Cleaning Supplies Gone Bad

What are some cleaning supplies you should be replacing on a regular semi-annual basis?

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The MOST important thing to replace frequently is the tools you use to apply cleaner/or clean with. ie: sponges and microfiber rags. Sponges come in contact with millions of bacteria and germs, depending on where they are used. In a kitchen, sponges come in contact with e-coli, salmonella, and viruses due to a kitchen being such a high-touch area. The cost of a sponge runs around $1.00. At this price, you should be tossing your kitchen sponge once a week. You may have been told before that running your sponge through the dishwasher or nuking it in the microwave is a good alternative to replacing it, but those were different times. Today we are all about cleaning and disinfecting our spaces so the kitchen is priority number 1. So toss that sponge every 7 days! In a bathroom, if you are using a toilet brush to clean the toilet and using the sponge for sinks and tubs you could get away with tossing that sponge when it isn't effective anymore.

When cleaning a kitchen after handling chicken or anything that could have bacteria like salmonella, use something that can be washed or tossed. Like a microfiber rag or disposal cleaning wipes. Then use your sponge for scrubbing.

What happens if you are using “old” cleaning products?

Most products made up of a few basic ingredients (like Windex) can really hold their own for very long periods of time. They don’t break down or change when stored inside a home where the temperature is kept at a normal level. It's when you store items like Windex in a garage and forget about it, then decide to detail your car and go to use it on the windows that you may notice it leaves your glass somewhat streaky. This is due to the heat it was exposed to. After exposure, that may dry up the 4.0% alcohol that is the main ingredient. To ensure your products don't change in chemical makeup, be sure to store all cleaning products in a neutral temperature setting.

Items that will break down over time regardless of where you store them are liquids that appear to be thick and heavy when you pour them. This does affect the ability of the product to do the job it is intended to do. Items like Murphy’s Oil Soap and floor wax do not fair well if not used within a 2 year time period of being purchased. They become clumpy and separate and tend to take on a thin milky consistency. I myself have attempted to use a floor wax that had been stored away for years and the results were horrible. You will end up having to remove all of the wax and applying newly bought wax to the area.

Will it become dangerous with age if stored too long?

Items that become dangerous (anything in an aerosol can like Scrubbing Bubbles or stainless steel spray in a can for example) only become dangerous when left in areas where the temperature fluctuates. Example: A garage in the summer heat or winter cold can cause a can to explode. Many cleaning companies who carry supplies in their automobiles know that during peak heat and cold you need to bring your caddies in overnight or they will burst in your trunk.

Is there a good rule of thumb to remember to replace your cleaning supplies?

The best rule of thumb would be to find a core group of things that work for you (you should have about 6-8 items to clean your whole house top to bottom) and stick to them so you are constantly using them. Don’t get caught up in the hype of a new product and end up with 30 bottles under your kitchen sink. If you find your core group of products and end up with stuff you don’t love, gather them up and offer them for free to those who could use them, get them out of your home as they will end up going bad and becoming less effective.

Read the Martha Stewart article that Dirt Detectives contributed to on this topic.