I’m slowly becoming the cleaning authority for this blog – and I love it! While most might recoil at the thought of cleaning in any capacity, it’s actually a way in which I de-stress. It’s never felt like a chore for me; in fact, I clean my house almost every day.
At first, I thought this was great. My home is perpetually tidy and organized, so I thought to myself, “I’ve got this whole adult thing down!” That is, until I learned there’s actually a thing as too clean (sounds fake, but okay).
After doing some digging, I found 10 common items in the home that are actually overcleaned. While, on the surface, this doesn’t sound like a bad thing, it may be causing some unwanted damage. Let’s take a look at what chores you need to scale back on and what you should be prioritizing instead. Some might even surprise you!
How Often Should I Clean My House?
The short answer is daily.
I know, I just contradicted my title, but in reality, there are tasks you need to do on a daily basis to keep your house neat and functional.
If your bed is unmade, don’t wait until it’s laundry day to get your sheets in order. If your kitchen floor is collecting crumbs, don’t wait until your designated cleaning day to sweep it up. Just do it!
Beyond that, it really varies from homeowner to homeowner. You’ll need to determine the purpose of the room and how frequently you use it.
If homeowners took time every day to do small but impactful chores around their house, it would cut down on the time spent on their actual chore day. Which brings me to my next point: time.
How Much Time Should I Spend Cleaning My House?
Realistically, if you’re tidying up your home on the daily, it should only take between 15 – 30 minutes to keep your house in order. According to Good Housekeeping, the two areas of your home that requiring daily cleaning are your kitchen and bathroom.
Keep in mind that this could vary according to the homeowner. Again, you’ll need to consider how frequently you use the area. If you find that you don’t cook a meal every day, you might not have to clean your kitchen as often.
If you clean your home only once a week or biweekly, you’ll find it will take longer to get the job done. Based on the size of your house and the severity of the mess, it could be 2 – 3 hours out of your day dedicated to cleaning.
That’s why most cleaning experts recommend at least 15 – 30 minutes spent cleaning and tidying your home every day. The more you get into this habit, the less time you’ll spend on a weekly or monthly basis.
10 Things You’re Cleaning Too Much
If you find that your cleaning tasks are taking longer than expected, there might be things in your home that you’re cleaning more often than necessary. While “too clean” is never a bad thing, you could be actually be causing damage from overcleaning or cleaning with the wrong product.
“In general, Americans have a perception of using a product on everything that needs to be cleaned, which oftentimes isn’t necessary,” explained Debra Johnson, home cleaning expert at Merry Maids.
Let’s break down the top offenders.
Wood polish, when used excessively, can cause damage to the finish. Additionally, wax-based wood polish can lead to an oily buildup that traps more dust and dirt.
Your wood furniture requires a good cleaning only once a month using a furniture polish that’s wax- and silicone-free; otherwise, it will just need a light dusting with a dry cloth every other week.
Windows need to be cleaned one – two times a year. You can spot-clean as needed, but beyond that, overcleaning your windows can lead to streaking and dirt buildup.
It may also be a sign of a larger issue. Instead of obsessively wiping down your windows indoors, take a power washer or a squeegee with hot water and clean the outside of them.
Upholstered furniture should be cleaned only by a professional just once a year. It requires a steam cleaning and proper cleaning products that are better off in the hands of a pro.
What you can do is take a vacuum accessory, like a tube or a brush attachment, and clean beneath and on top of the cushions for crumbs and other loose dirt and dust.
Don’t attempt a DIY cleaning with a product. If you use too much cleaner or overwet the surface of your furniture, it can cause mold and mildew growth in the cushions.
Large Kitchen Appliances
While it’s best practice to wipe down your kitchen surfaces on the daily, there are a few appliances that don’t need as much attention as others.
Unless there’s a smell or large spill, you need to deep-clean your refrigerator only once a month. Keeping up on expired food or spills can help minimize the bulk of the cleaning. Make sure to use disinfecting wipes to eliminate any bacteria that may be lurking in your vegetable or meat drawers.
Your oven or range will need deep cleaning just two – three times a year. If you keep up on spills, it should last pretty long between cleans. When you do one, use a deep-cleaning spray or cream. But don’t use a scraping tool or scouring brush, as it could damage the lining.
While overcleaning these two appliances won’t cause damage, creating an appropriate amount of space between cleanings will free up more time to address more pressing areas of your kitchen, like your floors or countertops.
Carpets And Rugs
Your carpet is another area that requires a professional cleaning with a steam cleaner at least once a year.
You can do it yourself, but avoid overwetting the carpet fibers, as it could cause mildew and mold growth beneath the surface.
Otherwise, vacuum the carpet and rugs once a week to collect crumbs and address stains and spots when they occur. Instead of chemicals, use soap, water and vinegar to clean stains, since they won’t damage the carpet fibers.
Ceiling fans, lighting fixtures and other hanging or mounted accessories need to be cleaned only once a month with a microfiber cloth.
For glass fixtures, you can use warm water to wipe off any caked-on dust or grime that might have accumulated, but if you’re staying on top of dusting once a month, it shouldn’t take too much elbow grease.
While you should wipe down your bathroom and kitchen floor on a weekly basis, scrubbing your tile floors, backsplashes and walls to the grout can be pushed back to a monthly task.
You also don’t want to wash tile with too much water, as it can get into the cracks and grout lines, causing the floor to warp or grow mold. You can use a wet mop every month to do a deep clean, but don’t overwet the mop or floor.
On a weekly basis, you can sweep, dry-mop and spot-clean when necessary.
Your baseboards need a vacuum or duster cleaning once every three months to collect dirt, dust and buildup. You can also use a microfiber cloth to run along the side of your baseboards for tougher-to-reach areas.
Never wash a cast-iron pan with soap or put it in the dishwasher. Dish soap will strip the “seasoning,” accumulated textures and flavor from cooking off the pan.
All it requires is a light rinse with warm water after every use, as well as an oil “seasoning” to keep it from drying out.
If you do need to scrub your cast-iron pan, use kosher salt and water.
Larger bedspreads, like comforters and quilts, can go three months without a good wash. When it’s time to wash, you might need to take them to a cleaner, depending on their size and fabric care tag.
Your bedsheets and pillowcases should get washed every month, however. You should also wash your pillows at least twice a year. As for your mattress, mattress pads can be washed twice a year, while the actual mattress can be cleaned by sprinkling a light coating of baking soda on the surface. Let the baking soda absorb into the mattress fibers, then vacuum up the remaining baking soda.
10 Things You’re Not Cleaning Enough
Instead of focusing on the areas of your home that should be be cleaned on a biweekly or monthly basis, focus on those that need cleaning on a daily or at least weekly basis.
Debra Johnson suggested that your kitchen is the main priority when cleaning.
“This especially applies if you are cooking meals at home, as you want to ensure that nothing sticky is left on your countertops and that bacteria isn’t spread across the room,” Johnson said.
Let’s take a look at some areas you should be cleaning on a daily or weekly basis.
You should wipe down your microwave at least once a week. Caked-on food particles can cause overheating and damage to your microwave if not addressed immediately.
Take a microfiber cloth and hot water and wipe it down, spot-cleaning spills and splashes in between. You can also use white vinegar to disinfect the microwave interior.
Your bathroom surfaces, like your countertops, toilet, shower and floor, need to be wiped down every day to prevent bacteria growth.
You should also make it a habit to wipe down your shower after every use, because water left standing in your tub can cause mildew and mold growth if not cleaned regularly.
You can use white vinegar to disinfect the surfaces of your bathroom. It’s natural and safer than bleach cleaning products.
Electronics, like your laptop or computer, remote control and home phone, can collect germs and bacteria and rarely get cleaned.
Dust, crumbs and dirt can lodge into the cracks of your keyboard, making it an underrated dirty surface in your home. Purchase a can of compressed air to dislodge any particles in the cracks of your keyboard, then wipe it down with a microfiber cloth lightly damped with rubbing alcohol at least once a week.
Your cell phone or home phone can be wiped down with antiseptic alcohol wipes. You don’t want to overly wet the surface of your phone and cause damage, so a light cleaning every week will do.
Lastly, your remote control should be cleaned at least once a week as well. You can also use antiseptic alcohol wipes for your remote.
Kitchen Countertops And Sink
Your kitchen countertops and sink need to be cleaned daily. Bacteria thrives in wet areas of your home, so places like your bathroom and kitchen should be wiped down and sanitized to prevent it from spreading to nearby surfaces of your home.
To make sure you address the bacteria in your kitchen, use white vinegar to sanitize and disinfect every surface.
Make it a habit to clean these surfaces daily, even if you don’t cook a meal in your home every day.
The most common odors in your kitchen come from your trash can. Food and liquids can easily ooze their way out of the trash bag and sit at the bottom of the bin. The smell will be there no matter how many times you change your trash bag, so make it a habit to clean your trash can once every week to get rid of any particles that may have found their way to the bottom.
When you go to take out your trash, use disinfecting wipes on the outer and inner walls of the can and sprinkle baking soda at the bottom of the bin, then spray an all-purpose cleaner on top. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe up the baking soda and spray.
The inside of your dishwasher can collect food particles, grease and soap scum that may end up clogging your dishwasher drain. Not to mention, if you let the food sit in there long enough, it can become odorous or get lodged onto your clean dishes during a cycle.
Make it a habit to wipe down your dishwasher after every cycle, or at least once every week. Sprinkle a cup of baking soda onto the bottom of your empty dishwasher and let it sit overnight. The baking soda will deodorize the machine.
The next morning, add a cup of vinegar to the dishwasher and run the cycle on the hottest setting available.
Door Handles And Switches
Without even thinking about it, we’re constantly touching areas in our home, like doorknobs, drawer handles, light switches and other fixtures. Over time, these areas become hubs for germs and bacteria if they’re not cleaned on a regular basis.
Once a month, take a microfiber cloth and white vinegar and wipe down these places in your home. Go room by room, careful to not miss a switch plate.
Any porous cleaning supplies you have, like sponges, can collect a ton of bacteria. Think about it – your sponge comes into contact with everything filthy in your home: your dishes, sink, countertops, toilet and shower.
Make sure once a week to disinfect your cleaning sponges with white vinegar. You can also throw your sponge in with your dishes in the dishwasher.
A more sustainable solution would be to swap your sponges with microfiber cloths. They’re just as effective as cleaners but don’t hold as much bacteria as sponges do.
Once a month, you need to clean the inside of your washing machine. Dirt from clothes, soap scum and other bacteria can grow in the wet inside of a washing machine.
Add a cup of white vinegar to the detergent drawer and run an empty cycle on the hottest setting available. This will disinfect and deodorize the inside of your machine.
Additionally, you should clean out your dryer lint catcher after every cycle to prevent dryer fires.
Even as a coffee lover, I fall short when it comes to cleaning my coffee makers. Once a month, you need to clean your coffee maker to remove debris from the ground beans, hard water and lime deposits that can build up in the machine.
Most coffee makers will come with a cleaning system that you can run by pouring clean, hot water in the basin and letting it run on the hottest setting.
You can also add half white vinegar and half water to the mix to disinfect the inside. However, you’ll need to repeat the cleaning at least two times afterward to remove any remaining vinegar in the coffee maker. Then place the coffee filter basket into your dishwasher and run it on the hottest cycle.
Create A Realistic Schedule For Cleaning Your House
It might seem overwhelming to clean every week or even every day, but staying on top of the messes in your home will eliminate the hours from your weekend spent deep-cleaning your house.
The good news is you can save money on cleaning products by using natural cleaners found in your home. Johnson asserts that the most effective cleaners at your disposal are rubbing alcohol, white vinegar and water. You can even make a DIY all-purpose cleaning solution from mixing one quarter cup of vinegar and a gallon of water.
She also suggests stocking up on microfiber cloths, as they’re the most universal material for household cleaning.
“It’s best to color-code your microfiber cloths for different tasks – one color for dusting, another for cleaning floors, a third for glass surfaces and one cloth designated for bathrooms,” Johnson recommended.
Your next step is to create a realistic schedule for cleaning and maintaining your home. Good Housekeeping offers a helpful graphic for daily, weekly and monthly cleaning tasks.
Setting up a solid schedule will help you prioritize the areas in your home that you’re not cleaning enough and give you a break from the places you’re currently cleaning too much.