Sure, you probably already clean the bathroom, wipe down the kitchen counters, and dust your baseboards on a regular basis in order to keep your house clean. But if you’re like most people, you’re probably neglecting to clean some seemingly innocuous items that may be home to a whole host of germs. Here are just a few of the household items that you should regularly clean and what you can do to sanitize them.
Refrigerator drip pans. The drip or drain pan, which is typically located at the bottom of the refrigerator, often falls into the “out of sight, out of mind” trap. And unfortunately, as the name suggests, this little-known pan collects the dirt and liquid materials that drain from your refrigerator during the self-defrosting cycle. To clean it, get rubber gloves and a clean scrubbing brush or sponge. Make sure you know where your drip pan is by checking your refrigerator’s manual. Then unplug the fridge, pull the drip pan out slowly to avoid splashing, wash out any loose debris, and then scrub encrusted debris using soap and hot water.
Sponges. That’s right—the very item that we use to clean dishes and counters is itself a germ magnet. That’s because the crevices in sponges generally stay wet after you’re done using them, creating the perfect environment for bacteria. Fortunately, you can kill 99% of bacteria on your sponge by putting it in the microwave on high for two minutes.
Microwaves. Of course, if you’re going to clean your sponge using the microwave, you should also make sure your microwave is clean. There are several popular methods for cleaning microwaves, but one that you may want to try involves filling a microwave-safe bowl with warm water and dishwashing liquid, putting the bowl in the microwave until it starts to steam (usually about one minute), removing the bowl, and wiping down all the surfaces in the microwave with a clean sponge. The stream from the water and soap mixture should help loosen any debris that has become encrusted on the microwave.
Reusable water bottles. Many of us drink out of reusable water bottles so that we can stay hydrated on the go and avoid producing too much container waste. Unfortunately, bacteria (including E. coli) can grow on the inside of these bottles if they aren’t regularly cleaned. To make cleaning your water bottle as easy as possible, choose one with a wide mouth and a relatively scratch-resistant surface (stainless steel is a good choice). You can wash the bottle with soap and water, but you should also clean it with a bleach solution at least once a week. Just make sure to thoroughly rinse it afterwards!
Laundry hampers. It shouldn’t come as too big a surprise that laundry hampers get dirty—after all, we put dirty clothes in them—yet few people think to wash them. The best solution is to use a washable cloth laundry bag that you can throw in the washing machine when you wash your clothes (make sure to keep a separate laundry bag specifically for clean clothes). However, you can also clean a hard plastic hamper using a hard surface disinfectant.
Washing machines. While we’re on the subject of washing dirty clothes and laundry hampers, we should also talk about cleaning the washing machine itself. The moisture and heat left in the machine after a wash cycle gives bacteria a great environment to grow, and if you’re not careful, the machine will eventually develop a residue that will be left on your clothes. To make matters even worse, a dirty washing machine can start to smell bad and will leave that bad smell on everything you put in it. To resolve this issue, run the washing machine on hot and set it to the highest load size with a mixture of one quart white vinegar, one cup baking soda. You can also get rid of the smell by using Pure & Gentle’s washing machine deodorizer.
There are a lot of unexpected items in your home that can get dirty, but that shouldn’t be a source of stress! Just add those items to your regular cleaning list, and you’ll be making your home a healthier place for you and your family.