Follow these tips from Carolyn Forte, the Good Housekeeping Research Institute’s resident cleaning expert, to make sure your home is truly clean.
1. Kitchen sponges
Soaking up bacteria is all in a day’s work for your kitchen sponge, so unless you want to “clean” your dishes with a germy sponge, you need to disinfect or replace it regularly. To disinfect, soak the sponge in a mixture of 3/4 cup bleach and one gallon of water. You can also run it through the dishwasher or zap it in the microwave to kill germs, but if you use the microwave method, make sure the sponge is soaked with water or it could catch fire.
2. Between appliances
There may only be an inch (or less) between your refrigerator and the countertop, but that crevice can trap a lot of dirt. Use a long duster or thin vacuum attachment to clean out all the nooks and crannies.
3. Reusable grocery bags
Cloth grocery bags are great for the environment, but they’re no different than other fabrics in terms of care. Run your reusable bags through the washer regularly to remove any lingering food bacteria, turning them inside out before you toss them in. Pay attention to the bag’s fabric when selecting a dryer setting.
4. Refrigerator bins and door shelves
You probably wipe down your fridge’s interior shelving already, but don’t forget about the rest. Regularly pop out the door shelves and bins, and wash in warm, soapy water to get rid of food bacteria and spillage.
5. On top of things
Out of sight, out of mind? Not so much. We’ve warned you about wiping down the top of your refrigerator, but there are lots of other “tops” that need cleaning as well. Some common forgotten spots: the tops of light fixtures, cabinets, and the mouldings around doors and windows.
6. Ceiling fan
Speaking of being on top of things, just because you can’t see the dust accumulating atop your ceiling fan blades doesn’t mean it’s not there. To keep the dirt from swirling around the air, Forte recommends using a duster like the Wool Shop’s Lambswool Ceiling Fan Duster.
7. Small electronics
Did you know that your television remote is one of the dirtiest items in your home? Other small electronics such as your cell phone and headphones can also rack up tons of germs. Clean these items frequently with a disinfecting or alcohol wipe — make sure to use a cell phone-friendly cleaner.
Yes, you need to clean your cleaners. Brooms are great for getting rid of pesky dust bunnies, but in the process they can get trapped in the bristles. Swish the broom head around in warm, soapy water, or vacuum with a handheld attachment (then be sure to clean out the attachment).
9. Hats, scarves, mittens
Like any other piece of clothing, outerwear picks up dead skin and bacteria. Regularly run your hats, scarves, and cotton mittens through the washer. For leather gloves, wipe down with a leather cleaning wipe.
10. Gym bag
You wouldn’t consider not washing your clothes after a tough workout, so don’t forget about the bag that transports them. If your tote is machine-washable, toss it in the laundry frequently. For a bag that doesn’t fit in a machine or can’t be washed, wipe it down inside and out with a damp cloth and sprinkle in some baking soda to help absorb odors.