10 Bad Habits You Need to Break!

Whether it comes to cleaning or life in general, we all have them: bad habits. We are often asked about cleaning routines and best practices, which is great. But—sometimes simply correcting some of the bad habits we have is just as useful. So, I figured I would talk about some of the more common bad cleaning habits, some of which I have certainly been guilty of in the past, and how to break them!

Using Too Much Cleaning Product

This goes for almost all realms—laundry, floors, countertops, darnit, even when you’re shampooing your hair! More product doesn’t make anything cleaner. In fact, it makes it dirtier, because it leaves behind soap residue, which becomes sticky and attracts more dirt, and is way harder to rinse. Use less product than you’re inclined, and don’t be afraid to actually *read* the instructions on the bottle.

Moldy Bath Mats & Shower Curtains

If you step out of the shower and leave your curtain open, or leave your non-slip mat on the tub floor, you’re sending an engraved invitation to mold and mildew, which will love to set up shop in the curtain folds and under all those suction cups on the mat. It’s easy-peasy—just pick up that mat and open the curtain all the way when you’re done, and run your overhead exhaust fan, too.

Cleaning With Dirty Tools

Come on, that’s just nasty. You’ll never get a floor clean using a dirty, stinky mop. Check out this video for how to get your cleaning tools clean.

“Cleaning” With Disinfectant Wipes

Hey, newsflash: Disinfectant wipes were designed with a very specific purpose in mind: Disinfecting. They don’t remove dirt or grime at all. Use cleaning tools to clean and remove soil, and then if you need to disinfect, go ahead and use a wipe to finish up.

Damp Towel & Cloth Piles

If you want to not join the ranks of followers who complain to me about stinky bath towels that you can never get fresh-smelling again, just cut this habit out. Don’t put anything in the hamper that’s not bone-dry, and you’ll never get that musty stink.

Using Bleach as a Cleaning Product

See number 4. Bleach is not a cleaning product! It has two uses: whitening and disinfecting. You don’t remove dirt and soil with bleach. So switch to a real cleaning product, and save that bleach for your whites (if at all!).

The Pile: Dirty Dishes

I hear from so many people that it’s hard to keep on top of the dishes, and as a result, the kitchen always looks messy. There’s just one solution: Wash them as you use them! Put them away and start fresh at every meal, and you’ll be greeted by a clean sink and counter, not a pile of guilt.

Letting Clutter Multiply

Take magazines. It’s easy to let a stack pile up, because of stories you want to go back to, recipes you want to try, purchases you want to make… let’s be honest. Chances are you’ll never flip those old magazines open again. So when a new issue comes in, it’s time to put the old one out.

Cluttered Surfaces

So many of us see empty countertops or tables as a place to rest our stuff. Stop thinking of these places as storage holding stations! Deliberately curate your tabletops and countertops, with a few items chosen for utility (think: stand mixer or coffeemaker in the kitchen) or beauty (a nice bowl or picture frame on a console). If you do need to store something out in the open, that’s fine, but find a visually-pleasing and under-control way to do so, like a tray for oils and vinegars or a caddy for spices.

Paper Towel Madness

Hey, using a few rolls per week really adds up! That means a lot of money spent by you, and a ton of paper that needs to be manufactured and disposed of. It’s downright wasteful. When you can, go with cloth—get some nice cloth napkins, get some cleaning cloths, and wipe up inoffensive spills with real dishtowels.

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


  1. Can we clean together a few times please, with your cleaning service?
    Had lobe of lung removed for Cancer, limit on energy and breathing no so great with dust and chemicals.
    I live in Toronto area And you have given me great motivation to start to declutter too

  2. I love your comment about paper napkins. Many years ago I invested in about 20 terry cloth fingertip size towels and we’re still using them for napkins. They last several meals then I chuck them in the next wash load. I keep paper around for backup but a package lasts YEARS!

    I am newly retired and my goal is to completely declutter my house by year’s end. Wish me luck.

  3. We don’t use bleach in our home because it is bad for septic systems! I do use the vinegar/water solution but I’d love a homemade cleaner that is good for greasy kitchen messes as well as for bathroom cleaning!

  4. My bad habit is resisting getting started. I put too much thought into HOW and HOW MUCH I’m going to do, but if I can just BEGIN then I’m fine and the job is over–unless it’s dusting: that sabotages my good mood every time.

    Thanks, Melissa. So proud that you are Canadian, making a splash in the big, wide world.

  5. I’m trying to figure out why my dishes don’t come out clean, particularly my utensils. I’ve started making sure the eating parts are facing up, although I can’t do anything about my knives. I’m not sure, but they may need to be hand-washed if I can’t figure out a solution to the soapy residue that remains on most of them. And my dishes often have marks on them or somehow didn’t get clean. I live in a hard-water area, in a studio apartment. What do you suggest I try?

  6. I hardly ever use bleach. If I use it, it’s in the toilet to disinfect. Infact, maybe I buy one gallon of bleach a year.

    I prefer ammonia. Ammonia takes out protein stains, doesn’t discolor anything and whatever I clean smells great after rinsed and clean.

    I say, go, Melissa, ‘tell those guys if they use a dirty mop, they’re just spreading ‘around dirt!!!!!

  7. Great video! When I got my HE washer, I learned the lesson of too much product actually trapping bacteria and making your washing machine seals/surfaces dirtier and super smelly. Some people toss the washers because they never get it clean and it smell like a babies diaper all the time. The bleach thing, I’ve almost stopped using bleach entirely because of the assault on my breathing, skin, drips on my clothing, and the towel industry says never to use bleach as it eats through the fabrics and ultimately ruins the towel. I only use it in the toilet now once in a while. I was raised in a household that used bleach on everything and have had to break that habit. General cleaning with your homemade solutions works super well I breathe so much better. Thank you Melissa!

  8. I am curious as to what kind of cleaner you were using in the spray bottles in your video. Was it a homemade solution and if so, do you share the recipe?

  9. I clean with bleach all the time and clean my dishes with bleach as well. But after this video im not uaing bleach anymore. Sometimes i just feel like all purpose cleaners dont clean ! If that makes sense at all. Great video im guilty ????

  10. I use bleach! I hate germs, and I know that bleach is one of the only things that kills viruses that cause stomach illness. I usually spray it on my toilet and kitchen sink a few times per week to disinfect, and then clean them separately as well.

  11. Hi, great video! ???????? so my guess is you do not use bleach because of the toxic chemicals? What about the candles you are burning on the mantle? Those a very toxic, please read up on that. Just concerned for your breathing environment too!

  12. I’d like an answer to a question that my husband and I discuss all the time. If a manufacturer of laundry product says to use a full cup of whatever, is a whole cup really necessary or are they just selling more product? We are reminded of the old “rinse and repeat” printed on shampoo bottles when it was found that your hair was clean the first time and the second was just to make you buy more shampoo faster. Your comment about piling excessive detergents on top of dirty laundry, is a common debate between us.

    • Cup and scoop are sort of the same thing in the laundry detergent world. Using the cap is a good place holder for an actual measuring cup. You probably don’t need so much detergent. I’d suggest experimenting a little to see how much works best for your washing machine since that can play a huge role in how much you need for each load. Thanks for your comment!


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