7 Old-School Cleaning Rules That Are Totally Fine to Break

By Caylin Harris, RealSimple.com
Caylin Harris, RealSimple.com
Caylin Harris, RealSimple.com
June 29, 2021 Updated: June 29, 2021

Just like technology and fashion, cleaning best practices and household cleaning products change over time—thank goodness, right? Fortunately, we’re not all still hand-washing every piece of laundry. That’s not to say some tried-and-true originals aren’t still gems, but naturally, over time, our cleaning techniques and solutions have gotten safer and more efficient. So, once we know better, we can do better. Here are some antiquated cleaning rules you should feel free to break.

Then: Don’t Use Soap on Cast Iron

Now: Actually, a couple of drops of dish soap is OK! It was thought that soap would remove the seasoning on the surface, but that’s likely not true if your pan is properly seasoned.

However, while you can use soap, it’s often easier to scrub with a coarse salt to remove any gunk and grime from your cast-iron pan. Then, give the pan a quick rinse and dry it thoroughly.

Then: Always Pre-Rinse Dishes Before Loading The Dishwasher

Now: Today’s dishwashers and detergents have enough power to take care of stuck-on food messes. If you have a modern machine, you can simply scrap off any excess food before loading the machine. It’s a win-win because not pre-rinsing helps save water too.

That said, it’s never a bad idea to run your dishwasher regularly so dirty dishes aren’t sitting, and if you find a plate with fossilized food on it somewhere, it might not hurt to soak it instead of popping it right into the dishwasher.

Then: You Should Sanitize Your Sponge to Kill Germs.

Now: It’s better to replace a sponge once a week or switch to a reusable dish brush. The old school of thought was that you could kill the germs in a sponge by heating it in the microwave, but research indicates that this isn’t effective against some types of dangerous bacteria.

Hot take: Skip the sponge completely and just go for the less-wasteful reusable dish brush or pan scraper. You’ll be happy you did, plus, no weird sponge smell.

Then: To Brighten White Sheets and Towels, Bleach is Best

Now: There are other natural laundry solutions that work well, too. If you’re looking for a chlorine bleach-free way to brighten and remove stains, there are chemical-free ways to refresh laundry (including baking soda). Also, oxygen-based laundry whitening products contain zero chlorine bleach and can be used to whiten and brighten clothing and linens.

Then: Use a Dusting Spray.

Now: Ick, no more stinky sprays to help nab dust and grime. Not only is it unnecessary, but furniture polishes can build up on pieces over time and leave a sticky residue that’s a pain to clean and can actually collect dust. Instead, microfiber cloths work well to trap dirt and germs.

Then: Mopping Gets Floors Cleaner

Now: Make way for new technology! Traditional mops add a lot of extra water and cleaner to your floors, which can cause warping and damage on some types of flooring. Instead, try a modern cleaning mop with a removable pad that can be laundered separately. Also, it’s smart to have a couple of cleaning pads on hand so you can replace them as you clean rooms.

Then: You Have To Clean Bathrooms With Really Harsh Cleaners

Now: Not so fast! Strong-smelling doesn’t necessarily mean more germ-fighting power. There are plenty of safe and effective cleaners that are low-odor. Also, products like Force of Nature and HoMedics Ozone Clean water spray use ozone cleaning technology to kill germs. Whatever method you choose, make sure you follow the instructions and let the cleaner sit long enough to do its germ-busting.

Real Simple magazine provides smart, realistic solutions to everyday challenges. Online at RealSimple.com. Copyright 2021 Meredith Corporation. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Caylin Harris, RealSimple.com
Caylin Harris, RealSimple.com