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Tired Old Cleaning Myths It’s Time to Get Over

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Ever thought about whether your cleaning routine is stuck in the past, following outdated myths that might do more harm than good?

Unless you’re one of those social media “cleaning influencers” going all “Little House on the Prairie,” it’s time to ditch those old-fashioned practices and embrace more effective approaches. 

So, let’s look at some of those stubborn cleaning myths that just won’t fade away, and maybe, together, we can consign them to the dusty past.

The Function of Furniture Polish

The function of furniture polish has undergone a transformation over the years. A century ago, it was a multitasking marvel, blending wax, soap, and water to clean and moisturize furniture. But times have changed, and it’s time for this cleaning myth to go. 

So, here’s the real deal: clean your furniture with a damp cloth to whisk away dust. Use your favorite spray, or whip up a homemade furniture polish using equal parts lemon juice or vinegar mixed with olive or vegetable oil. 

The Daily News For Glass

Old newspapers once reigned supreme for cleaning glass. A couple of newspaper sheets and some vinegar used to make windows gleam. However, that cleaning myth is yesterday’s news. Modern newspapers use different paper and ink, resulting in lint and streaks. 

For sparkling windows, grab a warm microfiber cloth and a squeegee for drying. For more stubborn stains or greasy kitchen windows, concoct a homemade window cleaner using equal parts rubbing alcohol and water with a dash of dish soap.

Vacuum Weekly

Old vacuum cleaners were hard on carpets. They relied on super strong suction to pull the carpet up slightly from the pad, and a beater bar that pummeled it to release dust the vacuum would suck away. Daily use could stretch carpets, so people vacuumed weekly and used carpet sweepers the rest of the time.

Fast forward to modern times, and vacuums have evolved with soft roller brushes that flick debris into the suction path. Unlike the cleaning myth that warned against daily vacuuming, it’s recommended to clean high-traffic areas every day in busy homes. 

Dust Last

Now that you understand how vacuums worked, you can see how they stirred up a lot of dust. Filters weren’t very good back then, either, so dust would cross through the hot motor and some would make it back into the air. That’s the source of the “vacuuming smell” of us recall from childhood.

Modern vacuums use pre-motor filters and HEPA filters to keep dust in the collection unit, so we don’t get that old unpleasant smell. The modern approach turns the old cleaning myth on its head: dust everything properly first then vacuum, so you’re moving dirt down then out of your home.

Clean Is Safe

Old-school cleaning products packed a punch with lye, bleach, ammonia, and potent phenolic cleaners. For generations, they were used throughout the home, not just in germ-prone areas. However, the health and environmental risks of these harsh cleaning agents have led to a shift in approach. 

Now, we know that keeping our homes healthy actually requires using less harsh products. So, we save disinfectants for specific spots like bathrooms and kitchen surfaces, or when dealing with illness. And when we use disinfectants, it’s a separate step from actually cleaning.

Product Overload

Old-fashioned cleaning often meant a choice between putting in elbow grease or pouring on more product. Sometimes, people even combined cleaners hoping to make the task easier, often with disastrous results. 

Today, we understand the dangers of mixing cleaning products, especially potent ones like bleach and ammonia. We also benefit from synthetic materials that are easier to clean and modern finishes that resist stains. Product overload is a thing of the past—except maybe on TikTok.

Know of any other old-school cleaning myths it’s time to say goodbye to? Share in the comments!

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2 Comments

  1. While I had heard of some of these, I wasn’t sure where they came from. Interesting read!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Thanks!

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