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Sometimes, we are so intent on the end goal when cleaning our homes and making our abode look presentable that we overlook certain “shortcuts” that are actually counterproductive in the long term.

You and your family may even have developed some bad cleaning habits that may be causing harm to your home

Breaking some of these bad habits can prove difficult but they don’t have to be tackled all at once. Here a hack: Pick one or two bad habits to change each week. Soon, you’ll have a cleaner home and more free time for things you enjoy!

Here are ten tips to get you started as compiled by The Spruce:

Allowing Paper Clutter to Accumulate

Even with online billing and banking, there is still a mountain of paper that ends up in our homes. Magazines, newspapers, school papers and projects; they have a tendency to pile up. Don’t let that happen.

Designate a place near the entryway for all mail, periodicals, and paper forms and keep a shredder or recycling bin close by. At least once a week, sort through and complete the needed action or toss. 

File important papers like tax receipts. Take digital photos of children’s special artwork or frame them for display. Share magazines with retirement homes, schools, or simply read the articles online.

Leaving Wet Towels and Shower Curtains Bunched Up

Want to spend less time in the laundry room and scrubbing mildew from bathroom surfaces? Don’t leave wet shower curtains bunched up and wet towels in a heap on the floor.

This is one of the simplest bad habits to break. By closing the shower curtain after each use, it will dry more quickly and discourage mildew  growth. By hanging wet towels to dry, you’ll get a second or third use and lighten your laundry loads.

Using Too Much Cleaning Product

If a little bit of cleaner works, then a lot of cleaner will work better and faster? Right? That’s not how it works.

Using too much cleaner or laundry detergent can actually cause more harm than good. If an excess of cleaning product is not rinsed away completely, the residue becomes a dirt magnet, trapping soil. That’s why you should read directions and always use the recommended amount or even a little less. You’re wasting time and money on the extra product and the water to rinse it away.

Cleaning With Dirty Tools

How can you expect clean results when you are using dirty cleaning tools? If your washer has an odor from built-up bacteria in detergent residue, your clothes are going to stink. If your vacuum bag or filter is filled with dust, it won’t do a good job sucking up any more. A dirty mop or sponge simply pushes around more soil and bacteria.

Take the time to thoroughly clean tools after every use by emptying completely or washing in hot water and adding a disinfectant. Periodically, replace with new tools.

Using One Disinfectant Wipe to Clean Entire Bathroom

Disposable disinfectant wipes are great for a quick wipe down of a bathroom sink. But that little square hardly contains enough disinfectant to clean an entire bathroom. By the time you reach the toilet seat and handles, the disinfectant qualities are gone and you are simply spreading bacteria from one surface to another.

To be effective, the wipe should contain enough disinfectant moisture so the surface remains wet for at least four minutes. For a thorough cleaning, use multiple wipes or a clean cloth and sufficient disinfectant and water solution.

Leaving Dirty Dishes in the Sink

How much longer would it take to put that dirty glass in the dishwasher instead of the sink? Leaving dirty dishes in the sink is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and a jackpot for hungry insects. 

Train everyone in the household to either put the dishes in the dishwasher or wash them immediately.

Wearing Outside Shoes in the House

Taking just a few seconds to remove your shoes each time you come in from the outside will save you hours of vacuuming. Not to mention the bacteria and germs that will stay out of living areas.

Whether entry is through a mudroom or the front door, make this habit  simple for everyone by providing a bench or chair for easier shoe removal. Keep a shoe tray close by for wet or muddy shoes and a bin to collect each

Storing Cleaning Products Incorrectly

Do you spend half your designated cleaning time trying to find the proper cleaners and tools? This is a bad habit that’s easy to change. 

Gather together the cleaning supplies you need for each area of the home and store them close to that area. Bathroom cleaners can be placed in a small plastic carryall and stashed on a shelf or under the sink. Create two baskets of supplies if you have upstairs and downstairs bathrooms.

Keep dusting and furniture cleaning products and tools together for quick touch-ups. And, of course, all laundry products should be stored safely in the laundry room.

Hoarding Food in the Refrigerator

If you know that your family hates leftovers, then why bother to stash them in the refrigerator? If you are not going to use food promptly, just go ahead and toss it. Improperly stored food promotes moldand bacteria growth and makes cleaning out the refrigerator a much bigger task than it needs to be.

Leaving Bed Unmade

Even if the rest of the bedroom is neat and clean, an unmade bed makes it look messy. Just making the bed each morning is a habit that will promote keeping the rest of the room (and maybe the entire house) organized.

Make the task simple by selecting bedding that is easy to spread up neatly. A bed with a simple comforter and pillow shams is much easier to make than one with lots of fussy pillows.

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