Outdated Cleaning Techniques That You Desperately Need to Ditch

Some of the cleaning techniques you learned from your mother and grandmother are timeless. You really can never have enough tea towels on hand. There are, however, some cleaning tips that have been handed down through generations that just don’t do the trick these days. Read on to find out which cleaning techniques are considered outdated and useless today.  

1. Using hairspray to get rid of static

Aerosol hair spray

You’ll just end up with sticky clothes. | Picsfive/iStock/Getty Images

Your grandmother probably taught you this one, but using hairspray to rid your drapes of static just doesn’t work. “It’s sticky and will leave your fabric feeling tacky,” says Director of the Cleaning Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, Carolyn Forte.

Next: This shouldn’t go in your toilet

2. Cleaning your toilet with a magic eraser

female hand with yellow protective rubber glove

Use a specially designed product for the toilet. | djedzura/iStock/Getty Images

Magic erasers are great, but they’re not a fix-all cleaning tool. According to Bright Side, while these sponges can clean most stains, they aren’t made for removing rust and limescale in the toilet. “Better leave [toilet cleaning] to the special detergents — they exist for a reason.”

Next: Why waste the toothpaste?

3. Cleaning silverware with toothpaste


Don’t waste the money. | Hanohiki/iStock/Getty Images

If you’re in a pinch, you actually can clean your silverware with toothpaste, but it’s completely unnecessary on a regular basis. Toothpaste is more expensive than your average silverware polish and doesn’t do a better job by any means. At the end of the day, why waste the toothpaste?

Next: Another thing that doesn’t belong in your toilet

4. Pouring Coke into your toilet bowl

cans of coca-cola

You’re not killing any bacteria with coke. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

We’ve all seen the videos about how bad Coke is for us due to all the sugar and chemicals it’s filled with — these videos may even include pouring Coke down a toilet to demonstrate the soda’s cleaning capabilities. Coke may make your toilet’s porcelain look a little shinier, but it’s certainly not killing all the bacteria. Additionally, “a can of Coke costs roughly the same as a regular toilet cleaner — and you can use the latter multiple times,” says Bright Side.    

Next: There’s a better way

5. Dusting ceiling fans with a pillowcase

Don’t waste the pillowcase. | iStock/Getty Images

A pillowcase will technically clean your ceiling fan, yes, but not very well, and it’s a waste of a pillowcase. Instead, dust your ceiling fan with something that grabs onto dirt and dust, not just pushes it around. Microfiber cloths and Swiffer dusters with extendable arms are great at getting the job done.

Next: This won’t save your clothes

6. Using salt to prevent color fading

salt cellar and spilled salt

It doesn’t actually work. | Sebalos/iStock/Getty Images

It’s an old trick to soak clothes in salt water to keep them from fading over time, but the Good Housekeeping Cleaning Lab tested this theory out and proved it wrong. They say “if your fabric runs, the item probably wasn’t finished properly.”

Next: Save the dryer sheets for laundry  

7. Using a dryer sheet to freshen up a room

Bounce dryer sheets

Stick to an air freshener. | memoriesarecaptured/iStock/Getty Images

There’s an old trick that says you can freshen up a room by putting a dryer sheet in front of the air vent. However, it doesn’t work. “The flow of air goes out of the room and into the vent, not the other way around,” says Bright Side. “Moreover, blocking the airflow is not the best idea — it’s much safer and easier to buy an air freshener.”  

Next: Don’t ever use this to clean your kitchen

8. Protecting your stove top with car wax

stainless steel stove with oven

That wax is flammable. | dpproductions/iStock/Getty Images

This may seem like a good idea — you use car wax to keep your car shiny, why not use it on the stove? But using car wax on your stove top is potentially extremely dangerous. Car wax is toxic and can be flammable. It’s way better to stick with regular old stove top cleaner.

Next: Ditch the newspaper

9. Wiping windows with newspaper

Cleaning window

Newspapers could smear. | ULTRA F/iStock/Getty Images

This is another one you might have learned from an older family member, but it just isn’t the best way to clean your windows. Good Housekeeping says “the ink could smear and stain your windowsill. Not to mention paper won’t absorb soil on your windows, like microfiber cloths (which are designed to hold onto grease and dirt) do.”

Next: This doesn’t get rid of burn stains

10. Using cornstarch as an iron stain remover

White t-shirt with an iron

Sorry, that’s not going to work. | KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

Cornstarch will not take away an iron burn, no matter how long you scrub or how long you let the mixture sit. If you burn a clothing item with your iron, use a stain remover immediately after the burn and you might have some better luck.

Next: Don’t mix these products

11. Baking soda and vinegar

Baking soda vinegar cleaning

It doesn’t actually work that well. | eskaylim/iStock/Getty Images

A lot of people opt for using baking soda and vinegar over store-bought cleaning products because it’s cheaper and more natural. But Bright Side says the solution doesn’t work. They say the mixture may be able to help you clean some dirt from your sink, but that’s it. You’ll achieve the best results if you use the two substances separately.

Next: Keep your lemons out of the dishwasher

12. Putting a lemon wedge in the dishwasher

Lemons on grey wooden

This doesn’t do anything. | 5second/iStock/Getty Images

Loading your dishes in the dishwasher along with a lemon wedge won’t do anything for your dishes. Your high-powered dishwasher will clean your dishes and leave them sparkling, but, the lemon wedge? Not so much. If you want your dishes to really shine, use a special rinse, not a lemon.

Next: This old trick can harm your linens.

13. Storing linens with wax paper

Sheets in linen closet

Wax paper won’t do the trick. | Hajakely/iStock/Getty Images

“If grandma told you to create a wax paper barrier between sheets, pillowcases and other folded fabrics to prevent color from transferring, consider yourself warned: The wax could melt onto linens, especially if you store them in a hot attic or closet,” warns Good Housekeeping. “Instead, use sheets of acid-free tissue paper.”

Next: Your cutting boards need something a little more intense

14. Cleaning your cutting boards with salt and lemon

It’ll smell fresh, but that’s about it. | iStock/Getty Images

Going over your wooden cutting boards with some salt and a lemon will definitely help the board to look and smell fresh, but it won’t help with burn spots or ingrained stains, even if you add baking soda to the mix. Instead, you’ll probably need something a little stronger, like hydrogen peroxide and an electric sander.

Next: Don’t put mouthwash in your washing machine.

15. Cleaning your washing machine with mouthwash

Use bleach not mouthwash. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Pouring mouthwash into your washing machine will not keep it sparkling, minty fresh. If you want to give your washing machine a good, thorough cleaning, all you need to do is pour some bleach into the detergent container about once a month and run it on rinse or regular wash mode.

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Read More: Things You Didn’t Know Should Never Go in the Washing Machine