5 cleaning mistakes that will make your home dirtier

Call me strange, but one of my favorite things to do on a Sunday morning is get up early, pour a steaming hot mug of coffee and clean my entire apartment. Despite checking off everything on my cleaning list each week, I had no idea that some of the ways I was cleaning—from washing dishes to doing laundry—were actually making my stuff way, way dirtier. Next time you’re tidying up, avoid making these common cleaning mistakes and follow these fixes instead.

Mistake 1: Using the same rag around the house

Why it’s dirty: Despite spritzing it with a cleaning solution, when you use the same rag in multiple spots around the house the rag hangs on to the grime from the previous surface and spreads it to whichever surface it touches next. That means bathroom germs get wiped onto kitchen counters, the living room coffee table and anywhere else that cloth is used.

How to fix it: Use a new wad of paper towel for each surface cleaned, or have a microfiber cleaning cloth designated for each area of your home. Microfiber cleaning cloths can be tossed in the laundry or thoroughly washed after each use to remove gunk or grime.

Mistake 2: Using a feather duster

Why it’s dirty: No matter how much the advertisements for these dusters say the feathers “trap and lock dust,” they don’t. Feather dusters are notorious for spreading dust around a surface or pushing it off to fall to the ground, rather than removing it.

How to fix it: Use a microfiber cleaning cloth or a disposable paper towel with appropriate cleaning solution, depending on the surface being dusted.

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Mistake 3: Not cleaning the vacuum

Why it’s dirty: When a vacuum filter hasn’t been changed or cleaned in a while, not only is the vacuum unable to pick up as much dirt and dust as it should, due to decreased suction, but dirt also is blown back into the air and carpet by the dusty vent.

How to fix it: Change or empty vacuum bags or canisters immediately after they become full. Wipe vacuum attachments, the hose and the vent with either a damp microfiber cleaning cloth or a moist paper towel, double-checking that the vacuum is unplugged first.

Mistake 4: Tossing any kitchen tool into the dishwasher

Why it’s dirty: Smaller kitchen tools like a garlic press, zester or cheese grater have small nooks and crannies that a dishwasher isn’t always able to blast. When food is left in these tools, it can become moldy and get into food the next time it is used.

How to fix it: Skip the dishwasher and wash by hand with dish soap and hot water, paying particular attention to corners and small holes.

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Mistake 5: Placing a toilet brush back into its holder immediately

Why it’s dirty: If a toilet brush is put right back into its holder right after use, the moisture and germs from the toilet get trapped in the container and the brush, where they breed and multiply. These germs are then rubbed back into your toilet the next time the brush is used.

How to fix it: After scrubbing, allow the toilet brush to dry completely before returning it to its holder.

Read more cleaning mistakes on Taste of Home.