Believe it or not, it’s actually possible to clean too much. Whether it means you’re cleaning an item too often or cleaning it more than necessary, over-cleaning is a surefire way to waste time and energy—and sometimes, ruin your stuff.
To prove our point, we rounded up some examples of everyday items that we can pretty much guarantee you’re cleaning too much. From jeans to dishes—yes dishes!—read ahead for seven things you should reconsider washing so frequently.
1. Wood Furniture
Who knew spraying your wood furniture too often could actually make it dirtier? Turns out wax-based sprays—you, know the kinds specially formulated for wiping down wood—can forge an oily buildup that attracts more dust and dirt when used more than once or twice monthly. So before you plan your next wood-cleaning spree, consider simply using a dry cloth instead.
Look, we love sparkling clean dishes as much as the next person, but the truth is: you’re wasting your time with excessive pre-rinsing or pre-soaking. While it might seem like a quick rinse or soak in the sink before cleaning is expediting your dishwashing process, in reality it doesn’t take much soap to disinfect your dishes—so your best bet is to just clean them in one fell swoop, and if you’re lucky, in a dishwasher.
3. Cast iron pans
It’s only natural to want to clean your dirty cast iron pans with dish soap, but you won’t be doing them—or your dinner—any favors. Dish soap is notorious for stripping cast iron pans and skillets of the seasonings they accumulate with cooking over time. So spare yourself from the unnecessary time drain (and blasé meal) and use some kosher salt and water instead.
Dirty jean-wearers rejoice: Your lack of cleanliness is surprisingly common and likely prolonging the life of your beloved blue jeans. Made of super durable denim, jeans are actually designed to withstand long periods of time without washing and actually break down and lose their shape when they’re cleaned too much.
5. Your Hair
Did you know that up until the late 1800s, most people only washed their hair about once a month? According to advocates of the “no-poo movement,” shampooing your locks too often can strip your hair of its natural oils, while wasting a ton of water. “No-poo” proponents suggest washing your hair with just water (or a gentle alternative like baking soda) on a regular basis to improve the texture of your hair over time (and ultimately, save the environment).
6. Your Carpet
When you spill something on your carpet, it’s easy to want to over-saturate the stain with cleaning solution. However, using too much cleaner too often can quickly weaken and damage your carpet. So instead of dousing your carpet with cleanser the next time you spot a stain, opt for a more natural solution—such as diluted apple cider vinegar—before you destroy it by over-cleaning.
7. Your Hands
Okay, we know this one is going to be a little controversial but bear with us. Research suggests that although it’s important to wash your hands with soap and water after using the restroom and before eating or preparing food, excessive hand-washing and hand sanitizer use can eliminate healthy immune-building bacteria on your hands and in turn, make it easier for antibiotic-resistant bugs to enter your system. Translation: Washing your hands when necessary is good—but washing them too often could actually make you sick.