We surveyed more than 5,000 members of the British public and revealed the top germ-spreading mistakes homeowners make when cleaning their homes.

With operation 'Quarantine Clean' in full swing, we asked 5,165 Brits about their cleaning methods and habits, including how often they sterilise or change cleaning materials like kitchen dishcloths and vacuums, and what products they use.

From the research, it's emerged that the majority of British people are inadvertently making multiple cleaning mistakes on a daily basis, some of which can lead to things like food poisoning and dust mite infestations.

Washing up sponge

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The ten most common cleaning mistakes Brits are making are:

  1. Vacuum Cleaner
    Vacuum cleaner
    Not thoroughly cleaning the vacuum every few weeks
  2. Mattress
    Mattress
    Never vacuuming their mattress
  3. Washing up
    Washing up
    Not replacing kitchen dish cloth/sponge every three days
  4. Bedding
    Bedding
    Not washing bedding every week to 10 days on 60 degree cycle
  5. Kitchen bin
    Kitchen bin
    Never washing and disinfecting the kitchen bin
  6. Mop head
    Mop head
    Not sterilising the mop head after every use
  7. Chopping boards
    Chopping boards
    Not thoroughly washing chopping boards after every use
  8. Door knobs
    Door knobs
    Forgetting to disinfect door knobs and taps weekly
  9. Refrigerator
    Refrigerator
    Not cleaning refrigerator shelves and drawers weekly
  10. Windows
    Windows
    Not cleaning windows with water and detergent once a fortnight
Mixing chemicals

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Alongside the top mistakes, the survey also revealed that one in twenty people have been making their own cleaning products to combat coronavirus and other germs. The top three most dangerous household cleaning products to mix are:

  1. Bleach and ammonia - This mix creates toxic vapour, which causes burning eyes and respiratory problems and organ damage. Not only that, if there's enough ammonia in the mixture it will create the highly explosive toxic substance.
  2. Bleach and rubbing alcohol - Creates a substance so toxic that when it's breathed in can knock you out in the short-term and kill you if you inhale too much.
  3. Bleach and vinegar/lemon juice - Creates a toxic gas and in high quantities has been used in chemical warfare. Said gas causes chemical burns on the skin, and attacks the respiratory system. It can even cause death if it's highly concentrated or in a room with no fresh air.
Changing bed sheets

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According to the survey, just 3% of homeowners change their kitchen dishcloth every few days, with almost a quarter (23%) admitting to replacing it just once a month. More than half (59%) said they only replaced it when it fell apart. Kitchen sponges and dishcloths are a breeding ground for bacteria, because they are usually used to clean everything in a kitchen, from surfaces where raw meat has been, to cutlery and cooking utensils. Consequently, poor dishcloth hygiene can cause food poisoning through cross-contamination.

Additionally, just over a tenth (11%) of respondents have cleaned their vacuum cleaner before and only 2% of those clean it every few weeks as recommended. A study published in the journal of Environmental Science & Technology in 2012 found that out of 21 vacuum cleaners, of all different brands and ages, every single one polluted the air in the home with bacteria, dust and allergens*.

In the bedroom, 96% of respondents said they had never hoovered their mattress, and just 15% wash bedding weekly. Mattresses accumulate masses of dead skin cells, which act as food for dust mites. A dust mite infestation can cause allergy symptoms like a runny nose and swollen eyes, and aggravate asthma**.

OnBuy.com is a UK-founded online marketplace offering competitive prices on millions of products supplied by thousands of trusted online retailers. From household names to independent sellers, OnBuy offers products from a range of categories, such as electricals, baby and toddler, home and garden, and cars and automotive.

Cas Paton, founder and CEO of OnBuy.com said,

"Keeping your home clean has never been more important, and more people than ever are stocking up on essential cleaning products and looking for tips and tricks to keep themselves safe while at home. We've seen a 300% rise in traffic to OnBuy.com as people look to stock up on their favourite cleaning products to get on top of the big clean.

"It's interesting to see the simple mistakes people are making, often without realising, and I'm sure it will shock many to see that some of what they might be doing at home could be very dangerous."