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10 Ways You Don’t Realize You’re Over-Cleaning Your House

Save yourself time and effort during cleaning and chores by following these experts' tips.

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Bed Sheets

If you wash your sheets just for the clean smell, go ahead and wash them every week or two, says Maeve Richmond, founder and coach of organizing company Maeve’s Method. But if you don’t mind a more lived-in bed, throwing linens in the wash just once a month should do the trick. Washing too much can wear out the fabric and fade the colors, Richmond says.

If you haven’t been sweating much, you might not need to rush your sheets into the laundry. “Winter months are a time when we can swap bed linens out less frequently, mostly because our bodies are cooler, so our linens aren’t absorbing as much sweat,” Richmond says.

These are other ways you might be messing up laundry.

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Fabric Couches

Spraying cleaner straight onto your couch will leave you with a soaked area to clean up. Instead, spray cleaning product onto a clean rag to wipe furniture, which gives you more control. “When you’re over-spraying, you’re spending more time trying to wipe off the chemical,” says Wallace Reid, regional vice president of Merchant Building Maintenance of Los Angeles. Here’s how to clean furniture and fight odors without chemical cleaners.

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Carpets and Rugs

If you have kids who play on the floor, you have reason to make sure your floors aren’t dirty. But families without young children can hold off longer, Richmond says. Rugs with little foot traffic, like under a coffee table, can be vacuumed as little as once a month. “Save time and do yourself a favor by holding off on vacuuming so it doesn’t become a chore,” she says. However, when there’s a stain, you need to act fast. These are the 13 things you should never, ever vacuum.

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You might think using a higher concentration of detergent will get glass even cleaner, but chemicals that aren’t diluted enough will make the surfaces look foggy, Reid says. “The glass looks clean, but against sunlight it shows a dull film,” he says. “To get rid of that, wash glass with water and a little bit of mild detergent to wash off.”

Don’t spray the cleaner straight onto the glass, though. Spritz it on a clean rag, then wipe the area, Reid recommends. Here are the best-reviewed products for cleaning your windows.

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Kitchen Towels

You might not necessarily need to add your kitchen towels to your load every time you do the wash, Richmond says.

“To cut down the amount of washing you’re doing, I suggest taking a look at the condition of dish towels before automatically throwing them in the wash, because they might have some life left in them,” Richmond says. Her rule of thumb: Wait until you notice a stain or odor, which indicates bacteria from food, before you toss your towel in the laundry.

And don’t make these surprising kitchen cleaning mistakes.

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Bath Towels

Towels in the bathroom tend to be used after you’ve washed your body or hands, so they don’t get as dirty feeling as kitchen towels, which are used for food products,” Richmond says. While families with kids who use towels to wipe off dirt before a bath might need to wash regularly, other adults could wash their towels less frequently, she says. Check out our ultimate stain removal guide.

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Wood Floors

Mopping hardwood floors with water could warp the surface and take off the finish, Reid says. Use chemicals designed for wood floors and don’t mop with too much water. Find the right wood floor cleaner to keep your wood floors looking their best.

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Even if your detergent says you need a full cup for your load, you might be able to get away with as little as half a cup.

“Big companies have scientific test facilities and come up with what they think is the appropriate amount of detergent, but that also has a dose of marketing and sales,” Richmond says. She recommends going with your gut when deciding how much detergent to use. If half a cup can do the trick, you’ll save yourself some money.

Plus, is liquid or powder detergent better to use?

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Leather Furniture

Washing leather couches with water will soften the fabric, which means the sofa will wear out faster. An overly harsh sponge will do even more damage. “If you’re using an abrasive sponge to wipe off a stain on a leather couch, what it does is it takes the stains out but ruins leather by scratching it,” Reid says. “You need to use a leather cleaner, which not only will take the stains out but will protect the leather as well.”

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Wood Countertops

Heavy-duty formulas like Ajax work well for marble counters, but they’re too harsh for wooden ones. “If you’re using Ajax because you think the staining is too deep, you’re not just ruining the wood or the finish, but also scratching the top,” Reid says. Here’s what you should know about your butcher block countertop.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest