Heads up: These are the common cleaning mistakes you’re making

Bubble trouble

A collection of colorful cleaning supplies
(Image credit: Getty)

Let’s be real: We all want our homes to be cleaned as quickly and as well as possible. I personally pick up my cleaning supplies and tools without too much thought, and go straight into a scrubbing zone. That being said, this need for speed and efficiency can lead to some serious cleaning mistakes.

While I’m all about finding cleaning hacks that make my life a million times easier, I always try to avoid doing anything that will damage my rental or my furniture, as I’m not made of money. I’m also super busy and don’t want to waste my time doing something ineffective.

With that in mind, I’ve spoken to a range of experts who have weighed in on common cleaning mistakes that are super easy to make. But don’t stress — they’ve also given plenty of useful solutions. They’re all renter and apartment friendly, so you’ll totes relate to these. Brace yourself, you’re about to do a whole lot of cringing and learning at the same time…

These are the common cleaning mistakes you’re making, according to the experts 

No more damaging your home or dirtying it up even more by accident — here are 10 cleaning no-nos and how to avoid them.

1. Using too much cleaning product

Yes, there’s such a thing as going too far with a cleaning product. “People often believe that more product equals better cleaning results," says Armeka Townsend, cleaning expert at Zep. "This misconception can lead to using excessive amounts of cleaning agents.” You can avoid this by reading the label for recommended usage and starting with a small amount. Then, you can always add more if needed. Townsend notes that "this not only saves product and money but also prevents residue build-up and potential damage to surfaces.” 

2. Cleaning out of order

When you’re in a frenzy and just want to get the job done, you may not think about the most efficient way to do it. But here’s an easy tip: simply remember each room from top to bottom. “This way the dirt and dust from above falls on dirty surfaces,” Chris Willatt, owner of Alpine Maids explains. “As you work your way down, you are cleaning that excess dirt from above and not wasting your time by having to double clean.” Loving the time efficiency here. 

3. Using the same cloth to clean everywhere

It’s so easy to just pick up one cloth, some all-purpose cleaning spray, and just go around the house without switching things up. “Using one cloth to clean everywhere will spread germs around surfaces, so use freshly washed cloths for each room in the home and disinfect them daily to kill bacteria,” says Laura Mountford, cleaning expert, influencer, and author of Live, Laugh, Laundry. “Most cloths can easily be cleaned in the washing machine using a disinfectant or a laundry cleanser, so there’s no need to put on a hot wash. I keep all my dirty cloths in a cleaning caddy and then once a week wash them with dirty towels.” Alternatively, you can disinfect your cloths daily in the sink with hot water and disinfectant to keep them fresh and germ-free. 

4. Cleaning the windows on sunny days

It's true that spring cleaning always feels so much more satisfying on sunny days. But, as gorg as the sun is, it actually isn’t very useful for cleaning windows. “Sunshine makes it easy to see dirt and streaks on windows, tempting people to clean them immediately,” Townsend explains. “Instead, I recommend cleaning windows on a cloudy day or in the shade to prevent the cleaning solution from drying too quickly, which can cause streaks.” Using a squeegee (this is Amazon's bestseller, BTW) or microfiber cloth can also help achieve a streak-free finish. 

5. Not allowing enough dwell time for disinfectants

I’m majorly guilty of just spraying on a product and wiping off right after — but turns out you shouldn’t be doing that, guys. “People often want to clean quickly and may not realize that disinfectants need time to be effective," says Townsend. "They might wipe away the product too soon, reducing its germ-killing powers." Avoid this by reading the product label for the recommended dwell time and follow those instructions for maximum effectiveness. Townsend notes that "this ensures the disinfectant has enough time to kill bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens on the surface."

6. Mopping using a dirty mop

Does your mop and bucket just get shoved in your cleaning closet as soon as you’re done? Turns out you need to do a bit more than that to get it ready for its next outing. “Mopping using a dirty mop head will spread dirt and bacteria all around your floors so be sure to use a clean one for every use,” Mountford tells me. Luckily, most mop heads are removable and machine washable so they can be cleaned easily. She adds: “Ensure the water you are using to mop is also clean, as mopping using dirty water is going to be counterproductive.”

If you need to invest in a mop with washable or disposable heads, then these are our favorites.

7. Not cleaning regularly enough

Unless you’re amazingly organized (if you are, I completely admire you), chances are you don’t keep tabs on where and how often you clean. This can mean you forget areas of your apartment — especially ones you don’t notice all the time, such as the tops of wardrobes. “The longer you go between cleaning the dirtier and more difficult it is to truly get your home clean,” Willatt explains. To keep on top of things, he recommends creating a cleaning schedule and checklist. “This will help prevent caked-on dirt and grime from building up — choose the best days that work for you and stick to that schedule.” 

8. Not using cleaning products correctly

First rule of adulting: always read the instructions. The packaging should clearly state how to use your cleaning product and where it can be used. “Ensure that the product is suitable for the surface that you want to use it on or it could cause damage,” Mountford says. FYI: it is also incredibly important not to mix cleaning products, as this can be very dangerous. “Never mix cleaning chemicals, as it can produce toxic fumes or dangerous reactions, "Townsend adds. "For example, mixing chemicals like bleach and ammonia can produce toxic chloramine gas." I watched someone do this on the TV show Below Deck and vowed never to do it myself. 

9. Scrubbing stains too aggressively

One of my fave things when cleaning is getting a full workout out of it, so I do tend to go OTT. “People may think that scrubbing harder will remove the stain faster, but this can lead to frustration and overzealous scrubbing, which can potentially cause damage,” Townsend says. She recommends avoiding this by gently blotting the stain with a clean cloth and applying stain remover, such as Folex’s, which is Amazon’s Choice. This will also prevent the stain from worsening. Then, allow it to work before gently working it in. As they say, patience is a virtue, people. 

10. Skipping deep cleaning

I know, I know — deep cleaning can be a li’l boring. But you gotta get it done. “It is important to tackle deep cleaning tasks, to avoid losing your deposit or having to pay for an expensive deep clean at the end of your tenancy,” Mountford says. “Tasks like cleaning the oven, removing limescale, and freshening up the sofa and carpets should be done every couple months to keep on top of them and stop them becoming so dirty that it puts you off doing them even more.” Little and often really does help make deep cleaning less overwhelming.

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.