8 Cleaning Hacks That Don’t Actually Work—And What You Should Do Instead

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Do you want to:

(a) Spend less time cleaning

(b) Spend less money on cleaning products

(c) All of the above?

Time- and money-saving cleaning hacks are everywhere. We are sure you’ve seen plenty on your social media feeds. But the tips and tricks that promise a tidy home in a matter of minutes aren’t always effective.

In fact, some of these popular tricks, professional cleaners tell us, can cause damage to your furniture and give you a false sense of cleanliness by leaving loads of icky bacteria behind.

Here, experts tell us which popular cleaning hacks don’t actually work and what you should do instead.

1. Myth: Coca-Cola can clean toilet bowls.

This soft drink has been proven to be an efficient rust remover, said Stephanie Cooper of Energy Cleaning. But it can’t disinfect and kill germs, she says, so it’s useless for arguably the dirtiest place in your house.

What to do instead: When it comes to cleaning your toilet bowl, stick to a regular cleaner and scrub brush — and save your Coca-Cola for drinking.

Coke Announces Its Raising Soda Prices Due To Rising Costs
Getty Images | Justin Sullivan

2. Myth: Use more detergent to get cleaner clothes.

It seems logical: Adding more detergent will result in a cleaner load of laundry. More is better, right? Alas, when it comes to washing your clothes, it’s best to take a “less-is-more” approach, said Chris Blanchette, franchise owner of Mr. Appliance of the Merrimack Valley in New England, a Neighborly company.

“Not only can excessive suds damage a washing machine’s pump and drain, but it can also create excessive suds that actually re-deposit soil onto our clothing,” Blanchette explained.

What to do instead: Always stick with the recommended amount listed on the detergent bottle. In addition to your regular laundry detergent, adding 1 tablespoon of 20 Mule Team Borax ($11.83 on Amazon.com) to every load of laundry does wonders for both your clothes and washing machine.

The borates (chemical compounds) in Borax help to keep the detergent evenly dispersed, which in turn, eliminates soap residue build-up in your machine.

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3. Myth: Baking soda and vinegar are a great DIY cleaner.

Baking soda and vinegar can be good in some situations, such as unclogging drains and removing tough grime from pots and pans, said Zac Copper, owner at Northbay Maintenance, Inc.

But baking soda and vinegar shouldn’t be used as an all-purpose cleaner, Copper said. The solution can be great for cleaning away dirt, but doesn’t actually remove germs or tough stains from surfaces, he explained.

A cautionary note: When you’re looking for natural cleaning alternatives, you’ll find plenty of solutions recommending the vinegar and baking soda combo, says Kait Schulhof, a cleaning expert who writes for A Clean Bee.

What to do instead: Use an all-purpose cleaner. While the baking soda and vinegar combo is fizzy, Schulhof agreed that it doesn’t have a lot of cleaning power. Use the combination to unclog drains. Vinegar alone is great as a fabric softening alternative, while baking soda is effective at absorbing odor, she recommended.

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4. Myth: Use newspapers to clean windows and glass.

In the past, newspapers were thicker and made with materials that made it easy to polish glass surfaces, says Merin Jay, a window cleaning service manager and the author of the blog at Top Window Cleaners. Today, the material in newspaper doesn’t lend itself to cleaning, and the newsprint will redistribute grime and leave black ink on mirrors and windows.

What to do instead: You can use paper towels to clean windows and glass. But the best way to clean these surfaces is actually with a microfiber cloth, Jay explained. It  won’t leave any smudges on the glass and there won’t be fibers from the paper stuck to your glass.

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5. Myth: Paper towels get rid of germs best.

Paper towels or cotton rags are two of the most common ways that we clean our homes. If you’re just doing a light dusting, they work fine, but these methods aren’t actually the best when it comes to capturing germs, said Michael Silva-Nash, executive vice president of Molly Maid of Greater Little Rock and Northwest Arkansas, a Neighborly company.

What to do instead: Use a microfiber rag. “They are more absorbent and trap more germs,” Silva-Nash suggested.

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6. Myth: Use acidic cleaners on natural stone surfaces like granite or marble.

If you have a lot of build up or tough mess to clean up on granite or marble, don’t use acidic cleaners, says Silva-Nash. “It may make the job a tad easier but will strip the natural finish and damage the surface,” he warns.

What to do instead:  Use a pH-neutral cleaner like OdoBan, which is sold by the gallon on Amazon.

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7. Myth: Use furniture polish on mirrors.

Furniture polish may leave a good shine on your mirrors and other glass areas the first few times you use it. However, it will eventually cause a gunky build up, Silva-Nash said.

What to do instead: If your go-to glass cleaner isn’t doing the trick, you can also try warm water and a little bit of soap to remove the dirt from the mirror and then dry.

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8. Myth: Use oven cleaner on your stainless steel surfaces.

It’s frustrating when you can’t get streaks off your stainless steel fridge. While oven cleaner will leave a great shine, it will also damage the stainless steel appliance, Silva-Nash warned.

What to do instead: Pre-treat with some warm water and a drop of soap first to clean the surface, then use an approved stainless steel polish, he suggested. You will want to spray to the rag, not the surface and evenly spread the polish evenly.

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Have you been duped by any of these bogus cleaning hacks?

We were not paid to write this story. The products and services mentioned below were selected independent of sales and advertising. However, Simplemost may receive a small commission from the purchase of any products or services through an affiliate link to the retailer’s website.

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