6 Things in Your House You Aren’t Cleaning (but Totally Should)
If you’ve been following us at all lately, then you know we’re a bit germaphobic—and with good reason. Who knew, for example, that your kitchen is actually the dirtiest part of your whole house? But before you bleach down all the surfaces, hear this.
The kitchen isn’t the only place where creepy, crawly germs are hiding. Here are six other common household spots that often get overlooked, and that you might just want to check out and clean—sooner rather than later.
1. Your washing machine
That’s right, the thing that washes your clothes is actually pretty gross—especially if you tend to wash your clothes on colder temperatures. In fact, only 5% of U.S. households launder clothes at temperatures high enough to kill bacteria (roughly around 60 degrees Celsius, or 140 degrees Fahrenheit).
As for the rest of us? We’re basically creating breeding grounds for cross-contamination in our washing machines.
“Each time you open and close the washer’s doors, moisture from each cycle is trapped in the door’s seal,” says Ron Shimek, president of Mr. Appliance. “The detergent drawer is another hidden trap for moisture and mold.”
How to clean it: Prevent mold and bacteria buildup in your washing machine by leaving the lid and detergent drawer open to air out for several hours after washing.
To clean any existing mold, Shimek recommends using an even mixture of white vinegar and baking soda to wipe down affected surfaces.
2. Your toothbrush holder
How can something so small become so gross? Pretty easily, according to Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing.
“Since you use your toothbrush to clean your mouth, you expect [your toothbrush holder] to be clean. But what many don’t realize is your toothbrush is the perfect place for bacteria to hide,” James says.
In fact, a recent study by the National Sanitation Foundation found that toothbrush holders are the third-dirtiest item in your home (after kitchen sponges and sinks, of course).
How to clean it: To keep your toothbrush holder clean, James recommends storing it as far away from the toilet as possible (the struggle with spray is real) and washing your hands before brushing your teeth.
And rather than using a toothbrush holder that’s stuck in place (to the wall, for example), opt instead for one that can be swapped out and cleaned thoroughly in the dishwasher.
3. Your carpets and rugs
What’s lurking in your carpeting and throw rugs? A lot of nasty things. Allergy-inducing pet dander, pollen—and it turns out—a fair amount of mold, especially if you’re in a humid climate.
“When microscopic spores settle down onto a moist, organic surface and start to grow, that’s when you have a problem,” says Jack White, vice president of technical sales for Rainbow International.
Dust mites are another problem when it comes to carpets that haven’t been properly cleaned in a while.
“These microscopic insects are not parasitic and they don’t bite, but their shed skins, fecal matter, and secretions are the most allergy-causing components of household dust,” White says.
How to clean it: While regular vacuuming is beneficial, White recommends getting a professional cleaning every now and again as well. The reason?
“Cleaning carpets helps to remove dead skin cells, lint, hair, and dead insects, thus eliminating the food source for carpet beetles and dust mites,” he says. “Cleanings also eradicate pollutants left behind by your pet, help prevent mold growth, and kill any bacteria or viruses breeding in the carpet.”
4. Your dishwasher
Another machine that harbors too many germs to count, your dishwasher may not be as sparkling clean as you thought.
“The dishwasher is one of the biggest culprits for potential mold growth,” Shimek says. “The warm and damp environment is heaven for mold spores, especially if there’s food particles left behind from your last cycle.”
Recent studies found that dishwashers harbor something called “opportunistic pathogens,” and while these might not get everyone in the house sick, they can be dangerous for people with compromised immune systems.
How to clean it: To properly clean your dishwasher, Brian Sansoni, senior vice president of the American Cleaning Institute, has a few suggestions.
“On a daily basis, use a paper towel to remove bits of food that get left behind after each dishwashing cycle,” he says. “Once a month, give the dishwasher a deep clean by running a cycle with a dishwasher cleaning tablet. Just be sure to check that the tablet can be used in the same cycle as dishes and detergent.”
5. Your coffee maker
If you can’t remember the last time you cleaned your coffee maker, you wouldn’t be the only one.
“Believe it or not, you should be cleaning your beloved coffee maker on a daily basis,” Shimek says. “Because coffee machines utilize both water and heat in a small, confined appliance space, they can become a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and yeast.”
Java drinkers beware: A recent study from Chicago’s Loyola University found bacteria such as E. coli in half of the machines it tested.
How to clean it: “This tends to be an easy and quick process,” Shimke says. “Simply remove the pot or detachable water carafe and wash in the sink, and be sure to rinse and dry any areas that develop moisture after brewing.”
6. Your computer keyboard
Yup, it turns out that that thing we touch all day, every day is one of the nastiest surfaces in your whole house. In fact, 44% of us don’t regularly clean our keyboards, according to the American Cleaning Institute’s 2018 National Cleaning Survey.
A recent study also found that 42% of keyboards are crawling with a type of bacteria known as “gram-positive cocci,” which is known to cause sickness. Grossed out yet? Thankfully the cleanup for this one is relatively simple.
How to clean it: Get started by tipping your keyboard over a waste bin to remove all the dirt, dust, crumbs, and other debris that may be caught inside. Then get down to business with some disinfectant.
“Wipe the keys with a cleaning wipe or a cloth sprayed with an all-purpose cleaner,” Sansoni advises. “And be sure the keyboard is completely dry before reconnecting it or turning on the computer.”
Article by Larissa Runkle on realtor.com