15 Bad Cleaning Habits You Need to Break

pouring soap onto sponge
BONNINSTUDIO / Stocksy United

We're all looking for ways to make cleaning faster and easier. Believe it or not, sometimes taking certain "shortcuts" actually makes it harder on you in the long haul. You and your family may even have developed some bad habits that are inhibiting your ability to get the job done more efficiently (you may even be causing harm to your home!)

It's time to start breaking these habits so you can get to a cleaner home, faster. Here's an easy way to start: Pick one or two bad cleaning habits to change each week. Soon, you'll have a cleaner home and more free time for things you enjoy!

  • 01 of 15

    Allowing Paper Clutter to Accumulate

    paper clutter
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    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.

  • 02 of 15

    Leaving Wet Towels and Shower Curtains Bunched Up

    White bathroom with built-in drawers and yellow towels
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    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.

  • 03 of 15

    Using Too Much Cleaning Product

    pouring soap onto sponge
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    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.

  • 04 of 15

    Cleaning With Dirty Tools

    Dirty vacuum
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    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.

    Continue to 5 of 15 below.
  • 05 of 15

    Using One Disinfectant Wipe to Clean Entire Bathroom

    Disinfectant wipe
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    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.

  • 06 of 15

    Leaving Dirty Dishes in the Sink

    Dirty dishes piled in kitchen sink, close-up
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    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.

  • 07 of 15

    Wearing Outside Shoes in the House

    Shoes in the House
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    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 family member's footwear.

  • 08 of 15

    Storing Cleaning Products Incorrectly

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    Annabelle Breakey/Photodisc for Getty Images

    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.

    Continue to 9 of 15 below.
  • 09 of 15

    Hoarding Food in the Refrigerator

    Crowded refrigerator
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    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 mold and bacteria growth and makes cleaning out the refrigerator a much bigger task than it needs to be.

  • 10 of 15

    Leaving Bed Unmade

    Unmade bed
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    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.

  • 11 of 15

    Not Reading Directions

    Reading product directions
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    Have you ever had to redo a task like cleaning soap scum from tile because the cleaner didn't work? Maybe you didn't read the directions.

    Most cleaners don't work instantly and need a bit of time so that the ingredients can break down the soil and lift it so it can be easily wiped or rinsed away. Spend 30 seconds reading the directions to avoid 30 minutes of extra scrubbing.

  • 12 of 15

    Using Harsh Cleaners

    Harsh Cleaners
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    Just like using too much cleaner can be a bad habit, using a cleaner that is too harsh for the job is also wrong. You can do more harm than good if the cleaner strips away finishes or creates hazards for your pets and family.

    A good example is chlorine bleach. While it is a good disinfectant, it is  not a good dirt and grime remover and the fumes can be toxic. Always use the gentlest cleaning products needed to produce results.

    Continue to 13 of 15 below.
  • 13 of 15

    Dusting Last When Cleaning

    Dirty Dust Cloth
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    Save yourself some effort by dusting before you vacuum. A room should be cleaned from the top down so the dust lands on the floor to be swept or vacuumed away. 

    And remember how that one disinfectant wipe can't effectively clean an entire bathroom? The same goes for a disposable duster. If it has been awhile since you dusted, grab a clean duster when the one you're using turns a solid grey. You're no longer trapping dust, you're just pushing it around with a dirty duster.

  • 14 of 15

    Not Completing Tasks

    Incomplete task
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    We all get interrupted, but try to complete a task once you've started it. If you bring out the ironing board, don't stop for a social media break until all of the ironing is done.

    If you only have 15 minutes to clean, start by removing clutter and putting items in their proper place. Then if you get sidetracked, you can come back later to do the deeper cleaning.

  • 15 of 15

    Waiting Until the Cleaning Job Is Overwhelming

    Messy Bedroom
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    Putting off cleaning and waiting until the task has become overwhelming is one of the hardest bad habits to break. Most of us can't face a disaster and simply avoid it for as long as possible.

    But if you and your family do a bit of cleaning each day, like load and empty the dishwasher, complete a load of laundry, and vacuum one or two rooms, then cleaning the entire house will not be so overwhelming.