6 Cleaning Rules You Should Be Breaking

Everyone cleans differently, but there are many rules that are near-universally followed.

Most of these cleaning rules are rules because they work, but some of them aren't quite right, or aren't necessary in order to have a clean home.

Here are six cleaning rules you shouldn't feel dirty about breaking.

1. You Need to Get Rid of All the Germs

I grew up in a house where everything that could sparkle did. But it didn't sparkle for the sake of sparkling; it sparkled because people in my house feared germs. I was sick quite a bit as a child, and the more often I got sick, the more furiously the house got cleaned.

However, my mom needn't have bothered. In general, germs are good for us (even for kids!). Exposure to bacteria gives our immune systems a chance to get stronger, because they have to learn how to resist and fight off infection.

You probably don't want to grow that culture of MRSA in your shower, but you don't have to clean with antibacterial products or clean obsessively because a few germs won't hurt anyone.

2. You Need Expensive Cleaners for Your Oven

I bought a new stove/oven combo about a year ago and everyone we talked to — sales people, friends, even my mother — wanted to make sure that we learned which cleaner was the proper one to use in it. It was very important, I was told over and over, to get one that was compatible with my particular make and model.

As it turns out, though, you can easily clean any oven with baking soda, vinegar, water, and some time. I assume the expensive cleaners work, too, but they're full of potentially harmful chemicals, they cost a fortune, and (trust me!) the baking soda and vinegar do a great job, too!

3. Your Pillow Is Clean When the Case Is Clean

I remember, after I'd been in college a few months, asking someone how in the world you clean a pillow. They looked at me like I was crazy. After a few more questions, I found out that most people don't clean the pillow itself, they just wash the case. It seemed gross to me, but what did I know?

Apparently, I knew quite a bit. Pillows actually need to be cleaned 2-3 times per year because they collect all sorts of skin cells and oils, not to mention sweat. Unless your pillowcase is industrial strength, some of those will get through it and onto your pillow. They won't collect particularly fast, but they will build up if you don't wash them off.

4. You Shouldn't Wash Cast Iron

I started cooking with cast iron several years ago, and I think that every single person I mentioned it to (at least, every single one who knew anything about cast iron), warned me against washing my new pots and pans with water. Since the pans are made of iron, water makes them rust, and most of us don't really want to cook rust into our food.

On the other hand, water only causes cast iron to rust when it gets left on the pan. If you can dry your pan thoroughly (usually by putting it on the stove over low heat), water is the best way to clean your cast iron pans. You can boil the water first or add baking soda to it if it makes you feel better or the pan is extra dirty.

5. You Should Just Toss an Old Dirty Shower Curtain Liner

When I lived in an apartment for the first time, I shared it with three other young women. One of them walked in on me cleaning the bathroom one day and looked at me funny. Since we were actually pretty good about keeping the house clean, I asked her what the look was about. "You're cleaning the shower curtain liner?" she asked.

As it turned out, most people don't do that. When the shower curtain liner gets dirty, they replace it.

If you're going to scrub it, it is hard to clean, indeed. It's a good thing, then, that you can usually just throw it in the washing machine. Make sure the water isn't too hot (especially if your liner is plasticky), and include some other things like towels or sheets, to help it keep from sticking to itself.

6. Spray-On Cleaner Is Best for Eyeglasses

I don't wear glasses. I should, but I don't. My husband, however, wears his all the time. When we first got married, he cleaned them with this special spray-on stuff that was specifically designed to work with the coatings on his lenses. It worked, but it seemed to cost way too much for its limited range of uses.

Now, he washes his glasses with dish soap and water, and dries them with microfiber cloths. He reports that his glasses are as clean as ever, the expense is a lot lower, and he's not at a loss if he forgets his little bottle of cleaner. His eye doctor warns him against this practice every time he goes in, but it's been years and he hasn't damaged a pair of glasses yet. As long as you don't use soap with ammonia or other additives, you should have similar success.

What cleaning rules do you follow? Are there any you've found to be incorrect?

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Guest's picture

Can you please tell me how to clean my pillows? Shame on me, but I'm one of the people who only wash the pillow cases.

Guest's picture

I just throw my pillows into the washer and dryer. Same as other bedding.