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Make your products work for you

Make your products work for you
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Keeping your home and belongings clean, sanitised, and in excellent shape requires a good chunk of effort. Naturally, you want to ensure said efforts aren’t futile. Here’s the thing, though: many people unknowingly make household chores harder than necessary, and in some cases, they accidentally leave their homes dirtier than they were in the first place. In the name of cleaner homes, we’re breaking down some common bad cleaning habits and mistakes you might not even realise you’re making.

Cleaning without a plan

Cleaning without a plan
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Winging it sometimes works, but that’s rarely the case when it comes to cleaning. For example, if you’re dusting your dresser, that’s great, but make sure you dust the ceiling fan above first; otherwise, you’ll just end up backtracking. That’s why a game plan is necessary. “I recommend cleaning from top to bottom and from left to right,” says cleaning expert Diane Regalbuto. “For example, dust all ceiling fans and high-reach places and work your way down to baseboards and around the room in a clockwise direction.” When dusting those hard-to-reach areas, use a soft, dry cloth.

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Overloading – or poorly loading – your dishwasher

Overloading – or poorly loading – your dishwasher
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Dishwashers make our lives easier, but in order for them to work as intended, it’s important to load them properly. “Improper loading can keep your machine from working efficiently,” notes Brian Sansoni, senior vice president for the American Cleaning Institute. “Carefully load your dishwasher, putting things in their proper place and not overloading it.” For example, make sure the dirty parts can be reached by the sprayer arms, mix up the silverware so items don’t stick together, and keep your cups on the top drawer and upside down. Sansoni also says it’s important to keep your dishwasher itself clean so it remains efficient and effective. Try a dishwasher cleaner which breaks down lime, calcium, rust, and grease build-up while also deodorising.

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Spraying disinfectant and wiping it up immediately

Spraying disinfectant and wiping it up immediately
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“Most household disinfectant holds a three- to 10-minute dwell time, which means the product needs to sit wet on a surface for it to actually disinfect,” says Karina Neff, president and CEO of MaxiMaids. “Also note that it’s important to remove debris or dirt from the surface with a microfibre towel before disinfecting.” To properly disinfect, wipe down the surface with your towel to remove soil, debris, and dirt, and then spray the surface with your disinfectant. Follow the label instructions for the product dwell time, then wipe up.

Using a dirty sponge

Using a dirty sponge
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Again, the goal is to make sure your products are working for you and not against you! Dirty sponges are just going to spread gunk. “Your sponge is likely the dirtiest thing in your home,” says Samsoni. “Replace it ­– or disinfect it with diluted bleach – regularly so you don’t transfer germs inadvertently when cleaning your dishes and other surfaces.” Having a backup of sponges at the ready will help.

Here are some unique ways you never thought to use a kitchen sponge.

Scrubbing a fresh carpet stain

Scrubbing a fresh carpet stain
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Grabbing a towel and scrubbing at a stain is a knee-jerk reaction, but it’s not doing your carpet any favours. The key is to gently blot the area to pick up as much of the stain as possible – ideally until the spot is dry. This is better than scrubbing, which not only wreaks havoc on the carpet fibres but also presses the stain deeper into the carpet. Once dry, use a stain lifter and follow the directions on the label.

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Not cleaning your fridge vent

Not cleaning your fridge vent
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You’ve got a sparkling clean fridge interior, but that’s all for naught if you’ve forgotten to clean the grill and vent! “This often gets missed, which causes dust to build up and ultimately slows down the system,” says Regalbuto. “Once a month, simply wipe it clean.” Spray a soft cloth with an all-purpose spray and gently wipe down the grill and vent. You can also use a vacuum cleaner with a hose extension to suck up dirt and grime in tiny, hard-to-reach spots. While you’re at it, don’t forget the top of your fridge and the area behind it.

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Using the same cloth to clean an entire space

Using the same cloth to clean an entire space
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We get it. You want to conserve time and materials. Unfortunately, using the same disinfectant wipe, sponge, or cloth to clean an entire space – such as the bathroom or kitchen – will backfire since you’ll eventually just start spreading grime from one place to another. To cut back on waste, keep a pile of cleaning cloths handy and simply throw them in the washer when you’re finished. They’ll be ready for the next deep clean!

Forgetting to clean kitchen handles and knobs

Forgetting to clean kitchen handles and knobs
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Of course you know that the kitchen has its fair share of grime, but chances are, you’re neglecting a few problem spots: pulls, handles, and doorknobs! Worst of all, these areas are grease, grime, dust, and bacteria magnets. “Use a gentle household cleaner or plain soapy water making sure to wipe dry afterward in order to remove water stains,” advises Regalbuto.

Not cleaning your light switches

Not cleaning your light switches
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This is another easy-to-forget spot to clean, but boy, is it important! “Bacteria and germs are super high on light switches,” says Regalbuto. They also start looking really grimy and dirty from all that touching. “Clean them about once a week, and increase frequency if you or someone in your family is sick.” Antibacterial wipes are real heroes for this job.

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