Home and Living

11 Cleaning Hacks That Simply Don't Work


Last week, we were talking about tips to make your home look bigger. Today, we are going to talk about cleaning tips that don’t work! Don’t waste time for that!

No one wants to put more time and energy into cleaning than necessary. Even worse: Trying some genius new idea only to still have a a stained toilet bowl or messy pan you still have to clean is no fun. We don’t want to see that happen to you, so we set out to debunk some of the biggest Pinterest myths out there.

The Judges


We spend a lot of time testing out cleaning products and sussing out the behind home care claims in the Good Housekeeping Institute. So when we wanted to reveal the dirty truth about cleaning hacks we suspected were, well, suspect, we turned to our favorite experts: Carolyn Forte (left) the Director of the GHI’s Cleaning Lab, and Michaelle Exhume (right) the Cleaning Lab’s Product Analyst.

Carolyn and Michaelle have seen and heard it all when it comes to cleaning tricks, and the bad ones fall on a scale — there are some that sorta work (but not better than a product you’d find at the store), some that fail but won’t have any major consequences, and others that are just flat-out crazy or damaging.

We asked the duo to rank each hack by just how “bad” it is at achieving what it promises — and these are the tricks that didn’t fare very well:

THE HACK: Combine baking soda and vinegar for an all-purpose cleaner.

baking soda

THE PROBLEM: It’s true that separately,baking soda and vinegar are handy cleaners. But it’s a myth that mixing them is the key to creating cleaning magic. “People get excited because they bubble up, but when combined, vinegar and baking soda actually just create a solution of water and some salt,” says Exhume. (Think about it: Vinegar is acidic, and baking soda is basic, so they basically just cancel each other out, chemically.)

The abrasive quality of the bubbles might help lift some mess away (or can even make aslow drain move again), but in the end the mixture won’t actually clean anything — it just rinses the dirt with water.

THE HACK: Soak clothes in a salt solution to keep colors from fading.

color fading

THE PROBLEM: We know you don’t want your favorite red shirt turning to pink over time, but skip the salt. The Lab has tested this trick and (sadly) found it doesn’t work. She says if your clothes are washed out, you should look at your closet instead of your laundry room: “If a fabric runs, it’s just not properly finished.”

THE HACK: Spritz hairspray on an ink stain in fabric.

hair spray

THE PROBLEM: If you asked us to test out this genius idea back when hairspray still contained alcohol, we’d say it was brilliant with a capital “B.” But most sprays no longer contain this essential ingredient, so the trick is old (bad) news. Instead, Forte recommends sponging rubbing alcohol onto a ballpoint ink stain or soaking a felt-tip ink mark in water and bleach-free liquid laundry detergent for 30 minutes to an hour.

THE HACK: Soak a Magic Eraser in the toilet bowl to get rid of stains.

toilet bowl

THE PROBLEM: Listen, Magic Erasers (which can do lots of other things!) aren’t designed to work this way. The “magic” comes from the teeny-tiny microscrubbers that lift stains away when rubbed on the offending spot. So dropping the Magic Eraser into your toilet bowl will just be a waste of an otherwise wonderful cleaning tool.

The bottom line: Keep the eraser for your walls and opt for a toilet bowl cleaner in your bathroom (it’s been formulated expressly for such a dirty job, after all).

dryer sheet

THE PROBLEM: Some people swear by filling a crusty pan with water and letting a dryer sheet soak in it for an hour to make scrubbing easier, but Forte says she’s tested this trick, and it just doesn’t work. Not to mention, products meant for clothing care simply aren’t formulated for use in the kitchen, and you might not want to mix fabric softener with items that touch food. Instead, sprinkle your pan with baking soda and water, then use a sponge or cloth to rub crud off.

THE HACK: Add mouthwash to a washing machine to clean it.

washing machine

THE PROBLEM: While mouthwash kills germs in your mouth, there’s much more water in your machine so it’s not the same ratio of disinfectant. Besides, Forte points out that something that’s safe to use in your mouth won’t clean a machine effectively: “You need bleach for that!” It’s easy: Either run the self-cleaning cycle on your appliance (if it has one) or add liquid chlorine bleach to your dispenser and run a normal cycle with hot water once a month.

THE HACK: Rub your stove top with car wax to make clean-up easier.


THE PROBLEM: While this hack claims rubbing a thin layer of this cleaner onto your range before cooking will prevent grease splatters from sticking, Forte warns against putting such a heavy-duty formula (which could be combustible) near food or a hot range. Stick to your cooktop cleaner post-dinner instead and make your life easier next time by blocking messes before they happen and immediately cleaning up any spills that inevitably happen.

THE HACK: Clean your toilet bowl with soda.


THE PROBLEM: People claim the acidity in this refreshing drink works wonders on toilet bowl stains, but Forte says it’s a waste of soda. Coke or Pepsi is just not formulated to clean a variety of different kinds of stains like toilet bowl cleaners — and it certainly won’t kill germs like the store-bought stuff.

Plus, let’s do the math, people. A value pack of toilet bowl cleaner and 12 cans of soda probably cost around the same price, depending on where you live. You’ll get more than 12 uses out of the cleaner, so the choice is a no-brainer.

THE HACK: Put a lemon wedge in your dishwasher to make dishes cleaner.


We did talk about topic on lemons! But…

THE PROBLEM: Even though Pinterest hackers claims that lemons are nature’s mild disinfectant, don’t believe everything you read. Putting a single wedge (or even a few!) in your dishwasher before running it might give the load a fresh scent, but that tiny piece of fruit won’t make any difference on your dishes, says Forte.

Yes, there’s acid in the lemons, but it’s simply not enough to make a difference in the flood of water that fills your machine. Instead, she says all you need for sparkling china is a detergent and rinse aid.

THE HACK: Remove ironing scorch marks on clothes with corn starch.

corn starch

THE PROBLEM: Scorch marks are literally burnt fibers on your clothing, and since corn starch isn’t a time machine, Forte says this kitchen ingredient won’t bring your shirt back to life. But all hope is not lost: Try rubbing liquid laundry detergent on your stain and laundering the item immediately after burning. Or, if you need to wear it ASAP, lightly rub white distilled vinegar on the fabric and wipe clean with a cloth.

THE HACK: Place a dryer sheet in your air vent to make your home smell fresh.

dryer sheet02

THE PROBLEM: While there’s no denying these sheets smell fresh (that’s kind of the point), be careful: They could block the air in your vent — never a good idea when heat is involved. Plus, Exhume points out that there are easier (and, frankly, better) ways to freshen up your home, such as Febreze spray or air fresheners.


News source: (Lauren Smith)

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