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The Dirtiest Places In The House And How To Clean Them

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On the JJ Barnes Blog, I learn about the dirtiest places in the house, and top tips for how to clean them effectively.

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Cleaning Tips

We all know cleaning isn’t the most glamorous activity, but let’s be honest, it’s crucial for staying healthy and maintaining a pleasant home environment. But where, oh where, do the nasties lurk, multiplying in the shadows and silently plotting against our well-being? Buckle up, because today I’m delving into the surprising truth about the dirtiest place in your house.

Now, you might have your suspicions – bathrooms, especially toilets, are often seen as the dirtiest place at home. With many people avoiding public toilets because they think they’re not clean, it makes you wonder just how dirty your own toilet is. But prepare to be shocked (and maybe a little grossed out) as we discover how many things you use every day, like your phone and even your toothbrush holder, can be dirtier than your toilet seat. Germs are in more places than you might realise!

But fear not, warriors of cleanliness! I’m not just here to expose the enemy; we’re here to equip you with the knowledge and tools to vanquish it. I’ll share top tips and cleaning hacks, from effective cleaning products to surprising methods you might not have considered,, leaving you with a sparkling haven and a newfound appreciation for a clean home.

To help me out, Zara O’Hare, a home expert from Land of Rugs, sent over a list of the germiest places in your home that you probably aren’t cleaning often enough.

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The Dirtiest Places In The House And How To Clean Them

Mobile Phone

Our phones are practically extensions of ourselves these days, touched countless times throughout the day. From being dropped in public to picking up germs from your hands, phones can become a breeding ground for bacteria and germs. Surprisingly, it’s 502% dirtier than your toilet seat, with 21,527 bacteria per square inch.

Power Down Before You Clean: Unplug and turn off your phone to avoid accidental activation or water damage.

Be Gentle, Be Thrifty: Microfiber cloths are ideal for cleaning your phone’s screen and body. Avoid harsh paper towels or abrasive cloths that can scratch the surface.

Alcohol is Your Ally: Use 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes or a solution of 70% alcohol and water on a microfiber cloth to disinfect surfaces. Avoid harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia, as they can damage your phone.

Focus on the Hotspots: Pay special attention to the areas you touch the most: the screen, camera lens, speaker grills, and charging port.

Don’t Forget the Case: Remove and clean your phone case regularly with soap and water, or follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.

Go Beyond the Surface: Use a compressed air can to remove dust and debris from the charging port and speaker grills. Be careful, as compressed air can be powerful!

Wash Your Hands (Often): The best way to prevent germs from spreading to your phone is to wash your hands frequently, especially after being in public spaces.

Keep It Dry: Avoid getting your phone wet, as this can damage it and create a breeding ground for bacteria. If it does get wet, dry it thoroughly with a microfiber cloth.

Toothbrush Holder

It’s easy to forget about something as basic as a toothbrush holder, but studies always indicate that it ra nks among the top five breeding grounds for germs.You change your toothbrush every few months, but when did you last clean its holder? We don’t realize they can catch germs released into the air when we flush the toilet.

Frequency is Key: Don’t wait for a science experiment to erupt in your holder. Aim to clean it at least once a week, and more often if multiple people use it.

Empty and Rinse: Start by removing all toothbrushes and rinsing the holder under warm water to remove loose debris.

Deep Clean Dive: Choose your weapon! Depending on your holder’s material, you have options:

Dish Soap & Warm Water: For most plastic or ceramic holders, simply fill a sink with warm, soapy water and let the holder soak for 15-20 minutes. Scrub with a soft brush (not your toothbrush!) and rinse well.

Vinegar Power: For stubborn residue or mineral buildup, mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the holder, let it sit for 10 minutes, then scrub and rinse. Bonus points for a fresh scent!

Baking Soda Blitz: For deeper cleaning, sprinkle baking soda inside the holder and let it sit for 30 minutes. Add a little vinegar to create a fizzy reaction, then scrub and rinse.

Disinfect for Extra Protection: After cleaning, consider disinfecting with a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. Leave it on for 10 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Remember, always handle bleach with caution!

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TV Remote Control 

People with hands at any cleanliness level often touch the TV remote, but it’s rarely cleaned, even after a sick day spent channel-surfing. This domestic item has a high concentration of bacteria, yeast, and mould spores. Not to mention, it collects dust sitting on your couch, gets sat on, and may even have crumbs on it, if you like to eat in front of the TV. 

Frequency: Aim to clean your remote at least once a week, and more often if you have small children or pets who touch it.

Power down: Turn off the TV and remove the batteries from the remote before cleaning.

Surface wipe: Start with a simple wipe-down. Use a microfiber cloth slightly dampened with warm water or a screen-cleaning wipe. Avoid harsh chemicals or paper towels, which can scratch the surface.

Button blitz: Pay special attention to the buttons, which harbor the most germs. Use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to clean individual buttons and crevices. Avoid getting the cotton swab too wet, as alcohol can damage electrical components.

Deep clean (optional): For stubborn grime, mix a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Lightly mist the remote (avoiding the battery compartment) and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth.

Bathroom Mats 

Looks can be deceiving, and we often think bath mats are clean because we step on them with freshly washed feet. But, in reality, fabric bath mats accumulate moisture, dirt, debris, and tiny bacteria. 

Washing frequency: Depending on usage, wash your bath mat 1-2 times per week in warm water with your regular laundry detergent. For extra freshness, add a cup of baking soda to the wash cycle.

Material matters: Always check the care label for specific washing instructions. Cotton mats tolerate machine washing well, while delicate materials like microfiber might require hand-washing.

Spot cleaning: For small spills or stains, pre-treat with a stain remover before washing. Avoid harsh chemicals, as they can damage the fibers.

Deep Cleaning for Stubborn Grime:

Bleach soak: For tough stains or mildew, create a diluted bleach solution (1/4 cup bleach per gallon of water) and soak the mat for 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and air dry completely before using. Caution: Wear gloves and ensure proper ventilation, as bleach fumes can be harmful.

Vinegar power: Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the mat generously, let it sit for 15 minutes, then scrub with a brush and rinse thoroughly. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and deodorizer.

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Handles and Switches 

Some areas in the home that might not be getting enough cleaning attention include refrigerator door handles, light switches, and, of course, the toilet flush handle. They often get overlooked because they’re small, and most people focus on bigger things, like floors and countertops. Everyone touches them a lot, so they’re prime spots for germs.

Choose the Right Weapon:

Microfiber cloths: Your best friend for gentle cleaning without scratching surfaces. Opt for different colors to avoid cross-contamination between areas.

All purpose cleaner: A mild, diluted solution of all purpose cleaner is perfect for most surfaces. For heavy grime, consider a disinfectant cleaner, but always test it on an inconspicuous area first.

Cotton swabs: Ideal for reaching into tight corners and crevices.

Toothpicks: Can help dislodge stubborn dirt trapped around hinges or levers.

Cleaning Strategies:

Frequency is key: Aim to clean high-touch handles and switches at least once a week, and more often in areas with high traffic or during cold and flu season.

Start with a dry wipe: Use a microfiber cloth to remove loose dust and debris before applying any cleaning solutions.

Damp cloth magic: Lightly dampen your microfiber cloth with your chosen cleaner and wipe down the entire surface of the handle or switch. Pay special attention to areas with grooves or textures.

Tackle tight spots: Use cotton swabs dipped in cleaner to clean around hinges, levers, and other intricate areas. For stubborn dirt, carefully use a toothpick (avoid scratching!).

Don’t forget the edges: Wipe down the surrounding areas like door frames and switch plates to ensure a complete clean.

Sponges and Dish Cloths

Sponges are dirtier than your toilet seat and any other item in your house. They hold the most E. coli and fecal bacteria in homes, mainly because they’re not replaced as often as they should be.

Don’t wait for your sponge to start smelling— that’s a clear sign it has bacteria. Clean your sponge frequently or replace it once a month to ensure proper hygiene. 

Daily Rinse: Rinse your sponge or cloth with hot (not boiling) water after each use. You can even add a few drops of dish soap and rub it in before rinsing.

Weekly Deep Clean: Once a week, choose one of these methods for a more thorough clean:

Dishwasher Method: If your sponge or cloth is dishwasher-safe, place it on the top rack and run it through a hot cycle with detergent.

Microwave Method: Place a damp sponge (not cloth) in the microwave for 1-2 minutes on high power. Let it cool before handling. Be careful, as sponges can get very hot!

Vinegar Soak: Fill a container with hot water and add 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Soak your sponge or cloth for 30 minutes, then rinse and dry thoroughly.

Bleach Soak (caution): For tough stains or odors, dilute 1 tablespoon of bleach in a gallon of water. Soak your sponge or cloth for 10 minutes, then rinse and dry thoroughlyAlways wear gloves and ensure proper ventilation when using bleach.

Pet Bowls

As much as we love our furry friends, we might forget to clean their eating area, turning their bowls into more of a petri dish than a dining dish. Studies have shown that dog bowls top the list of the germiest things in our homes. 

Wash After Every Meal

Scrape first: Remove any leftover food particles before washing. This prevents food from drying on and becoming harder to scrub off later.

Hot, soapy water: Wash the bowls with warm, soapy water, using a dedicated dish soap or dishwashing liquid. Avoid harsh detergents that can irritate your pet’s sensitive skin.

Scrub for hidden grime: Pay extra attention to corners and crevices where food and bacteria can easily build up. Use a soft brush or sponge for tougher spots.

Thorough rinse: Rinse the bowls thoroughly with clean water to remove all soap residue. Any trace of soap can upset your pet’s stomach.

Disinfect Regularly:

Weekly deep clean: Once a week, disinfect the bowls with a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water. Let them soak for 10 minutes, then rinse well. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and deodorizer.

Dishwasher magic: If your bowls are dishwasher-safe, run them through a hot cycle with detergent. Opt for the top rack to avoid any residual cleaning products.

Boiling option: For heat-resistant ceramic or metal bowls, boiling them for 10 minutes is a great way to kill bacteria. Make sure they cool completely before serving food or water.

Keeping it Fresh:

Replace plastic bowls: Over time, plastic bowls can harbor scratches and cracks, where bacteria can thrive. Opt for stainless steel or ceramic bowls, which are easier to clean and more durable.

Water bowl maintenance: Change your pet’s water daily and wash the bowl regularly. Add a fresh filter if using a water fountain.

Drying matters: Air-dry the bowls completely before refilling them to prevent moisture build-up and potential mold growth.

Location, location, location: Place food and water bowls in clean, dry areas away from direct sunlight or heat sources.

Coffee Machine 

We all like our coffee a certain way: black, with whipped cream, iced, etc. But what we don’t expect is to drink it with a bunch of bacteria inside. That can happen if you haven’t cleaned your coffee machine as often as you should.

Many home coffee makers have yeast and mould in their water reservoirs, making them breeding grounds for bacteria. 

Daily Maintenance:

Empty grounds and rinse: After each use, discard the used coffee grounds and rinse the carafe and filter basket with warm water.

Wipe down the exterior: Use a damp cloth to wipe down the outside of your machine, removing any spills or splashes.

Weekly Cleaning:

Deep clean the carafe: Wash the carafe thoroughly with warm, soapy water and a soft sponge. For stubborn stains, use a mixture of baking soda and water to scrub gently. Rinse well and dry completely.

Descaling magic: Use a descaling solution specifically designed for coffee makers. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to remove mineral buildup that can affect taste and performance.

Vinegar power: For a natural alternative to descaling solutions, mix equal parts white vinegar and water and run it through your machine like you would coffee. Discard the vinegar solution and brew a pot of fresh water to flush out any residue.

Monthly Deep Clean:

Clean the filter basket: Remove the filter basket and soak it in warm, soapy water for 30 minutes. Use a soft brush to clean any hard-to-reach areas. Rinse well and dry completely.

Clean the spray head: Most coffee makers have a removable spray head that distributes water over the coffee grounds. Remove and clean it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Wipe down the inside: Use a damp cloth to wipe down the inside of the machine, focusing on areas where coffee grounds or water may accumulate.

Conclusion

While it’s not fun learning about all the grimy gross that is lurking in our homes, I hope these tips are going to make you feel better about how to tackle it!

If you have any tips do share in the comments below.

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