Don't bother using vinegar as a household cleaner (and other home cleaning myths debunked)

Sometimes there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned DIY to do the trick while we’re cleaning. Hand-me-down tips like using ketchup for rust stains and baking soda as an air freshener can be the ultimate fix when we’re in a bind and in need of a fix for a minor cleaning disaster. Still, every now and then even the most well-meaning cleaning advice can stir up a mistake that can turn a small stain into a disaster.

Here are some commonly held DIY cleaning myths, thanks to Consumer Reports.

Myth: Use coffee grounds to freshen up your garbage disposal.

Truth? Yes, it’s true that coffee grounds can be great at getting at the grit and gunk that gets stuck to garbage disposal blades and can smell up your kitchen. Still, when it comes to smell in your garbage disposal, another classic home remedy like baking soda can do the job better.

Myth: A bit of hair spray to get the ballpoint-pen ink out.

Truth? There’s a reason why your grandma keeps telling you to use this trick. Years ago when hairsprays had more alcohol it might have actually worked. These days, however, you’ll find yourself in a world of worse trouble if you take her up on her advice. Hair sprays of today are formulated with stiffeners that will only make matters worse. Instead, go for rubbing alcohol. It’s way cheaper and will help you stay away from damaging ingredients.

Myth: Better to handwash.

Truth? You might think you’re making the world a better place by staying away from the dishwasher, but the truth is today’s dishwashers have got a hand over handwashing. For starters, with the power to heat water to 140° Fahrenheit, they’re more likely to really sanitize your dishes. Also, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star website, going for a dishwasher with an Energy Star label instead of the sink can save 5,000 gallons of water and help you cut out 230 hours of your time and $35 dollars in energy expenses.

Myth: Bleach is the word.

Truth? Bleach can be pretty great at sanitizing, but it doesn’t clean. The product can help you lighten stains and kill bacteria, but it won’t be removing soil from your countertops and sinks like soap will.

Myth: Just a spoonful of vinegar.

Truth? Vinegar can do a lot of things, and it’s a lot like bleach in the sense that it ISN’T a cleaner. Sure, it’s great at killing bacteria and cutting through dirt, but in order for it to be effective, it’ll need to be used at its full strength. You know how your dad says to dilute it with water? He’s right about that tip because full strength vinegar is more likely to damage surfaces, but once diluted, it won’t clean at all. You’re better sticking to a cleaner that can do its job without creating such a mess.

Heed our warning for all of these products the next time you lean down to get out that wine stain, and for the ultimate cleaning pro-hack: look for advice online!

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