The Important Cleaning Task We All Skip (But Shouldn’t)

published Jan 17, 2017
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(Image credit: Devon Jarvis)

Considering all of the different cleaning sprays and solutions available on the market, we’re surprisingly trusting of the ones we bring home. That’s why the pros have always sworn by “spot-testing”—where you sample new products by testing them out on a small area to make sure they won’t cause any damage or discoloration. Before you whip out a new stain remover or countertop spray during your next cleaning session, do yourself a favor and actually try them out first. It might seem trivial now, but it could save you lots of money and headaches down the line.

Here are some ways that you can spot-test with new products (or old products on new surfaces), but the goal is always the same: First use a tiny amount on an inconspicuous area of your target, before you apply with a heavy hand over the more visible parts.

1. Test a carpet cleaner on a hidden section of carpet

Before you douse your entire living room (or even your favorite area rug) in a brand new bottle of carpet cleaner, take the time to test a small area of carpet (like in the back of the closet) beforehand. Not only will you be able to spot any potential discolorations ahead of time, you’ll get a better idea of how much product to use, too.

2. Test out new laundry detergents with a trial load

Instead of dumping brand new laundry detergent on top of your beloved clothes, make sure to run a practice load with either dish rags or other items you wouldn’t mind staining. In addition to ensuring that your favorite garments won’t be ruined, it’ll give you a chance to decide if you like the fragrance (or want to save for gym clothes only)!

3. Test erasing pads somewhere inconspicuous

Prior to scrubbing down all of your home’s hard surfaces with a sparkly (but very abrasive) new eraser pad, try practicing with it on someplace hidden—like the floors under furniture or a hallway closet—to see if it’s really all it’s cracked up to be. That way you won’t run the risk of creating more scuffs and stains than you started with.

4. Pretest upholstery cleaner on an area underneath

Although it is probably best to have expensive or antique furniture cleaned professionally, keeping your sofa or loveseat looking fresh is easily accomplished with various spray-on or foam cleaners. For safety’s sake, test the cleaner on the material underneath the furniture so that nothing is visible in case of a problem.

5. Test countertop sprays under the lip (or in a bathtub)

You can spot-test new countertop products with a hidden away corner, or maybe under the lip of an overhang. But if you can’t find a good spot to test out countertop sprays without jeopardizing your actual countertops, bathtubs are the place to go. Riddled with soap scum, dirt debris, and water stains, they’re filled with tricky—albeit less visible—spots to practice on and provide a similarly solid surface.