Don’t Forget to Clean These Household Items

clean goldie

Regardless of how diligent your cleaning routine is, there are probably at least several items in your house that may be in need of some elbow grease. While we can’t entirely eradicate germs from our homes, it is important to clean these often-overlooked items to ensure the health of our households.

Reusable Grocery Bags

Reusable grocery bags are certainly good for the environment, but they could compromise your health. According to a recent study, 97 percent of consumers never wash their bags. About 50 percent of the bags tested contained coliform (fecal) bacteria, and 12 percent contained E. coli.

Washing them after each use is the key to stopping contamination from vegetables or raw meat. Cloth bags can go directly into the washer and dryer, and recycled plastic bags can be wiped down with hot soapy water or treated with a disinfectant spray. Researchers also advise using each bag for only a single purpose—carrying raw meat, carrying vegetables, transporting laundry, or as a miscellaneous shopping tote.

Showerheads

Your shower is a place you go to get clean, not to pick up germs, but… a study at the University of Colorado at Boulder found that 30 percent of showerheads tested positive germs that can cause lung infections, in addition to other bacteria and fungi.

Since some microbes may be resistant to chlorine, the best way to clean a showerhead is to soak it in a diluted vinegar solution and then scrub the deposits away with an old toothbrush. Plastic showerheads are more prone to bacterial buildup than metal ones, so people with compromised immune systems are advised to consider switching if necessary.

Computer Keyboards

Did you know that your computer keyboard could harbor five times as many bacteria than the average toilet seat? Bacteria that include methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), E. coli, and staph.

First, eliminate dirt and crumbs using a vacuum cleaner or compressed-air canister, and then use a solution of diluted dishwashing detergent or isopropyl alcohol to swab down the keys with cotton balls or cotton swabs. (Make sure you disconnect the keyboard first.) Repeat these steps with the mouse and any remotes in your home. (Remember to remove any batteries first.)

Draperies

In addition to lending warmth to your rooms, drapes and curtains are a magnet for dust mites, pet hair, mold, dander, and debris of all kinds. If someone in your house suffers from indoor allergies, cleaning the curtains regularly can help reduce allergen buildup. Simple panel curtains can usually be washed and dried at home and then steamed to release wrinkles. There are certain types of draperies you should take to a dry cleaner or other cleaning professional, including lace curtains, designs with embroidery or appliqué, those with pleats or complicated fabric construction, and draperies that are too big to fit into your washing machine.

In between washings, vacuum curtains with a hose and brush attachment at least once a month to prevent debris from building up.

Trash Cans

Given that the kitchen is usually the dirtiest room in the house (yes, even dirtier than the bathroom) it’s no surprise that trash cans can become laden with germs. The can itself comes into contact with all manner of germ-infested items – dirt, dust, old food, raw meat, decomposing vegetables, moldy leftovers, cat litter, etc.

Clean the trash cans at least twice a month to prevent the spread of germs like E. coli, salmonella, trichinosis, and simple cold and flu bugs. Small pails can go into the dishwasher; wash large cans with hot water and a mild bleach solution or with a product designed for pet messes, which contain enzymes to break down bacteria.

Doormats

While not a pleasant fact, studies consistently show that over 90 percent of shoes carry traces of fecal bacteria on the soles. After washing, you may consider leaving shoes at the door.

Vacuum mats with fabric tops before washing to remove dust and loose dirt; you can wash rubber-backed mats in the washing machine. The easiest way to clean any doormat is to spray it down with a garden hose or use the pressure washer at a car wash, using a small amount of soap or detergent. Allow the mat to air-dry completely before putting it back into service.

Toothbrush Holder

clean tooth

This one is often overlooked by even diligent cleaners. Toothbrush holders can quickly get moldy and gross, especially since it’s drenched in a warm water a few times a day. Depending on what it’s made of, you can either throw it in the dishwasher for a good cleaning or clean it with a microfiber cloth and solution.

Pillows and Duvets

You probably clean your pillow cases and sheets, but what about the pillows themselves? Though home to dust mites, dead skin cells, and more, most pillows can be machine-washed and –dried – just make sure to check the label first! S

Set the washer on the gentle cycle and wash the pillows in hot water with a mild detergent. You can throw two regular-sized pillows in together to keep the load balanced, but you should really only wash one king-sized pillow at a time. Put them through the rinse cycle twice to get the soap out, and place them in the dryer with two clean tennis balls on low heat.

Ceiling Fans

Wipe down the blades regularly with a duster or a damp microfiber cloth to prevent dust from swirling around in the air.

Bathroom Exhaust Fan – If you have one of these in your bathroom, you might not realize how dusty and dirty it gets over time. Remove the vent and wash it with warm soapy water regularly to keep it squeaky clean.

A/C and Heating Vents – Just like your bathroom exhaust fan, it’s a great idea to clean these vents frequently. In addition to creating a cleaner home environment, you’ll also help improve the efficiency to your system!

Are there any other overlooked harbors for germs that you would like to add?

 

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Spring into Clean!

Fresh air

Spring has arrived! The warmer air invites us to throw open the windows and let fresh air in. Take advantage of the opportunity to start the season with a good, thorough spring cleaning.

FOYER

  1. Dust lighting fixtures.
  2. Wash walls and trim
  3. Wash doors, knobs and switch plates.
  4. Wash bench or other furnishings.  Launder bench cushion, if applicable.
  5. Empty out coat closet.  Wash walls and floor, if needed.  Sort items as you return them to the closet.  Store out of season items, donate unneeded items.
  6. Clean or replace entry mat.
  7. Sweep and scrub floors.
  8. Reseal grout lines, if necessary.

BEDROOMS

  1. Open windows
  2. Dust furniture.
  3. For each drawer: remove items, wash drawer, place items back neatly.  Donate Items you no longer need.
  4. Remove everything from closets. Sweep and wash closet floor. Put everything back neatly.  Donate items you no longer need.  Try not to store things on closet floor.
  5. Move Bed.  Sort and put away anything that was under bed.  Sweep or vacuum under bed.  Try not to store things under bed.
  6. Put bed back.  Freshen mattress by sprinkling with baking soda, letting sit briefly, and the vacuuming it up.
  7. Launder bedding and curtains.  Wash pillows and duvet in hot water.  Air out mattress pad, if you have one.
  8. Dust lights. Clean lamp shades.
  9. Wash windows and window sills.  Take out and wash window screens.
  10. Wash switch plates.  Wash walls and trim as needed.
  11. Wash mirrors or dust art.
  12. Wash doors and doorknobs.
  13. Wash floor registers and other vent covers.
  14. Sweep and wash floor or vacuum.

BATHROOMS

  1. Open windows
  2. Empty all cabinets and vanity.  Wash inside, replace items neatly.  Discard expired medications and cosmetics.
  3. Wash outside of cabinets and vanities
  4. Clean tub. Wax if necessary. Clean drain.
  5. Clean toilet, inside and out.  Remove seat and clean around seat bolts.
  6. Clean sink and drain.
  7. Shine faucets.
  8. Clean mirror and frame .
  9. Dust light fixtures.
  10. Wash windows and window sills. Take out and wash window screens.
  11. Wash switch plates.  wash walls and trim.  Wash doors and door knobs.
  12. Wash floor registers and other vent covers.
  13. Sweep and wash floors.
  14. Reseal grout lines if necessary.

KITCHEN

  1. Open windows.
  2. Remove and clean window coverings.
  3. For each cabinet or drawer: Remove items, wipe out drawer, place items back neatly.  Donate unneeded items.
  4. Wash and sanitize cutting boards
  5. Wash cabinet doors and knobs
  6. Clean and organize non-refrigerated food. Check expiration dates. Donate what you won’t use.
  7. Clean oven and stove top.
  8. Clean and organize fridge and freezer. Defrost freezer, if necessary.  Check food expiry dates.
  9. Clean under fridge and stove.
  10. Vacuum refrigerator coils.
  11. Clean microwave.
  12. Clean crumbs out of toaster.
  13. Clean and descale kettle.
  14. Wipe down any other counter appliances
  15. wash counters and back splash.
  16. Wash and shine sink. Shine faucet. Clean drain.
  17. Clean dish washer. Use baking soda to clean the built-up gunk around the edges. Run a cycle with a cup of vinegar in a bowl on the top rack.
  18. Dust light fixtures.
  19. Wash windows and window sills.  Remove window screens and wash.
  20. Wash switch plates.
  21. Wash walls and trim as needed.
  22. Wash doors and door knobs.
  23. Wash floor registers and other vent covers
  24. Sweep and wash floor.

DINING ROOM

  1. Open windows.
  2. Wash curtains.
  3. Wipe down table, chairs, and any other furniture.
  4. Clean chair pads, if applicable.
  5. Dust any displayed china or serving dishes.
  6. Shine silverware.
  7. Wash windows and window sills.  Take out and wash window screens.
  8. Wash switch plates
  9. Wash walls and trim.
  10. Wash doors and door knobs
  11. Wash floor registers and other vent covers.
  12. Clean floors.

LIVING ROOM/ FAMILY ROOM/ PLAYROOM

  1. Open windows.
  2. Vacuum sofas.
  3. Spot clean sofas, if applicable.
  4. Launder throw pillows and blankets.
  5. Dust shelves, furniture and decor.
  6. Clean lamps and lamp shades.
  7. Wash windows and window sills.
  8. Take out and wash window screens.
  9. Clean television screen and dust electronics.
  10. Sort books and magazines.  Donate or recycle ones that no longer suit your families interests.
  11. Wash switch plates.
  12. Wash walls and trim as needed.
  13. Wash doors and knobs.
  14. Wash floor registers and other vent covers.
  15. Clean floors.

LAUNDRY ROOM

  1. Open windows.
  2. Wash windows and window sills.
  3. Take out and wash window screens.
  4. Wash cabinet doors and inside cabinets.
  5. Wash outside of washer and dryer.
  6. Wash inside of washing machine.
  7. Wash lint trap with soap and water to remove filmy build-up from laundry soaps and dryer sheets. Let air dry thoroughly before putting back in place.
  8. Wash switch plates.
  9. Wash walls and trim.
  10. Wash doors and door knobs.
  11. Wash floor registers and other vent covers.
  12. sweep and wash floors.

STAIRS

  1. Sweep/vacuum stairs. If you have pets, use a carpet rake.
  2. Spot clean walls.
  3. Wipe down handrail.
  4. Dust art and light fixtures.

Last but not least, remember to dust ceiling fans and reverse direction to push cooler air down.
fresh air 3 fan

 

‘Springtime is the awakening of the land. The March winds are the morning yawn.’

 

 

gerbers

Spring tends to have an invigorating effect – the long days of dark and cold winter are beginning to fade, much missed and necessary Vitamin D is absorbed as we expose our pale skin, birds return in mass, demanding an inordinate amount of seed, spring blooms are popping up. Whatever the cause, the promise of bountiful sunshine and the return of warmer weather, spring cleaning is a tradition that allows us to harness our renewed energy to declutter and clean our surroundings.

Removing unused items from our homes and tidying up is also a cathartic experience for many, decluttering our minds as an added bonus. Open the windows, turn on your favorite happy music (“Cheeseburger in Paradise,” anyone?), and get moving.

The mere decision of where to begin can be overwhelming. Don’t let it stop you! Whether the entire home needs a swipe or you have a room or two (or three) that are closed off simply to hide the unsightly clutter, you can absolutely make a clean/spring start, just start with a plan.

Most of us are trained to multi-task. More and more evidence is proving this to be less than effective at best. My suggestion? Break down your spring cleaning into manageable chunks. Allocate a set amount of time to devote to each room. Sarah Aguirre, a housecleaning expert, provides a great tutorial on 15-minute room clean, as well as a thorough room by room clean. One absolute gem she shares:

Classify every item of clutter in a room in to three simple categories:

  • Trash
  • Things that belong in a different room
  • Things that belong in the room, but in a different place

While you are cleaning, you have the opportunity to help others – win-win! Donate your unused items to your favorite local charities or sell them and use the profits to help others. The Guerrant Foundation, throughSpring Cleaning for a Cause’ will match your donations from sales of unneeded items to provide small loans to help some of the world’s poorest citizens, mostly women, rise from poverty.

Get busy – next week we will move on to the outside of your home and discuss projects that will give you the greatest ROI (Return on Investment), both personally and financially.

 

As always, your comments, thoughts, and suggestions are welcome.