Sure, you can pick up microbes and viruses just about everywhere, but when they’re in your own home and on your personal items, you want to be diligent about sending them packing. With colds and flu popping up all the time, it doesn’t hurt to add these items to your spring cleaning schedule.
10 Spots Not To Skip When Spring Cleaning
- Knobs, Buttons, and Handles. These three things are some of the most used surfaces in your home, and as such, they make a great place for germs to gather. Use disinfecting wipes on all the doorknobs, buttons and handles throughout your home to reduce the risk of an infection, particularly during cold and flu season.
- Laundry Baskets. If you’re like most people, you clean out trashcans regularly, but you forget about the laundry baskets. But just think about all the dirty, sweaty and damp laundry that lives in those baskets between laundry days. Dirty towels are particularly prone to mold, mildew, and bacteria – including the dreaded staph infection. As you empty baskets on laundry day, make sure to disinfect your baskets and hampers with a spray disinfectant. Let dry completely before use.
- Handheld Electronics. Smartphones, remote controls, tablets, and other handheld devices collect tons of grime and germs from your hands. A study by researchers in the United Kingdom showed that one in four Londoners had E. coli on their hands and one in six phones were contaminated with fecal bacteria. Yuck! Prevent illnesses by wiping down your handheld devices at least once per week with alcohol-based wipes (never spray phones with disinfectant directly).
- The Refrigerator. You already knew that the fridge was a haven for bacteria and mold, but are you cleaning it well enough? Wiping down the shelves and drawers will keep your fridge looking clean, but sanitizing regularly with a bleach solution or a disinfectant is even better. You may find that with fewer germs in the fridge, your food keeps longer. Be sure to get that black mold that settles in the magnetic seal of both the fridge and freezer!
- The Kitchen Sink. You read that right! According to many reports, kitchen sinks are the dirtiest spots in our homes despite the fact that we clean them daily. Every square inch of the drain can have more than 500,000 bacteria, including E. coli, campylobacter, and salmonella—germier than a toilet seat! To make sure that your sink is truly clean, wipe it down with a bleach and water solution, then pour the remainder down the drain.
- Pet Toys. Research from NSF International found that pet toys were one of the absolute germiest items in the average home. They found that these toys held more staph bacteria than any other household object, and 55% of the toys they tested contained yeast and mold. Keep your pet’s toys clean by soaking hard toys with a bleach solution and let dry completely. Plush toys can safely be laundered.
- Hand Towels. Who doesn’t love beautiful hand towels hanging next to the bathroom sink that matches the decor? Germs love them, too—they’re damp, and they’re covered in dead skin cells, fecal bacteria and cold and flu viruses from every hand belonging to your guests. Scrap the fancy monogrammed hand towels and switch over to towels that can be laundered between each use.
- Earbuds. If you workout at the gym a few times a week and listen to music or podcasts with earbuds they are probably in need of disinfecting. They are constantly exposed to sweat and bacteria which can lead to ear infections. Detach and clean them after each use with some disinfecting alcohol wipes (never submerge in water). Wipe the ear portion as well as the cord. Consider silicone covers which you can take off and soak in soapy water. Dry thoroughly before use.
- Purses, Handbags, and Backpacks. When you think about all the filthy places that you’ve set down your purse or backpack – under the seat of the bus, or the public bathroom floor – it’s no surprise that these items are a hotspot for germs. Launder totes and backpacks if you can and wipe purses thoroughly with disinfectant/alcohol wipes. Leather goods and other non-washables are best kept near the door so they don’t contaminate the rest of your home.
- Sponges. Of all the places for bacteria to hang out, that sponge on your kitchen sink is like a beach resort. Even the cleanest looking sponge holds tons of tiny food particles and just enough moisture to keep bacteria happy. If you can’t part with your sponges, then there are a couple of solutions: Soak them in a mild bleach solution once per week (1 tablespoon bleach in a half-gallon of water).