8 Classic Cleaning ‘Hacks’ That Simply Don’t Work

Cleaning
By Contractors.com Team June 01, 2021

We all love a good cleaning hack. They save us time, make life easier, and make us feel pretty cool when we do them. When a cleaning hack works, it’s almost like an exploit or a real-life cheat that makes us feel a bit like alchemists. Bathroom and kitchen cleaning hacks are especially useful because they make the house’s hardest areas easier to clean. 

After all, who wouldn’t want a stove cleaning hack that gave their gas range a like-new shine, or a toilet cleaning hack that got rid of an unpleasant odor, and were all more affordable and chemical-free? Unfortunately, for all the cleaning hacks out there that fizzle and pop, some are just plain old duds. Here are a few popular cleaning hacks that might work on TikTok, but are useless or even dangerous in real life. These hacks all seem like they would work, but they have significant drawbacks which could cause some unintended negative consequences.   

Home Cleaning Hack Myths

Using Coca Cola as a Toilet Cleaner

We start with a well-known toilet cleaning hack that sounds like it might just work. The average can of Coca-Cola is of course filled with phosphoric acid designed to keep the ten teaspoons of sugar inside from sticking together in a big syrupy mess. Surely, that acid can also act as a stain remover and give your water closet a shine that would make Mr. Clean envious? 

Alas, this just isn’t the case. Coca-Cola can remove rust and some stains, but anyone who has spilled Coke on the floor knows that once that acid is gone, a sticky brown mess is all that’s left behind. If that syrupy stuff is left in your commode, it will increase bacteria growth since bacteria love sugar. So, using Coke as a toilet cleaner only means more work for you since you’ll have to clean the toilet again after using your Coke “toilet cleaner”. When all is said and done, a purpose-made toilet cleaner is always going to be better than a sticky soft drink.  

Does Using Coca Cola to Clean a Toilet Work?

Does Using Coca Cola to Clean a Toilet Work?

Extra Detergent = Cleaner Clothes

Having too much of a good thing isn’t always good, and this is especially true in the case of detergent. Putting extra detergent in your washing machine won’t make your laundry cleaner, but it will make things much soapier. Because your washing machine won’t be able to properly rinse out all the detergent, your clothes will be left with a sticky residue that will make them prone to getting dirty even faster. 

Does Using a Lot of Detergent Clean Your Clothes Better

Does Using a Lot of Detergent Clean Your Clothes Better

The best way to make sure your washing machine does a good job is to add the recommended amount of detergent as specified by your detergent brand. This will save you money and time, and keep your clothes cleaner for longer. Your clothes will also look better since they won’t have their colors dulled by too much detergent.  

Using Hairspray to Remove Ink

It’s bound to happen at some point. You’re writing with a pen, a highlighter, or whiteboard markers and you get some of that ink on your clothes. Now you have an ink stain that won’t come out no matter what you try. Then you remember how back in the day, people would use hairspray to take out ink stains. So all you have to do is get a can of Schwarzkopf, and your problems will be solved, right

Does Hairspray Get Rid of Ink Stains

Does Hairspray Get Rid of Ink Stains

Sadly, no. Hairspray used to be a good ink-stain remover, but they don’t make ‘em like they used to! The key ingredient in hairspray used to be alcohol, and this is good for removing the oil-based stains that come from pen and marker ink. However, modern hairsprays use little to no alcohol because alcohol can dry or damage hair. So instead of getting hairspray, drop by your pharmacy and get some isopropyl alcohol. If the stain is relatively new, you have a good chance of rubbing it out with alcohol. 

Baking Soda + Vinegar = All-Purpose Cleaner

This ubiquitous household cleaning hack almost seems legit. Baking soda and vinegar can be effective cleaning agents when used separately, but their usefulness when combined is limited. Putting baking soda in a drain and then adding vinegar can help to unblock a drain if it has a tiny blockage by dislodging some gunk. However, these two natural cleaning solutions aren’t all-purpose, and they won’t work for every situation. 

For example, if your drain has a big blockage, vinegar and baking soda can actually be bad because they won’t break the debris down, and can instead dislodge all the gunk caked in your pipe and create a bigger blockage. Also, this combo does nothing to disinfect or sanitize an area, and these two kitchen products aren’t as useful combined as they are on their own. Ultimately, any drain cleaner will do a much better job of unclogging your sink. If less harmful products are your main concern, look into organic cleaning agents on the market.

Natural Cleaning Hack Myths

Natural Cleaning Hack Myths

The only thing you will get a lot of by combining vinegar and baking soda is saltwater since it is a byproduct of putting them together. In general, you should stick to using these two natural cleaning products separately since that’s when they will be the most effective. Vinegar for instance is great for cleaning out coffee machines and removing mineral buildup from showerheads, while baking soda is excellent for scrubbing away stubborn stains.

Using Dryer Sheets as Air Fresheners   

Good air quality is important for keeping you and your family healthy and happy. It can even help defend your household from airborne pathogens such as COVID. If you want to fight musty smells in your house, you might have heard of the “trick” of putting dryer sheets in your air vents. But as any HVAC contractor will tell you, your dryer sheets should only be used in your dryer. 

Should You Use Fabric Softeners in Your Air Filter?

Should You Use Fabric Softeners in Your Air Filter?

Aside from the fact that a central HVAC system wasn’t designed to have dryer sheets placed in it, putting in dryer sheets will only conceal an odor. It won’t do anything to get rid of the source of the odor, and it could permeate your house with a chemical smell that some may find unpleasant. There are a variety of reasons a bad smell can come from your HVAC system, including foreign objects such as cans, food, towels, or toys being thrown into vents, or shoes being left near them. 

Troubleshooting to find the cause of the smell from your vents is a much better solution in the long term than putting some dryer sheets in your ductwork. Your local HVAC contractor will be able to help you figure out where those funky smells are coming from.

Hot Water Will Kill All Germs          

Hot water can kill some germs, but it has to be boiling, and even then it won’t kill all of them. To effectively sanitize surfaces in your home with hot water, you would have to use boiling water and apply it for several minutes. In other words, this isn’t at all practical or even possible as a cleaning solution. If you want to effectively sanitize your kitchen worktops after a nice cookout, or keep your home safe from Covid, chlorine products such as bleach or Lysol will get the job done more effectively. 

Does Hot Water Kill All Germs

Does Hot Water Kill All Germs

Putting Magic Erasers in Your Toilet Will Take Away Stains

Magic erasers are great tools for sweeping up dirt and can strip away filth when other solutions fall short. However, they need elbow grease to work, and on their own, they won’t do much. So, as you can expect, putting them in a toilet isn’t going to do much for keeping your toilet clean. Magic erasers don’t have anything in them that kills bacteria and no active ingredient that lifts dirt. At best, they’ll sit in your toilet tank or bowl doing nothing, and at worst they can clog your toilet or mess up your flushing mechanism.  

When Magic Erasers Are Not Really Magic

When Magic Erasers Are Not Really Magic

Nuking Your Sponges

This cleaning hack is fire in the worst possible way. Your sponges can become real harbors of bacteria and other nasty accumulations, which is why you should replace them regularly. You may be tempted to take a shortcut by nuking your sponge in the microwave. Microwaves excel at making things very hot, so that heat should scorch those yucky bacteria into nonexistence, right? 

Kind of. Putting your sponge in a microwave will kill some bacteria, but it won’t completely sanitize a sponge. As much as 40% of those pesky microorganisms living in your sponge can survive a ride on the microwave carousel. Those remaining bacteria will quickly recolonize the sponge, and they’ll be stronger. If you were to fully eradicate all the bacteria, you would have to microwave the sponge for so long that it would become nothing but a blackened, charred object that used to be a sponge. In other words, this cleaning hack doesn’t work, and it’s dangerous.

Cleaning Hacks that Don't Actually Work

Cleaning Hacks that Don't Actually Work

Instead of cooking your sponge in the microwave and possibly causing a fire, use it to scrub your microwave clean. If you want to completely eliminate the risk of harboring bacteria, get rid of your sponge and use disposable wipes and/or microfiber cloths. Just be sure to wash that cloth regularly in a washing machine, and throw away disposable wipes immediately after use.

Written by
Contractors.com Team

Written by Contractors.com Team