ou know you’ve reached adulthood when there are a couple of milestones you’ve hit: your own bank account, your own place (possibly with a roommate), having to take care of your own car, and finally, being responsible to clean up after yourself. Although not as glamorous, this is still a big step because no one else is going to do it for you-- unless you can afford a cleaning service.
While it may look simple, there definitely is a learning curve when it comes to cleaning. Hopefully you’ve had a good base of instructions, either from a parent, a sibling, or the internet, and you don’t have to start from scratch. But regardless of what your cleaning prowess is, everyone can always use a little refresher to ensure they’re really cleaning, and not just moving dirt and dust around. So let’s cover the top eight cleaning mistakes to avoid.
1. Scrubbing Carpet Stains
Don’t listen to that voice saying it’ll work!
One of the major mistakes people make (not just young adults) when it comes to cleaning is the tendency to rub in a stain as soon as it appears on the carpet. From the basic, such as a little bit of relish from your hot dog, to the catastrophic, such as a bottle of Bordeaux now soaking into your carpet-- stains should not be scrubbed or rubbed ever. If one rule needs to be repeated it is definitely this one. We have a tendency to want to mop up spills immediately and we think that by rubbing cleaner into the carpet, it will release and remove the stain.
However, scrubbing untwists carpet fibers, creating irreversible damage. Instead, no matter what the stain emergency level, dab up the wetness first with a clean cloth or paper towel. Then treat it with a stain remover that was made for carpets, or create a DIY one. It may take a couple of tries, but as long as the stain is lightening, you’re on the right track.
2. Using a Dirty Rag or the Same Rag
Different rooms, different cloths
Although you may think in your head, one rag or cloth should be enough for all the areas in my house or apartment, no problem. Wrong. Using the same rag for multiple rooms-- especially on multiple surfaces-- is really just making your place dirtier. Thinking about it logically, if you use the same cloth to clean the gunk off your kitchen stove, then continue to use it on the kitchen counters, aren’t you really just continuing to spread around the gunk? The answer is yes, you are. We can’t even fathom using a kitchen cloth in the bathroom, but we’re sure it happens, so it needs to be said again-- use different rags or cloths as you clean different surfaces and rooms.
Either designate a specific microfiber cloth for each room in the house or apartment, or just use different paper towels for each cleaning task.
Pro Tip: Microfiber towels can be washed and reused after use, making them a greener solution to your cleaning needs.
3. Spraying Surfaces Directly
Spray cleaner onto your cloth instead
While it may seem sort of counter-intuitive, instead of spraying your cleaner directly onto the surface, try spraying it onto the cloth or paper towel first. By doing it this way, not only are you using less of your cleaning product, but you’re also no longer adding to cleaner build up. Over time, when you spray directly onto a surface, the product starts to build up. You may or may not see it, but it really is making it easier for dirt and dust to stick more firmly to surfaces.
One of the most notorious means by which people spray directly onto the surface is when they’re polishing furniture with their favorite lemon-scented polish. Most furniture already has a protective coating on it, so it is really unnecessary to use a polish excessively.
4. Cleaning from the Ground Up
Start up high and work your way down
When it’s time for a clean, we more often than not realize it because the floors we’re walking on could use a scrub. Try to resist the urge to start down on your hands and knees cleaning the floor. This goes for either hardwood, linoleum, or carpeted areas that require a vacuum. When cleaning any room, start from the top surfaces and work your way down to the ground. This way, you won’t need to sweep or vacuum twice.
For example, in the kitchen start with windows and cabinets, followed by countertops and the range, then make your way down to any lower storage options you have, and finally clean the floor. Depending on what the flooring is in your kitchen, you’ll want to check out what the best type of cleaner is for your place.
Pro Tip: Instead of using a mop and throw away pad each time, consider getting a mop that allows you to refill it with DIY cleaning solution.
5. Using a Feather Duster
Don’t fall for the static cling effect!
No matter how classic it looks to have that feather duster, it’s important to know that they just don’t work. Feathers may be a must-have accessory for Halloween French maid costumes, but they should no longer be in your cleaning arsenal. With feathers out of the picture, you should also be aware that synthetic dusters are also a fail when it comes to trapping dirt and dust via static cling, no matter what the advertisements say.
No matter what your duster is comprised of, it’s going to move dust around before it picks any of it up. So what’s the point in that? If it moves it to the floor or another surface, that means you’ll be cleaning it twice. Instead, just clean it once with a microfiber cloth that is sure to actually pick up all the dust you need. Depending on the surface you’re dusting, you might need a cleaning solution as well. But sometimes just a damp cloth and a dry cloth are enough to remove any amount of dust.
6. Not Cleaning Your Sponge
It’s grosser than you think
We know it’s enough of a hassle to make time to clean the spaces you use everyday, let alone think about cleaning the products you use to clean. But there’s one item that needs to be on your list of things to clean, and that’s your kitchen sponge. If you think about how often you use that sponge, all the surfaces it touches, and how long you go in between changing it, you start to understand the level of gross that your sponge can be operating on. Just like the rest of the items and surfaces in your kitchen, that sponge needs a good cleaning as well.
There are a couple of ways you can ensure that your sponge has gotten a thorough cleaning, including: running it through the dishwasher, microwaving it in a bowl of water, or adding it to a pot of boiling water. Try to do one of those cleaning methods once a week, and once your sponge looks a little worse for wear, toss it!
7. Not Emptying the Vacuum
This cleaning staple needs to be cleaned too
One of the easiest cleaning jobs with the most obvious results is running a vacuum through your house or apartment. It’s amazing how much better carpets and furniture can look once you’ve gone over it with the sweeper. But after a couple of cleanings, make sure you take the time to clean out your vacuum as well. Doing so will ensure that the bristles can continue to pick up debris, and the canister is not so full that it cannot accept more dirt. If you notice that your vacuum isn’t picking up what it should-- or if it’s taking longer to get the job done-- then it’s definitely time to clean the vacuum.
Empty the bag or canister and make sure to wipe it down. If your filter is washable, try to do that every three months or so. If it is not, you’ll need to replace it along the same schedule. Then check out the roller and bristles to make sure there isn’t too much hair and debris. If there is, take a pair of scissors and start to cut and remove them in a systematic fashion, making sure to avoid cutting the bristles.
8. Not Cleaning Frequently Enough
Don’t create more work for yourself!
This is probably the easiest mistake to fix, but it’s one that we’re all guilty of from time to time. It’s important to make cleaning a part of your routine, because it can easily get out of hand-- and no one wants to be living in a space that’s dirty.
Everyone has a busy life with commitments, deadlines, hobbies, and family, but cleaning should never be put off so much that it ends up being the last thing on your list. If you make it a point to do a little cleaning more often, it will definitely keep you from doing more work to keep you place clean in the long run.
Pro tip: Consider doing a chore each day of the week to lighten the load. For example, clean the kitchen on Monday, vacuum your floors on Tuesday, and clean the bathroom on Wednesday. Splitting it up makes cleaning much more manageable.
Although not the most fun part about being an adult, learning how to properly keep your place clean is an important concept. Even if you think you know how to clean, chances are you can probably do more efficiently after avoiding the mistakes on this list. Happy cleaning!