7 Spring Cleaning Mistakes That Are Sabotaging Your Hard Work

Ensure your annual deep clean is a success by avoiding these common errors.

Every March and April, people around the world push up their sleeves and give their home a major once-over—it's the annual rite of passage we like to call spring cleaning. Since many of us use this time to catch up on the tough tasks we can't fit into our weekly cleaning routines (like cleaning those ceiling fans), it's understandable that we might not be working as efficiently or effectively as possible. You only do this once a year, after all. To make your annual deep clean more successful, avoid the following spring cleaning mistakes that experts say most of us are making.

spring cleaning kit
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Neglecting Dust Mites

Dust mites cause sneezing, itching, and rashes, says Lucy Henderson, a cleaning expert and the founder of home and garden website Palladio Interiors. Unfortunately, these mites come from us; they're regularly found in dead skin cells that we shed all over our homes—particularly on upholstery. Removing them is key: "If you don't steam clean your sofa and mattress at least once a year, the dust-mite population will build up and make spring allergies worse," Henderson says.

While many of us have added vacuuming our couches to our weekly routines, we aren't steaming or deep cleaning the soft surfaces where mites accumulate as regularly, says Henderson—this is a mistake (and one that has health consequences). This year, turn to our in-depth mattress and couch cleaning guides, so you can rid your home of dust mites for good.

Using an All-Purpose Cleaner Everywhere

Many surfaces can be cleaned with an all-purpose formula, but there are some areas (like your sofa, curtains, and carpets) that require a special product to get the job done, says Henderson. Too often, we forget this and use the wrong cleaners—which either don't effectively take care of stains and messes or make matters worse.

To ensure you have the right fabric and upholstery cleaners in your kit, look underneath your couch for a tag with your upholstery's cleaning code. "For cleaning Code S fabric, you should only use a dry cleaning or water-free solvent," Henderson says. "For Code W, use water-based cleaning solvents. For Code W/S, you can use water-based or solvent-based cleaning products. For Code X, hire professional cleaners."

The same rule applies to non-upholstery items: Be sure to check tags and manufacturer instructions before using an all-purpose product.

Dusting the Wrong Way

The amount of dust that collects on ceiling fans, bookshelves, door jambs, and other hidden spots over the year is truly amazing—and getting rid of it when we spring clean our homes is particularly satisfying. However, tackling these dusty spots the wrong way (or in the incorrect order) can sabotage the rest of your cleaning plan by sending dust onto spots you've already cleaned, says Henderson.

Avoid this common spring cleaning mistake by dusting first—and be sure to work from the highest area (like a ceiling fan) down to your furniture and then baseboards to avoid having to re-do your work. She suggests using a damp cloth or to wipe away the dust, which will help prevent it from spreading around in the air, where it can trigger or worsen allergies and asthma attacks.

Sweeping home living room with broom
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Leaving Streaks Behind on Glass

Nothing ruins the effects of a deep clean like the streaks and smudges that get left behind on windows and glass surfaces—which happens when they aren't wiped down correctly, says Val Oliveira, the owner of Val's Cleaning Services. You can easily avoid this issue by using the right tools. "Use a squeegee or a microfiber cloth to wipe away streaks and ensure a clean finish," she says.

Skipping Unseen High-Touch Areas

You have wiping down the smallest fixtures, like doorknobs and drawer pulls, covered on your spring cleaning checklist, but you're probably missing one big-picture item, says Veronica Hanson, a cleaning expert and minimalist coach: the walls. "It's easy to forget that walls become scuffed and dirty too, especially in high-contact areas around door frames and light switch plates," she says. "I would always recommend washing these areas as part of regular spring cleaning, since smudges or visible dirt or grime on walls can easily detract from your home's fresh look."

Not sure how to get started? Read through our comprehensive wall cleaning guide to ensure every surface (even those vertical ones) looks good as new.

Using Worn-Out Tools

Another major spring cleaning mistake to avoid? Using equipment that is no longer up to the task, says Oliveira. "People often use old or worn-out cleaning equipment, such as mops or vacuum cleaners, which can be less effective and leave surfaces dirty," she says. "To avoid this mistake, replace old or worn-out cleaning equipment regularly." Essentially, spring clean your kit before you move onto your home: Use this opportunity to recycle dust rags that have seen their last season and dispose of any expired or outdated cleaning solutions.

Failing to Protect Yourself

The biggest spring cleaning mistake you can make is not taking protective measures as you work. "Cleaning products can be harsh on your skin, leading to dryness and irritation," Oliveira says. "Always wear gloves when cleaning to protect your skin and avoid any potential allergic reactions."

And whatever you do, avoid mixing cleaning chemicals together. "People sometimes mix different cleaning products, which can cause dangerous chemical reactions and damage surfaces," Oliveira says. "To avoid this mistake, never mix cleaning products. Use them one at a time."

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