No one will give you a blue ribbon each time you do it, and it's not the subject of cocktail conversations. But housecleaning is a necessary evil, and someone's got to do it. If you clean your own house, however, you may just be shooting yourself in the foot with the methods you employ, creating a situation of diminishing returns.
Realtor.com's Larissa Runkle sat down with a few housecleaning experts to determine a few common (albeit well-intentioned) cleaning mistakes they see people make, as well as offer advice on how to avoid them.
First off, you are not a Proctor and Gamble. Making your own cleaning products is noble, but you may not know how those products can also ruin surfaces or even how, mixed together, they can be downright deadly. Vinegar can dissolve the coating of wood surfaces, and baking soda can scratch and destroy chrome-coated items or marble countertops. And no matter how strong the cleaning fumes may be, never mix bleach and ammonia. It can generate chlorine gas, producing toxic vapors.
Read labels! You may be using the wrong product. Using multipurpose cleaners on high-end pieces that include wood, marble, or stainless steel can cause discoloration, even those handy cleaning wipes can cause damage. You can use them on a lot of surfaces, but not on everything. So, when in doubt, READ what the manufacturer or supplier instructions about how the product can and can't be used to clean.
What about attacking odor? You have to know that you may have become odor-insensitive after a while, perhaps only noticing how your house smells after you've gotten back from a vacation or long business trip. The act of merely spraying a deodorizer may seem like a quick fix, but cleaning experts strongly advise against it no matter what those TV commercials claim.
"The biggest mistake I see is people trying to cover up odors instead of handling them at the source," says one of Runkle's expert sources. "Walking into a house that smells like Febreze, and has candles burning in every room, and still has an odd smell is a direct sign to me that the person is trying to cover up an odor of some sort." Solving the real problem may be a simple as using a fabric cleaner for the couch or carpet or taking out the trash more frequently. Dog baths help, as does making sure the kitty litter does not sit for long.
Did you know there is an order to housecleaning? You may not know this if your mom never explained it to you. You can't just push the vacuum around one day and decide to dust the next and what about that ceiling fan whose blade tops are never seen? Cleaning aficionados say to clean from top to bottom, starting with the ceiling fan, entertainment centers, and cables, and finish off by vacuuming up anything that may have fallen on the floor. Vacuuming comes last.
Clutter creates work, which means when you let junk accumulate, you'll end up cleaning it along with everything else. "Make a garbage pile and a to-do pile," suggests cleaning guru Jenna Haefelin in the article. "When the to-do pile piles up, take action!"