5 Cleaning Myths You’ve Probably Fallen For
Our homes are our sanctuaries—and, ahem, in some instances offices, gyms, and classrooms—now more than ever. So, if you feel like you’ve become a pro at the endless dishes and deep cleaning treadmill loop (and maybe even grown to enjoy the meditative powers of getting in the full-blown cleaning zone), you’re probably right.
Or are you? According to consumer behavior research, including some done by P&G—the company behind rigorously designed and tested cleaning classics like Cascade, Dawn, and Swiffer—there are some common cleaning myths that are due to be busted, starting with misconceptions about water usage at home.
First and foremost, the facts: According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day at home, and roughly 70 percent of this use occurs indoors. Meanwhile, the World Resources Institute (WRI) found that in-home water usage is growing at a faster rate than every other sector, including agricultural and industrial water use. (Mind. Blown.)
And that doesn’t only have to do with how much time you prefer to spend in the shower. Cleaning is one of the biggest uses of water in your home—and when you think about doing laundry, washing dishes, and cleaning floors, this isn’t very surprising. The good news? There are steps you can take to minimize your impact—and one of them is being smart about the products you use.
“When we think about sustainability, we look at the total lifecycle of a product—including how it’s made and how it’s used, “says Morgan Brashear, senior scientist for home care at P&G. “Cascade, Dawn, and Swiffer are specifically designed and formulated to reduce the amount of water needed to clean your dishes and floors, which can reduce daily water use.” For more on that—plus five other cleaning myths, busted—read on to get schooled.
Keep scrolling for 5 cleaning myths you need to know about.
1. You have to give up a good clean to be more sustainable in your cleaning routine
Cleaning sustainably doesn’t mean you’re just going to have to accept so-so results. Swiffer WetJet, for example, effectively cleans dirt and grime off your floors, while saving up to 70 gallons of water per year compared to using a mop and bucket, according to the brand’s research. (If you just imagine lugging around said bucket and refilling it every time it gets murky versus a quick squirt of cleaning solution from your Swiffer, you get the picture.)
And the same goes for being choosey about your dish-washing strategy. “Dawn Powerwash can clean dishes with 50 percent less water for those who run the tap continually, so you can get through more dishes with less water and less dishwashing liquid,” Brashear says. Being able to step away from the sink in half the time? Just a bonus.
2. To truly be sustainable, you should avoid all chemicals
“The most important thing to realize is that everything is made of chemicals,” Brashear says. “If it is made of matter, it is made of chemicals—the water we drink, the herbs we grow, every part of our own physical bodies, and so on.”
That’s not to say you should use a handful of cilantro to clean your dirty dishes and expect it to go well, though. According to Brashear, you should choose products that have been tested—a lot.
“There is a lot of chemistry that goes into helping people safely get the clean they want the first time without the need to pre-clean or re-clean,” she says. “We ensure that our cleaning products are rigorously tested for safety before they make their way to store shelves.”
P&G’s team of 500+ scientists and researchers evaluate every possible scenario. “This process ensures product safety thresholds fall well below any danger zones, and that when used as directed, they are safe for children, pets, and the environment,” Brashear says. “Bottom line: We would never put something in your home that we wouldn’t want in ours.”
3. Washing dishes by hand is more sustainable than using a dishwasher
Is dishwasher guilt a thing? Because according to Brashear, it shouldn’t be. “A running sink can use up to 4 gallons of water every two minutes, while an ENERGY STAR-certified dishwasher uses less than 4 gallons of water per cycle,” she says. To put that even more into perspective: “Households can save more than 100 gallons of water per week simply by switching and using their dishwasher. That’s over 5,000 gallons in a year, equivalent to over 80,000 glasses of water.”
Another water-wasting culprit you can cut back on? The pre-wash. By opting for a high-powered detergent like Cascade Platinum ActionPacs, you can skip the rinse before you load it into the dishwasher (it’s designed to even clean off food that’s been stuck on for 24 hours). Says Brashear, “When multiplied by all dishwasher users in the U.S. who pre-wash, this could save up to 150 billion gallons of water each year.”
4. Choosing sustainable practices is always more expensive
Okay. But opting for sustainable practices usually means spending more, right? That doesn’t have to be the case—it all comes down to focusing on ingredients and efficacy, Brashear says.
According to P&G behavior research, you can save more than $100 per year on utility bills by using a dishwasher, due to the aforementioned savings in your hot-water usage. P&G’s data broke this down further: For a family of four that preps two meals a day, that could mean saving more than 75 percent in energy and water costs by using the dishwasher instead of handwashing.
5. Adopting sustainable practices always requires more effort
Sustainable cleaning practices can be cost-effective and budget-friendly, which brings us to the last of our cleaning myths: They require way more elbow grease to work. Not always, says Brashear. Dawn Powerwash Dish Spray, for example, is just a spray-and-done scenario.
“The spray-activated suds eliminate the need for soaking by clinging to food soils and cleaning baked on grease five times faster than non-concentrated liquid Dawn, so all you need to do is spray, wipe, and then rinse your dishes clean,” she says. All in favor of less effort and less water usage, say aye.
Now that these cleaning myths have been officially busted, the next step is re-examining the cleaning products in your cabinet. Get started here.
Photo: Getty Images/Maskot