Keep your house healthy and clean by learning how to eradicate germs.
What are the 10 dirtiest, grimiest, germiest, stinkiest, grossest things in your home? We spoke to cleaning expert Anne, from Toronto-based Homestead Maid to get the lowdown on the most common, worst-offending messes in Canadian homes.
Here's the thing: Not all these trouble spots are obvious. In fact, many look clean. The good news is it doesn't take a lot of elbow grease – or harsh chemical cleaners – to ensure they truly are clean.
Here's what to look out for and how to get it squeaky clean.
1 Cleaning equipment
"When it comes to dirt and germs, first and foremost are the actual rags, sponges and scrub brushes you clean with," says Anne.
• Run sponges through the dishwasher, or microwave them on high for a couple of minutes.
• Nylon and stainless-steel scouring pads and brushes can go in the dishwasher.
• Rinse, wring out and hang dry kitchen rags after use; launder them either every couple days or when they begin to smell.
• Always toss rags into the laundry after they've been used to mop up spills from raw meat.
2 The toilet base
Don't just clean the toilet bowl and seat. The real mess is usually on the rim, toilet base and surrounding floor. "Especially when you have small children – or men – in the household," says Anne.
• Always wipe down the toilet rim and base when cleaning the toilet.
• Wipe or mop the floor around the toilet base as needed or at least weekly.
3 The kitchen sink drain
"All kinds of food debris gets caught in the drain and causes bad smells," says Anne. Left to build up too long, clogs can develop.
• Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain followed by a cup of white vinegar, let sit for a minute, then pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain, for an inexpensive, eco-friendly once-a-week disinfecting/deodorizing treatment.
4 The pet food station
If you leave it dirty, you risk your pet ingesting spoiled food. You may also attract ants, roaches or mice.
• Promptly wipe up spilled food or water.
• Wash bowls regularly.
• Protect flooring by placing bowls on a washable placemat or charger plate.
5 The area around the cat litter box
After all, where does kitty step right after she's done her business in her loo?
• Vacuum, then wipe down/mop with vinegar and hot water.
• Alternatively, lay a washable car mat by the litter box. Wash with hot water and dish detergent as needed.
"This actually depends on how vigilantly people in the home wash their hands," says Anne.
• If you have small kids, wipe down knobs as needed or weekly (use a rag and hot soapy water or wet wipes).
• Otherwise, wipe down knobs whenever you clean your baseboards (more frequently on bathroom doorknobs).
7 The diaper pail
"In fact, everything you touch during and after changing baby and before hand-washing needs to be cleaned," says Anne. PRO TIP: Don't use harsh anti-bacterial cleaners in the nursery. Regular wet wipes – yes, the same ones you use during diaper changes! – are perfect for nursery spot-cleaning.
• Wipe down the diaper pail exterior with a wet wipe, daily.
• Clean the interior as per manufacturer instructions, or with hot soapy water as needed.
8 The microwave
"People forget to clean the inside of the microwave, so it gets pretty dirty," says Anne.
• Clean the interior surfaces with hot soapy water and a sponge (a nylon scrubber is also fine, but never use a harsh metal scouring pad); rinse and wipe dry.
• If there's crusty food residue, run the microwave with a bowl of water or wet dishcloth for a couple of minutes. Steam softens dry food residue so it can be wiped clean.
9 Bathroom walls
Especially near the toilet. "It's the pee factor again," says Anne.
• Hot vinegar-y water with a rag will clean and deodorize.
We tread on them daily, right?
• Protect your floors (and children's health) by always removing shoes at the door to avoid trekking in dirt, pollution (yes, lead dust can travel in on shoes!), and germs.
• Sweep or vacuum as required or at least weekly.
• Mop up spills immediately, spot-clean dirty spots.
• DON'T go overboard with harsh cleaning chemicals, says Anne. "A lot of flooring surfaces are very sensitive and hot water mixed with vinegar is safest for the finish. And always really wring out the mop so it's damp, not soaking wet," says Anne.