From Spotlight: Target Your Spring Cleaning for the Payoff You Want

Spring Cleaning on a Budget: 4 Things to Stop Doing Now

Vinegar isn’t the be-all it pretends to be. Nor is lemon.

Large wooden kitchen island in front of chalk board
Image: Julie Kruger, photo/ Lokahi Home Designs, design

Hello, March — and spring cleaning season!

Save time and money and stay safe by putting a stop to these four cleaning habits that might be costing you.

#1 Stop Using Vinegar on Wood and Stone

From windows to laundry, vinegar is an eco-friendly cleaning powerhouse. But it's also an acid that can damage stone and wood. When cleaning your granite or marble countertops, use mild soap and warm water instead. It'd be a shame to ruin your carefully chosen kitchen materials.

And clean floors and furniture with only cleaners made for wood.

#2 Don't Use Lemon in the Disposal

Water running in white sink with lemons in garbage disposal.
Image: Anne Arntson for HouseLogic

While you may have heard running a lemon through your disposal will clean the blades, think twice before trusting that tip. It may indeed clean the appliance, but lemon's citric acid can also corrode the metal, while the peel can damage grinders and clog pipes.

Instead, turn on the water, run the disposal, and dump in a couple of trays of ice cubes. It's loud but effective, and a great way to spring clean on a budget.

Related: DIY Cleaners That Are Safe to Use

#3 Stop Using Hot Water in the Washer

Cabinets opened to reveal washing machine and supplies
Image: @lkathome

This is one time you shouldn't listen to Grandma. Today's laundry detergents clean more efficiently than ever in cold water.

Even though it might seem unlikely, winter's much-used blankets will get just as clean on the cold setting — and you'll save money on utilities, too.

Exceptions: When a family member is sick or you're washing dirty cloth diapers (or other nasty messes), then listen to Grandma. Use hot water mixed with chlorine bleach to kill all that icky bacteria.

#4 Don't Mix Bleach With Other Cleaning Agents

Bleach doesn't play well with other cleaning agents, so don't layer or create a custom blend with bleach and ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, acids, or other cleaners, says the Washington State Department of Health. The combo creates toxic chloramine gas, which can irritate eyes, nose, and throat, and even lead to death.

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Kelley Walters

Kelley Walters is a Southern writer and editor. She focuses on interior design and home improvement at outlets from HGTV to Paintzen. She lives in Italy a month every year, drinking Negronis and writing in internet cafes.