It’s the time of year many of us look forward to: Our days are getting longer and warmer, the kids are playing outside and it’s time for the whole family’s favorite seasonal activity — spring cleaning! We’re kidding of course, but still, this is a great time to get the house ready for parties, picnics and summer barbecues.
Now that spring is officially here, so is cleaning season. But believe it or not, some of your everyday cleaning habits may be making things worse, and some of the places you never think to clean can be the germiest spots in your home.
So we’ve compiled this list to help make sure you get your house not just clean, but healthy.
The Places You’re Forgetting
We all remember to dust, vacuum and scrub the tub, but how often do you change your air filters, sanitize your doormat or clean the seal of your refrigerator door?
Here are a few reminders about some less mainstream spots you’ll need to actively remember to clean:
- The fridge door seal and coil: Unless you happen to sneak a peek at the black stuff growing inside the door seal, you probably don’t clean this spot very often — but you should. A University of Arizona survey found 83 percent of homes had mold growing on the fridge seal. To get it clean (and germ-free), wipe the seal with a diluted bleach solution or disinfectant once per week. The coils and tray in your fridge are another forgotten spot. Check your manual to learn how to best get rid of dust on the coils and standing water in the tray.
- The faucet and garbage disposal: That little metal screen on your faucet is home to lots of bacteria. Each week, remove the screen and soak it in a diluted bleach solution, then rinse it off before putting it back. The same goes for the metal ring and rubber stopper for your disposal.
- The front doormat: The idea of a doormat is to keep dirt outside, right? And that’s a good idea, especially with this fun fact in mind: Recent studies show almost 96 percent of shoes contain traces of a bacteria found in feces. To keep bacteria outside, spray your doormat with disinfectant each week, and take your shoes off before you come inside.
- Bath mat: The cozy bath mat outside your shower door is another bacteria breeding ground. Make sure you’re washing it regularly, and if possible, dry yourself off in the shower or bathtub so you aren’t leaving excess water and moisture behind.
- Heating, AC and air filters: Most of us forget to change our air filter until we notice dust bunnies climbing through the vents. Ideally, you should clean or change them multiple times during the year. Consult your system guides for recommendations. As for the HVAC system itself, using the AC can leave traces of water in the ducts of your home, so it’s a good idea to have the ducts cleaned by a professional every few years.
What You’re Doing Wrong
- Vacuuming too fast: This one may seem a little odd, but the speed of vacuuming makes a difference, and here’s why: Experts say the faster you vacuum, the more dust fills the air rather than getting sucked up. Also, be sure to empty your vacuum bag or canister outside; in addition to being full of pet hair, dust bunnies and who knows what else, emptying your bag in the house can leave E. coli and salmonella behind in the air. It’s also best to use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, because it will eliminate more particulates in the air.
- Not using the bathroom fan: That fan in your bathroom is there for a reason: to help eliminate steam and moisture from turning into mold. Turn on the fan while you shower to get the moisture out. And remember, people with asthma and allergies are especially sensitive to mold, which can cause runny noses, itchy eyes and even chest tightness.
- Postponing a fix for that leak: It’s important to check your pipes regularly, and any time you see a possible leak, contact a plumber immediately. The leak could not only weaken the structure of your home, it can also start mold growth.
And now that you know all the spring cleaning tips and tricks, it’s time for the hard part — getting the whole family to pitch in. From a friendly family competition to a little bribery check out our article on making spring cleaning a family affair.
How will you be tackling your spring cleaning chores? Any other parts of the house we’re forgetting? Feel free to add to our list by leaving a comment below.