When it’s time for spring cleaning, we all get our cleaning supplies out for the windows, the tabletops, the carpet and anything with stainless steel (those fingerprints!). That said, it’s easy to gloss over, breeze past or totally forget other germ sources in the house that deserve a good wipe down or wash.
We asked Leslie Reichert, green cleaning coach and author of The Joy of Green Cleaning, to fill us in on the 10 most common areas we forget to tackle and how to do it right — so we’re keeping our families safe from any lingering bacteria and bugs this spring.
One of the places you touch the most is also one of the places you forget to clean the most. “You can clean them with rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or even vodka on a microfiber cloth,” Reichert says.
“I know this sounds crazy, but I watched doctors in the ER touch a patient, then move their tie out of the way – then disinfect their hands,” Reichert says. “The tie is cross contaminating the area. When do men ever launder their ties?” Take them to a professional dry cleaner on a regular basis. They’re clothes, too, guys!
Yes, credit cards are tucked away in your wallet — but for most people, that plastic also touches a whole lot out in the world and exchanges hands quite often. “Keep them in a Ziploc bag [and] have the cashier drop [the card] back into the bag and then wipe with rubbing alcohol when you get home,” Reichert says.
Everyone passes around the family remote, especially when they’re sick and only have enough energy for an at-home watchathon. “It should be cleaned with rubbing alcohol to kill the germs. You can also keep it in a Ziploc bag so that the germs don’t get down inside the remote,” Reichert says.
Just like door knobs, you touch light switches every day, too. “If you look at them, they are full of fingerprints,” Reichert says. “Use some rubbing alcohol after washing them with a light soap and a microfiber cloth.” This also goes for light switches on labs, which Reichert says are never, ever cleaned by the average person.
Coffee Makers & Pots
Though we can’t survive without our morning coffee fix, cleaning the coffee maker is something we probably don’t think about enough, even though it should be cleaned on a weekly basis. “The warm moist environment is perfect for mold and mildew, so empty it, clean with white vinegar and rinse out twice,” Reichert says.
Underneath the Toilet Bowl
Not the surface stuff — we’re talking about underneath the toilet bowl rim. “This is a dark, moist area that is full of mold,” Reichert explains. “You need a long stiff brush to get up underneath to remove the mold. Use a powdered cleanser to loosen it up and keep scrubbing!”
Reichert says the leftover food in your garbage disposal, combined with water, can begin to build up within 12 to 24 hours, so it should be cleaned every week with frozen lemon peels, salt and white vinegar to remove food particles.
Ice Cube Trays
If you still have an ice cube tray in your freezer, here’s another question: have you ever cleaned it? “Fingers and hands are all over them, yet we just put them back into freezer without ever cleaning them,” Reichert says. Try putting them in the dishwasher, and do the same thing for silverware trays, which are dust, crumb and dirt collectors.
You probably give your stove top a good cleaning, but it’s also important to spring clean the exhaust fan. Reichert says it builds up with grease from your stove, so pop it in the dishwasher — just not with glasses or goblets.
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