20 Things in Your Home You Didn’t Realize You Should Be Cleaning
Don't skimp on scrubbing these insidiously filthy spots.
We get it: Household chores are no fun. There’s a reason why the term “spring cleaning” exists—because most of us leave the bulk of our cleaning to do only once a year. Though, according to a study conducted by Clorox, the maestros of cleanliness, people actually tend to be happier after cleaning their home. In fact, 53 percent of the 2,000 people surveyed claimed to feel happier after just an extra hour of cleaning per week.
But before you break out the cleaning supplies (and the requisite bottle of wine), you should learn about all of the spots you need to clean—because it’s a good bet you’re missing a few. Like your hair brushes? Or your heating vents? Or your gaming consoles? (Yeah, we thought so…) If cleanliness is godliness, the path to a higher power starts here. And for more ways to unleash your inner cleaning machine, check out these 20 Products That Make Cleaning So Much Easier.
How many times a day do you touch your remote controls? And how many times can you honestly say you’ve cleaned yours? We’re guessing it’s probably close to zero. According to a study conducted by the University of Virginia, found that half the remote controls tested contained cold viruses. To get rid of these germs once and for all, you can either grab an alcohol wipe and apply a quick scrub, or wash them by hand at least once a month. And for more ways to keep your house in tip-top shape, check out these 20 Genius House-Cleaning Tricks That Will Blow Your Mind.
Heads up, gamers: You should add your Xbox to your dusting regimen. If enough dust builds up on the console, the GPU, CPU, and other processors could suffer. (Meaning: Your console won’t function quite as quickly.) And it can even impede the disk reader, which will make it hard to load games—though, if you’re a proud owner of the snazzy new Xbox One S 1TB All-Digital Edition, which has an expanded hard drive and built-in game library (including the excellent Sea of Thieves) in lieu of a disk reader, that particular issue won’t be a problem.
The Space Under Your Fridge
First of all, if you’re not regularly cleaning the inside of your fridge, then that’s a good start. Researchers from Microban Europe discovered multiple dangerous strains of bacteria just inside your refrigerator (you know, the place where your next meal is waiting). At least once every other month, get in the habit of cleaning out any dirt and dust from the bottom of your refrigerator.
The Ice Maker
This is another area of the refrigerator often neglected by soap and sponge. According to The Housekeeping Channel, if even the freshest ice cubes come out of the machine appearing cloudy and smelling weird or stale, it might be a good time to sanitize. Even so, you should still make a habit of cleaning your ice maker at least twice a year to avoid consuming any unwanted bacteria. And for more unknown dangers lurking in your household, check out these 20 Household Products That Could Be Dangerous.
Hairbrushes and Combs
In the case of these unsung heroes, it’s not enough to just pull stray hair from its bristles, says Francesca Fusco, a dermatologist in New York City. In fact, at least once a month, you should be in the habit of removing all stray hairs by hand (or with scissors, for the difficult strands), and shampooing the brush and let it sit out overnight at least once a month. And if you decide to outsource your cleaning efforts, check out these 20 Secrets Housekeepers Won’t Tell You.
The Washing Machine
Those magical machines that allow us to wear clean clothes every day are also subject to the spread of bacteria. According to green living expert Leslie Reichert, if your clothes smell like mildew directly after a wash cycle, it might be time to do a deep clean of the machine. Fortunately, the deep clean doesn’t require much effort on your part—just set your washer on the cycle with the hottest water and add a little vinegar.
In order to avoid unnecessary air pollution in the home, the EPA recommends getting your air ducts cleaned every 3 to 5 years, as needed. It’s important to clean your air ducts immediately if you notice substantial mold growing on the surfaces, the ducts are infested with vermin, or if the vents are clogged with excessive amounts of dirt and dust. According to the EPA, the best way to clean your ducts is by hiring professional duct cleaners.
Since old-fashioned lightbulbs are steadily being replaced by longer-lasting LED light bulbs, this means that they have more potential to gather dust as they age, according to Popular Mechanics. In fact, most LED lights, when used for approximately three hours per day, have an average lifespan of 13 years—accumulating more than a decade of dirt and dust. Since these dusty lightbulbs can turn into a potential fire hazard, cleaning the bulb with a feather duster at least once every few months is essential.
Yoga and Exercise Mats
If you’re leading an average, healthy life, you’re at least sweating on these exercise staples three to four times a week—but how often are you wiping them down after a particularly sweaty workout? According to Sky Meltzer, CEO of Manduka, a major yoga mat retailer, you should be wiping down your mat after every workout with a cloth and equal parts water and apple cider vinegar.
Perhaps the only thing dirtier than your dog’s mouth is that squeaky toy that they love so much. According to research from the National Safety Federation, your furry friend’s toy collection is on the list of the ten most germ-infested places in the home, often containing coliform bacteria (including Staph bacteria), yeast, and mold. You can wash these toys on the top shelf of your dishwasher or in the washing machine, placed on the sanitizing cycle. For your pet’s protection, throw away any toys with ripped seams (places where mold can spread) or any toys chewed to the point of having sharp edges, as they could possibly puncture the dog’s mouth.
Even though the décor may not house the most germs in your bathroom, according to a report by The Sun, there are over 452 bacteria per square inch on the shelves where your chic accessories rest, mostly left alone, all year long. So, wipe down this decor at least once a month with disinfectant to settle the score with your household germs.
The dish-drying rack is another place that you rely upon to stay clean and bacteria-free—so why aren’t you making the effort to keep it spotless? As reported in The Atlantic, while you should be steering clear of hand-washing and opting to wash your dishes in a dishwasher, if you’re not equipped with the latest technology, there’s no need to panic. For a truly clean hand-washing experience, be sure to keep the dish rack dry at all times, and keep the rack clean of grime by washing it like a dish, with soap and hot water. Rinse and repeat this on a weekly basis.
According to Sascha de Gersdorff, Executive Editor of Cosmopolitan, you should get in the habit of wiping or vacuuming your curtains at least once a month, as they can carry pet fur, dander, and bacteria.
Your showerhead can be one of the most germ-filled places in your home, according to Matthew Gebert, research technician in the Fierer Laboratory at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado in Boulder,—yet you’re most likely neglecting to clean it on a regular basis—or simply, not at all. So, if you’d like to avoid multiple strains of bacteria falling down on to your clean body every day, clean your showerhead with a toothbrush and typical bathroom cleaner at least once a week. Further, to ensure that your bacteria build-up is as minimal as possible between washes, stick to a metal showerhead, as the plastic variety tend to gather more grime.
There’s a definite possibility that you’ve never even glanced at your refrigerator coils—let alone taken a stab at giving them a good scrub. According to general contractor Gary Abrams, you should be cleaning your refrigerator coils at least twice a year, and this number doubles if you have pets. This instructional video will help you to get rid of your refrigerator grime as soon as possible.
You likely touch these germ-infested switches at least a few times a day, though neglect to clean them more just once twice a year. According to Healthline.com, you should be cleaning these bacteria-havens at least once a week with disinfecting wipes.
The Toothbrush Holder
According to one NSF study, 27 percent toothbrush holders contain harmful bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli. In order to this spread of bacteria in the future, clean your toothbrush holders with bathroom disinfectant at least once a week.
Reusable Grocery Bags
These bags are great for the environment, but still require a thorough cleaning, says the American Cleaning Insitute. In fact, you should be cleaning them after each grocery trip, following the care guidelines laid out on the fabric care label. Along with these deep cleans, avoid storing your bags in the car, where the often dark and damp spaces breed more bacteria.
Your keys also provide a breeding ground for multiple kinds of bacteria, says Amanda Kita-Yarbro, a Public Health Madison epidemiologist. Routinely wiping your house keys down with sanitizing wipes can reduce the number of germs you’re transmitting from yourself to others.
The Coffee Maker
Yes, coffee is what gets us going—but it also may be giving our bacteria some undeserved focus, according to a 2011 NSF household study, which identifies the reservoir of a typical coffee maker as the fifth most germ-laden part of the house. To clean out your coffee maker, run the removable parts through the dishwasher, and clean the reservoir with a mix of vinegar and water. And for more ways to keep your home spic and span, learn about these 25 Totally Gross Things You Use Every Day and Should Definitely Clean.
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