9 Places in Your Home You Didn't Know You Needed to Disinfect
You'd never expect that germs are lurking in these corners of your home.
If you're like most Americans, your hygiene habits have recently graduated to Master Level in the age of the coronavirus pandemic. The scent of Lysol has gone from being offensive to comforting, your surfaces are so sparse and sparkling that they would impress Marie Kondo for the first time ever, and your hands have seen more sanitizer in the last few months than the rest of your life combined. In short, our new standards of cleanliness demand that we do whatever it takes to keep harmful bacteria and viruses at bay for the sake of basic health and safety, but even the most thorough among us are still overlooking places we need to disinfect in our home.
As scary as it is to hear, there are germs lurking in every corner. Pull back the curtain (figuratively of course, but also literally!), and you'll unearth a whole host of new things that you didn't know you needed to clean. By doing so, your home can continue to be the safe haven that you and your family need. And to make sure you have your facts straight, learn 13 Cleaning Myths You Need to Stop Believing.
While cleaning appliances like dishwashers may, at face value, seem clean themselves, they can actually be hotbeds of bacteria and germs. Tony Cronk, president of cleaning product company Summit Brands, explains that dishwashers "are subject to build-up and residue that can not only impair the performance of the machines, but can also create an environment for bacteria and other elements that can harm your family's health." And to make the most of your cleaning routine, This One Disinfectant Can Keep Surfaces Coronavirus Free for Weeks.
Similarly, washing machines and laundry rooms can also harbor unwanted germs, grime, and even mold. "While you're doing your laundry, remember that wet laundry can be a good incubator for germs," says Seema Sarin, MD, director of lifestyle medicine at EHE Health. She recommends moving wet laundry to the dryer as quickly as possible after washing, and wiping down surfaces on washers and dryers with disinfectant wipes. "Hot water can shrink clothing but it can also kill germs effectively, so use it whenever you can," she adds.
In the age of quarantine, most of us are taking more frequent trips to the refrigerator—meaning we're touching its handle often throughout the day. That's why Sarin recommends using disinfecting wipes to sanitize the handles regularly, along with any interior drawer handles. And to make sure your quarantine habits are up to code, discover 7 Coronavirus Mistakes You're Making That Would Horrify Your Doctor.
We all know that our kitchens need to be regularly disinfected, but not all kitchen items require the same amount of disinfection. "Pay special attention to items like the coffee maker, which is likely to have an increased level of touch traffic as we shelter in place," urges Jotham Hatch, a certified home health expert and the vice president of training for home cleaning company Chem-Dry. Be sure to regularly clean the water cartridge, which can become a petri dish of dangerous germs if it regularly goes unchecked.
As you clean your space, don't forget to include the corners that your pets call home. "According to the National Sanitation Foundation, pet dishes are the fourth most contaminated surfaces in the average home," explains Sarin. That's why it's important to clean their food and water bowls daily with hot water and dish detergent, or put them in the dishwasher—just as you would with your own plates. Sarin also suggests disinfecting them more vigorously once a week, along with pet toys and beds, which can be laundered with hot water.
When disinfecting our homes, it's all too easy to forget our blinds and ceiling fans. That's why Hatch says that these locations can spread unwanted dust, dirt, and germs effortlessly. "Because blinds are next to windows, they quickly collect dust and dirt particles. So do ceiling fans, and when we turn them on, the accumulated dust and dirt gets re-distributed around the house," he says. To curb the build-up, develop a weekly habit of washing blinds and wiping off ceiling blades before they have time to wreak havoc on your home. And to learn more about which cleaning products to use, here are 10 Disinfectants That Kill Coronavirus Faster Than Lysol Wipes.
When it comes to disinfecting your home, be sure not to overlook your tech and devices—or the places that house them. Remotes, keyboards, phones, or other handheld devices are rife with contamination. "These items have some of the dirtiest surfaces in our homes because they are in constant contact with our hands," explains Hatch. "Some of the items even travel with us when we go to the outside world," he adds.
As Hatch points out, many of us have begun working out more at home during this time of restricted movement and closed businesses. That's why it's so important to disinfect our workout spaces, including mats, weights, or the surfaces of any other exercise equipment that come in contact with our hands or sweat. "We typically forget to clean those, but now that there is likely an increase in use, these surfaces need to be cleaned," he says.
Don't forget the microwave! Sarin suggests regularly wiping down your microwave—particularly the handle and buttons—with disinfecting wipes. Like many things in your home, it's likely that you're using it more frequently these days, and a speedy 10 seconds of cleaning could keep unwanted germs and bacteria at bay. And to make sure you're keeping your home in good shape, Here's How Often You Should Clean Every Room in Your House.