These days, there are countless so-called “amazing” cleaning hacks on the Internet, especially across social media. Whether you open Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook, you’ll likely be bombarded with DIY tips & tricks on how to get your house sparkling clean in the blink of an eye. As a busy mom, no one likes a good cleaning hack better than me. If there’s any way I can save time and energy cleaning, I’ll give it a shot, especially if it doesn’t involve toxic chemicals. Like everyone else, we’ve been spending most of our time inside our home since early spring as a result of the pandemic, and by now, messes just seem to be a way of life. Some days, I feel like all I do is clean! But you know what’s the absolute worst scenario? Trying some new “genius” idea only to have stained carpet or a messy fridge that you still end up having to clean, the old-fashioned way.
I don’t want that to happen to you, so I set out to debunk some of the most popular cleaning hacks out there. Today I’ll be sharing 7 popular cleaning hacks and explaining why they don’t actually work. I’ve also included some alternatives for those hacks that I know do work, so you can get the job done and get on with your day. Happy cleaning!
Placing a Dryer Sheet in the Air Vent to Make Your Home Smell “Fresh”
This cleaning hack is a big no-no for a few reasons. HVAC systems are incredibly sensitive, and blocking an air duct vent with a dryer sheet can cause all kinds of problems. And while this bad cleaning hack may momentarily make your house smell “fresh”, it won’t get rid of the source of the offensive odors in your home and can even trigger unwanted respiratory responses and worse.
Scented laundry products – dryer sheets, fabric softeners, and laundry detergents – are loaded with toxic chemicals and carcinogens that have been proven to cause headaches, central nervous damage, respiratory problems, hormone issues, cancer, and more. Yikes. Instead of trying to mask the undesirable odors in your home with harmful chemicals and artificial fragrances, tackle them head-on. It’s easy, and more importantly, it’s safe. Simply spray Vital Oxide on couches, carpets, curtains, toys, sneakers, gym equipment, and anything else you need to deodorize, to eliminate trapped odors. Also doing things like keeping up with laundry, regularly bathing your furry friends with a deodorizing shampoo, cleaning your floors regularly with Vital Oxide, and spraying your garbage can with Vital Oxide can keep your home smelling fresh. Bonus: Vital Oxide can also be used to clean HVAC systems and air ducts, which is another way to eradicate odor-causing funk and actually freshen your home at the same time.
Deep Cleaning Your Mattress with Baking Soda, Vinegar, & Essential Oils
My husband has a dust mite allergy and suffers from asthma, so deep cleaning our mattress is important to keep his symptoms at bay. I came across this hack as I was searching for “easy hacks to deep clean a mattress and get rid of dust mites.” But before we go any further, let me give you some facts about your bed. You probably know that regularly cleaning your mattress is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. But did you know that your mattress could be infested with anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million dust mites? Yep, you read that right. Do you know why these microscopic arachnids love to party in your mattress? Well, it’s because humans shed between 30,000 and 40,000 skin cells every day (that’s enough to fill a teaspoon), according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), and many of these shed while you’re rolling around in bed. All those dead skin cells pile up in bedding and work their way deep down into your mattress. Unfortunately, because of these ideal conditions, dust mites are not easily deterred, and, even worse, their mighty little legs contain tiny barbs that can hold on to fibers, making them nearly impossible to remove by normal vacuuming.
Back to the cleaning hack. Here are the directions I found: “Remove bedding and vacuum mattress. Mix two boxes of baking soda, 40 drops of lavender essential oils, and a teaspoon vinegar. Spread mixture on your mattress, leave for 30 minutes and then vacuum up.” I’ll admit, I did not try this one myself as I could already see the outcome: a pasty, powdery, vinegar-lavender scented disaster. No thanks! Not only would this make a huge mess, but my mattress would still be loaded with dust mites, dirt, skin cells, etc. So, in this case, rather than trying a sloppy DIY hack, it’s best to take your time and do a thorough job to clean, deodorize, and eliminate allergens in your mattress. Try this instead:
- Remove bedding and mattress cover, and wash them with an Anti-Allergen Laundry Detergent on a hot water setting while you’re cleaning your mattress.
- Use a HEPA type vacuum with an upholstery attachment and vacuum your entire mattress, including the sides.
- Use a “rinse & vac” type steam extraction cleaner with hot water on your mattress. It works well to deep clean and has the benefit of reducing more allergen as the allergen is water soluble. Also adding a miticide, like The Ecology Works Dustmite & Flea Control will help to keep dust mites from coming back.
- Spray your clean mattress with Vital Oxide to deodorize and eradicate any lingering allergens.
- Dust mites also thrive in places with high humidity, so make sure you allow plenty of time for thorough drying before putting your mattress cover and sheets back on. A fan will help speed up your drying time.
Using Coca-Cola to Clean Your Toilet
Sure you could clean your toilet with Coca-Cola. You could also clean your porcelain throne with Dom Perignon, if you’re feeling fancy. It’s true that most carbonated sodas, like Coca-Cola, contain phosphoric and citric acids, which can help dissolve rust stains. However, pouring soda (or champagne for that matter) into your toilet will leave behind a sticky residue that you’ll have to clean up afterwards – and will do absolutely nothing to kill germs. Flush this cleaning hack down the john and do this instead: For a good, clean, and stain-free toilet, give your throne a scrub with a proper toilet brush and spray with Vital Oxide. Bye-bye, gross toilet stains and germs! You can now feel confident about sitting on your toilet; Vital Oxide kills 99.999% of bacteria and viruses.
Putting Lemon Wedges in Your Dishwasher for “Cleaner” Dishes
A couple of fresh lemon wedges might make your dishwasher smell a bit citrusy, but unfortunately it won’t do anything to make your dishes cleaner. Newer dishwashers use an average of 4 gallons of water per load and as much as 15 gallons on older models. Your dishwashing detergent is designed to work with all this rushing water!
The bottom line: this cleaning hack will just make waste of a perfectly good lemon. Cleaning hack fail! If your dishwasher is smelling funky, give it a scrub and spray it down with Vital Oxide to remove any lingering odors.
Disinfecting With Hot Water Instead of Cleaning Products
As a mom with a young toddler who puts everything in her mouth, I’m all about using products that are free of big bad ingredients. When I saw this cleaning hack on a “natural mom” blog, I knew it just had to be too good to be true. Sure, hot water can be capable of killing germs. But the water has to be really hot, boiling in fact – 212F – and the contaminated area needs to be soaked with boiling water for at least 3 minutes for any germ busting to take place. Considering that the standard setting on most hot water heaters is 120F, you’d have to somehow boil enough water to continually pour on the area you’re trying to disinfect for several minutes, otherwise it’s not going to do anything except make a wet mess. And no one wants a hot puddle in their living room. Instead, reach for a bottle of Vital Oxide to disinfect with ease. Simply spray the solution and sit back while it eradicates viruses (including SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19), bacteria, allergens, foul odors, and mold and mildew. The best part? Not only does Vital Oxide destroy germs, it’s also non-corrosive, so you don't have to worry about it damaging surfaces. It doesn’t leave behind any harmful fumes or residues, and it’s safe to use anywhere in your home, including in playrooms and nurseries.
Putting Newspaper in Your Fridge to Absorb Odor
Newsflash: This cleaning hack doesn’t work! Not only will the newspaper not do anything to keep your fridge from smelling funky, it will also leak ink all over the place. Instead, try keeping your fridge tidy and free from foods that have gone bad. You should also wipe down your fridge shelves on a daily basis to remove excess moisture and any spillage or grime. Cleaning and disinfecting your refrigerator regularly (for instance, right before you head out to do the next round of grocery shopping) will keep odors from happening in the first place.
Using Vinegar & Dish Soap to Remove Pet Urine from Carpet
You know what’s so much worse than your dog or cat having an accident on the carpet? Reading a seemingly innocent cleaning hack on a Facebook post, following the directions exactly (mix 1 cup water, 1/4 cup vinegar, 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap, 4 tablespoons of baking soda, and pour enough solution to cover the soiled area, let soak for 5 minutes, then blot with a cloth) and ending up with a soapy, sticky, wet mess on your carpet that you now have to use extra elbow grease to clean, and not only still smells like urine, but now smells like vinegar, too. Here’s a cleaning hack that actually works:
- Use damp paper towels to soak up the urine.
- Spray Vital Oxide liberally on the soiled area.
- Let sit for 10 minutes then gently blot the carpet with a clean, damp, cloth or paper towels.
- Repeat as needed for stubborn stains and let it air dry. That’s it! Using Vital Oxide saves time and loads of elbow grease. It also removes stains and odors – for good.