A person wiping down a counter to avoid making cleaning mistakes

5 Cleaning Mistakes You’re Making That Keep Surfaces Dirty

Picture of Parham Asgari, phd

Parham Asgari, phd

Director of Chemistry

Of course, hygiene plays a vital role in maintaining good health. Studies have shown that clean environments are essential to wellness and are not difficult to achieve, provided proper methods apply. However, with many becoming conscious of effective techniques, it’s a great time to ensure you avoid these frequent cleaning mistakes.


Cleaning, disinfection, and sanitization represent three distinct processes often used interchangeably but have different meanings. Cleaning refers to the removal of visible dirt and debris from surfaces using soap, water, and/or detergent. Disinfection, however, refers to the use of chemicals to kill germs and bacteria on surfaces, reducing the risk of infection. Sanitizing is a process that reduces the number of germs on surfaces to safe levels as determined by health standards. While cleaning is an important first step, it alone may not be enough to protect against germs and bacteria. You can also disinfect and sanitize in combination with cleaning to create a more thorough and effective process.

Common Cleaning Mistakes

While many have their own ways of cleaning, it’s important to remember that without proper techniques, the process is ineffective. In some cases, improper cleaning can actually make surfaces even dirtier than before. There are five common cleaning mistakes made when cleaning a surface that keep them dirty and how to avoid them.

1. Not following label instructions

Each antimicrobial product has instructions on how and on what surfaces you can use it on. Still, many are regularly misused, which can reduce their effectiveness. In fact, many waste large quantities of antimicrobial cleaner, and surfaces stay dirty, simply from failing to follow cleaning instructions.

Pay attention to your cleaner’s type and dwell time. Your antimicrobial type will determine when and how you use it. But if you use the wrong kind of cleaner for the surface you’re decontaminating, it could leave it dirty. As such, the CDC recommends a combination of surface cleaning followed by disinfecting to ensure a truly clean surface.

Dwell time is how long an antimicrobial product takes to have its optimal effect. In other words, it’s the amount of time it takes an antimicrobial to kill microbes or remove soil that the label claims. By knowing your antimicrobial dwell time and using it accordingly, you can guarantee your surfaces are fully clean instead of only partially.

2. Cleaning in the wrong order

Many surfaces are significantly dirtier than others, making the order in which you clean one of the most important components of your cleaning process. Most areas in a home or business have a proper cleaning order that will allow for optimal cleanliness.

One example of cleaning order is to clean higher surfaces first, followed by lower surfaces. This order includes cleaning shelves and window sills before countertops as well as cleaning countertops before cleaning floors. By cleaning these kinds of surfaces out of order, you can easily recontaminate lower surfaces from the debris and microbes moved from the higher surfaces. However, following an effective cleaning order can ensure the dirt and germs move gradually down and finally die by the use of a strong antimicrobial solution on the floor.

Cleaning from the least dirty surfaces to the dirtiest is another order that can help ensure cleanliness. For example, think about a bathroom or kitchen area. The process looks the same for residential or commercial bathrooms and kitchens. As both areas are locations where germs group in large quantities on surfaces, it’s important to make sure to clean the least dirty areas first.

The use of a proper cleaning order keeps the microbes from dirtier surfaces, substances, and items from accidentally being spread to the cleaner areas, otherwise known as “cross-contamination.” Take some time to assess which surfaces in your area receive the most contact with the sources of microbes like raw foods, garbage, and human waste, then ensure you clean those surfaces last with a strong disinfecting solution.


3. Cleaning with dirty materials

Using dirty cleaning materials is one of the most common cleaning mistakes. For instance, many people often clean dishes and sinks with dirty sponges, table tops with dirty rags, or floors with dirty mops. To ensure your surfaces are effectively cleaned, it’s best to clean each surface with a new item. In addition to using a clean sponge, these can be disposable items like a paper towel or something reusable like a clean microfiber cloth. Even with proper cleaning practices and a strong cleaning solution, a dirty cleaning tool can spread microbes and dirt even further. 

4. Resoiling/reinfecting quickly

A thorough clean is hard to maintain. Many surfaces are quickly recontaminated after cleaning and disinfecting, making it difficult to ensure that the surface stays clean. One of the most common ways this happens is by accidental contamination. The CDC recommends following proper cleaner instructions and avoiding contact with freshly cleaned surfaces until your cleaning materials are put away and your hands have been cleaned.

The problem of recontamination can also be dealt with by following an effective cleaning schedule. Assess which surfaces experience the most use or are located in areas with the highest traffic. Surfaces like this can include handles, toilets, sinks, or certain tables and countertops. These surfaces will need to be cleaned at least every few hours or less if using a residual cleaner that has long-lasting effects.

5. Making informed choices about residual antimicrobial products

Residual antimicrobial products are popular among consumers for their ability to effectively kill germs and bacteria on surfaces for extended period. However, many of these products leave behind streaks, oily films, and sticky residues that can be unpleasant and require extra effort to clean up. It is important to note that attempting to remove these residues results in deactivation of the antimicrobial properties, making the product ineffective in killing germs and bacteria. Therefore, consumers should pay close attention to the residues left behind by antimicrobial products and select products that explicitly state they do not leave any residue. When selecting a residual antimicrobial product, look for options that feature a transparent, non-oily, and non-streaky coating to ensure residual activity without leaving behind any unsightly residue. The product developed by SRFC Bio Inc. features these qualities, providing highly effective antimicrobial properties without compromising surface cleanliness and appearance.


Staying Consistent to Avoid Cleaning Mistakes

Consistent cleaning schedules are the key to clean and disinfected surfaces. The CDC recommends that proper cleaning techniques be followed regularly to help lower instances of disease. In addition to consistency, a good way to ensure a surface is cleaned efficiently–and effectively–is through residual antimicrobial cleaners like the groundbreaking technology developed by SRFC Bio.

The EPA recently registered a residual cleaning product based on SRFC Bio’s third-generation antimicrobial technology. Developed by leading scientists, chemists, and microbiologists at SRFC Bio, the product cleans surfaces, disinfects bacteria and viruses at application, and keeps killing 99.9% of bacteria for up to 24 hours after it dries. Hallmarks of the new product are absence of stickiness and visibility after drying.

Paired with proper cleaning practices, using residual cleaners with EPA’s stamp of approval guarantee your surfaces are continuously clean and disinfected for longer. To learn more about revolutionary residual technology, download our new SRFC Bio infographic.

If you’d like to learn more about our revolutionary residual technology and how it can elevate your sanitization protocols, please contact us to get the conversation started.

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