Is your home as clean as you think?
If you’ve got a regular weekly clean and the odd spring clean under your belt, you’ll probably feel relatively good about the cleanliness of your home. All too often, the visible (and obvious) areas like countertops, floors, and bathrooms reap the rewards of your cleaning prowess. But are there notoriously germ-ridden, grimy spots that you’ve unknowingly been neglecting, and do you clean the items tasked with cleaning your home? Here, we list the top six filth culprits that you might want to add to your cleaning regime – stat.
1) High-touch areas
Light switches, door handles, and remote controls are touched often, and not always by the cleanest hands – especially if you have kids in the home! Our hands carry, on average, 3,200 different germs, some of which can cause things like colds, flu, E. coli, or other viruses. Disinfecting these areas regularly (particularly during cold and flu season) can help stop viruses from spreading in your household. Thankfully, these are super easy to clean – give light switches and door handles a spray with a disinfectant or antibacterial solution and wipe with a cloth every couple of weeks. With remote controls, be careful not to get them wet – instead, spray the solution on a cloth and wipe them down.
2) More than just the toilet bowl
Cleaning the toilet is often one of the most hated jobs, but it’s also one of the most obvious. And while most of us regularly give the toilet bowl a good dose of cleaning product and a scrub, cleaning shouldn’t end there. How often do you clean your toilet’s base, seat, lid, or cistern?
If you have kids in the house, a fair bit of what’s intended for the toilet bowl doesn’t quite make it there. A neglected toilet base and seat can quickly start to smell, and if you’ve cleaned the rest of the bathroom thoroughly, these are areas you don’t want to overlook. An antibacterial spray and a handful of toilet paper are perfect for the task.
And then there’s the toilet brush. Relegated to the grossest cleaning job in the home, it also needs cleaning. And while you’re at it, the toilet brush holder – full of dripping dirty toilet water soup – is likely overdue for a clean too. Experts recommend soaking the brush and holder in hot soapy water with a splash of bleach for a couple of hours, then leaving them in the sun to dry. You should do this every week.
3) The trash can
Whether you use a plastic liner or have gone the liner-less eco-route, spills, overflows, and moisture can quickly lead to a less than hygienic trash can – many of us have these handily located in our kitchens – ick! Each time you take out the trash, give your trash can a spray with disinfectant and leave it to dry. Then, at least once a month, hose it down, scrub inside and out with a mix of bleach and detergent, and leave it to dry thoroughly.
4) Coffee with a side of….?
Forever damp and often warm, according to this International Household Germ Study, the water reservoir of your coffee machine can be dirtier than a toilet seat. You could have a lot more in that cup of joe than your daily caffeine fix! While the heat from your coffee maker may kill most of the germs, you should always empty the water reservoir after use and leave the lid off to let it completely dry. On top of this, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for regular cleaning or descaling.
5) Cleaning the cleaners
Toilet brush aside, the tools that regularly clean your home are likely to need good cleaning themselves. These household helpers sweep, swish, and scrub away grime and dirt and usually remain damp – making them the perfect place for bacteria and other nasties to breed. So don’t forget to clean these cleaners:
- Toothbrush and holder – according to the public health authority NSF, toothbrush holders shockingly contain more mold and yeast than toilet seats! Most toothbrush holders can go in the dishwasher, so throw them in there once a week or sterilize them with hot water and soap. It’s also a good idea to clean your toothbrushes – run hot water over them after every use or give them a soak in antibacterial mouthwash.
- Washing machine – mold, bacteria, and mildew quickly accumulate in the forever-damp drum of your washing machine – particularly if you wash using cold water. Once a month, run an empty load with just hot water and bleach, or buy washing machine cleaning tablets.
- Dishwasher – unless you’re one of those militant rinsers, food pieces and grease are destined to build up inside your dishwasher. Manufacturers recommend that you clean the filter weekly and perform a thorough, deep clean of the interior once a month. Here’s how.
- Sponges – wiping up various unsavory messes, sponges and cleaning cloths don’t take long to need a good clean of their own. According to this study, kitchen sponges house up to 362 species of bacteria, with about 45 billion per square centimeter – that’s on par with the inside of a toilet seat!
Make sure you sanitize them at least once a week (you can do this by popping them in your dishwasher, or in the microwave for one minute on high) and let them completely dry out.
6) The land of nod (and microscopic nasties)
There’s nothing like falling into your cozy bed at night and resting your weary head. While you probably change your bed linen regularly (do you?), with around eight hours spent here each night that include dirt, grime, sweat, oils, skin, and hair care products, you should also be cleaning your mattress and pillows. According to this article, an average bed contains between 100,000 and 10 million dust mites, and pillows over two years old have 10% of their weight composed of both living and dead dust mites and their feces. Here’s how to keep them clean:
- Mattress – every few months, vacuum the mattress thoroughly, sprinkle it with baking soda and let it sit for a couple of hours. Vacuum again to remove residue. According to the Sleep Foundation, you should replace your mattress every 6-8 years.
- Pillows – you can put cotton and synthetic pillows in the washing machine, and the Sleep Foundation recommends replacing them every one or two years.
Ignorance is no longer bliss
In most cases, ‘out of sight – out of mind’ is a significant factor in the commonly neglected areas of our homes. And it’s often these forgotten, less obvious spots where you’ll find nasties lurking – particularly in perpetually damp areas. But now you’re in the know, go forth and really clean your home!