Spring is in the air, and that means warmer temps (gotta happen sometime, right?), longer days, and yes, cleaning. But if you think your regular ole routine will cut it, think again. Those products and techniques could actually be causing more harm than good. Find out which mistakes you’re making and how to fix them below, all with the help of Shannon Lenox, a scientist with all-natural cleaning product gurus Seventh Generation.

1. You think a clean-smelling home is a clean home. Just because your home smells clean doesn’t mean it is. In fact, the same cleaning products and solutions that smell so good could actually be bad for you and your family. “American consumers have been conditioned to equate heavy scents with cleanliness, when really, truly clean spaces should actually smell like nothing at all,” Lenox told Brit + Co. Lenox pointed to a two-decade-long international study that found women with regular exposure to cleaning products may face a steeper decline in lung function over time. (And it didn’t matter whether they were just cleaning at home or were employed as professional cleaners.) But since never cleaning the bathroom again isn’t realllly a viable option, Lenox says consumers should protect themselves by selecting products with care, and by making sure they’re doing their cleaning in well-ventilated spaces.

2. You don’t read the labels. If the last time you read the instructions on the bottle of your cleaning products was 10 past never, you might want to get reacquainted. “A mistake people make is not carefully reading the directions on how to use a product,” Lenox says — for example, failing to rinse off a cleaner that needs to go, or cutting down another product’ efficiency by not letting it sit. From wasted product to wasted time to potential dangers, there can be consequences for you and your stuff when you use your cleaners the wrong way. Make you read the label to determine not only what’s in the products you’re using, but how to use them.

3. You try to do it all. Sometimes that cleaning bug bites hard, and you set out ready to tackle every nook and cranny. Smash cut to 4 hours later, when you’re exhausted, sitting in chaos, and nothing is cleaner. Lenox recommends keeping your goals reasonable and reap the benefit of a lower stress level AND a cleaner house. “Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be miserable, and it doesn’t have to be done all at once,” she says. “As a busy mom, I know my home is too much to tackle in one day. Make a list of the areas in your home that need the most work and focus on those rooms for just 20 minutes a day over the course of your week. Checking off your list as you go will keep you on-task and make you feel accomplished.” She offered the following tips for getting the job done:

  • Look for the hidden moments in your daily routine. While you’re brushing your teeth, give the sink or mirror a quick wipe down. There’s one more thing to cross off your list.
  • Put your vacuum to WORK. “My vacuum is my favorite dusting tool,” Lenox says. Use yours to clean lampshades and baseboards.
  • Kill two birds with one stone and repurpose that ratty old toothbrush as a scrubber. This is a great way to give a second life to something that would otherwise find its way into the landfill.
  • Get yourself a cleaning tote. By keeping everything you need to clean in a ready-to-go basket, you won’t waste precious time tracking down your supplies in every room.

Ready, set clean!

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