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Germ-Busting Cleaning Tips from the Pros

March 4, 2024

Germ-Busting Cleaning Tips from the Pros

Use Disinfectants Judiciously

Disinfectants are certainly useful for killing bacteria and viruses, but I try not to overuse them. Many disinfectants contain harsh chemicals that can be irritating if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. I focus on using disinfectants only when truly necessary, such as after someone in the household has been sick or during flu season. The rest of the time, regular cleaning with soap and water removes a majority of germs.

When using disinfectants, it’s important to read the label and follow instructions carefully. Applying the proper amount and allowing the right contact time ensures the disinfectant is effective. I also make sure to open windows or run fans whenever possible to allow for air circulation. Proper ventilation helps minimize exposure to fumes.

Focus on High-Touch Surfaces

I prioritize disinfecting surfaces that hands touch frequently, as these are hot spots for spreading germs. High-touch surfaces include light switches, doorknobs, faucet handles, remote controls, phones, keyboards, and more. I make sure to wipe these down regularly with an EPA-approved disinfectant.

For extra protection, I keep disinfecting wipes or spray accessible throughout the house so family members can quickly sanitize surfaces as needed. Focused attention on high-touch areas helps cut down on the spread of bacteria and viruses.

Use Microfiber Cloths

Microfiber cloths are a cleaning pro’s secret weapon when it comes to removing germs and trapping dirt. The tightly woven fabric has a slight electrostatic charge that attracts and holds onto dust and microbes rather than simply pushing them around. This helps lift away up to 99% of bacteria from surfaces with only water.

I use color-coded microfiber cloths to designate separate cloths for kitchen, bathroom, and other areas. This prevents cross-contamination. I launder the cloths frequently using hot water and replace them every few months once they lose their electrostatic charge. Properly using microfiber cloths enhances the germ-busting power of any cleaning routine.

Clean First, Then Disinfect

An important tip I’ve learned is to always clean surfaces thoroughly before disinfecting. Disinfectants work best on already clean surfaces where grease and grime have been removed. If using a 2-in-1 cleaner and disinfectant, I make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions so the product has time to cut through the dirt before killing germs.

I like to wash surfaces with a simple all-purpose cleaner or soap and water first. This allows me to scrub away any stuck-on messes. I follow up with a disinfectant to sanitize the now clean surface. The combination of cleaning and disinfecting removes the most germs for the healthiest results.

Don’t Forget About Appliances

It’s easy to focus disinfecting efforts on countertops, floors, and other surfaces while forgetting about appliances. However, common appliances can also harbor germs and deserve attention. I periodically sanitize surfaces like refrigerator shelves, microwave buttons, stove knobs, and more.

For small appliances, I keep disinfecting wipes handy to give a quick wipe down. For larger appliances, I use a mix of soap and water with a soft cloth for gentle cleaning before periodically disinfecting. Appliances are unseen germ zones, so adding them to cleaning routines is a pro habit.

Change Dishcloths Frequently

Dishcloths easily collect bacteria, so I replace mine every couple of days. I prefer using thin, cheap dishcloths I can throw in the wash after each use. A fresh dishcloth helps prevent germs from spreading to dishes as I clean up after meals.

I also wash dishcloths in hot water and dry thoroughly before reuse. The heat of hot water helps kill bacteria, while drying prevents mold growth in damp cloths. I may still use microfiber cloths for some tasks, but swap them out for fresh dishcloths day to day. Frequently changing dishcloths is an easy way to upgrade kitchen hygiene.

Clean Out The Garbage Can

One spot that can get very germy is inside the garbage can. Bits of food and waste products can stick to the bottom and sides of the bin, attracting germs over time. To combat this, I give my garbage cans a thorough scrub about once a month.

I remove any garbage bag liners and give the empty can a wash with hot soapy water and a scrub brush. This removes grimy residue stuck on. Then I spray down the interior with a disinfectant and let it sit before rinsing. Cleaning the garbage can prevents odors and helps kill germs that otherwise fester within it.

Dust Regularly

Dust accumulates quickly and provides a home for germs and allergens. So regular dusting is a must. I go over surfaces like windowsills, ceiling fans, and bookshelves with a microfiber duster once a week. This helps remove dust and dirt before it builds up.

For a deeper dusting session, I use a vacuum attachment with a soft brush. Running this over blinds, drapes, lampshades, and furniture upholstery lifts up dust and debris. Doing quick, regular dusting makes deep cleaning less often necessary and helps control germs and allergens in the home.

Handle Kitchen Sponges Carefully

Kitchen sponges are notorious hotbeds for germs. Although very useful, sponges easily pick up bacteria from surfaces. To clean sponges effectively, I run them through the dishwasher weekly on the highest heat setting. This helps kill germs and sanitize the sponges for reuse.

I also replace sponges about once a month. Worn-out sponges become more difficult to clean fully. When using sponges, I avoid letting them sit wet between uses. I wring sponges out thoroughly and allow to dry quickly to prevent mold growth. Handled properly, kitchen sponges can be cleaned sufficiently to aid in germ removal while cooking.

Invest in an Air Purifier

Though not a substitute for cleaning, air purifiers offer extra support in reducing airborne germs and allergens. I recommend using HEPA air purifiers, which filter out microscopic particles. This cleans the circulating air and helps capture respiratory droplets containing viruses and bacteria.

I try to run the air purifier in high traffic areas, especially during peak cold and flu season. Air purifiers provide an added layer of protection on top of regular disinfecting. They help continuously filter out germs in the surrounding air. For severe illness, allergies, or compromised immune systems, air purification offers a helpful boost.

Don’t Spread Germs from Room to Room

It’s easy to unintentionally spread germs from contaminated areas into clean rooms. To avoid this, I bring individual supplies into each room rather than carrying cleaner, rags, and buckets throughout the house. I also finish cleaning a room fully before moving to another.

I start my housecleaning in the least contaminated rooms and work towards more germ-prone areas. ** Bedrooms get cleaned before bathrooms, for example. Moving systematically helps contain germs and prevent transferring them**. Proper room-by-room cleaning is efficient and limits the spread of bacteria and viruses.

Clean Floor to Ceiling

When surface cleaning, it’s instinctual to concentrate on counters, tables, and other horizontal planes. However, germs can lurk anywhere so a top-to-bottom approach works best. I start cleaning at the top of a room and work downwards to the floor.

This helps prevent spreading dirt and bacteria from higher surfaces to already cleaned lower areas. I give ceilings fans, cabinets, and light fixtures a wipe down before addressing sinks, appliances, and lastly floors. The ceiling to floor order allows gravity to work with instead of against the cleaning process. I’ve found this order more effective and efficient.

Disinfect Laundry Regularly

Dirty laundry naturally carries germs from worn clothes and linens. So disinfecting the laundry area helps stop bacteria and viruses from spreading back to clean items. I give my washing machine a periodic wipe down, especially the rim and door where grime builds up.

For laundry itself, the heat of the dryer kills most germs. I make sure to fully dry items on high heat. As an extra precaution, I sometimes sprinkle some disinfectant into the wash cycle for antimicrobial benefits. Keeping laundry disinfected prevents recontamination of freshly washed linens and clothes.

Stay on Top of Vacuuming

Vacuuming lifts dirt and allergens out of carpets and upholstery where germs can linger. I try to vacuum every 3-4 days, especially high traffic areas like hallways and entryways. This frequent vacuuming prevents dirt buildup.

I pay special attention to corners and baseboards where dust bunnies congregate. I also change out or clean vacuum filters and bags regularly since they harbor collected debris. Keeping vacuums in top shape improves suction power and germ removal. Staying on vacuuming keeps carpets and fabrics cleaner between deep cleans.

Clean Out The Garbage Disposal

My garbage disposal sees a lot of action, so grime and gunk inevitably build up inside over time if not properly maintained. To deep clean it, I first run ice cubes through the disposal to clean the blades. Then I mix up a sanitizing solution of 1 part bleach to 3 parts water and pour it inside the running disposal.

After letting the solution sit for several minutes, I flush it out with more running water. This process helps remove stains and stuck-on food and kills any bacteria growing inside the disposal. I find giving the disposal a sanitize every 1-2 months keeps it fresher and cleaner. A well-maintained disposal helps prevent nasty germs.

Stay Diligent in Moist Areas

Kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms tend to harbor more germs thanks to their damp environments. Mold and mildew can crop up and allow bacteria to thrive. That’s why these moist areas of my home get extra attention when cleaning.

I spray down showers, sinks, and tile with a daily shower cleaner to help prevent soap scum buildup and growth of organisms. I make sure bath mats and towels dry fully between uses and wash them in hot water. In the kitchen, I wipe down the sink and counters daily and allow no standing water. Careful cleaning of moist zones daily helps control germs in at-risk areas. Staying on top of these rooms breaks the cycle of germs.

Follow the “One Disinfectant per Surface” Rule

When using disinfectants, it can be tempting to layer on multiple products for amplified germ-killing power. However, I’ve learned from the pros that combining cleaners is counterproductive and even unsafe. Mixing certain products actually dilutes their disinfecting properties.

Follow the “one disinfectant per surface” rule. Pick a single effective, EPA-approved disinfectant and use as directed by the label. Layering more products doesn’t boost performance. Stick to one disinfectant and allow proper contact time for the best results. Resist the urge to overdo it!

Contact Time Matters

One key to effective disinfecting I’ve learned is allowing enough contact time. This refers to how long a disinfectant sits visibly wet on the surface to properly kill germs. Contact times can range from 30 seconds to 10 minutes depending on the product.

I read labels closely and set a timer if needed to meet the recommended contact time before wiping the surface again or rinsing. If a surface dries before the minimum contact time, the disinfectant may not work as well. Patience pays off by permitting full germ elimination. Honoring contact times takes a little more time up front but is worth it.

Clean Hands Thoroughly

As a final reminder, proper hand hygiene after cleaning is just as important as sanitizing surfaces. Cleaning products leave chemical residues on hands that need removal. I always wash up thoroughly with soap and warm water when finished cleaning an area.

Making sure to clean under nails and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds removes all lingering cleaning agents. I also apply hand lotion after washing since frequent cleaning can dry out skin. Practicing good hand hygiene after using disinfectants prevents inadvertent exposure and spread. Clean hands are a vital part of cleaning safely and effectively.

Conclusion

Implementing these professional tips has really optimized my cleaning strategy. Small adjustments like using microfiber cloths and cleaning ceiling to floor made big improvements in efficacy and efficiency. Prioritizing high-touch hot spots, moist areas, and air quality keeps germs at bay. With the pros’ guidance, I’ve created cleaner and healthier home routines that proactively fight germs and contamination. Consistently putting these best practices to use makes a tangible difference in reducing viruses, bacteria, allergens, and molds.

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