There are few things in life more satisfying than a deep clean, and spring is the perfect time to get into all those nooks and crannies that have been neglected all year. But while a window wash, thorough dusting, and sort through the junk drawer are all spring-cleaning musts, there are a few other areas that need attention as well. Here’s how to clean some of the dirtiest items in your home.
Forget about the bathroom — did you know that your kitchen sponge has more bacteria per square inch than what’s found in a toilet? Yuck! Disinfecting doesn’t really do much good when it comes to cleaning it either, so you’re probably best just throwing it out after a few uses. But, there are some key recommendations to follow to help prevent it from getting all nasty in the first place.
First, avoid “cleaning” your kitchen sponge in hot, soapy water. That’s just a breeding ground for bacteria growth. Second, don’t use your sponge to clean juices from raw meat -- that’s a job for paper towels. Third, clean the sponge every couple of days by either microwaving it for one minute, or popping it into the dishwasher while running a heated dry cycle. Lastly, replace your kitchen sponge every week or two.
With the second-highest concentration of germs in the home, cleaning the kitchen sink should be on your daily chore list. Start by washing the sink with soap and warm water, then use a disinfectant wipe, a mixture of water and white vinegar, or water and a small amount of bleach to disinfect the sink. Rinse well afterwards to remove any residue.
You’re likely not cleaning your coffee maker as often as you should -- making the water reservoir a hotbed for bacteria and mold growth as a result. Removable parts should be cleaned after every use, with the reservoir lid being left open to dry. Decalcify the machine monthly with an equal mix of water and white vinegar to help prevent mineral buildup, which can slow your machine down. Run two brews of plain water afterwards before percolating a fresh pot of java.
The third germiest spot in the home according to a study by NSF International, cleaning the toothbrush holder might not be a pleasant job -- but it’s important for preventing those germs from finding their way into your mouth. Follow these steps weekly to ensure a clean holder.
First, soak it for 10 minutes in hot, soapy water. Then use a pipe cleaner, straw brush, or other fine brush to scrub the inside well. Finally, sterilize it by either running it through the dishwasher, submerging it in white vinegar for 30 minutes, submerging in boiling water for 30 seconds, or soaking it in a 1:10 bleach solution for 30 minutes.
Sleep soundly at night knowing your pillow is nice and clean. After being used 8 hours a day 365 days a year, it’s bound to need a regular freshening up. Keep in mind that inexpensive polyester-filled pillows should be completely replaced every six months, while pricier memory foam pillows can last up to three years. Waking up with neck pain is one sure sign it’s time to replace your pillow. When it comes to cleaning a pillow, experts recommend a three-step approach.
First, give them a good fluff while you’re making the bed every day. This helps to remove dust and keep their shape. Once a month you want to hang them outdoors on a breezy day to really get the air flow in there. Otherwise, pop them in the dryer on a no-heat cycle.
Next, if you have foam- or synthetic-filled pillows you should give them a wash on the delicate cycle twice per year in order to remove dirt and debris. Always check the care tag for specific instructions. Down- and feather-filled pillows should be hand-washed in a small tub of water with some laundry detergent.
Finally, dry the pillow thoroughly to prevent mold and mildew from developing. Expect about an hour or longer on a moderate heat setting. You can always hang them outside to dry.
Thanks to the build up of dirt, dust, and dead skin, a mattress will actually become heavier over the years. Like pillows, you’ll want to clean (and rotate or flip) your mattress about twice a year.
First, strip and wash all bedding from the mattress. Second, vacuum the mattress with an upholstery brush, making sure to get into any seams and crevices. After vacuuming, check for any stains and spot treat with either an upholstery cleaner or an enzyme-based pet-odor remover.
Next, sprinkle baking soda over the entire surface of the mattress to help deodorize it. For an extra boost of freshness, add a few drops of an essential oil, like lavender, to the baking soda and shake it up before you spread it and gently massage it in. Let it sit for 24 hours for best results. Finally, vacuum up the baking soda and remake the bed with your freshly laundered linens.
Investing in a mattress protector can help provide added protection from mites, fleas, and other pests making their home in your bed.
After you take stock of the supplies you've already got at home, don't forget to add everything to your Flipp shopping list to find the best prices in your area.