Angie's List: How can I rid my home of sickness-causing germs?
In the cold and flu season, it’s more important than ever to minimize germs that could make you and your family sick. Focus on these steps when you’re housecleaning in order to eliminate the nasty bugs taking refuge in your home.
WHERE ARE THE GERMS HIDING?
You’ll find germs in the most unexpected places. When cleaning, focus on the elements you touch most often. Light switches, doorknobs, remote controls and faucet handles all harbor lots of germs, so clean them carefully with disinfectant wipes. Wash all your bedding in hot water and the hottest dryer setting once per week. This includes blankets and furniture covers.
Regularly clean your computer keyboard and any mobile devices as well.
If you use a humidifier, clean it regularly. They provide excellent breeding grounds for bacteria.
Toothbrush holders, the kitchen sink and sponges are some of the germiest places in your home, so take special care to thoroughly clean them. Soak sponges in a bowl of hot water and run them through the microwave for a few minutes. You can also run them through your dishwasher’s sanitary cycle instead. This works best for sponges with metal components, which can’t go in the microwave.
Wash your hands regularly, using soap and warm water and scrubbing for at least 15 seconds.
When housecleaning, don’t overlook your ceiling fan, where dust and debris can settle. Here’s an easy trick to clean it: slide an old pillow case over each blade, then remove it carefully to avoid spilling the dust.
WHO CLEANS THE CLEANERS?
Even if you diligently stay on top of household cleaning, the supplies you use aren’t self-cleaning, and they need regular care to stay in good shape. You may think of them as self-cleaning, since they’re constantly doused in soap or cleaning solution, but the grime builds up quickly. Scrubbing down your cleaning supplies on a regular basis keeps your house cleaner and prevents the spread of germs.
Clean your brooms at least once per month. Shake out debris over a trash can and rinse them thoroughly. Let them soak in a bucket with a bleach and water solution for about 20 minutes, then rinse and dry. Take care not to soak wood handles, though.
That nasty toilet brush should be soaked in a quart of water mixed with two cups of vinegar, a tablespoon of borax and a half-teaspoon of dish soap. Make sure you replace it every four to six months.
Mopping pads and cleaning cloths can be cleaned with a quick run through the washing machine’s hottest setting.
You no doubt empty your vacuum’s chamber every time you use it, but all those moving parts require attention as well. Regularly inspect your filters and replace them as needed. Check the hose, moving parts and spinning head for hair and string and clear it out. At least twice a year, wash the hard attachments in soapy water.
Paul F.P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie’s List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.