When it comes to cleaning, most people either love it or hate it. If you fall in the latter camp, we’ve got great news! There are probably several things in your house that you’ve actually been cleaning too much. Who knew? Spend your regained time doing something you actually love. And for those who do love cleaning (who are you?), think of it this way — you can spend less time on these things, and really get to focus on other areas of your home. It’s a win-win for either party.
1. Your cast iron
If you buy a cast-iron pan secondhand and it’s rusted and covered in grime, then you may indeed need to use some soap and steel wool to get it in shape before reseasoning it before use. But in general, you don’t need to use soap to wash cast iron at all. Instead, use hot water and a sponge to clean the skillet right after using it, using a paste of salt and water if you need a little extra scrubbing power (never soak it in water — it might start to rust). Rinse, dry and lightly coat the pan in oil and you’re done.
2. Your hands
You should always wash your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, before and after preparing food or eating and after handling garbage. But washing your hands too much can actually make you more susceptible to harmful germs and bacteria. That’s because your body needs to come into contact with certain germs and allergens in order to build up resistance to them, something that’s especially important in children. Overwashing can also cause dry, cracked skin — and those cracks can actually let more germs into your body. Use common sense with washing your hands, but don’t go overboard with the hand sanitizer or feel like you need to wash them after touching almost everything.
3. Wood furniture
Wood furniture is sensitive. Use too much water, and you can cause water spots and warping, use too much furniture polish (like Pledge), and you can end up getting a silicone buildup on the wood that causes its surface to appear dull and feel slightly tacky. Instead, use a microfiber cloth to dust wooden furniture regularly, and if it seems to need a little something extra, opt for a furniture polish that’s free of wax and silicone. You shouldn’t bother doing so more than once a week at most.
4. Your bathing suit
If you throw your bathing suit in the washing machine after each swim, you’re probably going through suits much faster than you need to. Because bathing suits are elastic, strong detergent and the frantic motion of the machine can stretch things out permanently. Instead, rinse your bathing suit in cold water and let it soak for about 30 minutes after each swim. If you were swimming in a pool and weren’t wearing sunscreen, you can get by with washing your suit once every two to three swims. Then, or if you’ve swam in the ocean or were wearing sunscreen, wash your suit in cool water by hand with a gentle detergent or one made for spandex material. Lay flat to dry. Never put a swimsuit in the dryer — the heat damages the fabric.
5. Your jeans
You only need to wash your jeans once they start to smell. Any more than that can cause them to discolor and it wastes water, any less and the fabric can actually soften too much and be more prone to tearing.
6. Your dishes (if you have a dishwasher)
Most people don’t realize this, but if your dishwasher works properly, you do not need to prerinse your dishes. Doing so only wastes water. Instead, scrape food off your dishes before putting them in the wash. After each load, make sure there are no food pieces trapped in any of the filters, and get a dishwasher cleaning pod to run through your machine once a month so it stays sparkling.
7. Your floors
Regardless of floor type, you should keep washing with water to a minimum. Wood, linoleum, bamboo, cork, even tile — you just don’t need to wash with water that often. It can get into cracks, grout lines and subflooring, leading to mold and warping. Instead, sweep, dry mop and spot-clean when you need to, doing a full wet mop no more than once every two weeks (and even then, keep things more on the damp side rather than truly wet).
8. Painted cabinets
Like any painted surface, kitchen cabinets shouldn’t be exposed to too much moisture. Keep your cabinets from getting too grimy by wiping them down with a microfiber cloth when they need it and spot-cleaning with a sponge and warm water. Once a month or so, you can wipe them all down with a soft sponge or rag using a solution of warm water and just a few drops of dish soap followed by a swipe with a damp rag and then a dry cloth.
While you definitely should wash your pillows about once every six months, washing them too much can cause the filling to get bunchy and lumpy. Instead, change your pillow cases frequently and fluff and let your pillows air out once a week or so to help eliminate dust.
You only really need to clean your windows one or two times a year. Cleaning them too often, especially when it’s sunny out, can lead to streaking and lint buildup. Most window cleaners aren’t exactly a treat for the environment or your lungs, either, so it’s best to limit their use. If your windows are really filthy, try washing them from the outside with a power washer or a squeegee and hot soapy water — doing that just once a year can dramatically decrease how often you feel you need to clean them inside because that outdoor grime is what can cause the glass to look dirty from the inside.