5 Room Mistakes That Make Cleaning So Much Harder


We all must clean. But, if you feel like you spend an inordinate amount of time with duster and sponge in hand, your home might be to partially to blame. Is it making things harder than they need to be?

Some materials and surfaces are just easier to maintain, and that goes for cleaning. Each of the following certainly have benefits and reasons to keep them around (and you might not have the choice to change them anyway), but know that they are also harder to keep dirt, dust and grime-free — something to keep in mind if and when you are in a position to remodel or choose what goes into your home.

Shiny Reflective Materials

Sleek, high-gloss finishes may look glamorous and beautiful, but they also tend to show smudges and fingerprints more than their matte cousins. Stainless steel, lacquer, and mirrors — keeping these shiny surfaces blemish-free is a challenge so consider carefully where to place them in your home. The backsplash above, from Humphrey Munson, has an antiqued look at least, which helps hide food splatters.

Likewise, glass, while adept at reflecting light and making small spaces appear larger than they actually are, requires work to keep off the smudges and grime — something to think about when you consider choosing shower doors over a basic curtain. Otherwise, buy yourself a squeegee and learn all the ways to keep them clean.

Tons of Seams & Crevices

Any time you have a bunch of gaps, seam or crevices, there’s more opportunity for dirt and gunk to get trapped and/or hide. In the kitchen, top mounted sinks are a big culprit: food is more likely to get stuck underneath the lip instead of sliding right on by. Combine an undermount sink with an edgeless drain and you’re positively winning at life.

For bathrooms and backsplashes, it’s all about the grout. The smaller the tile, the more grout lines you have, and the more scrubbing you’ll do to keep them bright and mildew-free. If you love your chosen tile, and don’t want to give it up, consider a darker color grout, like the gray above, which can mask dirt and make at least look better in between cleanings.

Open Storage

Many homes have tons of exposed surfaces that just love to collect dust. If you’ve got the choice, consider extending cabinets all the way up to the ceiling in your kitchen, and place your fridge in a larger built-in, instead of leaving an empty awkward spot above. Sarah Sherman Samuel customized IKEA cabinets to work beautifully with this new remodeled kitchen, and checks off all the right boxes.

Critics would also put now-trendy open shelving on the list of things to avoid. Not only do you have to clean the surface itself, but also all the individual things stored there. Keep this type of storage to a minimum, or buy stock in microfiber cloths.

Ornate Details

I’m not sure many of us would pass up the opportunity to live in a beautiful home with architectural features like the one above, but if you’re feeling envious right now, rest easier knowing that you’re probably cleaning less as a result. Less ornate surfaces, without all the nooks and crannies, are easier to dust after all.

When planning your home, borrow some wisdom from the Shakers, who believed that cleanliness was next to godliness and devised efficient ways to live up to that promise. It’s no coincidence that their furniture designs are marked by simple lines and shapes, which makes them easier to keep dirt-free. If you hate to clean, consider converting to a similar minimalist lifestyle and aesthetic.

Textured Surfaces

While textured walls and surfaces add interest and dimension to any room, it’s also true that’s they’re harder to clean. Paneled walls, stone mantels, or 3D backsplashes —any sort of deeply grooved and/or jagged surface — all take more than a simple sponge wipe to get clean.

Anyone who’s ever had an exposed brick wall knows that they aren’t the easiest things in the world to keep dust-free, let alone the areas beneath and around them. If this material isn’t treated well, or has underlying moisture issues, it can be a little bit of a nightmare — just a little something to think about before you decide to expose the brick in search of a little authentic character.

Are there other materials in your home that make it tougher for you to clean?

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