Cleaning Tips You Should Never Try, According To Experts

The internet is full of fun content, like Irish dancing with a Southern twist, funny animal moments, and loads of genius food ideas like how to make a Chick-fil-A Crunchwrap. Social media sites have also become a go-to source for cleaning hacks, like this TikTok video about cleaning the little crumb-catching tray under your toaster. However, you can’t believe everything you see on the internet, and that is particularly true when it comes to taking advice from strangers online. We spoke to cleaning experts about some of these viral tricks, and it turns out not every cleaning hack is all it’s cracked up to be.

Don’t Use Mouthwash as a Cleaning Product

“The funniest (and most dangerous) home laundry hack that we’ve come across is a TikTok trend using mouthwash to clean your washing machine. That’s because the acidity in most mouthwash products can cause damage to the washing machine itself and even break certain components that allow the washing machine to run. This applies to all washing machines, but especially front-loaders, given the location of the machine parts. Aside from this, if several rinse cycles aren’t run after putting mouthwash through the washing machine, residue from the mouthwash could end up staining garments. As an alternative to this TikTok hack, we recommend sanitizing your washing machine with a bit of white vinegar,” says Jonathon Reckless of

Don’t Vacuum Up Liquid Spills

“One viral cleaning hack involves using a vacuum to clean up liquids like spilled drinks or pet messes. While this may seem like a quick and easy solution, it can damage your vacuum and create a safety hazard. Wet/dry vacuums are designed to handle liquids, but regular vacuums are not. Vacuuming up liquids can damage the motor, clog the filters, and even create a risk of electrocution. It’s important to always clean up liquids with a towel or mop, and only use a wet/dry vacuum when cleaning up spills,” says John Larson, Cleaning Expert and Blogger at Best Cleaning Tools.

Don’t Use Baking Soda To Clean Your Toilet

“While baking soda works wonders for some hard to remove stains and grease, it is not ideal for cleaning toilets. It would take a LOT of baking soda to clean a dirty toilet with hard water stains, and would also be more expensive than many other cleaning products. For newer and milder stains, a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar may do the trick. Overall, baking soda is not the best method to remove hard water stains in toilets,” says Birgit Rutledge, owner of the 360clean franchise in Memphis, Tennessee. “I have found the most efficient method is a scouring stick (soft pumice stone) and Bar Keepers Friend. Both can be found at many grocery and hardware stores.”

Don’t Use Vinegar To Clean Natural Stone Counters

“I shudder for natural stone countertops everywhere when I hear about people using vinegar as a natural cleaner. While it’s true that vinegar is a quality cleaning product for many surfaces, and that it’s much simpler and less hazardous than other chemical cleaners, you should never, ever use vinegar on natural stone surfaces like marble or granite. Vinegar is an acid, and it’s going to react with these surfaces, eating away at them and creating pits. Never, ever use vinegar on natural stone countertops,” says Nick Valentino, VP of Market Operations at Bellhop Movers.

Don’t Tumble Dry Pillows

“One viral tip from TikTok told viewers to tumble dry their pillows. That may keep them fresh, but it sadly breaks down the structure and integrity of the pillow. Especially memory foam pillows. Gently wash them in the bath and let them air dry outside. Nothing more is needed,” says Larry Snider, VP of Operations of Casago Sedona Vacation Rentals.

Don’t Fill Your Air Fryer with Soapy Water

“One viral cleaning tip that definitely doesn’t work is filling your air fryer basket with soapy water and turning it on to clean it. Not only is this exceptionally dangerous (air fryers are electric, after all), but it could also damage the air fryer’s inner workings. Skip this shortcut and stick to traditional cleaning methods instead,” says Jon Stephens, Director of Operations at Snowshoe Vacation Rentals.

Don’t Clean with Toothpaste

“Cleaning with toothpaste has become a popular TikTok hack for removing stains from surfaces like sneakers and jewelry. While toothpaste can be effective at removing stains, it can also damage certain surfaces. For example, using toothpaste on silver jewelry can leave scratches or damage the surface, and using it on leather can cause discoloration or damage to the material. It’s important to read the manufacturer’s instructions and only use toothpaste on surfaces that are safe to clean with this product,” says Larson.

Don’t Use Toilet Gel Deodorizer To Keep Your Trash Bin Smelling Fresh

“Toilet gel deodorizers are specifically designed to freshen up the air in a bathroom by reducing odor-causing bacteria, and they may not work as well in a trash bin. Additionally, these products may contain chemicals that could be harmful if they come into contact with your skin or eyes. A better alternative for keeping your trash bin smelling fresh is to use a specialized trash bin deodorizer or odor eliminator,” says Angela Lee from Hellamaid.

Don’t Use a Washcloth for Fabric Softener

“There’s a viral TikTok laundry hack that shows people soaking a washcloth in fabric softener, wringing it out, and tossing it in the dryer instead of using dryer sheets. While this sounds like a good plan on the surface because washcloths are reusable, it could lead to your garments becoming stained with splotches because the distribution of fabric softener throughout the machine is not even,” says Jonathon Reckless of

Mix Cleaning Products Carefully

“The viral TikTok cleaning trend that had me appalled was people dumping mounds of cleaning supplies in their toilet to clean it. They used everything they had in the house and made a soupy mess. Not only is this mess a waste of money, but it’s also highly toxic. Mixing cleaning solutions and powders is very dangerous. It can create toxic fumes that can cause damage to your lungs and even death. And in such a small space as a bathroom, these fumes can easily overwhelm you. Stick with one cleaning product for the toilet,” says Sara San Angelo, aka The Cleaning Lady.

Don’t Use Steel Wool to Clean Stainless Steel

“Steel wool may seem like a good option for cleaning tough stains on stainless steel, but it can actually scratch the surface and damage the finish. Instead, use a non-abrasive cleaner and a soft cloth to clean stainless steel surfaces,” says interior designer Keith Melanson of the Renos Group.

Don’t Use Vinegar To Clean Electronics

“While vinegar can be useful for cleaning many surfaces, it should not be used to clean electronics. The acid in the vinegar can damage the sensitive components of the device and cause irreversible damage,” says Melanson.

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