Cleaning Expert Debunks Popular Cleaning Myths

It’s easy to put out an article about cleaning tips and tricks online. Why? Because, who’s vetting it? Nobody! Here at Clean My Space, we have a whole team who, at any given time, might be researching several video and/or article concepts that we’re preparing to produce. As a cleaning expert, I want everything we put out to be factual and truthful. We also want it to be the most current so that anytime you read something from us you know you’re getting good information. That said, there are cleaning tips, tricks and hacks out there that just aren’t true—and it bothers us! So, I’m going to dispel some of those cleaning myths, and—full transparency—we’re going to debunk one that we actually used for years, but some recent reports have been released which have made us change our ways.

Handwashing Dishes Saves Water

When I meet someone who says that they prefer to hand wash their dishes instead of putting them in the dishwasher—even when they have a dishwasher—I shake my head. Let me tell you why. If your dishwasher was produced in the last 10 years or so, and it has the Energy Star rating on it… let me tell you a few things. First of all, your dishwasher is going to clean your dishes much faster and more effectively than you could if you were to hand wash them. But you might say, “Oh, I only have a couple of dishes. I can just quickly hand wash them and be done with it.” Well, if you put even half a load of dishes in your dishwasher and run it through, you will be saving a ton of water compared to handwashing those dishes. A study done by the EPA says that you can save an average of 5,000 gallons of water a year (and 230 hours of personal time) by using a dishwasher. An added note about using the dishwasher: your dishwasher reaches temperatures hot enough to sanitize. If you’re handwashing something, even if you wear gloves and crank that water up really high, you’re never going to get a temperature hot enough to sanitize.

cleaning sponges

Sponge Cleaning

In the past, you’ve heard me talk about different ways to sanitize your sponge, and if you look up how to do it online you’ll find a number of solutions which purportedly kill bacteria that lingers in the average sponge, things like:

  1. You can boil a sponge;
  2. Put them in the dishwasher;
  3. Microwave it in a bowl of water.

Well, I’ve recently come across a study that takes these solutions and basically negates them—all of them! Essentially, you can take a sponge and use these sanitization methods but you will only ever kill about 60% of the bacteria contained in that sponge. If you think about the structure of a sponge, it’s cellular—it’s got all those little holes. Well, it’s very easy for bacteria to burrow it’s way in there and never come out. The conclusion of this study was basically that we need to change our sponges out on a weekly basis (assuming you use it frequently). I’m not one for waste, I’m not one for throwing things out, but after reading this study and after learning about how brimming with bacteria sponges are—and often with dangerous types of bacteria like staph, coliform, E. coli, mold, and yeast—this is stuff you don’t want lingering in your kitchen. So, bottom line, take that sponge and replace it on the regular.

cleaning products

Fragrance-Free vs Unscented

For those of you who are concerned about scents or fragrance in products, I understand. You might have allergies, you might get migraines or some other sort of uncomfortable reaction, or you just might not like fragrance. When you see the term fragrance-free and unscented, I need you to know that those two are not interchangeable—they do not mean the same thing. Unscented means that a product has added fragrance to mask the smell of the base ingredients in the product. So, even though you don’t smell anything, keep in mind that the company has used chemicals to neutralize any smell. On the other hand, a product that is fragrance-free has indeed had nothing added to it. In this case, the product may have an odor, this is the unmasked base ingredients that you’re smelling.

Feather Dusters

If you haven’t seen an actual feather duster being used for cleaning, that’s because the last time they were relevant was in Beauty and the Beast. Aside from that, feather dusters really aren’t the most effective way to clean. When I started my cleaning service back in 2006 and I was doing initial research on the best cleaning methods out there (this was before I learned about microfiber cloths), feather dusters were still a thing. So, I went to the janitorial supply shop and I bought a professional ostrich feather duster. While it worked well enough, I noticed that it also put quite a bit of dust in the air which meant more work down the line because all of that dust was eventually going to settle on the floor. Whereas, using something more contemporary like a premium microfiber cloth, which traps dust and locks it in, is a much more effective solution. So, when you hear someone talking about using a feather duster, maybe suggest microfiber as a solution instead.



I used to think that any time I recycled an item I was doing a good deed for the planet. The truth is, it just doesn’t work that way anymore. Just because you’re putting an item in the recycling bin doesn’t mean that you’re keeping that item out of a landfill. Recent policy changes in places like China have resulted in a fairly dire situation across much of the United States when it comes to recycling. We are now facing mass amounts of recycled materials that have no end-use. So, in fact, a lot of recyclable materials are now going straight to landfill. This is the leading reason why so many companies are working on alternative solutions; whether it’s premium reusable packaging (circular economy), or most importantly: reducing, refusing, and reusing before recycling. The day is coming when we’re going to be told that we can’t recycle things anymore—there will be no more room for it! So, remember, the best thing that you can do for the environment is to find ways to reduce rather than recycle.

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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. I too would like to know WHY?? boiling sponges doesn’t work….if bacteria can get into all the little holes why can’t the boiling water get in the holes just as good too. …especially if you boil the sponges for at least half an hour??
    Also I use chux cloths instead and boil them. …does boiling chux cloths kill ALL germs??

  2. I noticed you washed the bowl by hand, before placing in the dishwasher! I read somewhere that this takes away the efficiency of the dishwashing tablets. You should only scape off solid particles. Any comments to this?

  3. I really love Melissa and this site along with her YouTube channel, but I have to disagree with the sponge study. I honestly I’m so tired of the “experts” changing their minds, especially these days when sometimes it just seems a profit is to be made (by purchasing more sponges). I would question: (1) the date of the study which for me would be very important because was it before the pandemic or after? (2) who did the study? (3) is the company (or companies) involved in the study involved with makings sponges? (4) what exactly is the “study”? (5) how did the study determine the sponges weren’t deeply disinfected… and oh so many more questions. I learned a long time ago as a researcher in college my second time around to not simply trust studies right off the bat. There’s lots of questions that need answering.

    For myself, I switch out all my sponges once a month but I disinfect the sometimes twice a day. Depending upon what I used the sponge for, sometimes I disinfected them in vinegar, sometimes in oxygen bleach, sometimes in bleach, etc. Also, I have different sponges for different household jobs: (1) a sponge for pet dishes (2) a sponge for “human” dishes (3) a kitchen counter sponge (4) a sponge to clean the kitchen sink, etc. etc. etc. Same goes for my bathroom sponges. I have different ones for different jobs in the bathroom. Also, I repurpose some of my “old” but deeply disinfected kitchen sponges to be used in the bathroom and then tossed depending upon the job completed in the bathroom. As well, I let my deeply disinfected sponges dry out completely, sometimes putting them in a sunny window, etc. etc. etc. I don’t think anything in this world is ever going to be completely disinfected and I’d rather reduce what gets thrown away. Furthermore, I’m concerned our society is becoming more than a bit obsessive about germs, viruses, etc. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do our best to disinfect as much as we can but to realize that bacteria, germs, viruses are all over the place, including inside of us. We’re made up of the earth. Hard not to have all those things in us.

    So, my philosophy, do the best that we can, reduce waste as much as we can, disinfect as best we can. And finally, enjoy life as best as we can.


  4. I’m concerned about replacing sponges so regularly; and I don’t even use them much. I use cloths, but same principle. Why would you not soak them overnight in a disinfectant solution? there are plenty that destroy 99.9% of bugs, including all those you mentioned in the article.

    Once a week, I put whatever I’ve been using in the sink overnight with a generous dash of disinfectant. In the morning, all clean plus the sink was disinfected too. Why would you not do that? Curious, given our stand on waste.

  5. I’m a new fan on subscribing to this site. :)) I’m moving to a newer home with mortgage and I’m so excited but also nervous on losing a lot of my savings. I am researching in Google and YouTube on ways for me to save money again and at the same time maintain the newfound place efficiently and less time. I’m glad I found Melissa Maker’s videos! Very detailed and super informative…my research have ended successfully and calmly. :))

  6. I’m surprised to see you clean running shoes in your kitchen sink. How do you sanitize your sink afterwards. Shoes worn on the strre and in parks pick up fecal matter. Repulsive! I have been following you for years and this is the first time I say NO!..Do it out side or over newspapers please.

  7. I too would love a video about recycling. I still have doubts about what plastics and items are recyclable. I am so disgusted that styrofoam goes into the regular garbage and yet so many restaurants use it for take out, which everyone is getting these days. So wasteful. Your videos are excellent. I have used cellulose sponges for years…..not anymore! Thanks.

  8. I’d be interested in a video about the recycling industry. I live in the states, so it would be great to learn information that would be useful here, too. Thanks! Your videos are very helpful to those of us who now have to do their own cleaning during civil-19. Stay safe!

  9. I would love to see a video about the process of recycling. I spend a lot of time and effort recycling most everything. It’s disheartening to hear that it might not be making as big an impact as I think. Very informative video. Thank you

  10. I am in love with this article. There are so many of these that i have tried before and they haven’t worked so I’ve been like “am i doing this right” and then know you have busted them for me i know that i was actually doing it right, thank you for busting those myths.


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