Even if you’re diligent about keeping up with weekly cleaning routines, chances are there are things you are not cleaning…but should. It’s not that family or guests would notice these places, so it’s understandable if they don’t get your regular attention. But they are dirty, and if left untreated they can lead to a surprising amount of germs, mold, or smells that people will notice.
5 Things You Are Not Cleaning (but should)
1. Garbage disposal gasket.
Sure, you clean the garbage disposal regularly to keep it working well and odor-free, but when was the last time you really cleaned the gasket?
Do this: Put on a rubber glove and carefully pull up the flanges on the garbage disposal gasket. Spray them thoroughly with a disinfecting all-purpose cleaner, then grab an old toothbrush and start scrubbing. Rinse and spray again as needed. Finish by washing with hot soapy water. Repeat weekly.
2. Pet bowls.
Your pet’s food and water bowls can develop the same type of slime found on a dirty shower curtain. Known as biofilm, this nasty stuff thrives where moisture and nutrients provide a breeding ground for bacteria, and then it acts like glue keeping the bacteria in place. Even if your pets are not outside picking up fungi and parasites from things they smell or roll around in, their food often contains microorganisms that can make you and your pet sick.
Do this: Clean pet bowls daily by scrubbing to break up and dislodge the biofilm then wash them in hot, soapy water. It’s best not to do this in the kitchen sink but, if you must do it there, disinfect with a daily sink spray afterward. Pet bowls should be disinfected, too. One way to do this is by adding 1 teaspoon of bleach to 1 gallon of water and letting the bowls sit in this for 10 minutes. Of course, you must rinse them very thoroughly afterward. Or, pop them in your dishwasher and use the sanitize setting. Repeat at least once a week.
3. Purses and handbags.
Newsflash: your purse might be dirtier than a toilet. It’s not just the handles you’re constantly grabbing after touching money (and we all know how filthy that is). The bottom of your purse picks up bacteria from surfaces you set it on, the sides can get contaminated with e. Coli when you hang your bag on a restroom stall’s hook, and the inside often harbors mold spores.
Do this: At least once a week wipe your purse’s exterior with disinfecting wipes, particularly the handles. Every few weeks empty your purse completely and shake it out over a sink, then wipe the interior with a disinfecting wipe, too. And consider carrying a purse hook to hang your bag from your table rather than setting it down on a restaurant’s floor. Repeat weekly.
4. Laundry baskets.
You toss dirty clothes in the laundry basket to carry them to the washing machine. Once they’re dry you put clean clothes in the same basket to carry them to where they belong. That basket, meanwhile, gets coated with fecal matter from dirty underwear, bacteria from sweaty t-shirts, pollen if you’ve been outdoors, and pet hair — all of which are going back on your clean clothes.
Do this: Use separate laundry baskets for clean and dirty clothes. Clean both with disinfecting spray and a microfiber cloth. Repeat weekly.
5. Floor registers.
You already know that dust settles on floors. It settles in your heating system’s floor registers, too, along with pet hair. If you have small children it’s also possible there are a few toys, crushed Cheerios, or other surprises in there. Every time your heat or central air runs, that mess wafting through your home.
Do this: Pull the register vents up and wash them with hot, soapy water. While they fully dry, use your vacuum cleaner’s hose to clean as far down in the duct as you can. Don’t use an attachment beyond the top few inches or it may come off and you won’t be able to reach it. Finally, reach in and wipe the duct with a damp microfiber cloth, rinsing it cloth repeatedly. Repeat monthly.
Of course, probably no one will notice these things you are not cleaning — even once you’ve cleaned them. Still, they’re small but important habits to adopt to protect your family’s health and reduce bacterial hazards and odors in your home.
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