The average working American spends 58 minutes a day on housework, but somewhere between scrubbing and scouring, your cleaning regime may be falling short. This weekend, before you post that honey-do list, consider these 10 household areas that are often overlooked.
- Kitchen sponge
No matter how soapy it gets, your kitchen sponge is not germ-resistant. Some people microwave them to bust bacteria, but your best bet is using bleach. Using one part bleach and nine parts water, soak the sponge for about 30 seconds. Store the extra, unused solution for future use.
- Light switches
Under every visible fingerprint are many more you cannot see. Considering that our hands have approximately 1,500 bacteria on them, it’s time to give light switches some love. To clean, use standard kitchen cleaner, but never spray directly onto the switch. Lightly spray a cloth, and buff until clean.
- Toothbrush holder
Your toothbrush has a 3- to 4-month shelf life — but your holder is in it for the long haul. Make sure it’s free from foam and building bacteria by cleaning it once a week. Start by washing it out with hot water, then pour mouthwash in it to sanitize. Rinse it out, wipe it down and put it back to work.
Anatomically speaking, ear wax is vital to our ear health, but when it comes to our earbuds, we can do without it. Easily clean your earbuds by mixing a few drops of mild dish detergent with warm water. Remove any silicone covers, and wipe the buds using a very small amount of liquid. Make sure they dry completely before using them again.
- Remote controls
TV remotes are dominated by grimy fingers and wedged under couch cushions, so they need to be cleaned. Like earbuds, you can clean remotes with a small amount of soap and water — taking care not to let water into the remote itself. To clear extra gunk from around the buttons, use a toothpick.
Let’s start here: make your bathroom a phone-free zone! Now that we’ve got that covered, cellphones can be easily wiped down with an alcohol-free antimicrobial spray and a soft cloth. A dry, unused toothbrush does the trick when cleaning crevices.
- Reusable grocery bags
Be sure to bag raw meat, fish and poultry items in individual plastic bags to avoid illness before placing them in reusable bags. While canvas or cloth bags can be thrown in the washer, clean plastic-lined bags with a cloth and soapy water.
- Yoga mats
Bacteria grows in warm, moist environments, so it loves your yoga mat’s porous material. Avoid skin infections by mixing one cup of white vinegar, two cups of water and 10 drops of tea tree oil, and using it on a cotton towel to wipe down the mat. Then hang it to dry for at least 24 hours.
Although sheet cleaning is a common occurrence, most people don’t realize that pillows need scouring too. Always check your pillow’s label first, but most are machine-washable on a gentle cycle with hot water and liquid detergent. To dry, use the low setting on your dryer, and add two clean tennis balls to avoid flattening.
- Air-conditioning and heating vents
Vents are easy to ignore, but their dust buildup shouldn’t be. Dust harbors allergens, and allergens can make you sick. Start by shutting off your air conditioner or heater, and if easy, remove the vent. Wash it with soap and water, using a sponge paintbrush to get between the slats. Let it dry completely before reattaching.