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14 Cleaning Myths You’ve Believed for Way Too Long

Turns out, you’re doing it all wrong! Or maybe you know better than to believe these common home cleaning myths.

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spring cleaning clean laundryalexkich/Shutterstock

Myth: You Should Wash Everything in Cold Water

It’s true that washing laundry in cold water can save on energy bills, but sometimes hot water is better. Use hot water on bedding and towels to kill bacteria and mold. Keep the cold water for clothing.

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clean guttersIndy Edge/Shutterstock

Myth: Gutters Only Need Cleaning in the Fall

No matter what the season, clogged gutters can lead to damage since they cannot drain properly. This summer, continue to clean out all those leaves and other debris that build up in a short amount of time. Clean them once again in the fall.

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 bleach cleanerCassiohabib/Shutterstock

Myth: Bleach is a Great Cleaner

Bleach will certainly kill bacteria and remove some stains, but it should be used as a disinfectant, not a cleaner. To get rid of dirt and residue, you’ll need a product designed specially for cleaning.

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toothbrush grout cleanerTanyaRozhnovskaya/Shutterstock

Myth: Use a Specialized Grout Cleaner

Harsh chemicals may make grout even more difficult to clean. Instead, try mixing equal parts white vinegar with water in a spray bottle. Spray the area generously and let it sit for five minutes. Then make a paste with baking soda and water and use a grout brush or toothbrush to clean the grout. When you’re done scrubbing the grout rinse it with water.

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cleaning dustingMita Stock Images/Shutterstock

Myth: If it Smells Clean, it is Clean

Sometimes a fragrance can mask a problem. When you’re cleaning, if it feels clean and smells clean, it’s likely clean. If it still feels dirty or has residue, it may need more cleaning.

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exhaust fanMumemories/Shutterstock

Myth: The Exhuast Fan is Maintenance-Free

It may not look dirty, but it’s a good idea to regularly clean out the bathroom exhaust fan. The fan can get dusty, which may prevent it from effectively preventing mold and mildew.

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cleaning windowsAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Myth: Use Newspaper for Spring Cleaning Windows

It’s true that newspapers won’t leave any lint when it comes to washing windows, but they can leave smeared ink. Instead, use a squeegee and microfiber cloth when cleaning windows.

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natural cleanersM. Show/Shutterstock

Myth: Natural Cleaners Aren’t as Good as Store-Bought

Many natural cleaners—such as those that use vinegar, baking soda and lemon—are just as effective as store-bought versions. If you do go the natural cleaner route, you may need to let the cleaner sit a little longer for best results.

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wash your cararrakasta/Shutterstock

Myth: Rain Will Wash Your Car

Not true! Rains aren’t enough to get the job done. Be sure to get both the inside and outside, along with the undercarriage to remove all that buildup of dirt and debris.

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clean air conditionerFamily Handyman

Myth: Your Air Conditioner Unit is Automatically Ready for Summer

This summer make sure your air conditioner is ready to get to work by making sure that it is clear and free of any gunk that may have accumulated over the winter. Cleaning air conditioners is not a very complicated process and you can accomplish a lot by just clearing out dirt and debris, checking the coolant level and replacing the fan filter.

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dishwasherAlena PI/Shutterstock

Myth: Your Dishwasher Cleans Itself

Your dishwasher works hard to clean all your dishes, and it likely needs a good cleaning as well. Start by removing all the debris from the tub and make sure it’s draining properly. Then run a cycle using a dishwasher cleaner.

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wood furniture polishStokkete/Shutterstock

Myth: You Need to Use Furniture Polish

Save the furniture polish for when you really need it because polish can attract dust and leave a residue when used too often. Instead, just use a microfiber cloth to wipe down those wood tables, shelves and chairs.

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clean ceiling fanMindy w.m. Chung/Shutterstock

Myth: Your Ceiling Fan Doesn’t Need Cleaning

Even if you have it running nearly 24/7, it’s still a good idea to make sure that your ceiling fan is good and clean. For quick cleaning, grab an old pillow case and put it around each blade then wipe clean. Try this tip you’ll love to clean your ceiling fan and other hints to reduce household dust.

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cleaning blinds with kitchen tongs

Myth: When Blinds are Closed They Don’t Get Dirty

Now’s the time to clean those blinds. Washing blinds doesn’t mean you have to remove them.

Rachel Brougham
Rachel Brougham lived through a major home renovation in 2019, knows the ups and downs of home improvement, and loves sharing tips with readers. A veteran journalist of both print and television, she’s won several awards for her writing and has covered everything from the environment and education to health care, politics and food. She’s written for several publications beyond newspapers including Bob Vila, Taste of Home and Minnesota Parent, and she currently writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Her memoir, Widowland, about the sudden loss of her husband, was published in 2022. She specializes in everything from home decor and design to lawn and garden, product reviews and pet care. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her tending to her garden (both vegetables and native plants), playing with her dog, watching sports with her family or getting some exercise. A native of Michigan, she currently lives in Minneapolis. An avid user of Instagram, you can follow her @RachBrougham.