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Living Space: Top 10 cleaning myths you need to know

Sept. 22, 2011 at 4:22 a.m.

Multiple cleaners are no longer necessary. Many multipurpose cleaners can be used on surfaces from stainless steel to tile, glass and wood.

By Kathryn Weber

Everyone wants a clean house and that light, bright, sanitized feeling you get from commercials for household cleaners. But is all that cleaning realistic - or necessary? Sometimes it is, and sometimes, it's actually harmful.

Review these myths about keeping a clean house:

Myth 1. Sanitize your toilet. There's no point in trying to sanitize a toilet other than the seat, and even then, it's unlikely you'll get it completely sterilized. Aim for clean, but germ-free? Never.

Myth 2. Clean the disposal in your kitchen sink. Unless you seldom run the disposal, there's no real reason to clean it. To freshen, simply run a cut lemon through the disposal.

Myth 3. Regularly shampoo carpets. This is a major mistake. It's best not to clean carpets unless they really need it and have big stains. Even then, it's better not to use soaps or cleaners at all, but hot steam. If you rent a carpet-cleaning machine, look for one that uses heated water and skip the soap, or hire a carpet cleaning company that steam cleans.

Myth 4. Use specialty cleaners for different surfaces. Besides cluttering up your cabinets, multiple cleaners are no longer necessary. Many multipurpose cleaners can be used on surfaces from stainless steel to tile, glass and wood.

Myth 5. Remove silver tarnish by dipping. Graduate gemologist Jessica Kendrick (jessicasjools.com) says tarnish dips can ruin your silver.

"It's sad, but I buy a lot of ruined silver that's been dipped to sell as scrap," says Kendrick. "Once silver is dipped, the surface is altered on a microscopic level and forever loses its beautiful patina." Kendrick recommends a gentle cream cleanser as a better, safer option that won't harm silver. "It takes more time than dipping, but it also won't ruin your family heirloom," she notes.

Myth 6. You can wet mop sealed wood floors. Even new floors with heavy-duty sealants are no match for water that can seep into crevices and become destructive. Always select products made for wood, use them lightly and never with a saturated pad because water-based wood cleaners can damage floors, too.

Myth 7. Clean your drapes regularly. Drapes almost never need cleaning, and if you do wash them or have them cleaned, they may not hang right again. Vacuum and shake out drapes to remove dust and let them air out on a sunny day, but out of direct sunlight to freshen them up.

Myth 8. Cleaners can remove hard water spots in glass showers. Prevention is the key here. It's better to use a hard water spot preventer, such as Rain-X, that can be reapplied. The best cleaner for sparkling glass showers? A squeegee after every shower.

Myth 9. Smelling clean is clean. Remember, you can't spray on clean. Clean only happens with elbow grease. Vacuuming, dusting and wiping down surfaces is the only way clean happens.

Myth 10. Comforters can be washed in the machine. This myth is especially true of fiber-filled comforters. Even if the label says washable, don't chance it. Always dry clean bed comforters to avoid a balled, lumpy mess.

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui E-zine. For more information, contact Weber through her website, www.redlotusletter.com.

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