Cleaning the house isn’t most people’s idea of fun. But if you’ve got to do it, it’s worth doing it properly – it’s easy to make mistakes that will result in your cleaning chores taking much longer, or being far less effective.

[Read more: TV’s Aggie Mackenzie’s top 10 cleaning tips]

Here are 10 common cleaning mistakes to avoid:

1. Scrubbing carpet spills

If you drop something like coffee or red wine on the carpet, don’t immediately rush to scrub it off.

Scrubbing untwists carpet fibres and distorts the pile, and once the damage is done, it's permanent. So although you might be able to eventually get the stain out of the carpet, you won't be able to untwist the carpet fibres.

Instead of scrubbing, blot the spill with a paper towel until it’s dry, and then treat it with stain remover, after testing the product in a hidden area of carpet to make sure it won't fade the colour.

2. Too much water

Don’t use too much water on upholstery - some fabrics can be damaged by water, or won’t dry out properly, causing mildew. In addition, avoid applying water to metal components, as this could result in rust.

3. Dusting with a dry rag

Using a dry rag will just move dust and dirt around and scratch surfaces. Use a soft duster or a microfibre cloth, which is your best bet because it grabs and holds onto particles.

4. Combining cleaning products

More isn’t always better - combining common cleaning products like ammonia, bleach and detergent is a mistake, as not only can it potentially damage surfaces like carpet and laminate, but it can create fumes that can damage your health.

5. Vacuuming first

Vacuuming before cleaning surfaces means you’ll probably have to vacuum again afterwards, as you’ll have knocked dirt and dust onto the floor. Always dust and wipe down all surfaces prior to vacuuming.

 

6. Cleaning windows on a sunny day

Although it’s tempting to clean windows when the sun‘s illuminating how dirty they are, it’s better to leave window cleaning to a cloudy day. This is because the heat from the sun will dry the cleaning fluid more quickly, potentially leaving smears.

7. Forgetting to clean your vacuum

If you don’t clean your vacuum, you could end up pushing dirt around your floors instead of sucking it up. Also, remember to replace vacuum bags once they’re a third full, or empty the canisters on bagless cleaners after every use.

[Read more: How often should you clean your household cleaning tools?]

8. Using polish every time you dust

Modern furniture has a protective topcoat and doesn’t need polishing every time you clean. Sometimes just use a lightly damp microfibre cloth to dust, and if you are using polish, use the same product each time to help avoid the build-up of residue.

9. Spraying surfaces directly

When you spray furniture directly, it can create a build-up that's tough to remove and attracts even more dust. To avoid this, spray the cloth with cleaner rather than the surface.

10. The worst mistake of all…

...is not cleaning frequently enough. We’re all busy, but if you keep putting off cleaning the house, when you eventually get round to it the accumulation of dirt is likely to be so bad that cleaning will take much longer. Little and often means you’ll keep on top of your cleaning chores.