How often should I clean this? That’s a question I get asked frequently. This month I want to give you guide that you can follow to clean many of the things in your home and that you wear. No sense cleaning if you don’t have to! Some of these things may surprise you.

SHEETS: Wash every week. Body oil, dirt, dead skin and dust mites are waiting to be washed out. Use the hottest water for the fabric and detergent. Dry in a hot dryer. This kills germs. White vinegar makes a great fabric softener. ¼ cup per load.

PILLOWS: The forgotten part of the bed. Remove the cases and put in the dryer on “Air Fluff” to remove dust mites, dust, pet hair and dead skin. Do this monthly. Wash them every 6 months following care directions. Invest in a zip on pillow protector. This is put on the pillow before the pillowcase. It can be removed and washed each month to keep the pillow fresh and clean.

THE MATTRESS: Vacuum the top of the mattress using an upholstery attachment and the crevice tool to vacuum around the edges and binding.  Avoid putting water on your mattress. It can cause mold and mildew and damage the inside of the mattress.   I suggest doing this every 3 months since pets frequent many beds with us and it will remove dust mites, dry skin etc. Protect your mattress from dust mites and stains by buying a mattress pad. These come in sizes to fit every bed and in all types. For kids, cover the mattress with a plastic cover first and then a cotton mattress pad for comfort. This keeps potty accidents from staining and ruining the mattress. Launder the mattress pad every 3 months when you vacuum or as needed. It is no longer necessary to do the mattress flip. Just rotate it head to toe every six months for even wear

THE KITCHEN SPONGE: Most kitchen sponges contain more nasty bacteria than a toilet. The moist environment and those crevices that make it clean so well also are a great place for germs and bacteria to hide and grow.

Tuck it in the top rack of your dishwasher each time you run it and be sure to use the “heated dry” to zap bacteria.

You can also sanitize it by wetting it with water until it drips, lay it on a dish and heat it on High in the microwave for one to 2 minutes. Make sure you keep an eye on. A great time to do this is once you finishing cleaning up after dinner.

Your dishcloths aren’t much better. You can put them in the top rack of the dishwasher too and machine wash them in hot water and dry them on the hot setting also.

THE DISHWASHER: Do this once a month. Why? Fungi and black yeast can grow in your dishwasher. Disinfect it once a month by sitting a bowl upright on the dishwasher’s top rack. Add 2 cups of white vinegar to the bowl and run through a full cycle using the hottest water. To be sure you are getting hot water at the beginning of the cycle, let the water run at the sink until it is hot.

THE WASHER: After washing certain whites or monthly. Believe it or not over 50% of washing machines are contaminated with bacteria. Underwear can contain E.coli and other bacteria and your kitchen towel can contain salmonella and other hazardous germs. You should clean your washer and dryer when you wash certain whites such as underwear.  Kill the germs by laundering those items separately in hot water (between 140°F and 150°F) and chlorine bleach—it’s the only way to sanitize both your clothing and the machine. Once a month run your empty washer through a full cycle using hot water and 1 cup of chlorine bleach or there is a natural product called Smelly Washer® (smellywasher.com) that will do the job for you.

JEANS: Launder every 4 -6 times you wear them unless they become heavily soiled. Turn wrong side out, use mild detergent, no bleaching products and cold water. If drying in the dryer, turn right side out, match up the seams as if you were hanging them and fold in half. Lay them in the dryer and dry on low. Take out when damp and smooth before hanging. Jeans can also be hung to dry. Make sure you smooth them well when you hang them. You may also drip dry jeans. You can freshen them in the dryer on the cool air or air fluff setting for 10 minutes. Just remember, if you are doing a lot of sweating or dirty work, they will need more frequent washing. Jeans may also be dry cleaned.

PURSE/BRIEFCASE: Dirtier than a toilet seat! You sit it on the floor everywhere, in restaurants, bathrooms, offices, etc. For leather, wipe the bottom with warm water and soap and dry or use a baby wipe. For vinyl bags, use a disinfecting wipe, baby wipe, alcohol wipe or hot water and soap. For a fabric purse be sure you treat it with Scotchgard™ Fabric Protector and wipe with a damp micro fiber cloth to clean.

STEERING WHEEL: You put your hands on it every day. You eat in the car and handle it, you pump gas, it’s filthy! Put 50% warm water and 50% rubbing alcohol on a paper towel. Rub firmly, changing the towel out as it gets soiled. Dry with a paper towel. I do this once per week. You can also use a disinfecting wipe. Don’t forget to wipe door handles too, especially if you have little ones with sticky fingers.

REMOTE CONTROL/LIGHT SWITCHES/DOOR HANDLES: Disgusting! When was the last time you cleaned these?

The remote: Wet a cloth with rubbing alcohol until damp to clean the remote. Wipe all the surfaces. Dip a soft toothbrush into some alcohol and shake off until it is just damp. Brush around the keys and wipe down with a paper towel.

Light switches and door handles: Use a disinfecting wipe to wipe these down every week. It only takes minutes and even the kids can do it. Please don’t forget the flush handle on the toilet.

TRACKER BAND: So many people are wearing the tracker bands such as Fitbit™. Many people forget to clean the band that ends up with food, lotions, sweat and other things on it. Clean it weekly for sure. Take off the band, remove the tracker and clean the band with mild soap and water, shampoo and water or a baby wipe and dry thoroughly. This will keep skin irritations away as well as keeping it clean.

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