Mixing Chlorine Bleach with Other Chemicals
This is the number one cleaning mistake you don’t want to make because it can kill you. When chlorine bleach mixes with ammonia (or a cleaning product that contains ammonia), the mixture creates a toxic gas. The cleaning supply industry knows how dangerous this combination of chemicals is, which is why laundry cleaners never contain ammonia (since chlorine bleach is sold for laundry purposes). However, ammonia is usually used in dish liquids, window cleaners, and all-purpose cleaners, especially disinfecting all-purpose cleaners. So if you’re thinking about using bleach for anything other than the laundry, you may want to think again. Even if you don’t actually mix the products, using one and then another on the same area without thoroughly rinsing/washing in between can still create this toxic gas.
Another dangerous combination is chlorine bleach plus any acid or acidic cleaner, which also produces toxic gases. In particular, toilet bowl cleaners often contain strong acids, so you don’t want to try cleaning your toilet with both. Any all-purpose cleaner that is citrus-based is also dangerous, as well as vinegar-based cleaners, and drain cleaners.
Lining Ovens with Foil
Almost any grandma will tell you to line your oven with tin foil to protect it from drips and spills. If you do this in a new 21st-century oven though, you will ruin your new oven within minutes. New ovens have the heating element below the bottom liner, which means that the bottom of the oven is extremely hot – so hot that the aluminum foil fuses to it. It’s basically like putting the foil on the heating element itself. We have received hundreds of comments on our guide How to Remove Melted Aluminum Foil from an Oven from people absolutely devastated that their brand-new very expensive appliance is ruined. There are ways you can try to remove the foil, but it’s not always possible to completely reverse the damage, nor to replace the inside of the oven. Luckily, you’re now informed to avoid this awful mistake!
Another extremely common cleaning mistake that people make is to superglue their broken eyeglasses back together and get the glue on the lens in the process. Can the glue be removed? Sometimes, depending on the type of lens you have, but if it can be done it usually takes a good bit of elbow grease. This mistake can easily be prevented by wiping some petroleum jelly on the lens before you start gluing. If you don’t want to use petroleum jelly, you can cover the lens with plastic wrap instead, but you need to remove the plastic wrap as soon as you finish gluing because if the glue dries, you will have just glued plastic wrap to your glasses.
How do you clean sneakers? If you answered “throw them in the washing machine”, you might just need a new pair of shoes. There are some sneakers that can be machine washed, which is where this rumor comes from, but most shoes cannot. When exposed to so much water, the glue in the soles starts to come apart or seep through the material. If it just comes apart, you may be able to glue the shoes back together, but if it starts seeping, it can leave stains that are difficult if not impossible to remove. Instead, sneakers can quickly be washed by hand over a sink. For more information, see the guides How to Clean Sneakers or How to Clean Canvas Shoes.
Forgetting the Touchy-Feelies
Everyone’s cleaning to-do list is pretty much the same: you do the laundry, dishes and kitchen counters regularly, and the deep cleaning list usually consists of floors, bathroom fixtures, and windows. Sure you can get food poisoning if you don’t wash your dishes, but if you don’t wash the things you touch the most often like doorknobs and light switches, you’re at risk for getting not only food poisoning, but also the flu, a staph infection, and any other virus, bacteria or infection that might have made it’s way onto your hands at some point and still be living on that surface. If you have to make a choice between cleaning the doorknobs and cleaning the toilet, science says, “clean the doorknob!” (Unless it’s the toilet handle you’re talking about, in which case, clean both!)
Luckily, these handheld items are a breeze to clean. While you’re at it, other items that you touch often like the TV remote, barbells, and of course your cell phone could use a quick swipe with a disinfecting cleaner too. Some great choices for this are either white vinegar or rubbing alcohol. Just be sure to choose the one that is safest for the specific surface you’re cleaning. Vinegar is the better choice for doorknobs since most are brass, whereas alcohol is the better choice for most cell phones. Car steering wheels also tend to be covered in bacteria, particularly during the fall when the hot germ-killing summer temperatures have subsided and the cold winter temperatures are not quite cold enough to keep germs at bay. For more information on cleaning frequently-touched items, see these guides:
How to Clean a Remote Control
How to Clean Smelly Doorknobs
How to Clean a Keyboard