lifestyle

Cleaning scientist reveals which popular hacks actually work and which are a waste of time


Some cleaning hacks won’t work (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

With some time off over the Christmas holidays and not a lot to do, it might be time to give your home a bit of a clean.

But if you’ve been meaning to try out some cleaning hacks, you might want to think again.

Dr Richard Hastings, a leading expert in microbiology and infection prevention at Hycolin, says some popular cleaning trends are a waste of time, while others will do the job but not actually kill germs.

To help, he has myth-busted some of the most popular suggestions so you know what is actually worth trying.

Can you clean the toilet bowl with Coca-Cola?

Dr Hastings says: ‘While cleaning the toilet bowl with Coca-Cola will make it appear sparkling clean, it won’t actually help in eliminating bacteria.

‘Coca-Cola has been recommended for cleaning toilets because most carbonated drinks contain citric and phosphoric acids. These acids help to dissolve rusty deposits and other stains to help your toilet look clean, however they do not actually help eradicate any bacteria which has accumulated around the bowl. It may also leave a sticky residue which you will have to clean up afterwards.

‘While Coca-Cola could be used occasionally as a stain treatment, it is best to stick to traditional antiviral toilet cleaners for regular cleanings. This will help ensure the toilet is thoroughly disinfected and free from germs and viruses.’

Should you put lemon in the dishwasher?

Dr Hastings says : ‘Adding lemon to the dishwasher will make your dishes smell fresh, however it won’t do anything to make them cleaner. The amount of juice in a wedge of lemon is not enough to make a difference with the volume of water going through the dishwasher.

‘All you need to effectively clean your dishes is a good detergent and rinse aid; if your dishes are still not coming out clean, then I would recommend switching to a different detergent brand.’

Should you sanitise your sponges in the microwave?

Dr Hastings says: ‘This cleaning hack is based on the science that high temperatures can kill bacteria.

‘While it is true that bacteria are rapidly killed over temperatures of 65C, the temperature needed to eradicate all pathogens in the centre of the sponge would result in it being incinerated.

‘When a sponge is heated for a short amount of time in the microwave, a percentage of bacteria can still survive in the centre, as a microwave heats from the outside in.

‘These bacteria will then recolonise the sponge and may potentially become more dangerous. The best options for cleaning your home are microfibre cloths which can be cleaned in the washer after use.’

Does mixing baking soda and vinegar make an effective multi-purpose cleaner?

Dr Hastings says: ‘Baking Soda and vinegar make great individual cleaning products for stain removal. However, when you mix the two substances together, they become much less effective. This is because vinegar is an acid and baking soda is a base.

‘When these two substances are mixed, the baking soda takes a proton from the vinegar, which causes it to just transform into water and carbon dioxide. Many people believe that the fizz created by this reaction helps to remove dirt or grime, however, as the two products have neutralised each other, they are just producing further mess.’

Can you use lemons to deodorise your rubbish bins?

Dr Hastings says: ‘It is important to deep clean your bins on a regular basis, to ensure they are free from germs and bacteria. I would recommend washing and disinfecting the bin thoroughly with hot water and an antiviral liquid disinfectant.

‘Alternatively, sprinkling some baking soda at the bottom of the bin with a little added water will help to dissolve any grime build-ups which could be causing unpleasant smells.

‘As a temporary solution, citrus fruits such as lemons and limes will help to deodorise your bins. Simply cut the fruit peel into segments and place into the rubbish bin every couple of days to keep unpleasant smells at bay.’

Is bicarbonate of soda effective for cleaning?

Dr Hastings says: ‘Bicarbonate of soda is a gentle abrasive and great natural deodoriser. When mixed with water, it will form a paste that can be used to absorb odours in the fridge as well as clean countertops, microwaves, and stainless-steel sinks.

‘The base paste of bicarbonate of soda is highly effective at removing odours because they are usually caused by acidic liquids or gases.

‘This means when the base bicarbonate of soda mixes with the acidic odour causing compound, the odour becomes neutralised and loses its scent.

‘Bicarbonate of soda is ideal for dislodging grime particles and removing stains because unlike normal soap which contains fat molecules to make it less harsh, bicarbonate of soda is mildly abrasive and can therefore effectively break up tough stains.

‘Whilst bicarbonate of soda is an effective stain remover, it’s important to remember it doesn’t eliminate bacteria. You should follow your clean with a disinfectant.’

Can white vinegar help with limescale?

Dr Hastings says: ‘Mixing up a spray bottle filled halfway with water and halfway with half distilled white vinegar can help to remove limescale on all different types of surfaces.

‘For a build-up of limescale of taps and basins, wrap a cloth soaked in the vinegar solution around the tap and leave it overnight. Use an old toothbrush to scrub away and reside and then rinse clean with water. However, do not use a vinegar solution on plated taps as the vinegar is far too acidic.

‘White vinegar will leave your taps sparkling but it will not eliminate all the bacteria which can build up on household objects.

‘It is therefore important to regularly disinfect your house with an antiviral cleaning solution to ensure your home is kept germ and virus free.

‘There are numerous cleaning products on the market so it’s important to do your research.

‘When choosing cleaning products, make sure you select those which contain both antiviral and antibacterial properties that are strong enough to tackle multiple strains of bacteria and viruses.’

Do you have a tip to share?

Get in touch at metrolifestyleteam@metro.co.uk.


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