8 Bad Cleaning Habits That are Costing You Time and Energy

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When it comes to dealing with heavy-duty spills, you'll want to avoid cleaning with paper towels.

Some view cleaning as a zen experience, while others regard it as a sort of necessary evil. Regardless of your own views on it, there’s no question that it has to be done. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could save both time and energy on our chores by doing them way more quickly with better results?

Ditch these bad cleaning habits, and you just might find that tidying up gets a whole lot easier on you.

Using Too Much Bleach

Chances are your grandmothers used bleach to clean most everything, mainly because they had no other options and the smell the of the stuff told the world your house was clean. But now we know that bleach doesn’t really clean — it simply disinfects. It can also damage many surfaces and create toxic fumes when mixed with ammonia-based products. For these reasons alone, you’ll find it best to reserve bleach for the laundry room.

Leaving the Shower Curtain Open

Remind your roommates to close the curtain when their showers are over. After all, pushing it back into neat folds when it’s wet just creates a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and other nasty growths. So leave it open until it’s bone dry, which usually takes five to six hours. You’ll also want to occasionally (and gently) machine-wash it with mild soap to keep it fresh smelling and clean, and give your non-slip shower mats the same airy treatment.

Using Paper Towels for Heavy Cleaning Jobs

Paper towels are really only good for cleaning up quick spills on the stove and/or countertop. Using them for in-depth cleaning, on the other hand, is both expensive and tiresome, as even the super-thick ones fall apart under pressure. Old worn-out t-shirts, towels, and even dishcloths do a better job, can just as easily be tossed out after, and make your carbon footprint a little smaller, to boot.

Neglecting the Outdoors

Indoor cleaning typically takes precedence over outdoor tasks, but you should absolutely be giving your outdoor area a bit more attention as it’s what your visitors see first. Pull weeds, hose down porches and walkways, and clean the gutters at least a couple times a year. Completing these chores not only improves your view from all the windows, but it also prevents more serious problems from creeping up later on down the line.

Not Following Instructions

Fifty or so years ago, there were very few house cleaning products around other than cleanser powder and spray window cleaner. Today, the grocery store cleaning aisle is brimming with products specially formulated to clean everything in your home — but remember that using the wrong product for a job can ruin a perfectly good finish or make the surface look worse than it did before you started.

Take time to read the instructions, as many formulas are concentrated. Use too much or too little of a particular product, and you end up losing time and money without even meeting your initial cleaning goal. Overuse of detergent leaves streaks on clothes, overwaxing hardwood dulls its finish, and excessive window cleaner creates more smudges than it removes.

Choosing Stronger Products Without Caution

The voice in your head tells you that the 3X cleaning solution will cut down on your chores time and do a much better job than the standard stuff. Don’t listen to it. These super-strong concoctions may work faster, but they often damage finishes, release harmful chemicals into your building’s water system, and produce fumes that compromise the health of you and your family. Lucky for you, there are many alternatives you can purchase or make at home that won’t do any harm.

Ignoring Little Household Problems

While cleaning, you might notice little problems all around the apartment: the flush handle on the toilet has to be jiggled to stop the water from running, the sinks are slow to drain, and there’s that tiny leak under the kitchen one. These problems are likely to escalate if ignored, so take the time to either research them online to find easy DIY solutions or call a plumber for help. Regularly check HVAC vents and filters to keep them working efficiently and your power bill in check.

Using Dirty Tools

A pile of dirty rags

Before you start cleaning, make sure your tools are clean. Dirty rags, sponges, and cloths only move dirt around, regardless of how much soap or cleaning solution you use, making your job longer and less efficient in the long run. Collect your dirty rags in a bag and run them through a hot wash/cold rinse cycle every few weeks, and you’ll always be ready to clean efficiently.

Cleaning takes time and energy, but if you do it on a regular schedule, you’ll find it significantly less taxing than you would if you put it off for months at a time. You’ll also find that life seems a bit sweeter when the space around you is always fresh and sparkling.

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