The 6 biggest house cleaning mistakes you're probably making

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Cleaning. Bleh.

Is there anymore we really need to say?

I mean, for me, it isn't bleh because I love doing it. Yep. I love to clean. I find it comforting and therapeutic. I also got paid to do it for many years, so that doesn't hurt. Most moms don't share my enthusiasm for cleaning, though and I get that. 

I have come to find that the reason cleaning is such a proverbial pain in the backside is because there are a lot of mistakes being made that make it harder than it has to be. Imagine learning to walk, but instead of going forwards, your parents taught you to walk backwards. It would have been much harder, taken longer to learn and you'd bump into things all the time.

Cleaning incorrectly is the same way. It isn't anyone's fault that these mistakes are being made. I used to make a lot of them, which is why it took me far longer to clean a client's house than it should have (and why in the first few months, I did such a terrible job, I don't know how I still had clients) When I started to realize and fix these common issues, I found that my productivity soared and cleaning wasn't half bad after all (again, I was being paid so that totally sweetened the pot.)

But fear not, mama, for today, I shall break down some common house cleaning mistakes and give you the solution to fix them. Huzzah!

Ok, here we go...

1. The mistake: Not letting products work

Ohhhh is this a popular one. You buy that swanky new all-purpose cleaner. It’s derived from natural ingredients. It smells like springtime. It is wonderful. You spray it on your countertops and just as quickly as the product has hit the surface, you wipe it up. (Cue me behind you in slow motion screaming, “Nooooo”) Cleaning products need to sit for a bit to do their job. In fact, many cleaners, especially those that are meant to clean up grease or soap scum, actually have directions that state you should let the products sit for a while. This is how they work best.

The solution: Let your products sit for a while before you dive in and start scrubbing or wiping.

2. The mistake: Winging it

You know you need to clean, but your schedule looks more like “Crap! Company is coming. Someone grab a broom, for the love of God!” Winging it can make your life a lot more stressful than it has to be because you are basically in reactive mode instead of proactive mode.

The solution: Create an effective schedule. I created an entire mini course all about creating a cleaning routine for this very reason. Schedules create more freedom from cleaning, if you can believe it. It seems like a paradox, but in reality when you know what you will be doing and when, you stress far less about what needs to be done. Get on a schedule and you will find oodles of cleaning stress lift off your shoulders (You can check out the mini course here if you are interested.)

3. The mistake: Overusing paper towels

Paper towels are amazing. Let's not mince words here, but they don't need to be used to clean your entire house. Not only is overusing them wasteful, it also isn't as effective. Most paper towels leave bits of lint behind. They also don't do much in the way of preventing streaks.

The solution: Use rags and microfiber cloths. You can get cloths at just about any store now, or order them online. I would avoid using the "old t-shirt" standby as they weren't intended to clean, don't do a very good job and can even scratch surfaces. Good cloths don't have to cost an arm and a leg, and will do a phenomenal job of cleaning and polishing your surfaces.

4. The mistake: Not caring for your cleaning tools

If you are finding that your old standbys aren't doing the job anymore, it probably means they haven't been given the TLC they need. This includes vacuums, mops, steamers, brushes, brooms, etc. Much like a carpenter, you are only as good as the tools you use.

The solution: Routinely clean your tools. Be sure you are regularly washing your vacuum filters, cleaning out the canister, cleaning the brush bar out, changing the bag if needed, cleaning your brushes or buying new ones, properly storing your tools and maintaining their use.

5. The mistake: Spraying dusting solution directly on your furniture

This is a big no-no that I see people do all the time. I admit, I used to be guilty of this in the beginning, too. Spraying your furniture directly can leave a wicked film, not to mention can also damage or leave "spray" marks.

The solution: Spray your product on a cloth first and then do the dusting. In fact, I recommend doing a dry dusting with no product before you spray anything. Having the cloth too wet can leave a lot of yucky film on a surface that is covered in dust. Imagine mixing water with dirt...

6. The mistake: Neglecting the “little things”

We all know we are supposed to scrub our toilets and vacuum our carpets, but what about all the little areas in the house that get just as dirty over time? Neglecting these areas can really build up and can actually be responsible for the spread of germs. Yuck!

The solution: Make a weekly sweep of the light switches, remotes, phones and door knobs. You can do the whole house in under 5 minutes!


See, now that wasn't so bad. If you can change even a few of these in the next week, you will see a significant increase in your "I don't hate cleaning as much as I thought" feelings.


Now that we've gotten a handle on those mistakes and know exactly how to fix them, what's next? House cleaning is usually a nagging chore for most moms, which is why I created the Everything and the Kitchen Sink cleaning list. Sign up to receive your free house cleaning list, broken down by room. Print it out, keep it in a binder, hang it on the wall (it's colorful and pretty) and use it to create your cleaning schedule or just as a useful guide for #allthethings that need to be cleaned in your home. Own your schedule so it doesn't own you.