Hanna KielarUPDATED: May 23, 2023
Sometimes it seems like you have endless to-do lists and making time for a full house deep-clean can be tough. You can avoid more intensive seasonal or spring cleaning by making your cleaning more efficient. We’ve got 10 common items in your home you’re probably overcleaning and 10 that could use more care.
While, on the surface, frequent house cleaning sounds good, focusing on high-touch areas too often could cause unwanted damage. Let’s take a look at what chores you need to scale back on and what you should be prioritizing instead.
The short answer is daily.
Though you won’t do a deep-clean every day, daily cleaning can keep your house neat and avoid buildup of dirt and grime.
Don’t wait until it’s laundry day to make your bed, keeping bed linens off the floor means they don’t collect dust or allergens. If your kitchen floor or countertops are collecting crumbs, don’t rely on your cleaning schedule to sweep it up.
Beyond that, cleaning schedules vary from homeowner to homeowner. You’ll need to know how often and what to clean based on the room and how frequently you use it. Keeping up with small but impactful daily cleaning around the house can end up saving you time.
Realistically, if you’re tidying up your home daily, it should only take 15 – 30 minutes to keep your house clean and organized. The two areas of your home that likely require daily cleaning are your kitchen and bathroom.
Keep in mind that this could vary according to the homeowner. If you find that you don’t cook 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 daily cleaning. The more you get into the habit, the less time you’ll spend on weekly cleaning.
If you find that your house cleaning is taking longer than expected, there might be things in your home that you’re cleaning more often than necessary. While “too clean” is rarely a bad thing, you could actually be causing damage from overcleaning or cleaning with the wrong product.
Let’s break down the top offenders.
Wood polish, when used excessively, can cause damage to the wood finish. Additionally, wax-based wood polish can lead to an oily buildup that traps more dust and dirt.
Wood furniture only needs monthly cleaning using a furniture polish that’s wax- and silicone-free; otherwise, it only needs light dusting with a dry cloth every other week.
Windows only need to be cleaned once or twice a year. You can spot-clean as needed, but overcleaning can lead to streaking and dirt buildup.
If windows still look dirty, the buildup may be on the outside of the window. Instead of obsessively wiping windows inside, use a power washer or a squeegee with hot water and clean from the outside.
Upholstered furniture should only be cleaned by a professional once a year. Upholstery requires steam cleaning and cleaning products that are better left to professional cleaning services.
What you can do is take a vacuum accessory, like a tube or a brush attachment, and clean cushions for crumbs and other loose dirt and dust off furniture in living rooms or other frequently used spaces.
Don’t attempt a DIY cleaning with an upholstery cleaning product. If you use too much cleaner or overwet the surface of your furniture, it can cause mold and mildew growth in the cushions.
While it’s best practice to wipe down your kitchen surfaces daily, there are a few household appliances that don’t need as much attention as others.
Unless there’s a smell or large spill, you only need to deep-clean your refrigerator once a month. Keeping up on expired food or spills can help minimize the bulk of the cleaning. Make sure to use disinfecting wipes instead of sponges to eliminate any bacteria that may be lurking in your vegetable or meat drawers.
Your oven or range will need deep cleaning just two or three times a year to get rid of build up and grime. If you keep up with spills, your range should stay fairly clean. When you deep clean your oven or range, use a deep-cleaning spray or cream. But don’t use a scraping tool or scouring brush, as it could damage the lining of your appliances.
While overcleaning these two appliances shouldn’t cause damage, cutting down on weekly cleaning will free up more time to address more pressing areas of your kitchen, like your floors or countertops.
Your carpets, especially in high-traffic rooms like living rooms or entryways, are areas that require steam cleaning with a professional cleaning service 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 white vinegar to clean stains, since they won’t damage the carpet fibers.
Ceiling fans, lighting fixtures and other hanging or mounted accessories only need to be cleaned once a month with a microfiber cloth.
For glass fixtures, you can use a sponge or cloth with 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 as part of your weekly cleaning, scrubbing your tile floors, backsplashes and walls to the grout can be pushed back to your monthly cleaning schedule.
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, which can be difficult to remove. You can use a wet mop every month to do a deep clean, but avoid overwetting 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 3 months to collect allergens, dust and buildup. You can also use a microfiber cloth to run along the side of your baseboards for tougher-to-reach areas.
Cast iron pans can be a robust and versatile component of your kitchen, but they have some special maintenance requirements compared to other cookware.
You may have heard of the protective layer of carbonized oils on your cast iron pans, called “seasoning.” This layer creates a mildly nonstick surface that can help keep food from adhering to the pan. Additionally, a good layer of seasoning can help protect your pans from accumulating rust.
You should always try to wipe out and clean your cast iron pans shortly after you finish using them. For more stubborn, stuck on food, it is okay to use mild detergents, but you should avoid soaking your pans and using abrasive scrubbers. A cast iron pan should never be put in a dishwasher.
When clean, if your pan has lost some of it’s lustrous sheen, you should spread some vegetable or other shelf stable oil to keep surface rust from forming during storage.
Larger bedspreads, like comforters and quilts, can go 3 months without a good wash. When it’s time to wash, you might need to take them to a professional 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.
Instead of focusing on the areas of your home that should be cleaned on a biweekly or monthly cleaning schedule, focus on those that need daily cleaning or at least weekly cleaning. High touch areas like your kitchen countertops will likely be your main cleaning priority.
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 buildup that can overheat and damage your microwave if not addressed immediately.
Take a microfiber cloth and hot water and wipe down your microwave. Make sure to spot clean spills and splashes in between cleanings. You can also use white vinegar to disinfect the microwave’s interior.
Your bathroom surfaces, like your countertops, toilet, shower and floor, need to be wiped down every day to disinfect and prevent bacteria growth.
You should also make it a habit to wipe down your shower after each use. 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. This natural method is safer than using bleach cleaning products.
Electronics, like your laptop, computer keyboard and remote control, can collect germs and need to be disinfected.
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 to disinfect at least once a week.
Your cell phone or home phone can be wiped down with antiseptic alcohol wipes. You don’t want to overwet the surface of your phone as it could cause damage, so a light weekly cleaning will do.
Lastly, your remote control should be cleaned at least once a week as well. You can also use antiseptic alcohol wipes to disinfect your remote.
Your kitchen sink and countertops 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 in your home.
To make sure you address the bacteria in your kitchen, use white vinegar to sanitize and disinfect surfaces.
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 make 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 a habit of cleaning your trash can once every week to get rid of any particles.
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 buildup and soap scum that may clog your dishwasher drain. If you let food sit long enough, it can start to smell or stick to your clean dishes during a cycle.
Make it a habit to wipe down your dishwasher after every cycle, or at least once a 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.
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. That’s why it’s particularly important to disinfect and sanitize high touch surfaces.
Once a month, take a microfiber cloth and white vinegar and wipe down these places in your home. Go room by room and be 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 to disinfect your cleaning sponges with white vinegar once a week. 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’ll need to clean the inside of your washing machine. Dirt from clothes, soap scum and other bacteria can grow in the perpetually wet inside of your 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.
To keep your coffee tasting fresh and extend the life of your coffee machine, you’ll need to clean your coffee maker once a month. Focus on removing debris from the ground beans, hard water stains 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 into 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 of the machine. However, you’ll need to run the cleaning cycles at least two times with water 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.
Daily or even weekly cleaning might seem overwhelming, but staying on top of the messes in your home will limit the time you spend deep cleaning on the weekend.
The good news is you can save money on cleaning products by using natural cleaners found in your home. Often the most effective cleaners at your disposal are rubbing alcohol, white vinegar and water. You can even make a DIY all-purpose cleaning solution by mixing one-quarter cup of vinegar and a gallon of water.
Your next step is to create a realistic schedule for cleaning and maintaining your home. Setting up a solid schedule will help you prioritize your cleaning so you’re putting your energy to good use.
Having a cleaning schedule and knowing where to focus your time for your daily and weekly cleaning schedules will save you time and keep your home clean and sanitary.
With all the time you’re saving you’ll have more time to start that home improvement project you’ve been dreaming about. If you’re looking for funds for your next home project, apply for a Home Equity Loan and start updating your home today.