When it comes to the hazards of domestic life, ignorance is not bliss. If you’ve ever gotten sick because of poorly handled food, cross-contamination of germs, or similar mistakes, you may be on high alert when it comes to germs, microbes, and other unpleasantries that can affect wellbeing. There might be things you do because you learned them from “old-school” parents, or because solutions seem costly or unavailable. However, there are lots of icky things that can be counteracted with simple-yet-effective fixes. So I rounded up these 35 gross mistakes you probably don't realize you're making in the bathroom and kitchen, along with easy solutions, so everyone is on the same page.
Bathroom mold, for example, is easier to prevent than it is to clean up. Many people are unaware that a dehumidifier is an easy weapon in this battle and that there are small, portable ones that are perfect for the bathroom. Bath mats are also, often, a breeding ground for mildew, so a faction of folks are taking a tip from spas and using bamboo ones instead. But one of the grossest, and most preventable, mistakes many people make is to drink from a water bottle or thermal coffee cup that is never thoroughly cleaned. Having the right tool — a good bottle brush — is essential to this task and so easy to acquire.
Are you making any of these mistakes? Read on and find out.
1. Mistake: Letting drains clog
Solution: The strainer that stops hair from going down
If water runs down the bath or shower drain unstrained, hair goes with it. That can create a gnarly blockage — cleaning it out is nasty and potentially expensive. Drop this hair catcher into that drain, though, and that won’t happen. Just pull it out and remove trapped hair, then drop it back in. “I was skeptical about this little rubber strainer,” says one of the 70,000 five-star reviews, “but I needed something to save my drains from the piles of hair that fall out of my head. I tried others and they all failed miserably.”
2. Mistake: A bathroom that stays damp
Solution: A mini but powerful dehumidifier
You can avoid some seriously bad smells and challenging cleaning projects by preventing mold and mildew from accumulating in your shower area and bathroom. Just turn on this small but mighty dehumidifier during and after a shower — or just let it run. It removes 10 ounces of water per day. That eliminates the damp environment that allows mildew to thrive. The unit shuts off, and an orange light glows, when the tank is full. Then just empty it down the drain (or water some plants).
3. Mistake: Not wiping properly
Solution: This bidet that’s so much better than dry paper
People rarely talk about why bidets are so awesome. One Amazon reviewer, though, explained it with an apt metaphor involving stains and shag carpet. He said, “Fret no more guys, this will get your shag carpet clean in seconds so all you will need to do is follow up with a drying process, thus using less toilet paper.” This easy-to-install bidet is great for getting a feeling of freshness on your nethers anytime you crave it. It taps into your toilet’s water supply line for a clean posterior shower at the turn of a dial.
4. Mistake: Not letting soap & loofahs dry between use
Solution: These in-shower shelves that let things drip dry
When you set wet shampoo bottles and bars of soap on a surface that doesn’t drain, mold and mildew can build up under and around them, and soap can disintegrate into a mess. This three-pack of stainless steel shower caddies will solve all that. Peel and stick the plastic mounting hooks to the clean wall of the shower, tile, or a mirror, and hang up the two roomy shelves (with hooks for razors and facecloths) and soap holder. Your products will stay clean and dry.
5. Mistake: A tongue that’s less-than-fresh
Solution: A tongue scraper for better breath & keener taste buds
If there’s a bad taste in your mouth, your breath isn’t so fresh, or foods taste less amazing, you might need to clean your tongue. This two-pack of tongue scrapers adds another layer of cleanliness to dental hygiene by removing plaque and buildup that accumulates on your tongue. Just hold the handles and gently scrape the 100% medical grade, stainless steel scraper gently across your tongue. “My breath is better,” says one reviewer. “My tongue looks healthier and feels better, and I have improved taste when eating.”
6. Mistake: Not flossing well (or at all)
Solution: This water irrigator that makes it easy
If flossing is just not your jam, your teeth and gums are suffering from neglect. This oral irrigator will help, and it’s easier and more fun than flossing. It’s small, rechargeable, and delivers a high-intensity pulsed water jet that’s effective at removing the stains and debris you may miss with brushing. It comes with four nozzles: A classic jet tip is for water flossing, the scraping tip cleans your tongue, a periodontal tip removes plaque, and an orthodontic tip is perfect for getting around braces.
7. Mistake: Using the same hand towel for everything
Solution: An affordable collection of easy-to-launder towels
If you dry your hands repeatedly on the same hand towel, eventually, it’s a dirty towel. Having plenty on hand makes it easy to toss oldies into the laundry when it’s time for a fresh one. These Turkish hand towels are not only affordable and attractive, but they take up less room in the laundry and dry faster than traditional ones. This pack of four comes in 16 color options.
8. Mistake: Keeping hand towels on a hook so they don’t dry well
Solution: This hanging rack that lets towels spread out
The simple act of hanging a towel up neatly to dry is not only about aesthetics. A dry towel doesn’t breed mildew the way a damp one does. A damp towel can also smell bad, which means your bathroom will smell, too. Hang this stainless steel hand-towel holder near the sink so the towel is in reach and dries between uses. It looks great, comes in five finishes, and mounts easily to the wall.
9. Mistake: Using the same loofah forever
Solution: A 4-pack of natural loofahs so you can toss old ones
Do you have a loofah in the shower? How long has it been there? It’s easy to swap for a fresh one so you’re washing with something reasonably clean if you have this four-pack of loofahs on hand. They’re compressed when they arrive, which means they’re easy to ship and store. Soak them in water for a few minutes, and they spring to full size. They offer gentle exfoliation and you can compost them when done.
10. Mistake: Keeping your bathtime sundries on the floor
Solution: A tray to hold gear while you luxuriate in the tub
When relaxing in the tub, accessories need a handy place to go — that isn’t the floor, where you have to drip water everywhere to reach your cocktail and face mask. Expand this bamboo bathtub tray over the tub and set it all here. There’s a draining soap dish, a place for your wine glass (with a slot so it won’t tip over), a book or tablet holder, and plenty of space for your personal care products. It spreads from just under 30-inches to 43-inches wide to fit most tubs.
11. Mistake: Grimy shower curtains
Solution: This durable liner that doesn’t get moldy
You don’t have to live with that patch of mold at the bottom of your shower curtain. This clear, PEVA shower curtain liner is impermeable to liquids, so all the water runs off it and down the drain, leaving a clean, dry, curtain that offers no place for mold or mildew to take hold. It’s also effective at keeping water inside the shower area and lets light in for brighter bathing.
12. Mistake: A gross toilet brush sitting in a dirty stand
Solution: This bowl cleaning brush with flushable pads
If that crap-covered toilet brush that’s lurking in your bathroom grosses you out, this toilet cleaning kit will get rid of it for good. Just snap the cleaning pad, infused with toilet cleaner, into the wand. Then scrub the bowl and under the rim. When the toilet is clean, release the pad by pressing the button and flush. Everything — the pad, the cleanser, and the mess — goes down the drain. It even comes with a stand for the (brushless) handle.
13. Mistake: Storing toothbrushes naked near the toilet
Solution: This sanitary toothbrush & cup holder
Mount this clever toothbrush and sundries holder and let it keep brushes and the cups you sip from clean. The toothbrush hooks live under the inverted cups, so brushes are protected from dust and other airborne microscopics. And water in the cups drains right out. There are also cubbies behind the cups to hold toiletry items. It mounts to the wall with an included adhesive system that holds strong, but is easy to remove.
14. Mistake: Using cotton swabs to clean ears (which pushes stuff in)
Solution: This earwax removal spoon that scrapes stuff out
There’s a reason you’re warned not to use cotton swabs to clean your ears: They can push wax further in and create compaction. This ear wax removal tool has a little spoon on the end to scrape and remove waxy buildup. It also fits neatly into a tube that doubles as a handle to keep it clean. The edges of the spoon are softened and rendered from titanium to create an effective but gentle tool.
15. Mistake: Not deep-cleaning the floor
Solution: An effective floor cleaner that’s safe for little ones
Skipping floor cleaning is just letting germs win. But you don’t have to smear harsh chemicals around to get things clean, either. This concentrated, vinegar-based floor cleaner is effective and safe for pets and babies. It comes in five scents, dissipates quickly after use, and is ideal for use on hardwood, tile, concrete, linoleum, bamboo, vinyl, laminate, and more. “It cleans very well and leaves your house smelling clean and fresh,” says one reviewer. “No heavy perfumes.”
16. Mistake: Using the same gnarly, damp bath mat
Solution: A bamboo bathmat that’s cleaner than fabrics
After bathing, all the water drips off of you and into your fabric bath mat. And stays. Consider, then, this bamboo bath mat that lets water drip through the slats to air dry completely. Soft rubber feet on the bottom keep it from sliding. It brings a clean, spa-like look to your bathroom. And it wipes cleans, which saves you from having to launder a bath mat or worry that it’s dirty.
17. Mistake: Going barefoot in the gym shower
Solution: These shower-ready sandals so feet stay clean & protected
If you work out at a gym, don’t walk about the showers in bare feet unless you want to dare hard-to-cure fungus like Athlete’s foot. Because that’s how you get it. Prevention is so easy, too. Just wear a pair of shower shoes like these slides. Treads on the bottom keep you from slipping, and treads in the footbed keep them on your feet. They come in 10 colors, are super flexible so you can jam them in your gym bag, and they dry quickly so you don’t have to pack wet shoes.
18. Mistake: Not cleaning in grout and corners
Solution: The scrub brush that gets into corners & crevices
Cleaning bathroom grout and corners is such a challenge, many people shrug and give up. The trick is to have the right tool for the job. This grout and corner brush is that tool. The bristles are angled so they easily get into bath and shower crevices. And the front end forms a point so no corner can evade it. “I actually enjoy cleaning the grout with this brush because I can see such a difference!” says one reviewer.
19. Mistake: Using paper towels that don't attract dirt & leave lint behind
Solution: A collection of microfiber towels that can clean anything
With a supply of these microfiber cleaning cloths on hand, every cleaning project will be easier and more efficient than using something flimsy and inadequate like paper towels. These hold lots of water, so wiping with them gets things super clean. They don’t leave lint or fibers on glass or shiny surfaces. They’re soft enough for delicate areas, and really grab and remove dirt. When done cleaning, just toss them in the laundry and use again next time. This is a 12-pack so you’ll always have some clean and ready.
20. Mistake: Using the same sponge for too long
Solution: A 10-pack of Earth-friendly sponges you can toss
I once watched someone wipe a pet-related mess off the floor with the same sponge used for dishes... and never ate from that kitchen again. This 10-pack of sponges makes it easy to have separate sponges for separate tasks, so you don’t wash your dishes with cat vomit, and can be tossed when the time comes. They’re made from planet-friendly coconut fiber and cellulose so that one side is abrasive and the other is soft and absorbent. They also arrive in a completely recyclable package.
21. Mistake: Never cleaning your reusable water bottle
Solution: This silicone brush that gets into narrow vessels
Getting the inside of a water bottle clean is challenging if you don’t have the right brush. This silicone bottle cleaning brush works better than bristled ones, because the nubs span all the way around the brush to get at all parts of your bottle. It’s just over a foot long, drips dry quickly, has a hole so you can hang it from a hook, and comes in five colors.
22. Mistake: Letting your dish brush stay damp
Solution: A dish brush with handy holding stand & soap dispenser
An important tool for cleaning stuck-on dish crud, this dish brush has a soap dispenser in the handle and a stand that lets water drain off the brush. It’s basically the Cadillac of dish brushes. Instead of letting bristles molder and gather germs as they rest in a pool of dirty water, it elevates the cleaning end while catching drips in an easy-to-empty basin. When you want to load the bristles with soap, push the button.
23. Mistake: Mixing prepped meat & veggies
Solution: A cutting board with containers to catch what you cut
This cutting board solves one of the most irritating problems about food prep: Getting food off the board. And it does so while making it possible to keep meat and veggies separate (just cut the veggies first). There are slide-out containers on each side that let you slide cut pieces into them. When it’s time to get the ingredients into a pan, just pull out the container. The board is made from acacia wood and the trays are available in two color options.
24. Mistake: Burning food onto pans
Solution: These silicone mats for cleaner baking
If you hate cleaning baking sheets but aren’t a fan of disposable parchment or foil, these silicone mats are here to make all the baking projects easier to clean up after. This set of three can handle a very hot oven without burning, clean up quickly and easily, and are non-stick so you don’t need to grease them. One has a template for making macaroons printed on it (ooh la la!) and they roll up and store easily in a drawer.
25. Mistake: Having a stinky fridge & letting produce rot
Solution: The deodorizer that oxygenates the air in your fridge
This in-fridge ionizer changes the environment inside your refrigerator to make it friendlier to fresh produce. The activated oxygen it creates neutralizes bacteria, mold, and other microbes by blocking the ethylene gas emitted by produce as it degrades. With it neutralized, your fresh produce lasts longer. “We've had grapes that usually last a week or two last perfectly well without mold or discoloration for more than a month in the fridge with this running,” says one reviewer. “Ginger, celery, tomatoes — same thing.”
26. Mistake: Grimy appliances
Solution: This weird pink cleaning paste that works on the worst stains
Sometimes an appliance gets so grungy, it seems like cleaning it is hopeless. For those times, there is this strange, pink cleaning paste that, according to professional cleaners and over 80,000 five-star Amazon reviews, gets rid of seemingly impossible stains. It’s easy to use, too. Just wipe the paste over the mess and wait while it works its magic. Then wipe the paste — and the gross mess — away and your appliance will be shiny and clean.
27. Mistake: Keeping fridge meats and fruits in a jumble
Solution: A set of fridge organizers that stores items separately
Not only do these refrigerator bins create order inside the fridge, but they also help avoid cross-contamination of produce and raw meats. Once everything’s organized, you might be amazed at how much easier it is to prep lunches and meals or find a snack. Pull out all the condiments at once, for example, instead of hunting for lost bottles of mayo or dressing. They stack, are clear so you can see what’s in them, and include four sizes including an egg bin and a beer (er, can) holder.
28. Mistake: Defrosting raw meat bare on the counter
Solution: A defrosting tray for safer prep
Letting meat defrost all day on the counter is dangerous. The FDA warns against using hot water, too. Cool water is okay but messy. This defrosting tray lets you defrost quickly without water. It’s a sheet of aluminum with heat sink grooves that quickly transfers cold out of the meat using basic physics. It keeps raw meats tidy, doesn’t contaminate the dishes, and doesn’t demand space for a large bowl of water. Just wash it in the dishwasher to sterilize when done.
29. Mistake: Letting crud build up in the microwave
Solution: This volcano that effectively steam cleans
If you tend to skip the inside of the microwave when cleaning the kitchen, somewhere down the road there’ll be a yucky, caked-on mess to deal with. This volcano cleaner is here to make the process so entertaining, you won’t hesitate to take on the task. Fill the base with vinegar and water, put the top on, and microwave it. It will “erupt” steam from the top, which is fun to watch, and when it’s done, the interior mess will be soft and easy to wipe away.
30. Mistake: Making salad with uncleaned greens
Solution: A salad spinner so that clean, dry greens are fast & easy
Washing greens is necessary unless you want to entertain chemicals and pesticides, unknown bacteria, and maybe even sand. And eating a salad made of wet greens is gross. This salad spinner makes the whole process easy. Wash the greens in the internal colander, drop it into the spinner, and turn the handle to create enough centrifugal force to remove all the water from the greens. It takes only seconds to do and makes for a safer, vastly superior, salad.
31. Mistake: Using the same knife for everything
Solution: This set of color-coded knives for a cleaner kitchen
Making sure your apple isn’t cut with a knife that just sliced raw chicken is simple with these color-coded knives. It includes six knives with six matching covers, so you can store them in a drawer without getting sliced. From the serrated bread knife to the tiny paring knife, they each have their own bright hue. Just designate one color for possible contaminants that need to be cooked after cutting to make a huge safety upgrade in your kitchen.
32. Mistake: Forgetting to clean the sink
Solution: The polishing cleaner that gets even the dirtiest sink shiny
If you (or the previous owner) never cleaned the sink and now it has stains and grungy corners, this sink cleaner is here to restore it to like-new perfection. It’s simple to use and super effective. Just wipe it onto a dingy, stained, or impossible to get clean sink — it works on many surfaces, including porcelain and stainless steel — and wipe away. Not only does it get rid of the stains that are there, but it also creates a waterproof barrier that prevents further staining.
33. Mistake: Undercooking meat
Solution: A thermometer so meats are safely cooked to perfection
Ever pulled a chicken from the oven and served it before discovering it wasn’t quite done? That will never happen again if you own this excellent digital meat thermometer, because you’ll stick it into the bird and get a reading before announcing dinner’s ready. It turns on when you pull the probe out, will hold a temperature so you can pull it out of the heat and look, has a clear backlit display so it’s easy to see, and stores away in a drawer.
34. Mistake: Freezer burn
Solution: This vacuum sealer that protects the goods inside
When storing food in the freezer, it can be a toss-up whether it comes out pristine and ready to cook or covered in freezer burn. This lightweight and easy-to-store vacuum sealer is the trick to freezing leftovers and bulk purchases so they stay nice. It does this by completely removing air from packaging. It also seals meats into a marinade to improve that process. And it’s a must-have if you want to attempt sous vide cooking. It comes with a starter pack of storage bags and a roll of sealer, as well as an air suction hose for storage containers.
35. Mistake: Cooking on a dirty grill
Solution: A grill brush with stainless steel bristles
Cooking food on a grill that hasn’t been cleaned in a while isn’t just gross, it can start a fire. Having an effective tool that cleans the grill quickly is essential, because if it’s too hard to do, you probably won’t do it often. This stainless steel grill brush has a big, sturdy brush head on a long, easy-to-grip acacia-wood handle that makes cleaning the grill so fast, you’ll do it every time. When something won’t brush off, flip it over and use the built-in scraper.