Cleaning hacks that you should avoid — and why

Let's just skip these...

Cleaning supplies and sponges on a blue background
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Let’s be honest, pre-TikTok, cleaning (for the most part) was a pretty dull affair. You’d probably grab a few packets of multi-purpose cleaning wipes at Target and maybe some cleaning spray and that would be it. Cleaning wasn't a trend. 

With the rise of #CleanTok and the whole "Clean With Me" rabbit hole that's seriously easy to fall down, how we clean has changed. Thanks to catchy videos and plenty of fresh trends emerging every day, standard cleaning has gone out the window. Now, it's all about the best cleaning hacks

While tips for easier (and more exciting) cleaning are great and all, not every hack works — or is as safe — as it seems. Despite how popular they are, there are some cleaning hacks to avoid trying at home.

First things first, don't mix cleaning products

A common TikTok cleaning hack is mixing different cleaning products to create eye-catching results. Think: rainbow-hued toilet basins. But, just how safe is that?

According to home expert Ben Slater, it's really not the best idea. “People find it really satisfying watching creators mix together several cleaning products in an attempt to deep clean their homes, but there is actually some danger that they’re creating really harmful and acidic chemicals," he explains.

Any hack that requires you to mix cleaning chemicals together is probably worth skipping. 

The cleaning hacks you should skip

That rainbow toilet cleaning hack

You know the one — where TikTokers pour various toilet cleaners, disinfectants, and bleaches (in a range of colors) into the toilet bowl, trying create a pretty rainbow effect within the basin. Admittedly, the result is seriously cute, but is it a good idea? 

According to cleaning expert Spencer Murphy, it’s not. He explains that while mixing various colors of cleaners together is aesthetically pleasing, it’s wasteful and could also be dangerous if certain fumes are accidentally produced and inhaled. 

Putting shaving foam in your drain

Okay, so we’ve all seen this hack on #CleanTok and, admittedly, it looks rather impressive. But, did you know that most of these videos are actually fake and use expanding pipe cleaner instead? Who knew? Rather than shoving foam down your drain, there are ways to unclog a sink drain that will give you better results.

Using toilet freshening gel in your trash can

At first glance, this hack looks kinda cool. You pick out your go-to toilet freshening gel and instead of using it for its intended purpose, you pop it on the inside of your trash can lid to keep it smelling fresher for longer. 

In theory, this is a good idea and it's not a harmful trend, but it's also not immensely helpful. “The reason such products work so well in toilet basins is because frequent flushing ensures that the water eventually washes the product away," says Murphy. "This mechanism doesn’t work on the inside of a trash can, and as a result, the product will just collect dust, go ‘gunky’ in texture and prove difficult to remove.”

Mopping with a detergent pod

Aside from mopping your walls, there's another mopping trend that’s everywhere right now: adding a detergent pod to a mop bucket of steaming hot water. And #CleanTok is going wild for it. But, the reality is that hacks like this can be dangerous and, FYI, may also damage your floors.

Detergent pods are packed full of ultra-concentrated chemicals that can be harmful to your skin and eyes. Plus, if you mix the pod with another cleaning chemical, the combination may cause a dangerous reaction. 

Pouring a full bottle of toilet cleaner in the toilet tank

Lots of TikTokers are pouring an entire bottle of all-purpose cleaner into their toilet tanks, hoping it will act as an automatic bowl cleaner. The issue is that the chemicals in the cleaner may cause corrosion to plastic and rubber flush components over time, effectively damaging your toilet and potentially contributing to a plumbing disaster. Okay, it's not the most glamorous task, but cleaning your toilet the right way means you won't have to deal with one that's broken or backed up.

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.