These Are the Things You Should Clean Every Day
Sure, you spend a lot of time cleaning. It's still not enough.
Cleaning is a massive time-sink. The average American spends 28 minutes a day cleaning their home, from washing dishes after meals to cleaning up after kids and pets. That amounts to hours each week, so you might (naturally) balk when we say you need to spend even more time cleaning.
Thing is, despite this not-insignificant investment of time we all put into keeping our spaces spic-and-span, there are countless spots around the house that could use a daily once-over—and rarely, if ever, get one. To reduce the risk of pathogens treating your home like a playground, we’ve rounded up all the things you should be cleaning on a daily basis.
You may use it to clean your dishes and wipe down your countertops, but if you’re not cleaning your dish sponge on a daily basis, all you’re doing is spreading germs around your house. According to research published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology, kitchen sponges are frequently contaminated by pathogens like E. coli and salmonella and can transfer these potentially harmful bacteria onto other surfaces when you use them to clean.
Fortunately, killing the bacteria on your sponge is relatively simple: just pop it in the dishwasher for a full wash and dry cycle and you’ll have killed about as many pathogens as any cleaning method can.
Whether you’re using them in place of a cutting board or simply not wiping up spills and other stains as quickly as you should, your countertops are a hotbed of bacteria. According to research from the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), kitchen counters are among the dirtiest parts of a house, with more than 30 percent of counters harboring potentially-harmful coliform bacteria. However, a little soap and water, followed up with a diluted bleach solution, can ditch those germs once and for all.
The Bathroom Sink and Counter
You use your bathroom sink to wash your face and brush your teeth, but if you’re not cleaning it or the surrounding counters on a daily basis, you could be doing yourself a disservice. According to research conducted by TravelMath, bathroom counters in hotel rooms harbored an average of 1,288,817 colony-forming bacterial units—and they’re cleaned professionally on a regular basis—meaning your home sink could have even more bacteria on them. Still, there’s no huge need to fret: A daily wipe down with a bleach-and-water solution can kill off those bad bacteria in an instant.
If you want to keep your whole house cleaner, it’s important to not let dishes languish in your sink for days at a time. The combination of food particles and warm water in your sink create the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. In fact, the NSF found that kitchen sinks had the second highest bacterial concentrations in the whole home. Whenever possible, scrape your plates and load them directly into the dishwasher or wash them by hand immediately after use and make sure to wipe down your sink with an antibacterial cleaner or mixture of bleach and water when you’re done.
While washing your bedsheets every day may be overkill, it’s important to clean up your bed on a daily basis for both your mental and physical wellbeing. Traditional detritus, from dead skin to hair to crumbs, can make it less comfortable to sleep, leaving you tossing and turning at night—and meriting a good daily shake-out to keep it from interrupting your rest. And few things beat knowing you’ll return home to a nicely-made bed at the end of a long day.
At the very least, make sure to wash your bedsheets at least once every seven days—research suggests that your pillowcase alone has three million bacteria per square inch by the end of a single week, with that number jumping to 11.96 million by the end of a month.
Think you can get away with leaving those just-used cutting boards out on the counter without washing them? Think again. According to researchers at France’s National Center for Veterinary and Food Studies, there’s a wealth of bacteria clinging to your cutting board—especially if it’s a wooden one—and common means of removing food from cutting boards, like scraping, only gets the bacteria to burrow deeper. Be sure to hand-wash these on the daily.
Hundreds of times each day, you touch your phone—or hold it to your face. Needless to say, the thing could certainly use a regular cleaning. So, just how dirty is your device? According to one study of healthcare workers’ phones, 46 percent had six different types of bacterial growth, with Acinetobacter baumannii, a major source of infection in hospitals, and antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus among the most common. However, a simple wipe down with a cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol, taking care not to oversaturate it, can quickly kill much of the unwanted bacteria on your phone.
If you’re not washing your dish towels every day, you could be putting yourself at risk for illness. Since they’re regularly used to dry hands, clean up countertop spills, and wipe down surfaces, dish towels pick up huge amounts of bacteria on a daily basis. The NSF even listed them as the most germ-laden item in a typical home, sharing the top spot with kitchen sponges. To get them clean, make sure you’re running them through a sanitizing cycle in your washing machine and thoroughly drying them.
Your Cat’s Litter Box
Keeping your pet comfortable and healthy means more than supplying treats and belly rubs. If you have a feline friend or two at your house, it’s important that you keep their litter box clean by scooping it on a daily basis. If you don’t, you’re not only potentially creating a source of stress for your cat, you may be inadvertently encouraging them to treat anywhere else in your house—from carpets to cardboard boxes—as their de facto litter box instead.
The Shower Head
If you think that your shower head is a self-cleaning entity, you’re sadly mistaken. In fact, to keep everyone in your household healthy, it’s well worth it to wipe your shower head down with an antibacterial cleaner or bleach solution on a daily basis. So, what do you risk if you choose not to? Research out of the American Society for Microbiology links the bacteria commonly found on shower heads to an increased risk of respiratory illnesses.
Anyone who enjoys keeping their windows open on a temperate spring day would be wise to give their windowsills a daily wipe down. Open windows can contribute to higher-than-average indoor pollen levels, and, considering that ragweed pollen season is increasing in duration across the United States—and that there’s been a potentially-related uptick in environmental allergies and asthma—it’s important to keep any surfaces that could harbor high pollen counts clean.
Your Kids’ Toys
Even the cleanest households and most diligent caregivers can’t stop little kids from putting virtually anything they enjoy playing with into their mouths, making those toys well worth wiping down on a daily basis. It’s especially important to clean off those bath toys, which spend a good portion of their day soaking in bacteria-laden water—research published in Biofilms and Microbiomes reveals that 58 percent of bath toys contained fungi, while one-third of bath toys had both listeria and L. pneumophila bacteria, the latter a primary cause of Legionnaires’ disease.
If you want to keep your home a whole lot cleaner, make a point of wiping down your remote controls at the end of every day. Research presented at the 2012 General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology revealed remote controls to be the most germ-laden items in hotel rooms, with fecal bacteria appearing on 81 percent of remotes studied. Luckily, all it takes is a little rubbing alcohol on a clean cloth—or even just an antibacterial wipe—to kill most of those icky bacteria.
The Coffee Maker
If you’re using your coffee maker every day, you should be cleaning it every day, just like you would any other food preparation tool. The reservoir in coffee makers takes the fifth spot on the NSF’s household germs list; its dark, damp environment is a perfect breeding ground for mold and bacteria. To keep it clean, run a vinegar and water solution through it. And then use the same solution to wipe it down when you’re done using it for the day.
You type on your computer every day—likely for hours at a time—so it’s no wonder that the thing is crawling with bacteria. According to a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, it may even be teeming with Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause potentially-serious infections in humans. So, make sure to get out any grime lurking between your keys with computer duster and give your keyboard a daily cleaning with an electronics-safe cleaner or rubbing alcohol, making sure not to saturate the cloth you’re applying it with. And for more ways to keep your home spotless, discover these 20 Genius House-Cleaning Tricks That Will Blow Your Mind.
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