6 Things You've Been Cleaning Wrong

Don't jam the dishwasher!housThe cleaning habits you've been using for years may not be as efficient as you'd think. Correct these common mistakes and get a better clean with our tips, plus advice from Carolyn Forté, Director of the GHRI Home Appliances and Cleaning Products Department.

Related: 8 Cleaners That Need Cleaning

1. Dishes, glasses, and utensils
Don't fall into the habit of jamming items in the dishwasher like in a game of Tetris. Utensils nested together won't get an even washing, so alternate placing spoons handles up and down, but keep forks tines up for best cleaning. In addition, make sure not to mix silver and stainless steel flatware, as the silver could get pitted if they touch. Never stack items, either, because the water spray won't be able to reach the dishes on top. Place extra-dirty items on the bottom rack facing the center so they're near the spray arm. And if you're using a detergent pod, place it in the dispenser - if tossed in, it'll dissolve too quickly.

2. Shower curtain liner
There's no need to throw away your shower curtain liner once it's dirty, says Forté. Simply toss it in your washing machine, set to hot water on a gentle cycle, along with some old towels and a dose of bleach to remove any mildew. Hang it up to dry, or put it in the dryer for a minute or two to speed up the process.

Related: 10 Hidden Germ Spots You Should Always Avoid

3. Carpet and upholstery stains
Your instinct may be to spray cleaner right on the stain, but that can over-wet and damage the carpet or fabric and make it hard to rinse out. Instead, spray a cloth with the cleaner and gently dab the area until the stain is gone. Rinse the same way with a clean cloth dipped in cool water.

4. Windows
Don't make the mistake of cleaning windows on a sunny day - they'll dry too quickly and leave behind streaks. On a cloudy day, start by sweeping the window, frame, and screen with a brush; or, vacuum with the dusting attachment to eliminate dirt and avoid a mud pile-up. While some may suggest using newspaper as a cleaning tool, the GHRI doesn't recommend that since it can be messy. Stick to microfiber cloths for the cleanest clean!

Related: 8 Things You Think Are Dirty - But Really Aren't

5. Clothes
A common mistake is generously pouring laundry detergent or fabric softener into the machine - excess liquids won't helping your clothes, appliance, or skin. Always measure carefully and follow the recommendations for the size and/or soil level on the load you are doing (most loads are medium to large), says Forté. If the load is extra-large or dirty, add a little more detergent and/or softener.

6. Electronics
Cell phones, iPods, and other handheld tech devices are bound to get sticky, but it's never a good idea to spray them with a cleaner. A microfiber cloth is best for cleaning LCD screens. Forté suggests using a dry Swiffer cloth to dust them and remove smudges.

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