10 Things in Your House You've Been Cleaning the Wrong Way

From disinfecting your cell phone screen to scrubbing cast iron pans, experts dish on the right way to clean nearly everything in your home

Ever mop your floor only to find it duller than the blind date you had with your aunt's "handsome" co-worker? Yeah, us too. Turns out, as simple as housekeeping seems, there's definitely a right way to clean things. From granite countertops to iPhones to pillows, we rounded up the correct way to tidy up everyday items in your home.

1. Smartphone screens

You know that cloth you get with a new pair of eyeglasses or sunglasses? Melissa Maker of cleanmyspace recommends using it to rub makeup, fingerprints and even bacteria from your cell phone’s screen. For stubborn smudges, put a drop of dish soap into a cup of warm water. Dip one corner of the cloth into the water and wipe the dirty area clean. Use the dry part to buff away any moisture.

2. Laminate floors

To pick up dirt and dust on laminate flooring, Pergo suggests using either a dust mop or a vacuum with a hard-floor attachment. For a deeper clean, dampen a cloth mop with a mixture of one cup of white vinegar and one gallon of warm water; change the solution as it gets dirty. Want to get your flooring extra shiny? Stay away from soap or detergent-based cleaners, wax and polish, and instead buff the dry floor with a towel.

3. Granite, marble or stone tile

Dust and grit can mar your natural stone surface, so frequent dusting or mopping is important, according to the experts at the Marble Institute of America. If you choose to vacuum, first check the attachments and wheels for sharp points that can scratch some stone. For a more thorough clean, dampen a soft rag mop or a soft cloth with a solution of stone soap, a neutral cleaner or a mild liquid dishwashing detergent, and warm water. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations to avoid film and streaks. Rinse the surface well, changing water as needed, and dry with a soft cloth.

4. Microwave

We love this simple, nontoxic microwave cleaning tip from How Stuff Works. Mix 1/2 cup of water with 1/2 cup white vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl. Use at least a four-cup bowl so the solution won't boil over. Microwave on high until the mixture comes to a rolling boil and the microwave window steams up. Let it cool for a few minutes, then wipe down the interior with a damp sponge.

5. Windows, Glass and Mirrors

The experts at Woman's Day suggest using only a microfiber cloth and warm water to make glass sparkle. Prevent streaks by using one wet microfiber cloth for cleaning and one dry one for drying. For heavier cleaning, switch from plain water to a mixture of one part ammonia and three parts water with a bit of dishwashing soap.

6. Cast Iron Pots and Pans

Forget soap -- plain water and a sponge are all you need to clean a cast iron skillet. If you need to remove burned-on residue, The Kitchen.com suggests putting baking soda or boiling water in the pan. Just be sure to dry it thoroughly to prevent rust.

7. Rugs and Carpets

Slow and easy, that's what the Carpet and Rug Institute recommends when it comes to vacuuming your rug or carpet. Stick with back and forth motions, moving slightly to the left or right about every four strokes. Also, change the bag or empty the dirt cup when it’s about 1/2 to 2/3 full. 

8. Automatic Coffee Makers

You don’t need a special solution to de-gunk your coffee maker. About.com’s Mariette Mifflin recommends filling the reservoir with a solution of one part white vinegar to two parts water. (If your coffee maker has a permanent filter or a water filter, remove these first.) Run through a brew cycle, and allow the mixture to sit a few minutes before discarding it. Follow with two cycles of clear water to rinse. Let the brewer cool down between cycles.

9. Stovetop Iron Burner Grates

Stove burner grates are notoriously tough to clean. Not so with this easy tip from The V Spot: Put 1/4 cup of ammonia and a burner grate into a large plastic zippered bag. Place the bag on a cookie sheet overnight, and wipe the grate clean in the morning. The fumes from the ammonia will dissolve the grease and hardened oil. 

10. Pillows

Wait, we need to wash our pillow two or three times a year? Considering all the sweat and skin cells it collects (ewww!), the answer is a resounding yes. We like this tip from Melissa Maker of cleanmyspace. Start by squeezing excess air out of the pillow before placing it in the washer. (For top-loading washers, you can launder two pillows at a time. Front-load models can handle one or two pillows.) Use a fragrance-free detergent and, if needed, add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the wash to help remove pillow odors. Run a full cycle using warm water, and do an extra spin cycle to remove excess moisture. Then dry on low using dryer balls. (You can make your own by tying a tennis ball in a white sock.) At the end of the cycle, inhale deeply into the pillow. If it seems to contain moisture, put it through another dryer cycle. 

 

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