Outside of the daily chores such as laundry, dishes, sweeping floors and wiping surfaces, what should be prioritized? As a mom with very little extra time, I do not deep clean my house as often as I should be.
But, I want to be sure that our living place is healthy. I was particularly interested in prioritizing where harmful bacteria grow and where dust accumulates so we could minimize allergies, sickness, etc.
Basically, I wanted to know what was most important to clean and the quickest and easiest way to clean it. So here is a list of things in the house that either grow a lot of harmful bacteria or collect a lot of dust and how to clean them.
Wash sheets and towels regularly on a schedule
Most people wash their bed sheets and towels regularly. However, I had to include this in my list because it is so important. Your bed sheets are probably more important to wash than your clothing because you shed so many skin cells and bacteria in them.
I wash sheets biweekly but, in the summer, I switch over to weekly. I always wash pillowcases weekly especially since sleeping on a clean pillowcase is super important to having great skin. And if you are a hot and sweaty sleeper, then you want to be washing your sheets even more than once week because bacteria thrive in hot damp environments.
Towels should be the same, once a week, to keep them smelling nice and not growing things. And if your towels ever get that musty smell, wash them with one cup of vinegar.
Your vents and air duct system collect a lot of dust
Vents can not only be a great place for dust but also be circulating dust. I honestly for years never knew that you could (and should) get your air ducts cleaned professionally. If you can afford it, it will be well worth it for better air quality.
In the meantime, simply vacuuming them out and changing filters regularly will give you a much cleaner house. Additionally, you can coat your vents in turtle wax. The wax will collect the dust and make it so easy to wipe clean.
If your house is old and you don’t have a duct system, then try getting a stand-alone air filter. Just remember to change the filter out regularly or it won’t help.
Light bulbs also collect dust making them a fire hazard
While we are talking about dust, a fire can start from dust build up in light bulbs. This is quite weird but it is true. LEDs can be good for 10 years. That is a long time to collect dust. Be sure to dust lights regularly and occasionally, take them out to clean out the dust inside.
Tips to dust your house
Dryer sheets are fantastic dusters. Start saving them and use them to remove dust off blinds, shelves, ceiling fans and baseboards. Another trick is to just put them on the bottom of a swiffer to get at baseboards without crawling on your hands and knees.
Your appliances need to be washed
I knew it was important to clean appliances, what I didn’t know was that they were the main household culprits when it came to bacteria. Not shocking, after I realized this, I decided to find out how many more appliances needed “washing” or at least learning faster (and better) ways to clean them.
Use bleach to clean your laundry machine
I used to wash my laundry machine by running the sanitize cycle and using some laundry cleaning product I bought. However, no matter how often I cleaned it, I couldn’t get the weird smell to go away.
That is until I learned bleach is the only effective way to kill most of the bacteria that live in washers. So once a week, I run a the sanitize cycle on my washer with hot water. I add some bleach in the bleach compartment and the smell (and bacteria) is gone.
Don’t mix baking soda and vinegar to clean your dishwasher
I see so many posts saying to clean your dishwasher with baking soda and vinegar. But here’s the thing, you can never mix the two. When they are mixed, they react and make salt water. You lose all of the cleaning properties when you mix them.
The best way to wash your dishwasher is to run it on a hot water cycle with a bowl of vinegar sitting on the top rack. Next run your dishwasher again but this time sprinkle baking soda on the bottom. Try to do this at least once a month to keep bacteria from growing.
Other appliances to clean with vinegar
The coffee maker: If you aren’t cleaning your coffee pot, then your morning cup of joe is probably a morning cup of bacteria. Fill the water section with half hot water and half vinegar. Run your coffee pot. Next, fill it up with just water and run it again.
The Fridge and fridge coils: The inside of your fridge is a great breeding ground for bacteria while the coils on the back collect lots of dust if not cleaned regularly. Cleaning the fridge can be a pain but it is necessary. To do it, empty the fridge. Wash removable shelves in soapy water and use a spray solution of vinegar and water to clean the walls of the fridge. Lastly vacuum the coils.
The ice maker: I honestly didn’t know we had to clean the ice maker or that it can grow bacteria so well. To sanitize and clean an ice maker, you need to unplug the appliance and take it apart as much as possible. At that point, you can sanitize and clean it by using either 1 tablespoon of bleach in 1 gallon of water or a half vinegar half water solution. Vinegar should work just fine if you are cleaning it on a regular basis but if not, I would do the bleach.
The microwave: Another important place to clean is the microwave but I think is absolutely awful to clean until I learned this trick. Place 1 cup of water with ¼ cup of vinegar in the microwave and cook the water until the microwave is filled with steam. Everything stuck to the inside walls will now easily wipe off.
Showerheads: When a showerhead doesn’t get cleaned, it will grow bacteria. This means every time you shower; you are coating yourself in bacteria. To keep your skin healthy, soak your showerhead in a ziplock of vinegar for 20 minutes every few weeks.
Your kitchen sponge needs to be cleaned all the time
Every time you clean with a sponge it should be cleaned. The quickest and best way to clean a sponge is to stick it in the microwave damp and run it for 90 seconds. Another thing I do is every time I run the dishwasher, I put the sponge in as well. The sponge comes out brand new and squeaky clean.
Or ditch the sponge all together
Another option for dishes is to just ditch the sponge all together and fill your sink with water and soap. Soak the dishes you can’t put in the dishwasher and then scrub them with a small washcloth before rinsing them. Throw the washcloth in the laundry after.
And don’t forget about the drying rack
I find that the easiest way to wash the drying rack is to throw it into the dishwasher weekly. Another option is to wash it by hand once a week with just soap and water.
Clean everything you touch all the time:
Wiping these items down regularly can really help keep everyone healthy. You can clean all of these with just a simple lint free cloth dampened with an all-purpose cleaner.
- Pet Toys
- Light switches
- Remote controls
Places to clean in bathrooms that are easy to forget
Bathrooms are not surprisingly filed with bacteria. Before we even talk about some places you might forget to clean, one of the best tips to keep bacteria at bay is to close the toilet before you flush. When you flush, bacteria go into the air. That bacteria will then settle on everything in the bathroom (gross!).
So, after cleaning toilets, showers, etc., what needs to be cleaned that isn’t being cleaned?
- Toothbrush holders
- Bathroom decor
While we are talking about bathrooms, another great tip is getting a tub shroom to keep hair out of the drain. Literally life changing since we have two girls.
Tips to get more cleaning done
Cleaning takes a lot of time and while I love a clean house, I don’t really love spending time cleaning. Here are my best tips that help me stay on top of cleaning so I don’t get behind.
Make a cleaning schedule
Make a schedule that you can put on a cleaning calendar, so you know when things are cleaned and what day to clean them.
There are many ways to organize all of your cleaning tasks and it really is based on what works for you and your routines. I found the best way to make one is to start by making a list of all the cleaning tasks outside of daily tasks. After making that list, I wrote down next to each chore how often it should be done. I then moved the chores over to a month calendar and checked them off each day.
After the first month, you will have a better idea of what is working and what you need to switch around.
Do one big chore a day.
Being a mom is exhausting and busy. However, having a dirty house all the time is also exhausting in a different way. By tackling one big chore a day, I feel accomplished and less stressed. It really helps me manage the house without taking on too much but also not letting everything go to complete mess.
Do one load of laundry a day
For me, I do one load of laundry every day to not fall behind. I also don’t mix anyone’s laundry so there is no sorting. Folding goes so much faster if it is only one person’s laundry. I then do towels on a specific day and sheets on specific days. And of course, wash the washing machine with bleach every Sunday.
To make it habit, I fit it into my routine and do each step at the same time every day. I grab the laundry on the way down (one hamper) in the morning. I always start the wash before I start making dinner. After we clean up dinner, I switch it to the dryer. The laundry is then dry and ready to be folded after kid bedtime. And personally, I like to fold the laundry at the end of the day while I watch a show.
This might not be the perfect schedule for you, but it works in my house. The important part is you have a schedule and you fit it into your routines.
Use a basket to do a quick pickup
If I really need to vacuum a room or tackle a specific chore but the room is a mess, I use this trick. I grab a laundry basket and throw everything in it. I can then get to cleaning chore in no time at all.
After I finish vacuuming or whatever I needed to do, I can then spend the time putting items away from the basket. If I don’t have time to put the items away, then I can leave them in the basket until I get to it. But the nice part is I was still able to get that cleaning chore done.
It just makes such a big difference for me because sometimes picking up the room first requires so much time and energy that I don’t ever get to the actual chore that needed to be done. Lastly, I like this method because I find my kids have an easier time helping out if they put things away from a basket.
Lastly, if you aren’t using baskets throughout the house, check out my basket system to increase organization in your house.
Other ways to improve the health of your house
While most of the post focused on what to clean in your house to keep bacteria and dust away, I also wanted to add a quick list of other ways I have found to improve the overall health of our living space.
Add plants in every room especially the bedrooms while you sleep. If you keep your doors closed, then the CO2 level can really build up overnight. An easy way to lower this is just by adding plants. Plants also clean the air.
Use breathable fabrics for sheets and comforters. I have to tell you that changing my sheets and comforter to be made of a “breathable” fabric like bamboo has removed most of my insomnia. I never over heat and yet am never cold. Better sleep is so critical to health and happiness.
Add shower filters to your showers or install a whole house water filter. The water that comes from your pipes is clean, but it has chemicals in it and depending on where you live, you might have hard (high mineral content) water. Hard water can wreak havoc on your hair and skin. Switching to a shower filter has improved the softness of my hair as well as giving me clearer skin.
Add a whole house humidifier but be careful it doesn’t get set too high because that could start a mold problem. This has really helped our family in winter. I used to have the worst dry itchy skin all winter and after adding one of these, the problem was completely gone.
Get a radon test done. We had no idea how toxic our house was until we got a radon test and found that our house was way over the acceptable limit. It is very inexpensive to get the test like $10. While it is mainly a problem in the Northeast, you could have high levels almost anywhere. It is a gas that comes from underground and can cause lung cancer. And if you plan to move or buy a house anytime soon, ask for this test to be done before buying, during inspection. If it is positive and over the limit, the seller must put in a radon remediation system, which can cost thousands.
Pursue a cleaner house Today
Hopefully by sharing my list of items that I clean and the easiest way to tackle cleaning them, you will also know how to keep your house healthier too.
Keeping your house clean can be a full-time job. And my house is never as clean as it should be. But when I do clean, I focus on keeping our house healthy. I prioritize cleaning appliances, bathrooms, and items that we touch all the time. I keep a cleaning schedule and always tackle one big chore a day to not fall behind.