Let’s Bust some Household Cleaning Myths

May 10, 2017 | Apartment Living

All that Spring Cleaning talk has got housekeeping firmly in the communal brainspace around here. So of course when one of us brought up the idea that throwing ice in the garbage disposal ‘keeps the blades sharp,’ it was Google time. Turns out, there is a little bit of truth there: while garbage disposals don’t have blades, throwing some ice in can help knock stuck-on gunk out of its machinery and help it process better. But it lead us to ask: what do people believe about housekeeping that they probably shouldn’t? Here’s what we learned.

Myth: Vacuums for Carpets, Brooms for Floors
If you’re one of those people who have always switched to the broom (or mop!) for your non-fibrous floors, you may want to reconsider. According to OSHA, any vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter — and most modern vacuum cleaners without HEPA filters — clean dust more efficiently than any mop or broom. Granted, if you have stains on your floors, a mop is probably still a necessary second step, but keeping the vacuum in hand for the hard floors is more effective than switching to a broom.

Myth: Over-Vacuuming can Damage Carpets
OK, technically, this can be true — but we’re talking like constant vacuuming. In literally every realistic scenario, the dirt that gets into your carpet fibers is going to damage those fibers more than running the vacuum over them every day. Or even twice a day. There is a caveat on this one, though: you do have to set your vacuum cleaner to the correct pile(height) setting. Vacuuming a plush carpet on bare-floor height will totally damage the carpet — and the vacuum cleaner, too!

Myth: Don’t Rinse Your Dishes Clean Before Putting them in the Dishwasher
This one is a subject of lots of debate: there are several significant articles on the ‘net that insist that pre-rinsing your dishes went out with the turn of the century, and that it’s a huge waste of time and water. But there’s a clever information hack that reveals the truth: if you talk to washing machine sellers, they say “don’t pre-rinse.” But if you talk to washing machine repairmen, they will tell you straight-up that even modern dishwashers magically end up with all kinds of food particles getting not just through the filter, but into the water pump assembly — which means you’re washing all of your dishes in dirty water. It’s better to pre-rinse for the cleanliness of your dishes and for the lifespan of your dishwasher.

Myth: Newspaper Makes Great Window-Cleaning Wipes
Umm…what? Well, one of our maintenance guys heard this one, so we figure we’ll just debunk this right quick: NOPE. Newspaper that gets wet leaks black ink, which can stain your windowsills. But more importantly, newspaper is actually a crappy absorber of liquids and a crappy latch-onto-er of solids, making it actively bad for window cleaning. Stick with paper towels — or better yet, microfiber cloths.

Myth: More Soap/Detergent Makes Things Cleaner
This is just common sense, right? If soap makes clean, more soap makes cleaner. It’s intuitively obvious! It’s also intuitively incorrect — you can tell if you take the argument to its next obvious step…does most soap make cleanest? Obviously not! It’s easily possible to imagine what would happen if you washed a load of laundry with an entire bottle of soap in it: you’d end up with a slimy mess. The fact is that every soap and/or detergent is designed to work with a set amount of water, and if you don’t put enough water in, the soap or detergent will function less effectively. The same is true if you put in too much soap for the amount of water you’re using. (Incidentally, this is why modern washing machines require less laundry soap — because they use less water!)

All right, hope you’ve learned something — we certainly did writing this! Now, don’t forget that you were Googling all of this cleaning stuff for a reason. Time to get back to work!

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