10 Dangerous Cleaning Mistakes You're Probably Making

Emily Abbate | Feb 24, 2014 Home & Garden

cleaning with vinegar in a spray bottle

Cleaning is certainly a project, one that many women and men aren't exactly stoked to take on. The problem with that? That means that many of us don't know the proper way to do things, and admittedly can be super lazy when it comes time for that Sunday night clean sweep of the home.

Scarily enough, your disinterest in being a modern day Martha Stewart could end up causing some serious problems. It's not your fault, you just didn't know better.

Cleaning mistakes

We summed up 10 common dangerous cleaning mistakes that could be wreaking havoc on your health. Click below to see them, then tell us:

Which mistake have you been making?

 

Images via United Soybean Board/Flickr; via Corbis

  • Not washing your bathroom towels

    1

    Granted, the item with the most bacteria in your bathroom may just be your loofah. However, unwashed towels may be a close second. When you share a bathroom with others, it's super easy to swap viruses. Not washing your towels allows germs to accumulate over time.

    The fix? Not exactly brain science, make sure to wash them regularly. Do yourself a favor and get on some sort of schedule, washing your items every other Friday, for example.

  • Not letting the cleaners do their job

    2

    When you're just trying to check off the "Clean the kitchen" box, you may be moving at a pace that's too fast to make the work worth your while. If the cleaners don't sit on surfaces long enough, you could be leaving dangerous germs behind.

    The fix? Most cleaners have a suggested time to leave on surfaces. Take a look at the back, and continue accordingly.

  • Mixing bleach

    3

    True story: Back when my brother was in college, he thought he was doing his roommates a favor by making an "ultimate cleaning solution" of bleach and ammonia. Fact: when combined, the two make an uber dangerous gas called chloramine. Although his entire dorm had the be evacuated, it taught us all a major life lesson: mixing bleach with most household cleaners is a NO-NO. High exposure could be super dangerous.

    The fix? Find cleaning solutions that are specific to your needs (there surely are a TON of them out there). Looking to kill soap scum in the bathroom? Shop smart for the exact solution for your targeted areas.

  • Using too much cleaner

    4

    When an area is a mess, it's easy to go trigger happy with the Windex. But even if you're not working with an ultimate dangerous cleaning solution, it still has dangerous toxins in there. Too much of a clean thing isn't necessarily a good thing.

    The fix? Four or five sprays should get the job done just fine. Trust me, your body (and your wallet!) will thank you.

  • Getting lazy and not moving things out of the way

    5

    Being in a rush and leaving a washcloth, loofah, or kitchen towel in your path could be super dangerous. While you're cleaning, you could accidentally spritz them with a solution, and then leave the item sitting there with chemicals -- just waiting to make contact with human skin.

    The fix? Move them. You'll cleaning job will be better, and you can breathe easier knowing there's one less thing for you to stress about.

  • Combining cleaners

    6

    It's easy to get overzealous and think that combining multiple cleaners is the direct route to a better result, but that's not necessarily the case. Different chemicals may not mix at all. For example, bleach and ammonia together may inflame your airways.

    The fix? Use one product at a time. Also, try to pick the least toxic, most natural option (e.g. just 10 percent vinegar in water can kill bacteria on countertops).

  • Skipping the rubber gloves

    7

    Whether it's because you're in a hurry or you figure you can just wash your hands after you clean, you might opt out of wearing rubber cleaning gloves. This is a no-no, because even a healthy person's skin could absorb chemicals from cleaning products, which could lead to a variety of health concerns.

    Proof: Common solvents were found to cause adverse reproductive and developmental effects in a 2008 animal study. And a more minor but still irritating side effect is contact dermatitis, which is associated with inflamed and swollen skin.

    The fix? Wear disposable latex or reusable rubber gloves. You may also want to wear different colors for each task or area to avoid cross-contamination.

  • Forgetting to wash your comforter and pillows regularly

    8

    Although you may strip your bed and wash sheets regularly, you might assume that pillows, duvets, and comforters don't get dust mites (which feed on protein, like human hair and skin cells) as readily and thus don't require routine washing. But they are just as likely to harbor dust mites, danger, and pollen, which can all lead to or exacerbate existing allergies.

    The fix? Wash sheets weekly in water that is 140°F or hotter, and wash or dry-clean your pillows, duvets, and comforters at least once a month.

  • Not cleaning the kitchen sink or sponges frequently

    9

    While we're spending so much time cleaning up our bathrooms, one spot we tend to ignore all too often is the kitchen sink, which in fact, has a nasty rep for being one of the dirtiest spots in the home. We may also let sponges go far too long without being sanitized.

    The fix? Wash your kitchen sink with a solution of bleach and water once a day and then letting the solution run down the drain. Don't forget to remove the drain plug and clean it, too, and then wash your hands. To banish bacteria from your sponges, wash them with antibacterial soap after each use and wring them dry. You can also put damp ones in the microwave for 30 seconds.

  • Choosing a cleaner that is not a true disinfectant

    10

    Not all cleaners are made equal. That said, when your mission is to kill germs -- especially if, say, one of your kids has been sick -- any ol' cleaning spray may not do the trick.

    The fix? Be sure to choose a cleaner that actually has disinfectant powers. Reading labels, and maybe even going on a product's website to check their claims may be helfpul.

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