How often should you be cleaning?
If no one in the house is sick, there’s no need to go crazy. Depending on the size of your household and how often everyone goes in and out, every other day or two to three times a week should be adequate for cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting highly-touched surfaces. If someone in your house is ill, it’s recommended to keep them isolated and to clean surfaces and surroundings daily.
Before you get cleaning, remember to check the labels on your disinfectants. ‘Sanitising’ significantly reduces the number of germs and can take a fraction of the time of disinfecting, which kills more germs than sanitizing does. Disinfecting can up to 10 minutes, so be sure you know how to use your products correctly.
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How to clean safely
• Wear rubber gloves. Rubber gloves even disposable ones, to protect your hands from drying chemicals and germs. Keep separate gloves for cleaning and washing dishes.
• Rotate the wipe or cloth to a clean area for each item you clean so you are not reinfecting surfaces and wipe surfaces in one direction to keep from merely moving germs around. Toss a wipe when it’s used up and use multiple wipes if needed.
• Wash your hands after cleaning. Once you are done cleaning (or handling dirty laundry) wash your hands per the recommended CDC method.
How to clean these 14 items
1. Remote controls
Considered one of the dirtiest items in a hotel room, household remotes get passed from person to person and rarely get cleaned, if at all.
• Remove the batteries, but replace the battery compartment’s cover.
• Dampen a cloth with 70% isopropyl alcohol or with an alcohol or disinfecting wipe, go over the remote, paying special attention to the spaces between the buttons.
• Dip a cotton swab in alcohol, squeeze out the excess, and use it to clean the narrow areas and grooves, being careful to not let any liquid drip into the remote.
• Use a toothpick to gently nudge grime from the button crevices.
• Wait a few minutes for the alcohol to evaporate, then dry the remote with a lint-free cloth and reinstall the batteries.
You carry your purse with you everywhere, so chances are it’s pretty gross. If you have a habit of placing your purse on the floor in a restaurant or even worse, in the ladies’ room, never rest it on your kitchen table or countertop.
• Finished leather purses can be quickly wiped down with a disinfecting wipe. Pay special attention to the handle or strap, zipper pulls, and the bottom. Once dry, follow up with a pass of a leather conditioning wipe, like those from Good Housekeeping Seal holder, Weiman.
• Fabric bags can’t be disinfected, but they can usually be cleaned with a cloth dipped in a mild sudsy solution and rinsed the same way. Test this method on a hidden spot first, for safety. Sanitise fabric purses with an antibacterial fabric spray.
• Unfinished leather bags should be professionally cleaned.
We’ve all learned recently that doorknobs and faucet levers need frequent disinfecting, but have you thought about the refrigerator, dishwasher and oven door handles, the microwave touchpad, the coffeemaker and stove knobs?
• Wipe away any grease or grime from handles first with soapy water, then rinse and dry.
• Zap bacteria and virus germs with your disinfectant spray or wipe. If the product dries more quickly than recommended, do a second pass and let air-dry.
Even though you may be homeschooling your child, his backpack is probably still holding much-needed school supplies and likely hasn’t been cleaned since, well, never. Some backpacks are machine washable and dryable. If yours isn’t, here’s how to de-germ it.
• Clean it by hand inside and out with a cloth or soft brush dipped in a sudsy solution. Be sure to go over the straps and bottom, which are likely the dirtiest spots.
• Dip the backpack in a sink of clear water to rinse and blot dry with a towel.
• Allow it to fully air dry, they spray the backpack inside and out with a disinfecting spray to sanitise it.
5. Hand and dishtowels
Sure, you launder these workhorses of the kitchen and bathroom, but now’s the time to change them out more frequently. If you have a busy household, replace them daily or every two days.
• White towels can be machine washed in hot water with regular bleach.
• Coloured towels can usually handle the addition of a colour-safe oxy bleach and stain remover, but check the care label to be sure.
• As an extra measure, add in a laundry sanitizer, like Lysol. It will kill bacteria, but not viruses.
6. Light switches
You touch them multiple times a day, so don’t forget to clean these high-traffic spaces often.
• Use damp cloth to clean off dust and grime. Be careful not to let any liquid seep behind the switch.
• With a disinfecting wipe or a cotton ball dampened with 70% isopropyl alcohol and well squeezed out, swab all sides of the switch and backplate. Again, be careful that no liquid gets inside. Allow it to air dry.
7. Credit cards
These everyday essentials get handled by lots of people and germs can lurk in the crevices around the numbers. Give debit and credit cards a quick cleaning.
• Wipe down with an alcohol or disinfecting wipe and let them air dry before placing them back in your wallet.
8. Kitchen bin
When’s the last time you disinfected your garbage can? Now think about how often it gets touched — and with what.
• Clean the can and any removable plastic liner with warm soapy water. Then, rinse and dry it with paper towels.
• Once dry, thoroughly spray all sides of the can with a disinfecting spray and allow it to dry for the required time.
• To help keep odours down, toss in a deodoriser before putting in a clean liner.
9. Toothbrushes and holders
Dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush every three months or after recovering from a cold, but don’t forget to clean the area around your toothbrush too. To stave off bacteria, always allow toothbrushes to air dry before storing them and make sure family members close the toilet lid before flushing to contain any spray that can land on exposed toothbrushes and surfaces.
To clean the holder:
• Pop off the removable top — if your holder has one — and wash both pieces in warm soapy water, then rinse and dry.
• Alternatively, wash it in the top rack of your dishwasher. Then, soak it for five to six minutes in a mix of 4 teaspoons chlorine bleach and one quart of water, rinse and air dry upside down.
• For a mounted toothbrush holder, use a disinfecting wipe on all sides, keeping the surface wet for the recommended time.
To sanitise a toothbrush:
• Soak the bristles in hydrogen peroxide for several minutes.
• Rinse bristles thoroughly with water before using.
10. Blender gasket
The rubber ring that creates a seal between the blade assembly and the blender jar can get very dirty if you don’t completely take the blender apart for cleaning. According to NSF, a US based public health and safety organisation, the blender gasket can be one of the dirtiest items in your kitchen. Newer one-piece blender pitchers do not come apart, so they are easier to wash and keep clean and a dirty gasket is no longer an issue.
• After unplugging the blender, completely take apart the jar, including removing the blade and gasket.
• Place all the pieces in the dishwasher, if safe (check the manual or website), or wash them in hot, soapy water.
• Allow all pieces to dry completely before reassembling.
11. Can opener
If food residue lingers on this little kitchen tool, bacteria can multiply and the next time you open a can, germs may transfer into the food. If the can opener is dishwasher safe, pop it in the machine after each use. Otherwise, follow these instructions.
• For handheld can openers, wash it in hot soapy water. If needed, use a little brush to get to and behind the blade and gears.
• Electric can openers usually have pop-off blades that can be washed the same way.
• For wall-mounted can openers, use a soapy toothbrush to clean the blade area, and a cloth dipped in warm soapy water to clean the rest of the machine. Rinse with a cloth and wipe dry. Use a disinfecting wipe to go over the areas of the can opener that your fingers touch.
Kids love their toys, and it’s important that you clean your children’s washable toys often. Check the care label, though: Some delicate toys may only be safe to spot clean.
To clean solid plastic toys:
• Place in the dishwasher or soak them for five minutes in a solution of 1/2 cup chlorine bleach and one gallon of water.
• Rinse the toys well and let them air dry.
• Pay special attention to bath toys with openings that trap water inside. Squeeze or shake them vigorously to remove as much water as possible and let them air dry thoroughly to keep mould from growing inside. If you see mould, toss the toy immediately and even better, don’t use toys with holes in the bottom in the bathtub. Even rubber duckies can get mouldy inside.
To clean stuffed toys:
• Place them in a pillowcase, knot the top, and, if safe, wash and dry them on a gentle cycle with low heat.
• If your washer and dryer have steam or sanitizing cycles, use them if they won’t damage the toy.
• You can also try steaming stuffed toys with a garment steamer, spraying them with a fabric sanitizer or leaving the toys in direct sunlight for a few hours to let UV rays do the work.
13. Keys and the car
Think about it: Your house and car keys go everywhere — your purse, the car, your pockets, even the grocery store with your shopper card attached — and that means lots of touching and resting on surfaces.
• Use a disinfecting wipe to go over individual keys and the fob.
• Use your fingernail or a toothpick to work it into the grooves and crevices and air dry.
• Use clean wipes to give your car’s steering wheel, console and armrests a cleaning and don’t forget the garage door opener remote, too.
Wooden bannisters and metal railings get touched every time someone goes up and down the stairs or in and out of the house. Clorox claims its wipes are safe to use on finished wood, but first test them in a hidden spot for safety.
• Dust or clean any grime off your railings.
• Use a disinfecting wipe for the tops, sides, and wherever hands grip with a disinfecting wipe.
Source: Good Housekeeping US
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