Do green cleaners get rid of all germs? Do specialised detergents for cuffs and collars work? Is your dishwasher liquid effective when you’re washing cups by hand? Does hot water clean more effectively than cold? Cleaning myths abound, so let’s look at some of the more common ones and see if we can’t demystify them.
10 Cleaning Myths
Coca Cola cleans everything
You’ve probably seen the YouTube clips that show the awesome (and terrifying) cleaning power of coke. It’s not clear whether the videos want you to buy more Coca Cola or less, but they often claim coke can clean toilets, jewellery, greasy pans, windshields, and dreadlocks. In reality, the high sugar levels in coke could invite more bacteria, as well as ants. Plus, the acid and colouring in Coca Cola might make your toilet stains even darker, so just use a toilet cleaner instead.
Use your hands for dishes
Anyone that can afford a dishwasher probably has one, but your grandmother might still be convinced that handwashing is better. After all, you need to get every last bit of grease gone. Newer dishwashing models are quite effective, and some can even safely handle your pots and pans. They save time, energy, and since some models use heated water of up to 140 degrees, they get rid of more germs than your palms can handle.
Pour your coffee in the sink
Your kitchen sink accumulates a lot of food residue that can easily become smelly and attract pests like fruit flies. These bits of food can also clog your pipes and lead to insane plumbing bills. Your garbage disposal is a convenient way to solve this, but the blades still get clogged after a while. Common lore suggests cleaning them with egg shells or coffee grounds, to push the gunk down and neutralise the smell. Baking soda paste does a better job of both and is easier to pour down the drain.
Don’t forget to spray your pens
Hair spray has always been offered as a quick way to get rid of ink stains from ballpoint pens. The component that dissolves the ink is alcohol, and it does a good job. Unfortunately, hair beauty standards have changed. These days, sprays contain a lot less alcohol. Instead, they have hardeners and stiffeners intended to hold your style (and hair dye) in place. These chemicals will probably keep the ink in place as well. If your pen bleeds onto your shirt, skip the hair spray and use rubbing alcohol or methylated spirit instead.
Unleash the power of bleach
Bleach is commonly used to sterilise surfaces like tubs, sinks, and toilets. The smell of bleach is psychologically satisfying, and it makes things feel ‘clean’. But while bleach definitely kills bacteria and makes whites whiter, it doesn’t actually clean anything. The chemical action of bleach dilutes the colour in stains. That’s what makes your clothes brighter. The bleach hasn’t gotten rid of the dirt. It has just removed the colour so that you can no longer see the stain. The dirt itself is still there, so be sure to use soap or detergent to get rid of it.
Bring on the string
String mops are quite popular. They look nice because the string gives them an appearance of volume, which is reassuring. They have high levels of absorbency, so they’re great for containing spills. But when you’re using a mop to clean, you don’t just want to sop up liquid. You also want to catch dust and dirt while wiping off stains. Microfibre has better cleaning abilities than regular mop strings, so use that instead. You can even put the micro fibre on the mop head for less back-breaking bends.
Make it quick with insta-clean
If you watch detergent commercials or demos, you’ll be convinced their ‘secret grease-stripping formula’ offers ‘instant, effortless cleaning power’. This is rarely true. If you’d like to get the best effects from your cleaning agent, apply it, then wait a few minutes. For dishes and surfaces, five minutes is usually enough to loosen the dirt. For clothes and pots, you might need to steep the stain for half an hour or more.
Feathers foil fibre
Cleaning scenes in movies usually feature hot maids in tiny outfits, wielding feather dusters and French accents that are strangely out of context. So when you find yourself shopping for cleaning supplies, you’ll be inexplicably drawn to pretty feathers. Traditional dusters were made of ostrich feathers, but these are now rare, expensive, and politically incorrect. And dusters made from regular feathers don’t actually collect dust. They just spread it to other surfaces. Microfibre, lambswool, or even old cotton t-shirts are more helpful for getting rid of dust.
Clear things up with newsprint
Many cleaners swear by a crinkled newspaper when it comes to cleaning windows and mirrors. Just spritz a little window cleaner, dilute liquid soap, or vinegar, then scrub it to a sheen with patience, balance, and lots of elbow grease. Cleaning with newspapers takes a lot of energy since you need to apply extra pressure. Newspaper ink streaks the glass, so you may have to go over the same spot repetitively. Plus, wet newspaper disintegrates leaving tiny paper clumps on the glass. Try using micro fibre fabric instead.
Vinegar is the ultimate super-soap
White vinegar makes a safe, natural, affordable cleaner that works on a variety of greasy surfaces. It’s good for windows, ovens, drains, clothes, and wine stains. However, vinegar works best for spot cleaning, where you use it raw and straight on the dirty surface. If you’re going to pour a few millilitres into a bucket of water, it’s not going to have much cleaning power. Vinegar also has a distinctive smell that is unappealing to many people, so you might want to use plenty of ventilation to counter it.
For the record, green cleaners don’t eliminate all bacteria, but you don’t need to since many germs are actually beneficial. Cuff and collar detergents sometimes work, but you’d have to test the individual brand to prove its claims. And hot water dissolves oil and grease-based stains faster than cold water, so in that sense, it’s definitely more effective.