18 Things You Should Sanitize Every Day But Aren't
From wallets to TV remotes, these are the things you need to clean daily.
With the spread of coronavirus, we're all striving to be at the top of our cleaning game, but it's easy for some things to slip through the cracks. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, we should all have been cleaning our homes and our devices more often—and more thoroughly—than we actually were. While we might be sweeping and dusting with regularity, we spoke to experts who stressed the importance of disinfecting your counters, door knobs, wallets, electronics, and a variety of other things they say you should sanitize every day.
According to a survey from the American Cleaning Institute (ACI), 42 percent of Americans are still not disinfecting properly. But now it's more vital than ever to make sure that our homes stay as clean and virus-free as possible. The items you interact with constantly in your house should be sanitized daily as a defense against coronavirus. And if you leave your home for a walk or to grab some groceries, it's even more crucial to sanitize everything you're bringing back into the house with you. To help you keep yourself healthy, we've compiled a comprehensive list of things that you should sanitize daily. And for more essential cleaning advice, try these 15 Expert Tips for Disinfecting Your House for Coronavirus.
If you're taking trips to grocery shop, that means you're taking your wallet out at the store, which makes your wallet vulnerable to exposure. Add your wallet to your post-store sanitizing routine to avoid bringing foreign bacteria or viruses into your home. Brian Sansoni, cleaning expert and national spokesperson for ACI, suggests using a disinfecting wipe on your wallet, but be sure to look up the correct cleaning method for your wallet's material to avoid tarnishing the fabric. And for more guidance on disinfecting, Here Are the Household Cleaners That Destroy the Coronavirus.
"Because our headphones come in direct contact with our ears and fingers, it is important to clean these regularly to prevent the further spread of germs," says Sansoni. No matter how clean your ears are, we all have occasional ear wax, and that wax can end up sticking to the earphone. Additionally, if you place your earphones on the tables or dressers around your home, they could pick up bacteria or viruses and then transmit them to your ear canal. You can put these concerns to rest by cleaning your earphones daily. Sansoni suggests following the manufacturer's instruction to clean your earphones properly without damaging them, but he generally recommends using a wipe with some rubbing alcohol.
Purses and reusable bags
Most stores have stopped accepting reusable bags at checkout because they could be a host to the coronavirus. If you are still using a purse or reusable bag, however, make sure to give it the sanitizing treatment when you bring it back inside your home. In addition to a daily wipe down, you should do a more intensive cleaning of your bags once a week.
According to ACI's guidelines, woven and non-woven polypropylene, cotton, bamboo, or hemp bags can generally go in the washing machine. All those materials, aside from cotton, cannot go in the dryer and should be line dried. Nylon, polyester, or insulated bags should be hand washed with soap and water. And for cleaning errors to avoid, make sure you're aware of these 7 Disinfecting Mistakes You're Probably Making and Tips to Fix Them.
A month ago, you probably never considered cleaning your phone every day. But it's likely the one thing you touch more than anything else throughout the day. "If not wiped down with disinfectant, the handling of your iPhone after being in multiple places may counteract the benefits of hand washing," says Lucky Sekhon, MD, of Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York.
Remember to wipe your phone down before and after calls, too. "Your mouth comes in close contact with the contaminated surface leading to an increased risk of transmission of contaminants," Sekhon says.
"They're commonly put in your pants or jacket pocket and are touched every time you leave and return to your home—and possibly several times in between, while out doing errands," says Sekhon. So whenever you return home, scrub them down with a little disinfectant and leave them to dry by your door.
If you wear glasses every day, you might not be aware of how often you're touching your face. "When adjusting your glasses, you often inadvertently touch your face and may be tempted to rub your eyes without washing your hands first," Sekhon says. "Droplets from a person's sneeze or cough could land on your glasses," she adds, so it's important to clean them throughout the day.
Door knobs and light switches
These are some of the most commonly touched surfaces in your home. In fact, you probably touch them more than you think. "It is important to make a regular habit of disinfecting and wiping down all door knobs in the house, particularly those leading out and in through the front door of your home," says Sekhon. This goes for the light switches at the entrance of every room, too—especially the ones by your front door.
"It is easy to forget the high risk of your desk getting contaminated from routinely placing items—smartphone, wallet, keys, etc.—on its surface," says Sekhon. That's why she recommends cleaning it daily—particularly now that you're likely working from home. Clear the surface of any items and use a multipurpose cleanser with a towel to prep it for the next day.
If you share electronics with family members, your spouse, or roommates, "it poses a significant risk of spreading germs/viral particles," Sekhon says. This includes everything from kitchen gadgets to gaming devices, tablets, and phones. While it might be unrealistic to clean all the electronics in your home on a daily basis, at least be mindful of when you're using something, and if someone was using it before you or will be using it after you.
Find yourself watching a lot of TV right now? No judgment here—we all are. But that means your remotes and other controllers are in desperate need of a good cleaning. Before you shut down for the night, try to remember to give them a quick wipe down with some kind of disinfectant.
"Before you bring new packages and products into your house, wipe them down with some type of disinfectant," suggests Amy Vance, owner of EcoModern Concierge. "I would even consider doing this with just general mail as well." And once your mail and packages are inside, keep the mail area clean and uncluttered by wiping it down, and recycling junk mail and empty boxes every night.
Your toilet is a hot-bed of germs and nasty bacteria—and it's easy for them to multiply with repeated uses of your bathroom throughout the day. "We should be wiping down the toilet flush handles and buttons often," Vance says. Again, after you brush your teeth at night, wipe or spray the handles and give the outside of the toilet a quick cleanse.
Your bathroom is the room where you go to get yourself clean, so you certainly want to make sure it's germ-free every day. "Give your bathroom sink and counters a quick wipe down after you brush your teeth," says professional organizer Tova Weinstock. "Keep some Clorox wipes next to your bathroom vanity for quick access."
You've already nailed the nightly sink-basin cleanse, but minimalism coach Rose Lounsbury suggests going the extra mile to ensure your sink area is as spotless as can be. "Those faucet handles are definite germ zones. And while you're at it, spritz down the pump on your soap dispenser," she says. You might not think about it, but your soap pump can hold onto all the contaminants from your unwashed hands.
"This is a place where food and hands meet, so you definitely want this to be germ-free," explains Lousbury. After each meal, use a simple multi-purpose cleaner to clear away crumbs, clean off the surface, and keep it free of bacteria and grime. This also ensures you won't pass on any germs to the next person who eats there.
These days, you're probably using your kitchen counter several times a day, whether you're cooking meals or simply setting down the takeout food you just picked up. Weinstock suggests wiping your counter down each night to keep your kitchen germ-free.
"If there are dirty dishes that you can't get to before bed, leave them soaking in the sink overnight," she adds. They won't take up room on the counter, plus "they'll be way easier to clean in the morning."
Craft table/play area
With your kids spending more time at home now, you're already doing your best to keep them clean and healthy. But you can't forget about the surfaces they use most often. When they're playing and crafting, you'll want to make sure their tables are clean and free of any germs. "Keep everyone healthy by giving their play surfaces a squirt of disinfectant daily," Lousbury advises.
Your bedside table is more than likely the place where you put your phone every night before going to bed. It also may hold things like water bottles, hair ties, reading material, loose change, and more—all which have been exposed to germs at some point during the day. Besides, "this sacred space is close to your head all night, so leaving it clear and tidy will help you wake up on the right side of the bed and feel more in control," Weinstock adds. So clear away the clutter every day, and give it a good wipe down before you drift off to sleep.