Cleaning Myths You Need to Stop Believing—and What to Do Instead

Sometimes you can't beat old-school advice. These traditional cleaning tips, on the other hand, deserve be relegated to the past.

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Bleach doesn't clean dirt
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Myth: Bleach is best

Sorry to burst your cleaning bubble: Though most people associate the smell of bleach with clean, bleach doesn’t really even clean at all. It disinfects, kills germs, and can whiten stains, but it doesn’t clean dirt and grime from surfaces. So if you’re looking to whiten your shirt or rinse away bacteria from that raw chicken in your sink, then bleach is your way to go. However, if you’re trying to remove the grit from your bathtub, you’ll need an actual cleaning product, preferably something with some texture, like baking soda.

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Stack of newspapers
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Myth: Newspaper will give you streak-free glass

You’ve probably seen your grandparents use newspaper to clean mirrors and glass and wondered if this old-school strategy actually works. Well, yes, and no. Yes, because newspaper at one time was made of out papers and ink that did indeed leave mirrors and glasses streak-free. Sadly, newspaper today is made out of completely different materials that actually leave streaks on your mirrors. Trying using rubbing alcohol or a glass cleaner with a microfibre cloth.

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Feather dusters don't work
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Myth: Feather dusters dust

Sure, they’re soft and fluffy, but contrary to their name, feather dusters don’t really do much dusting. More often than not, they just spread the dust around. Instead, reach for a vacuum with a nozzle attachment or a soft damp cloth when trying to get rid of dust. More than 90 per cent of household dust comes from tiny flakes of skin and barely visible fabric fibres that float on the slightest air current and settle on every surface in your house.

Here are 12 things you shouldn’t clean with paper towels.

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Cleaning myths - air freshener spray
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Myth: Fragrant scents = clean

You might think that if something that smells fresh and good, it’s clean, but don’t let your nose fall for this cleaning myth. Just because a product is labelled as “fresh laundry” or “clean spring air” doesn’t mean that it actually removes dirt and germs. While those air freshener sprays do smell wonderful, they don’t do a thing when it comes to actually removing dirt, stains, and germs. In fact, they don’t really even freshen a room, moreso just make it smell a bit better for the time being. If you want something to truly be clean, you have to do the dirty work.

Check out 20 clever hacks to get rid of household odours.

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Polishing wood furniture
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Myth: Polish wood weekly

While gleaming wood floors and furniture are coveted, you should, in fact, polish them sparingly. In fact, most wooden furniture sold on the market today doesn’t need to be polished at all. Applying too much polish and/or wax will lead to build up and actually make your furniture appear more dull. If you notice dust or other debris, regular water on a cloth will do the trick.

Find out how to remove water stains from wood.

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Photo: ctktiger/Shutterstock

Myth: Lemon peels deodorize the garbage disposal

Garbage disposals are one of the greatest inventions known to mankind. They grind up all your discarded food into tiny pieces so you don’t have to fish them out of the sink (or call the plumber for a clogged drain), in addition to making the dishwashing process 10 times faster. Your garbage disposal does so much for you, so make sure you’re taking care if it. From time to time you may notice a funky smell coming for your disposal, but lemon peels aren’t the answer. To properly clean it and gently unclog the drain, mix half a cup of baking soda with one cup of white vinegar and pour it down the drain followed by boiling water.

Discover how professional cleaners keep their own homes spotless.

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Myth: Vinegar cleans all

Vinegar is such a fabulous all-natural (and inexpensive!) cleaner that it’s easy to go vinegar crazy. With so many different uses for vinegar around the house, this trusted item—in its white vinegar as well as its apple cider vinegar versions—deserves a special place in your pantry. Unfortunately, this staple shouldn’t be used to clean everything you own. While vinegar does a great job on walls, bathrooms, dishes, and as a fabric softener, it should never be used to clean hardwood, marble, stone finishes, or wax floorings, as the vinegar may actually cause dulling.

Find out which surfaces you should never clean with a Magic Eraser.

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Myth: Hairspray removes ink stains

Like newspaper being used to clean mirrors, hairspray has been touted as a stain remover for many years. Unfortunately, also like newspaper, the formula for hairspray has changed over time—and while alcohol-free versions are better for your hair, they’re not as good at removing stains as they once were. So next time you spill red wine all over your white dress, reach for an actual stain remover, or opt for a homemade version using vinegar or hydrogen peroxide.

Check out more cleaning mistakes you didn’t know you were making.

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Laundry - cold water wash
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Myth: Wash all clothes in cold water

Doing your laundry is a tad more complicated than just pressing a button on the washing machine. Many find it frustrating trying to decode which colour is washed for how long and in what temperature, which is probably why most people now wash everything on cold (and it’s also a money-saver). Granted, most pieces can be washed in cold water—especially dark and bright colours or delicate fabrics—but some things like whites and undergarments should be washed on hot, and man-made fibres and jeans should be washed on warm.

These laundry hacks make garment care a breeze.

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House cleaning myths - woman cleaning kitchen surfaces
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Myth: Cleaning solutions act instantly

Patience is a virtue! You can’t expect to spray a product and instantaneously have a perfectly clean, spotless surface. After applying a cleaning solution, let it soak in for the allotted time. And be prepared to add a bit of elbow grease, too: While that kitchen cleaner is great for breaking up baked-on stovetop messes, you’ll still need to scrub it vigorously with a sponge or rag.

Next, find out how to clean absolutely everything in your kitchen.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

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