12 Ways You're Over-Cleaning at Home

How to save time on chores if you're cleaning too much

person vacuuming a shag rug

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Are you cleaning your house every day? You might be over-cleaning your home, which may actually cause harm to certain items or spaces that don't need that much attention. It's possible to stop over-cleaning and give yourself the gift of time by slowing down your housework schedule. Here are 12 things in your home that you may be cleaning too much.


Too much cleaning could be bad for your health. Allergy symptoms can be triggered during or right after you dust or vacuum because you're stirring up and potentially inhaling airborne particles. It takes at least two hours before the dust settles down after a cleaning.

  • 01 of 12


    Variety of sweaters piled up.
    Carol Yepes / Getty Images

    If you seem to spend most of your free time in the laundry room, you might be washing your clothes too often. Most clothes can be worn more than once, except for underwear, socks, workout gear, and anything worn close to the body that should be washed after every wearing. Take time to hang up your clothes after wearing them so they don't end up in a crumpled pile on your floor or chair, which inevitably turns into dirty laundry. You'll have free time and save money on electricity, water, and laundry products.

    So what happens if you over-wash your clothes? Washing some items too much can shorten the lifespan of the fabric and any elasticity. In addition, you may over-wash clothing by adding too much laundry detergent, which can cause problems in both the clothes and your washing machine. Newer HE (high efficiency) washing machines use less water and can't handle oversudsing. If suds are not completely rinsed from your clothing, the residue can attract more dirt and odors.

  • 02 of 12

    Dirty Dishes

    hand washing a pot

    Petrified Collection / Getty Images

    Skip rinsing dirty dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. You'll save water and time, and you'll end up with cleaner dishes. Dishwasher detergent powders, liquids, and tablets contain enzymes and other ingredients that are meant to attach themselves to food particles to dissolve the mess and then allow the spray action of the water to flush them away. When you rinse dirty dishes, the detergent is wasted because it can't cling to anything. However, it's still important to scrape away large amounts of food before loading dishes into the dishwasher.

  • 03 of 12

    Ceiling Fans and Lighting Fixtures

    a ceiling fan

     Ryuhei Shindo / Getty Images

    Though a clean light fixture looks better and gives off more light, you're overdoing it if you're dusting all the light fixtures in your home every day. Of course, what's in household dust isn't pretty: You'll find bits of mold, fungus, chemicals, and dead bug parts, to name a few. However, there's not usually enough buildup of dust in one day to do much harm.

    Ceiling-mounted lighting fixtures and ceiling fans can be dusted just once a month. If dust triggers asthma or allergy symptoms in you or anyone in your household, dusting once a week will be fine. Clean the overhead fixtures first, so that any uncaptured dust falls to the floor to be vacuumed away.

  • 04 of 12

    Winter Outerwear

    Image Source / Getty Images

    If you want to save on dry cleaning bills, send winter coats and accessories to the cleaners or the wash less often. Once or twice a season will suffice for most coats and outerwear.

    Spot clean stains on coats and outerwear as soon as possible, hang coats properly after every wearing, and use a good clothes brush to remove dust and lint. It's also possible to wash many types of winter coats at home, including those trimmed with faux fur.

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    Bedspreads, Quilts, and Comforters

    bed linens and sheets
    Treasures & Travels / Stocksy United

    Bedcoverings are a hassle to clean because of their size and weight. So, unless you eat on your bed or have lots of pets that lounge there, there's no need to wash them weekly. Clean them at the end of every season, instead. 

    Check the fabric care tag because most bedding can be washed. If you don't have a large, front-loading washer, take the larger items to a laundromat. For just a few dollars, you'll have clean linens in less than an hour.

    If you and your pets do live in your bed, cover heavy bedding with a sheet that can be tossed in the washer. Spot clean any spills or pet accidents on bedding immediately.

  • 06 of 12

    Curtains and Drapes

    window treatment with curtains and flowers

    Sidney Morgan / Stocksy

    Curtains or drapes in living areas and bedrooms don't need frequent cleaning because gravity tackles much of the dust. A thorough cleaning by washing or dry cleaning once a year is enough, though, to remove dust caught in the crevices and wrinkles of the fabric. If you are concerned about dust, take down the drapes and toss them in the dryer on the air-only cycle to remove the dust and even eliminate a few wrinkles. Don't use heat because that can cause some fabrics or linings to shrink.

    Curtains in kitchens and bathrooms should be washed more often (seasonally) because they catch grease particles and aerosol over-sprays. 

  • 07 of 12

    Carpets and Upholstered Furniture

    Cleaning Upholstery
    Bill Oxford/E+/Getty Images

    Using too much shampoo or cleaner and over-wetting carpets and upholstery can cause serious damage. Excess shampoo attracts soil and over-wetting weakens and promotes mold and mildew growth on the carpet's backing, padding, and deep within your furniture's cushions. 

    Ideally, carpets and upholstered furniture should be professionally cleaned just once a year using steam and the proper cleaning products. The annual cleaning is in addition to the task of vacuuming carpets and upholstered furniture at least weekly. Regular vacuuming keeps dirt and dust from becoming embedded in the fibers. 

  • 08 of 12

    Furniture Slipcovers

    slip cover
    Trinette Reed / Stocksy United

    Slipcovers can give furniture a new look and are much easier to clean than upholstery. But it's impractical to remove and replace sometimes complex slipcovers, and you run the risk of shrinking or damaging them if you wash them too much. Unless there's an accidental mess on the fabric or your pet sheds on the slipcovers, there's no need to toss them in the washer every week. Simply spot clean stains and give slipcovers a thorough cleaning at the end of every season to refresh them.


    Clean all the components of a slipcover in one load in the washing machine. They may fade unevenly if you wash one piece at a time or at different times.

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    Bath Toys

    Rubber duck on rack over bathtub
    Stephanie Rausser / Getty Images

    Kids may need a daily bath but bath toys can go a bit longer between a good cleaning. If you give toys a rinse in clean water, dry them off after use to curb mold growth, and hang them to further air out in a mesh bag, a thorough cleaning is only needed once a month. If you do see a moldy toy, it's best to toss it in the garbage because you don't want your child chewing on anything that's mold-infested. Look for solid plastic bath toys without holes, or opt for toys that can be fully opened so they can be cleaned.

    To clean toys monthly, mix 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar in a gallon of warm water. Add the toys and allow them to soak for about 15 minutes. Use a clean sponge or cloth to wipe down the surface of the toys and squeeze out any excess water. Wipe dry, then allow the toys to further air-dry.

  • 10 of 12

    Bed Pillows

    Choosing the perfect throw pillow
    Hero Images / Getty Images

    Bed sheets and pillowcases need to be washed weekly because they come in direct contact with your skin and body oils. But bed pillows don't need that much attention. They only need to be washed every three to six months. Washing a bed pillow more often will wear out the filling quickly. Memory foam can break down and other materials can clump up or shrink. Some pillows may not be suitable for home care and will need dry cleaning only, so it's always best to read the tag. The best course of action to reduce the need to wash your pillows is to use pillow protectors designed to keep out dust mites and other allergens.

    But almost all bed pillows (feather, polyester-filled, or foam) can be washed at home. Just be sure to allow enough time for pillows to dry thoroughly before you put them back on your bed.

  • 11 of 12


    baking in the oven

     @ninaidea / Twenty20

    Cleaning the oven doesn't need to be on your weekly chore list, either, especially if you rely on your oven's self-cleaning function. Using the self-cleaning mode too much can expose you and your family to the potentially dangerous fumes that the process releases, including small amounts of carbon monoxide. Using the function too often can also reduce the efficiency of essential parts of the appliance.

    If you wipe up spills as soon as they happen, your oven can be cleaned just two or three times a year. Plan a thorough oven cleaning after (not before) holiday cooking sprees.


    When using the self-cleaning function, make sure to open the windows in your home for adequate ventilation.

  • 12 of 12

    Kitchen Pantry

    kitchen pantry

     Jill Chen / Stocksy

    Because your refrigerator is the spot for cooked and raw foods that perish quickly, it should be cleaned out weekly. But your pantry doesn't need that much TLC. Just give it a cleaning once or twice a year. Empty it and wipe down the shelves. Check for any insect activity and read expiration dates before you sort and organize. 

Article Sources
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  1. Dust Allergy: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI).

  2. Do I Need to Wash This? The American Cleaning Institute.

  3. Naganthran A, Masomian M, Rahman RNZRAbd, Ali MSM, Nooh HM. Improving the efficiency of new automatic dishwashing detergent formulation by addition of thermostable lipase, protease and amylase. Molecules. 2017;22(9):1577.

  4. House Dust and Laundry Lint – Tiny Terrors of Environmental Health: What Do They Contain and What You Can Do. Duke University Superfund Research Center.

  5. Moldy Bath Toys: How Dangerous Are They? Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center.

  6. Safety and Chemistry of the Self-Cleaning Oven. McGill University Office for Science and Society.