Spring has finally sprung, and it's that time of year to throw open the windows, let in the warm breeze, and get your home spic and span. But you don't want to spend the first few beautiful weeks of spring hunkered down with a mop, so set aside some time each week to tackle one major cleaning project with a focus on the dirtiest places of all.
1. Window and Door Tracks
They can be tough to clean, but the tracks of our windows and doors hold a lot of dust, dirt and dead bugs. While they aren't totally harmful, they can leave us more susceptible to colds and respiratory bugs. So vacuum them out and clean the crevices with a Q-tip if you have to.
2. Major Appliances
Appliances are often overlooked when it comes to routine cleaning. But if you ran your finger along the top of the stove vent or the refrigerator, you'd be grossed out by the amount of dust you'd find. Plus, think about how many little spills have occurred in your kitchen that you don't even know about thanks to sneaky snackers. Spend some time focused on these big appliances by pulling out the stove, wiping down the appliance sides, dusting the tops of larger appliances, and vacuuming underneath them.
3. The Bathroom
Your bathtub has about 100,000 bacteria per square inch. Its moist environment, plus the fact that you clean yourselves in it, creates a perfect place for germs to grow. Disinfect your tub regularly, but don't just spray or wipe — get in and scrub. When it comes to your toilet, 3.2 million bacteria per square inch call it home. Make sure you clean well under the rim, where many bacteria like to gather and hide out of sight. And while you're at it, teach the family to flush only after closing the lid to keep particles of bacteria from launching into the air.
4. The Kitchen
A 2009 study found that kitchens are actually dirtier than bathrooms. In fact, your kitchen drain is home to over 550,000 bacteria per square inch, and your faucet handle harbors over 13,000 bacteria per square inch. But don't clean them with a sponge. The sponge and any counter-wiping cloth you reuse have over 134,000 bacteria per square inch. Toss old cloths and sponges, and give your sink and counters a good cleaning. Then, try to get into the habit of disinfecting your sink at least once a day to kill any bacteria left from raw meat and dirty dishes.
5. The Laundry
There's about a gram of feces in every pair of dirty underwear. Gross but true. Carry your laundry basket carefully through your home and after emptying the clothes into the wash, wipe out the basket with a disinfecting wipe. Wash underwear and cloth diapers separately in hot water (150 degrees) and use detergent with bleach on your whites, which will kill 99.9 percent of germs.
Don't leave wet laundry in the machine for more than 30 minutes to avoid the growth of bacteria. Transfer wet laundry quickly to the dryer or wash it again. Ensure that all of the clothes are dry when they come out of the dryer and wash your hands after handling the laundry to avoid the spread of E. coli.
6. Everyday Objects
Items we touch and use every day can carry a ton of germs and bacteria. This includes your purse, wallet, phone, remote control, light switches, toothbrushes and holder, the computer, and doorknobs. Think about all of the places your purse and phone go. We are constantly touching them and placing them in less than clean spots. Wipe these common items frequently with a disinfecting wipe to protect your family from illness.
And don't forget: great, natural disinfecting products are readily available, so you can clean your home and protect little lungs from irritating chemicals. And as always, washing your hands is the best protection. Teach your family good hand hygiene and practice it yourself.