We're all guilty of turning a blind eye to the dirty spots in our home every now and then. But don't fool yourself into thinking you can get away with these common missteps all the time.
1. "My kitchen sink gets clean as I wash dishes by hand."
Not quite. As you scrub your pots and pans (not to mention that cutting board you used to slice raw meat), grime and bacteria stick to your sink's walls. To make it gleaming and clean again, you need to give the sink your undivided attention. Here's how Carolyn Forte, the director of the Cleaning Lab at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, recommends you do it.
2. "I don't have to empty my vacuum's bag or cup until it's full."
You'd think this would be true, but you really need to dump the dust after the bag or cup is three-quarters full. Otherwise, the vacuum's suction might not be as strong.
3. "It's OK if I forget to close the detergent chamber in my dishwasher."
Take the extra second to lock the dispenser's lid before you hit the "start" button. If you let the detergent spill out of the chamber, it will drip to the bottom of the machine and get whisked down the drain when the water starts spraying, leaving you with dishes that are now wet, but not clean.
4. "Wearing shoes in the house doesn't track in too much dirt."
Actually, using dirt-gripping doormats and leaving shoes at the door are some of the smartest things you can do to cut down on the amount of dust and grime that gets into your home. And bonus: That means way less cleaning.
5. "I let my bath loofah drip dry, so it's fine."
These fluffy shower tools offer bacteria the perfect damp, warm breeding ground. You need to toss bath sponges every three to four weeks.
6. "I can use regular detergent for my hand-wash-only clothes."
Don't break out the same stuff you use in the washing machine for your items that require a more delicate touch. The enzymes in stain-fighting laundry detergent can eat at fibers like wool and silk, so make sure you reach for a gentler cleanser before you give clothes a dunk in the suds.
7. "Changing my sheets once a week is overkill."
There's no lady-like way to say this: You sweat as you sleep. Oil from your body builds up on your linens (which could eventually cause your skin to breakout), and over time dust mites will take up in your sheets, too, which could aggravate allergies. So for a truly clean bed (and that cool, crisp feeling fresh sheets get you), you need to change and wash them at least every other week.
8. "Vinegar is so great! It's natural and it cleans everything!"
Not so fast — vinegar can etch natural stone (like that pricey granite countertop), could damage the finish on hardwood floors, and just isn't great at removing certain stains, like these.
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