We’ve all fallen for the catchy TikTok videos—the dances, the captivating music, the voiceovers that make even the everyday person sound like an expert.
The platform lets people share everything from the latest skincare regimens to mouth-watering recipes, home design hacks to outrageous decor trends that we know are unrealistic (and yet, we’re still tempted to try them). And then there are the viral TikTok cleaning hacks—the ones that have us scrambling for new products, changing our habits, or furiously attempting to make DIY cleaners.
While there are, of course, some tips that make sense, there are quite a few ‘hacks’ that don’t actually work. Here’s what some cleaning and home care experts have to say about the viral TikTok cleaning hacks that just aren't worth your time.
Deep Cleaning Your Charcoal Filters
Did you know that some microwaves have filters? Many TikTok users didn’t, making this #CleanTok video by @mamasknowbest go viral. However, there are distinctly different types of filters. And while some (grease filters especially) need to be cleaned, others (mainly charcoal filters) don’t.
“Microwaves do have filters, but mainly the over-the-range, fan microwaves,” shares Lily Cameron, cleaning expert and supervisor at Fantastic Services, a top domestic services franchise. “Those filters can be charcoal (such as the one in the video), and grease filters, which are made of either stainless steel or aluminum."
"It’s extremely important to clean or replace grease filters, as they clean the air that circulates in your kitchen," she says. “If those filters are covered in grease, they would not be able to filter the air at all.”
However, Cameron also shares that charcoal filters need less cleaning and actually shouldn’t be cleaned as the video shows.
“It’s important to note that charcoal filters need to be changed ideally twice a year, and should not be cleaned, as shown in the TikTok video,” she says. “Is it a bad idea to clean a charcoal filter? No, it just wouldn't make a difference. Cleaning charcoal filters is just pointless, as those filters just cannot be cleaned. They require replacing instead, as they aren't reusable, long-term filters. The only thing people can do is to clean the surface where the filter was.”
If you’re determined to clean or aren’t sure what type of filter(s) you have, she suggests reading the manufacturer’s label first (rather than relying solely on a social media video) to make sure you won’t do more harm than good.
Cleaning a Mattress With Baking Soda
Baking soda is one of the versatile products that you tend to see, well, everywhere. When it comes to cleaning, more often than not, baking soda is involved. But is it always helpful? Mattress expert, Gabriel Dungan, the CEO and Founder of ViscoSoft, shares his perspective: “Although this [hack] can work for some mattresses, you need to make sure you read the label, as many mattresses are already equipped with something called Purotex," Dungan shares.
Not only is baking soda not needed on mattresses with this protective ingredient, Dungan argues that it can actually create more work. “A hack isn't really a hack if it's pointless,” he says. “It's one less cleaning task to do, and it can be a challenge to vacuum up if you're not careful.”
The Tupperware Stain Remover
Have your plastic Tupperware containers fallen victim to the orange stains? You’re not alone. Many people have faced this dilemma and are now finding ways to fix it—or so they thought.
“One of the most viral cleaning hacks that has been going around social media is using hot water, dish soap, and a paper towel to get rid of orange stains on Tupperware containers,” shares Karen Lee, household cleaning and organizing professional, and Founder of Smart Robotic Home.
“You simply place hot water, a drop of soap, and a paper towel into the container and shake vigorously for up to a minute. It supposedly gets rid of the orange stain.”
However, after trying the hack herself, Lee says it’s a bit deceiving.
“[This] seemed to only work for food that I had immediately placed into the container and washed
right away. However, it did not work at all for Tupperware that had been stained previously. It looks like magic in the TikTok videos, but it just does not work on old stains as they would have you believe.”
Using Air Fresheners on or Near Radiators
We all love when our homes smell good, but it's still important to consider safety. One of the latest TikTok cleaning trends promotes something that’s not only not a hack, but it’s also potentially dangerous. Derek Chiu and Leslie Tam, Co-Founders and Directors of UrbanMop, a new cleaning service business, share their thoughts:
“One viral cleaning hack on TikTok that should be avoided—and doesn't actually work effectively—is
spraying air fresheners in radiators to clean them,” say Chiu and Tam. "This trend became popular as TikTok users believe that blasting the dust off of the radiator grills with the air freshener is an effective way to clean them while adding a fresh scent."
However, Chiu and Tam say this method could be dangerous as many air fresheners contain flammable materials. "In addition, air fresheners are not formulated to actually clean any surfaces, making it a very ineffective and dangerous TikTok hack,” they say.
Cleaning Drains With Ice & Hot Water
The ice and water drain trick went viral on TikTok last year, mostly because of the visual appeal. However, according to Roman Peysakhovich, CEO of Onedesk, a national cleaning company, it might not be that effective.
“Last year, there were many TikToks that showed dirty brown water bubbling up from people's garbage disposals,” Peysakhovich says. “While ice cubes can help push gunk further down a drain, homeowners should avoid turning on hot water when placing ice cubes in the drain. This cleaning hack doesn't actually work because turning on hot water only sends the gunk back up instead of down.”
Instead of following the advice of influencers and TiKTok tutorials, Peysakhovich says, flush your ice cubes with a gentle cleaner. After everything goes down the drain, you can use water to wash it (and the sink surfaces) down.
Using a Cocktail of Cleaners
TikTok is famous for outrageous content, and according to Alex Varela, General Manager of Dallas Maids, a viral toilet cleaning hack was exactly this.
“I remember watching a trend that was about cleaning your toilet with as many cleaning products as possible,” Varela says. “Not only this is a waste of product (and money) but it is also extremely dangerous. The reason for this is [because] bleach and ammonia are commonly used as cleaning products, and their combination—among many others—[can release] gases that [cause difficulties] breathing [or] burn your nose and your throat.”
Instead, she encourages people to opt for all-in-one cleaners or to follow expert cleaning advice rather than attempting to make a DIY cleaning cocktail.
Air Fresheners: Are They Safe? National Capitol Poison Center.
Common Cleaning Products Can Be Dangerous When Mixed. Utah Department of Health.