One common mistake the people tend to make is not cleaning their actual cleaning tools. Yes, they’re for cleaning, but it’s difficult to get something clean when the cleaning tool itself is dirty. Heidi T asks a great question:

I’m having such a hard time feeling comfortable not bleaching things like dishcloths, I soak such things in oxygen bleach for awhile but that feeling that they’re not disinfected bothers me! I do understand that bleach is not necessary, and is even harmful, can you explain how to clean my cleaning tools so they’re as clean as they can be without bleaching them?

Melissa Says:

Heidi, you are not alone! Many people feel that bleach is the best way to disinfect, as we often associate that bleach smell with cleanliness. However, it sounds like you know how I feel about bleach. Through all of my research and testing, I’ve learned that there are many ways to disinfect just as effectively without bleach. Not to mention ways that are way better for your health and the environment!

You’re on the right track with oxygen bleach! This is a great alternative to chlorine bleach, as it’s better on the environment and cleans and disinfects just as well.

Cleaning cloths and other soft tools like flathead mop heads should be laundered regularly on the hottest setting allowed (check the label). Adding in a cup of vinegar along with your regular laundry detergent will certainly help disinfect as well. If an item is particularly nasty you can pre-soak in oxygen bleach and warm water, rinse, then launder as usual. You can also throw some oxygen bleach into the wash if you’re so inclined—just be warned that it can fade darker colors.

You may feel like some tools, like scrub brushes, and/or iron handle brushes (or even hair brushes), aren’t as clean because there’s debris and/or dirt stuck in the bristles. Your best bet here is to make sure you clean them out before soaking, using an old pen or disposable chopstick for this works great. Then soak in an oxygen bleach and hot water bath.

As for sponges, there are a few easy ways to disinfect them and kill any bacteria hanging around. You can boil them for about 5 minutes, or you can soak them in hot water and oxygen bleach for about 30 minutes. You can also microwave sponges, but there are a number of hazards here—plastic sponges will melt, dry sponges can catch fire (so make sure they’re wet or in a bowl of water), and if they have metal in them (usually in scrubby part) they can also catch fire (microwaves and metal do not mix).

Also, don’t forget to clean your vacuum, this is one of the more overlooked items when it comes to cleaning your cleaning tools.

Hope that helps!

We know that you have lots of questions about cleaning and we want to give you those answers! So, continue asking away by emailing us at We love hearing from you!

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.



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