink & counter when you shave

Solution: This beard bib that catches trimmings

When you’re shaving or trimming your beard, it’s easy to let your hair get all over your sink and your countertop, making a big mess with the potential to cause an annoying drain clog. Now you can get this genius beard bib apron to save you from all that hassle. It secures to your neck just like a bib, then attaches to your mirror with suction cups to catch all of those trimmings before they have a chance to scatter everywhere.

  • Available colors: 3


Mistake: Using one cutting board & risking cross-contamination

Solution: A set of color-coded cutting boards to keep foods separate & safe

If you slice your tomatoes up on a cutting board you’ve just used to prepare raw chicken, you could be in big trouble. Instead of risking it, get these color-coded cutting boards that are food-safe, thanks to the specially labeled tabs that designate a certain board for each type of food. They’re dishwasher-safe and come with a brushed stainless steel holder for storage.


Mistake: Leaving bugs, tree sap & bird droppings on your car

Solution: The car soap that removes all that residue

When your car is covered with hard-to-remove stains like tree sap and bird droppings, you don’t have to pony up the money to get it professionally cleaned at the car wash when you have this vehicle soap on hand — it does the same job for so much less money. You’ll even be able to remove that bug debris and annoying road tar with no sweat.


Mistake: Not cleaning deep into your dryer vents

Solution: These dryer vent cleaners that are long & flexible

When you empty your lint trap, you may think you’ve gotten rid of all the lint that’s inside of your dryer, but that’s not the case — there’s so much lint that hides deep down in the dryer, just waiting to leave fuzz on your clothing or, worst case scenario, cause a fire hazard. These dryer vent cleaners are long and flexible, so they can grab all that leftover lint that bypassed the trap.


Mistake: Washing your car with cloths that leave lint behind

Solution: The microfiber mitt that makes washing easier

With hundreds of absorbent microfiber loops, these car wash mitts make cleaning your vehicle so much easier and won’t leave annoying lint behind when you’re done. The mitt straps onto your hand so it’s much more ergonomic that using rags, too. The best part? it comes with a telescoping aluminum alloy pole that lets you reach the top of your vehicle and the center of your windshield.


Mistake: Using cloth potholders that are prone to stains

Solution: These silicone oven mitts that can be wiped clean

How many times have you pulled out your regular oven mitts or pot holders only to see stains all over them? These silicone oven mitts are a better choice because sauce and food remnants wipe right off. They’re heat-resistant to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and provide a nonslip grip for you to better hold hot pans and dishes. Each set comes with two oven mitts and two pot holders.

  • Available colors: 13


Mistake: Letting your cat track litter all over the house

Solution: This grippy mat that traps litter from her paws

Cats are so much fun and a big part of the family, but there are drawbacks to being a cat parent, and one of them is the litter that inevitably gets tracked all over the house. Place the box on top of this litter mat to collect the litter as your cat steps out. The granules sink down into the mesh and stay there until you shake them free.

  • Available colors: 3


Mistake: Setting food takeout bags on the car floor where they spill

Solution: The car seat headrest hooks that keep everything upright

Putting your food takeout bags on the floor of the car seems fine, but all you need to do is come to a sudden stop to realize how easy it is for them to tip over and spill. These car seat headrest hooks can help with that; they attach to your headrest posts and give you a place to hang your bags, so that everything is orderly and won’t fly around in the event you have to slam on your brakes or take a tight turn.

  • Available colors: 4


Mistake: Scrubbing dishes & counters with smelly sponges

Solution: These Swedish dishcloths that are machine-washable

Made from eco-friendly cellulose, these Swedish dishcloths are so much better than your average sponges. They’re fast-drying and odor-resistant, but can be thrown in the wash any time they need a refresh. Soft when wet and tough when dry, they’re perfect for wiping up spills, cleaning countertops, and doing the dishes.


Mistake: Using so many different cleaners for all your different surfaces

Solution: This pink paste that cleans everything from glass to your grill

When you’re tired of all the clutter from the million different bottles and jars of cleaning solution in your cabinets, give this cleaning paste a try. It has an easy-cleaning formulation that won’t leave scratches and works on every surface including glass, tile, stainless steel, tires and rims, and even greasy barbecue grills. Everything you clean will be shiny and sparkling, just like new.


Mistake: Using your water bottle every day without cleaning it

Solution: These effervescent cleaning tablets that don’t require scrubbing

When you use your water bottle every day, it can be easy to just keep refilling it without cleaning it — which can lead to odors and the growth of germs. Of course, trying to wash it with a scrub brush can prove ineffective if the neck of the bottle is narrow. Luckily, these water bottle cleaning tablets use effervescence to get your water bottle sparkling clean, with minimal effort on your part. Just drop one in the bottle with some water, let it stand and fizz, then rinse.


Mistake: Storing food in plastic containers that are prone to odors & staining

Solution: The airtight glass containers that remain crystal clear

Plastic food storage containers tend to absorb odors and stains over time (if you’ve ever had leftover spaghetti, you know what I’m talking about). Get these glass food prep containers instead. Not only do they make your leftovers seem like haute cuisine, but they’re odor- and stain-resistant, too. They feature BPA-free locking lids for an airtight seal that keeps foods fresh, and can go from the freezer to the oven to the dishwasher for ultimate convenience.


Mistake: Allowing indoor bugs to take over your home

Solution: An indoor insect trap that lets you live pest-free

It seems like fruit flies crop up about two seconds after I bring a banana into the house — it’s like a side effect of trying to eat healthy. Combining the power of black light and suction, this indoor insect trap draws bugs in, then keeps them there with a sticky glue pad. The machine even has different speed settings, so you can customize the power to tackle the number of bugs you’re dealing with.


Mistake: Continuing to answer the age-old question, “Are the dishes clean or dirty?”

Solution: This dishwasher magnet that puts an end to that discussion

It’s the age-old question that rages through so many households on a daily basis: Are the dishes clean or dirty? Put an end to the debate in your household with this dishwasher magnet that stylishly informs the world as to the status of the dishes inside. The script-font words let you know whether you need to load or unload, and a subtle botanical border completes the design.

  • Available colors: 2


Mistake: Letting your leather upholstery dry out & crack

Solution: These leather conditioning wipes that condition & protect

If your car has leather upholstery or you have a leather easy chair in your living room, protect your investment now with these leather conditioning wipes. It just takes a few swipes to remove dirt, and the formula also moisturizes the surface and protects it from UV rays. The result? No more worn-out leather.


Mistake: Allowing mud & grime to sit on your tire rims

Solution: This brush that attaches to your garden hose for powerful cleaning

Cleaning your wheels has to be the least desirable task included in the whole chore of washing the car at home. It’s a pain, with all those little nooks and crannies to scrub — but not anymore, thanks to this wheel brush that’s designed to attach to any standard garden hose. Using the power of water combined with its tough bristles, it makes quick work of wheel rims. The rubber grip is soft and easy to hold and the simple on/off switch makes for foolproof operation.


Mistake: Cleaning your oven by hand, which is tedious & messy

Solution: The oven liners that make scrubbing a thing of the past

The kitchen’s most dreaded chore becomes as simple as snapping your fingers when you slide one of these oven liners onto the bottom of your oven. Now, there’s no more scrubbing and no more smelly, messy chemicals. Made from BPA- and PFOA-free Teflon, these sheets catch all the drippings to protect your oven floor, and they’re heat-safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Just remove the sheet and brush or wash it off, then slide it right back in.


Mistake: Tracking dirt & mud into your house

Solution: The sturdy doormats that trap moisture & debris

With one for your front door and one for your back, this set of doormats tag teams to keep your floors clean by catching all the moisture and dirt from the bottoms of your shoes. Absorbent and waterproof, they’re backed with rubber, so they won’t slip around while you’re wiping your feet.


Mistake: Leaving hard-to-clean stains on your car seats

Solution: This multipurpose cleaner with over 20,000 reviews

Whether you’re trying to remove a stain from your car seat, cup holder, or another part of your vehicle, this versatile cleaner can help. With a few spritzes, the solution can help clean different parts of your car whether they’re made with plastic, leather, vinyl, or rubber. It even includes a microfiber cloth to make the cleaning process easier, and it has over 20,000 customer reviews.


Mistake: Squinting at your phone screen through fingerprints

Solution: This screen cleaner kit that removes smudges

You spend enough time looking at your screens during the day — working at your computer, looking at your phone, your tablet, and the television — you might as well enjoy a clear view instead of squinting through greasy fingerprints or layers of dust. This screen cleaner kit restores a crystal-clear look, and comes with two bottles of plant-based, ammonia-free spray and four microfiber cloths — two for cleansing and two for finishing.


Mistake: Thinking you can get the mineral rings off your toilet with a regular toilet brush

Solution: The pumice toilet cleaner that removes lime & hard water scale

Don’t give up on those hard water stains in your toilet, and don’t think you have to use noxious chemicals on them, either. This pumice toilet cleaner is the eco-friendly way to get rid of that lime scale without having to apply too much elbow grease, and it works like a charm on any tile or ceramic surface. The heavy-duty plastic handle makes it easy to use, and the fine grit leaves no residue behind on your surfaces. Try it on your tub, too.


Mistake: Letting groceries spill all over your trunk

Solution: The trunk organizer that keeps everything upright & in place

The worst thing that can happen after going to the store is opening your trunk to find groceries spilled all over the place. Keep your trunk neat and tidy with this trunk organizer that has so many features, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. The main area is split between one large compartment and two smaller ones. One side has two pockets, the other has a large accordion expandable pocket for when you just need extra space. The sides both have mesh pockets, and the trunk organizer anchors down with adjustable bungee straps.

  • Available colors: 3


Mistake: Using nasty chemicals to unclog your drain

Solution: A drain clog dissolver that’s odorless & biodegradable

Made from organic materials, this liquid drain clog remover is an much more eco-friendly alternative to other clog busters — and it’s just as powerful. The non-corrosive formula is bleach- and sodium-hydroxide free, so it’s safe for pipes and septic systems. You can use it everywhere from sinks to toilets and showers, and the pre-measured applications make the whole process foolproof.


Mistake: Letting fries fall between your center console & car seats

Solution: These car seat gap organizers that keep everything on the level

Don’t you hate it when you go through the drive-through at your favorite fast food establishment and, as you’re trying to get settled after getting your order and your change, you lose both a handful of coins and a few fries to the gap between your car seat and the center console? This car seat gap organizer fills that space, ensuring that doesn’t happen while also providing valuable storage space for your phone, sunglasses, drink, and much more.