Goo spread across surfaces, soda poured into toilets, mystery potions being scrubbed onto counters: cleaning hacks are nothing if not eye-catching. These tips are spread through word of mouth or viewed millions of times on social media and anyone with piqued curiosity (or someone desperate for a cleaning solution after trying exhausting all other options), would be hard pressed not to give them a try.
But just because the internet says it's a brilliant hack doesn't mean it is. Though you can keep some of the surprising methods you discover in your back pocket for later, others aren't so fantastic. Research is essential to preventing a disaster, and the safest bet? Reach out to a cleaning professional for their advice.
To save you from major mishaps and cleaning fiascos, a few experts chimed in on a handful of cleaning hacks that, unfortunately, are too good to be true.
01 of 07
Using Dish Soap to Clean Toilets
Toilets can be grimy places and are rarely a fixture that's completely spotless. This has led to the idea of using dish soap in the toilet bowl several times a week. Though it may make things look shiny temporarily, Alex Wojenski, Grove Collaborative's cleaning expert, notes it's not a great hack.
"Dish soap can be tough on rubber and leak to the seals on your toilet breaking down faster and becoming less effective," explains Wojenski. "Depending on the dish soap as well, it can have negative environmental impacts." There are plenty of toilet cleaners already out there, and it's best to stick with formulas crafted with bathroom use in mind.
02 of 07
Using Windex to Clean Mirrors
Some products leave a finish so sparkling and spotless that it's easy to think they'd work just as well on other appliances and objects around the home. This may be true for the occasional multipurpose solution, but it's definitely not applicable for some products, like Windex.
"Windex is a popular glass cleaner that is often used to clean mirrors," explains Elizabeth Davis, eco cleaning professional and founder of Hudstone. "However, it can actually damage the reflective surface of the mirror. Clean, warm water and a gentle cloth are the safest methods for cleaning a mirror."
03 of 07
Using Vinegar for Everything
Vinegar is a classic cleaning staple found in most households, but quite a few professionals noted the perils of viewing vinegar as an all-purpose solution for every corner of your home. Davis also echoes this sentiment, noting that vinegar is helpful for many things, but certainly not hardwood floors.
"If you use too much, the acidity in vinegar can actually damage the finish on your hardwood floors, making them more susceptible to scratches and scuffs," she explains. "If you want to clean your hardwood floors, use a damp mop and a gentle cleaner specifically designed for hardwood floors."
04 of 07
Using Bleach to Clean Grout
Bleach sounds like the type of product that's perfect for dingy-looking grout—strong enough to tackle stains and mold that may be collecting around your shower, tiling, and sinks. Refrain from reaching for that particular bottle; bleach can easily wear down the filler material.
Davis says that bleach is useful for other tasks, but "it's not recommended for cleaning grout because after prolonged use it can actually damage the tile." This is an area where she says vinegar actually comes in handy.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Using WD-40 for Cleaning
WD-40 is one of those mystifying products that's surprisingly good at fixing a variety of household problems. One of the ideas that often gets mentioned is slathering it on fingerprints—but it's far from the best cleaner out there for this particular task.
The spray-on lubricant is "not meant to be used as a cleaning product," says Davis. "In fact, using WD-40 to remove fingerprints can actually damage surfaces like stainless steel if you wipe against the grain." Instead, opt for a microfiber cloth, vinegar, or a stainless steel-specific product for better results.
06 of 07
Using Laundry Liquids for Carpet Catastrophes
If laundry detergent can clean your clothes, shouldn't it be a match for carpets, too? Not necessarily. "The chemicals in some laundry detergents can actually damage carpet fibers, making them more likely to stain or fray over time," says Davis. "Instead, use a gentle carpet cleaner that's specifically designed for the job.
While you may be tempted to treat a spill or pet accident with what's already in the laundry room, purchasing a carpet or rug-specific solution will serve you better and help you avoid more long-term damage.
07 of 07
Cleaning With Coca-Cola
"We’ve all seen videos online of Coca-Cola cleaning pennies to the point where they look brand new, and so you’d be forgiven for trying the same concept but in the toilet," notes Ivan Ivanov of cleaning company End of Tenancy London. Though stains might start to slide off, he explains that the drink "possesses zero ability to effectively kill bacteria in your toilet."
Instead of literally pouring drinks (and your money) down the drain, opt for something that's built for toilet cleaning and maintenance. As Ivanov says, "A chemical-based cleaner will remove stains and kill germs, leaving your toilet more hygienic and smelling better too!"