There’s a lot to know when it comes to running a household. Between washing dishes, doing laundry, cleaning and maintaining appliances, and a thousand other things that need to get done, it’s easy to just rush through things without considering if there’s a better way.
But a lot of the time there is a better way to do something, and making those adjustments can save you a significant amount of time, money, and effort! So in the spirit of being open-minded about alternative methods for doing household chores, today we’ll be exploring some of the most common housekeeping “mistakes” along with easy ways to correct them.
And I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been guilty of every single thing on this list—nobody’s perfect, after all. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn something and improve, and learning how to correct these 11 mistakes will make you feel like a housekeeping pro in no time!
11 Common Housekeeping Mistakes (And How To Fix Them)
1. You Don’t Load Utensils Into Your Dishwasher Correctly
There are a lot of opinions out there about the best way to load utensils into your dishwasher. It doesn’t make much of a difference for spoons and forks, but you should definitely load your knives into the caddy with the blade pointing down to ensure no one hurts themselves when they go to empty the dishwasher.
The main issue you can run into with spoons is that they can end up “spooning” each other in the caddy may not get washed thoroughly. You can avoid this by putting some of the spoons in with the handle pointing up and some pointing down (or you could put a mix of forks and spoons in the same slot.)
The last thing worth noting about loading the utensil caddy is that distribution is important! Make sure you’re evenly distributing your utensils across the caddy, and not loading up a few sections while leaving others empty.
2. You Don’t Replace Your Sponges Often Enough
You use your sponge to keep your kitchen clean, but when was the last time you cleaned the sponge itself? Experts recommend cleaning your sponge every 3-4 days in one of two ways.
First, you can soak it with water and then microwave it for two minutes. The second option is to put it in your dishwasher and run it through a full wash and dry cycle.
And not only should you be keeping your dish sponge clean, but you should replace it regularly as well. Aim to replace your dish sponges every few weeks.
3. You Wash Your Garlic Press In The Dishwasher
My garlic press is one of my favorite time-saving kitchen gadgets. The only problem I have with it is that all those nooks and crannies in the press can be tricky to clean, especially because dishwashers aren’t very helpful in cleaning out all those tiny holes!
The best way to clean a garlic press is just to hand wash it. That way, you can use your fingers or an old toothbrush to dislodge those sticky garlic bits and get your garlic press properly clean.
4. You Don’t Clean Your Reusable Grocery Bags
Using reusable grocery bags is an easy way to help protect the environment, and the only thing you need to worry about is keeping them clean. A lot of cloth bags are actually machine washable, so you can just toss those in with your laundry.
If you have reusable bags made of vinyl or plastic, you can clean those by wiping them down inside and out with hydrogen peroxide. (And for more peroxide tips, check out my eBook Hydrogen Peroxide Magic available in my shop, or download it free as an OGT Plus member.)
5. You Use Too Much Laundry Detergent
It’s easy to fall into a pattern of “overdosing” on store-bought laundry detergent, but using more detergent doesn’t necessarily get your clothes cleaner. You need to add a bit more detergent when washing a large load, but in most cases, adding more detergent will just make it harder for your washer to rinse it all out.
Overtime, detergent residue can build up on your clothes and make them increasingly difficult to clean. So next time you measure out laundry detergent, make sure you’re following the instructions on the back of your detergent bottle (or try a natural DIY laundry detergent!)
Related: How To Avoid Detergent Overdose
6. You Don’t Replace Your Air Filter
Ignoring the air filter in your HVAC system can eventually defeat the purpose of having one in the first place! The filter serves as a wall of defense between the dust and dirt getting sucked into the system and the that gets pushed out of it into your home.
As dust and dirt builds up on the filter, it won’t work as effectively and eventually won’t do much at all. Check your HVAC system’s user manual (or look it up online) to find out what size filter it uses and how often you should be replacing it.
7. You Don’t Test Your Smoke Detectors Regularly
A smoke alarm could save your life in the event of a fire, but it won’t do you much good if it isn’t working correctly! You should test your smoke detector once a month or so by pushing the “test” button to make sure it’s working correctly.
If your smoke detector is battery-powered or has a backup battery, you should replace the batteries twice a year (or any time the detector starts to beep intermittently.)
8. You Use The Wrong Type Of Plunger
There are two types of plungers—one is designed to help clear clogged toilets, and the other is designed for sink drains. Are you using the right kind of plunger for the right drain?
Sink plungers have a cup shaped like half a sphere designed to cover drains in relatively flat surfaces like the bottom of a sink or tub. This type of plunger doesn’t work well in toilets because it won’t form a very good seal around the drain.
Toilet plungers have more of a mushroom shape, and the lower part (or the “stem) that extends down helps forms a tight seal that allows for proper plunging. But if you’re shopping for a toilet plunger, be aware that the lower part may be pushed up into the upper part of the plunger so that it resembles a sink plunger.
To make sure you’re buying the right type of plunger, look into the cup to see if it’s hollow (meaning it’s a sink plunger) or has an extension that you can pull out (meaning it’s a toilet plunger).
9. You Store Your Iron With Water In It
I didn’t know this until recently, but apparently you should empty the water out of your clothes iron after each use. Storing your iron with water in it can lead to mineral buildup that can eventually damage the iron’s internal parts.
After using your iron, take an extra couple of seconds to dump out the water before putting it away. It’s also a good idea to use distilled water when filling your iron to help avoid mineral issues entirely.
10. You Lift The Lid On Your Slow Cooker
It’s tempting to lift the lid on your slow cooker to check how your food is coming along, but you should resist the urge as much as possible! Slow cookers rely on the heat trapped inside of the pot to cook your food.
Opening the lid allows a significant amount of that heat to escape, meaning the more you peek inside, the longer your food will take to cook!
11. You Don’t Check The Temperature Of Your Freezer
If you have your freezer set to low or an energy-saving setting, it may not be staying as cold as it should be to keep your food safe to eat. Use a fridge/freezer thermometer to find out how cold your freezer is. (The optimum temperature for long-term freezer storage is 0°F, so adjust your freezer setting according.)
Do you have any tricks that help you stay on top of household chores?