12 Household Cleaning Mistakes That Are Making You Sick

There’s nothing like the feeling of a fresh, tidy house. But how clean is your home, really? Your bad cleaning habits may be preventing you from achieving a real deep, lasting clean—but don't worry! Simply follow these 12 tips for your healthiest home ever.

  1. Forgetting the Germiest Spots

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    germiest places in house

    Research by NSF International reveals that the germiest place in your home is actually the kitchen. That’s right, the place where you prepare and eat food may be the dirtiest spot. The biggest culprit? Your dish sponge or rag. Make sure you bleach or microwave your sponge every week.

    Related: The Top 10 Grimiest Spots in Your Home, According to Science

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  2. Not Cleaning the Toilet Brush

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    cleaning toilet brush head

    Mold and bacteria love dark, humid places. After you clean your toilet, place the brush between the toilet bowl and seat, with the brush end facing inward. Lower the lid to secure the brush, then spray it with a disinfectant like vinegar or bleach. Let the brush dry before placing it back in the holder.

    Related: 8 Ways to Mildew-Proof Your Bathroom

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  3. Doing the Lazy-Clean

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    Lazy Cleaning

    We all know the feeling. We need to clean, but don’t particularly want to. So, instead of doing a good job, we wipe down all major surfaces with the same old rag. Instead, use paper towels and cleaning spray to target the major germ magnets: doorknobs, toothbrush holders, trash cans, the stove, remote controls, and sinks.

    Related: 14 Crazy Cleaning Tips That Actually Work

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  4. Rushing Your Cleaning Products

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    Rushing While Cleaning

    While commercial products do save time, they also need time to work. After spraying your bathroom tile, sinks, and shower curtain, give the product a few minutes to break down scum and mineral buildup. Then scrub gently with a sponge, rinse with fresh water, and towel-dry.

    Related: 12 Genius Tips for Everyday Speed-Cleaning

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  5. Smothering Your Laundry

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    too much laundry detergent

    Less is more when it comes to laundry detergent and softener. In fact, using too much of these products can be harmful to your clothes and the environment. Always use concentrated detergent as directed. For an alternative to softener sheets, try wool dryer balls or add one-half cup of baking soda to the water before tossing in your clothes.

    Related: 12 Laundry Mistakes You’re Probably Making

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  6. Leaving the Lid Up

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    toilet seat up or down hygiene

    Keeping the toilet lid closed is not just a matter of decorum. When you leave the lid up when you flush, you're guaranteed to spread germs. This means that, because the sink is often so close to the toilet, toothbrushes and faucet handles can be some of the dirtiest surfaces in the home. Clean your toothbrush regularly, and wipe down faucets and handles with disinfectant.

    Related: 9 Top Tips for a Bathroom That Cleans Itself

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  7. Using Bleach

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    cleaning with bleach

    Yes, it’s often the go-to product for disinfecting your home, but be mindful of your bleach use. Never mix bleach with ammonia, vinegar, lemon, or other acids, as this creates toxic chlorine gas. Keep bleached areas well ventilated, use bleach sparingly, and be especially careful when spraying surfaces near fabrics, rugs, and upholstery.

    Related: Surprising Alternative Uses for Clorox Bleach

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  8. Forgetting to Clean the Cleaners

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    Clean Cleaning Tools

    Those time-saving devices need some TLC too. Check your dishwasher filter every month or so. Empty your vacuum bag before it gets half full. Always clean your dryer’s lint trap. Grind up an occasional lemon peel to refresh your garbage disposal. And finally, take time to deep clean your countertop appliances: Even conscientious cleaners often overlook the coffee maker and blender.

    Related: The Dirty Dozen: 12 Places You Probably Never Clean But Definitely Should

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  9. Spraying Electronics

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    cleaning electronics

    Your phone, laptop, TV, and gaming console occasionally need a good clean. But never spray a disinfectant directly onto these delicate surfaces. First, wipe them with a dry microfiber cloth. Then dab a cotton pad in rubbing alcohol and wipe it lightly over the device. Use a toothpick or Q-tip for hard-to-clean areas between keys.

    Related: 9 Products You Will Love If You Hate Cleaning

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  10. Vacuuming Throw Rugs

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    Vacuuming Throw Rugs

    While vacuuming does lift surface hair and dust off your rugs, for a truly fresh underfoot experience, shake them out outdoors. You will be amazed at the clouds of dust that fly off your Persian carpets, kitchen rugs, and kilims.

    Related: 7 Ways You're Vacuuming Wrong

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  11. Pretending the Bed’s Clean

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    Clean Bed

    We spend (hopefully) 8 to 10 of every 24 hours in bed. At night, our bodies repair, sloughing off cells and hair—and creating allergens. Change your sheets every one to two weeks. At least once a month, dust the bed frame, and vacuum beneath and around the bed. Don’t forget to wash your blankets and duvet covers every few months too.

    Related: 9 Painless Ways to Keep Your Home Forever Clean

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  12. Over-Cleaning

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    over cleaning

    Tidying our environment can make us feel more relaxed and in control. That said, over-cleaning can be a sign of obsessive thinking and other anxiety disorders. Plus, scrubbing too hard and using large amounts of cleaning products can damage your belongings. Be kind to yourself and your home: Clean the most used places once a week, and do a deeper clean every few months.

    Related: 9 Things You're Cleaning Way Too Often

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  13. See the House of the Week

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    Discover and admire beautiful and innovative home architecture, from grand Victorians to quaint cabins and all the styles in between. Take a look at the latest images and inspiration!