It’s spring cleaning season again. As you prepare to tackle some of the toughest cleaning jobs in your house, it’s worth taking a look at some of the things we do (or don’t do) that make the job more difficult than it has to be. Here’s our list of the top 8 most common cleaning mistakes, in no particular order: 1. You spray and wipe in five seconds. The ingredients in most household cleaning agents take time to act, so if your cleaning regiment follows the five-second rule, it’s possible you’re not getting the full effect. Check the label for the “dwell time,” which will tell you how long to leave the cleaner. 2. You don’t use rubber gloves. You may have them, but how often do you actually use them? The chemicals in cleaners can irritate your skin or be absorbed into your body. Your best bet is to put on rubber gloves whenever you use chemical cleaners, and then wash your hands immediately afterward. 2. You don’t clean your dishwasher. You can’t clean dishes with a dirty dishwasher, and contrary to popular belief, simply running the dishwasher while it’s full won’t clean it. Every month or so, run your dishwasher empty on the hottest setting, with nothing but a shallow bowl of white vinegar on the top shelf. The vinegar will thoroughly disinfect your dishwasher’s innards. 3. You clean down low, but not up high. Ever wonder where all that dust comes from? Most likely, it starts up high in places you never clean – the ceiling fan, on top of the fridge, on the highest shelves of your bookcase – and gets scattered about the room. Take some extra time to clean those hard-to-reach spots, and you’ll be rewarded with less housework all-around. 4. You don’t throw out your sponges and dishcloths often enough. Rather than helping to wipe up messes, that old sponge or cleaning rag may actually be spreading germs and bacteria. If they get wet on regular basis, you should be replacing them every two weeks, tops. 5. You scrub spills out of your carpet. All you’re doing is pushing the stain deeper. Try blotting instead. For nasty spills, pour some soda water on the affected area first to draw out the stain. 6. You use paper towels for everything. They shouldn’t be used for every job. When cleaning glass, coffeepots and mirrors, consider using coffee filters, which won’t leave streaks or lint behind. To clean window shades, use an old dryer sheet – it will create a static layer that repels dust. 8. You don’t clean your pillows. Yes, pillows can be cleaned. In fact, they should be cleaned at least twice a year to prevent them from becoming breeding grounds for bacteria. Most down and synthetic fibre pillows can be machine-washed (check the label). Use a mild liquid detergent rather than a powder to avoid leaving behind residue, and run the rinse cycle twice to ensure a thorough clean. Dry the pillows on low heat, and throw in a couple of tennis balls wrapped in socks to re-fluff them.