It’s that time of year again ... spring cleaning. And while you’re busy dusting, mopping and sweeping every nook and cranny in your home, it’s easy to do it wrong. Here are the top 10 cleaning mistakes experts say most people make
You forget (or skip) the rubber gloves — 'When using harsh cleaners, we strongly recommend the use of gloves to protect the hands from chemical burns and from irritation,' says Dr, Benjamin Barankin, Toronto dermatologist and Medical Director of Toronto Dermatology Centre. However, there is hope if you've been cleaning your home gloves-free. Even though these chemicals strip the natural oils and damage the uppermost layers of the skin, Barankin says 'our skin is resilient and blocks most toxic chemicals, especially if the hands are properly rinsed after.'
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You (try) to scrub spills out of carpet — 'You’re just ingraining the stain into the fibres of the carpet,' says Prakash Chand, president of Premiere Canada Maid Service. The solution? Pour some soda water over the spill and blot with a dry cloth, Chand suggests.
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You’re vacuuming in the wrong direction — 'Most people vacuum too close to their baseboard,' Chand says. 'They push their vacuum up against the wall which pushes dirt under the baseboard that can get stuck there.' Chand suggests vacuuming parallel to the baseboard, instead of perpendicular to it.
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You’re forgetting to clean up high — 'Dirt moves from top to bottom,' Chand says. 'And lots of people forget to clean the top of the refrigerator and ceiling fans.' Dirt and dust get stuck in these high places and will spread around the room if not cleaned up. Chand suggests cleaning these places often, and says it’s a good idea to clean behind the fridge every six months as well.
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You use the wrong cleaners for the job — 'One of the most common mistakes I see is people using the wrong cleaner on natural stone counter tops,' says Kim Dunn, home cleaning expert and franchise owner of Molly Maid in Aurora, Ont. Dunn insists that people read the labels of cleaners to ensure they are safe to use on natural stone — such as slate, granite and marble — to prevent etching. 'If a product is too acidic or too basic the stone will be etched permanently,' adds Dunn.
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You’re not throwing away your sponge or wash cloths often enough — 'Wet sponges and wash cloths are a breeding ground for bacteria,' says Dunn. She recommends replacing your sponges and wash cloths every week. 'Just because it doesn’t smell bad,' she adds, 'doesn’t mean it’s not laden with germs.'
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You wash your windows on a hot, sunny day — Though Dunn says you should wash your windows on a bright day to catch fingerprints and smudges, you should make sure the day isn’t too hot. 'Cleaners – especially window cleaners with ammonia – will bake on if left for a long time in the sun,' she says.
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You miss germ hot-spots — Faucets, light switches and doorknobs are all areas people put their hands on and touch all time. 'These places are always forgotten about, especially when someone is trying to clean up in a hurry,' Dunn says. Be sure to run a disinfectant wipe over them weekly; and don’t forget to clean the TV remote, too.
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You wipe away your cleaner too quickly — 'Cleaners are designed to do the work for you,' Dunn says. Instead of spraying down a counter top or bathtub and scrubbing immediately after, Dunn suggests waiting for a full minute before wiping to ensure the cleaning product is breaking down the dirt particles.
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You over-soak your mop — 'Over-soaking your mop will leave watermarks all over your floor,' Dunn says. To avoid damaging your tile and hardwood floors with too much water, Dunn suggests using a lightly dampened mop with extremely hot water (the hot water will evaporate quicker than warm water). Dunn also suggests vacuuming a floor before you wash it, so you are sure to pick up all the hair and dust – then the mop can move around freely instead of picking up dirt.
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