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Many housewives and home executives are under the impression that scrubbing and scouring is the key to keeping a tidy home, and though you may have the best of intentions, some cleaning mistakes can actually end up doing more harm then good. Did you know that washing windows on a sunny day may be causing those stubborn streaks you see on the glass? Or that rubbing carpet stains is a definite no-no? Read on for common household cleaning mistakes:

 

 

Don't scrub spills out of carpeting

When a spill occurs, do you hit the ground scrubbing every time a glass of red wine or juice box topples over? Bet you didn't know that scrubbing actually untwists carpet fibres, causing the pile to become distorted, and once the damage is done, it’s permanent. In other words, even though you might be able to eventually get a stain out of carpet, you won’t ever be able to fix untwisted fibres.

The best way to remove a stain is by first scraping up what you can with a spoon and then blot the area with a clean white cloth or white paper towel (avoid styles with designs because they may bleed). Continue blotting until dry, or place a heavy book on top of the towels, changing them out frequently, until no more moisture is absorbed. Now you're ready to treat the spot with a stain remover, but be sure to pretest the product in a hidden area first to make sure it won't fade the carpet colour.

Don't clean windows on a sunny day

Just because the whether is fine and sunny, take pause before you rush to clean windows. The heat of the sun actually causes any cleaning solution to dry and evaporate too quickly, leaving streaks on the glass.

Your best bet is to choose a cloudy day or work when the temperature is cooler. Apply any window cleaning solution you like; all contain agents that will help lift dirt off the window. Let the product sit for a minute, then use a microfibre cloth to work the solution around the window. Pull a squeegee once horizontally across the top, then vertically down the entire window, overlapping strokes slightly. Keep pressure even, and wipe blade after each stroke to prevent drips. This method will work on both the inside and outside of windows.

Don't use vinegar or lemon juice on everything because you think it’s eco friendly

With so much emphasis on organic cleaning products these days, it seems like a no-brainer to go all-natural. But both lemon juice and vinegar are acids which can damage natural surfaces such as marble, limestone, travertine and onyx. They will permanently dull the appearance of stone, which can be expensive to have refinished.

However, a vinegar solution (1 tbsp vinegar mixed with 1/2 litre water) is fine for removing soap scum and water scale from surfaces such as fibreglass tubs, ceramic tile and showerheads.

But for natural stones, stick to neutral cleaning solutions designed specifically for them.

Don't use the wrong tool for the job

The biggest risk here is using a tool that’s too abrasive for the job. For example, green-backed cleaning sponges are for heavy-duty cleaning jobs like the bottom of pots and pants or a grill grate, but they scratch some surfaces such as plastic, ceramic cooktops and laminate. Read the product label to see what surfaces it's safe to use on before you start scrubbing away.

 

Don't be under the impression that every cleaner is a disinfectant

All cleaning solutions are not created equal, and it pays to spend a little more time reading labels.

Certain areas of the house, like the kitchen sink, countertops, bathtubs and door handles (if a family member is ill with a cold or flu), require a true disinfectant to kill germs. Read the label, and more importantly, follow the directions.

Most disinfectants need to remain wet on a surface for a specified amount of time. If you’re spraying it on the surface and immediately wiping it up, you’re not disinfecting.

Don't use furniture polish every time you dust

Furniture polish and oils were used in the old days when furniture didn’t have a protective topcoat. However, they are an unnecessary step with today’s finishes.

If you have a piece you inherited, you may want to continue to use furniture wax or oil occasionally; however, stick with the same product to avoid buildup on the finish - using a variety of products with different base ingredients case can create a gummy residue due to chemical reactions.

To clean more modern pieces, use a lightly damp (meaning just a few drops of water) microfibre cloth and dust with the grain. If you see water drops on the surface after you clean, the rag is too wet.

 

Don't use too much cleaning product

It’s tempting to oust stains and messes with a surplus of product - just in case, right? But companies want to sell products, so if they thought more would work better, they’d tell you that.

Using more is just wasting product and may eventually create a sticky buildup on whatever surface you’re cleaning.

The amount you should use will be indicated on the label - stick with the recommendation and save money by not using more than you really need. While there’s no general rule of thumb about how much of a DIY cleaning product (like a vinegar solution) to use, keep in mind that everything you’re applying to the surface must be picked back up by your rag or else you’ll end up with a filmy residue that, over time, will become tougher to clean.

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