Housecleaning Tips

You may try to keep your house tidy, but do you know how clean your home really is? Cleaning expert Julie Edelman, author of The Ultimate Accidental Housewife: Your Guide to a Clean-Enough House explains how to truly keep your home clean and avoid hidden health dangers, especially those hiding in the most surprising of places.

The Bed
Pillows gain weight over time because they collect dust and dust mites. “Not just dust mites, but the dust mites’ poop!” pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears says.

“I call all these things the fungus among us,” Julie says. “An average mattress can have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million dust mites in it. And it’s not just dust mites. Think about what you do to the pillows. You slobber on them, you’re sneezing, your little kids [use them].”

The insides of the pillows and other bedding can harvest the microscopic dust mites. To keep any dust mite problem under control, Julie recommends changing your pillows every one to three years.

The Cutting Board
The kitchen should be as clean as possible, to avoid any food-borne illness, but 200 times more bacteria live on your cutting board than your toilet, so keeping your cutting boards clean is essential, Julie explains.

Types of boards
• Wood: The wood boards are porous, so they dry more easily. Bacteria can get into the pores and crevices, so to maintain and clean them, Julie suggests using vinegar or a mixture consisting of a teaspoon of bleach and a quart of water.
Plastic: Bacteria and moisture will build on these because they are not porous. “These are easy to deal with, because they are machine washable,” Julie says.

Bamboo: “The best and most popular these days is bamboo,” Julie says. “But the thing you want to look for is — bamboo is glued together, so if it has formaldehyde, don’t buy it. It should say non-toxic. But these are the most porous.”

To keep food from becoming contaminated, use a separate cutting board for meat, poultry and fish and one for vegetables, fruits and other foods that are non bacterial.

Stuffed Animals
If you or your children have become attached to certain stuffed animals, don’t fret, because there is a way to keep them clean! Julie explains that to keep your stuffed friends looking and feeling fresh, simply put them in a zip-top pillow case filled with baking soda and shake it. This will help remove the dust from the stuffed animals.
Home Health Hazards
Julie reveals health hazards that may lurk in your home and shows you how to keep your home clean without harsh chemicals

Spring Clean Your Home
Six hot spots in your house can harbor millions of germs and put your family’s health in jeopardy.  Editor-in-chief of Prevention Liz Vaccariello pays a house call to roommates Ashley and Lindsay and shows the young women how to clean their home effectively.

1. Welcome Mat
The area near the front door is one of the dirtiest in the house. Ninety-six percent of shoe soles have traces of coliform bacteria, which is found in fecal matter. Once the bacteria are on the mat, every time someone walks into the house, bacteria is tracked inside.

How to Keep It Clean:
• Spray the doormat once a week with a fabric-safe disinfectant
• Leave shoes at the door and avoid resting bags and groceries on the mat

2. Refrigerator Seal
At any given time, a refrigerator seal has an 83 percent chance of harboring mold, which thrives in cool, moist environments. Mold present in the refrigerator’s seal can easily contaminate food and aggravate allergies.

How to Keep It Clean:
• Wipe fridge seals at least once a week with a diluted bleach solution or disinfectant.

3. Dishwasher
Debris such as food, bones, gravel and chips of glass can get caught in the dishwasher and clog the drain. A clogged drain can cause bacteria to grow and prevent dishes from getting clean.

How to Keep It Clean:
• Place a dishwasher-safe cup filled with white vinegar on the top rack of the dishwasher. Run the dishwasher, empty, except for the cup of vinegar, using the hottest water available.
• The vinegar will help wash away any loose, greasy grime, sanitize the dishwasher and remove the musty odor.

4. Washing Machine
Twenty-five percent of home washing machines are contaminated with fecal bacteria. The culprit is dirty underwear, and just one pair can contaminate an entire load of laundry. Even tiny amounts of fecal matter on undergarments can contain millions of bacteria, typically E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and billions of viruses, including adenoviruses, rotaviruses, and hepatitis A.

How to Keep It Clean:
• Wash clothes at a temperature of 140 degrees or higher
• Wash undergarments with one cup of chlorine bleach added to the wash water
• Store dirty underpants in their own laundry basket and wash them separately
• Follow an underpants wash with a clothes-less cycle using hot water and bleach to sanitize the machine
• Use protective gloves when transferring wet clothes from the washer to the dryer, or wash your hands immediately afterwards
• Use detergent that contains a sanitizer

5. Toilet Flush Handle
Just like a toilet bowl, a toilet flush handle can harbor 3.2 million bacteria per square inch.

How to Keep It Clean:
• Wipe down the handle with hot water and a disinfectant such as bleach • Always wash your hands after flushing the toilet • Close the lid when flushing the toilet. A flush can spew particles into the air, coating the floor and walls with whatever had been swirling around in the bowl.

6. Shower Head
Dirty showerheads may be spraying you with bacteria that can make you sick. "Soak it for about 15 minutes to an hour in there. If you can't get the showerhead off", Liz explains, "you can put the solution in a plastic bag, hang it from the showerhead and twist it with a twist tie."

How to Keep It Clean:
• Take an old pan and fill it with boiling water and white vinegar
• Unscrew the top of the showerhead and soak it for 20 minutes.
• Replace firmly and repeat every few months

Bedroom Basics
The average person spends more than one-third of his or her life in bed, and the average mattress can be a
breeding ground for bacteria, allergens and unwelcome critters.

Most people shed approximately 1.5 million skin cells per hour and emit one quart of perspiration every day, even while sleeping. Skin cells accumulate in pillows and mattresses, and attract dust mites. The critters then multiply.

A mattress doubles in weight every 10 years because of the accumulation of human hair, bodily secretions, animal hair and dander, fungal mold and spores, bacteria, chemicals, dust, lint, fibers, dust mites, insect parts, and a variety of particulates, including dust mite feces. After five years, 10 percent of the weight of a pillow is dust mites. 

How to Keep It Clean:
• Replace pillows every year
• Replace mattress every seven years
• Flip your mattress every six months to keep the surface even
• Use dust-proof covers for pillows and the mattress
Use an air conditioner
Clean regularly
Wash curtains, drapes and sheets frequently />Carpet Care
Bacteria, viruses, spores, dirt, dust mites, allergens and other contaminants can grow in carpet. Steam cleaning helps penetrate the carpet’s surface and will remove the dirt that’s trapped in between the layers. If you suffer from allergies, steam cleaning your carpet every three months can help alleviate symptoms.

How to Keep It Clean:
• Steam clean carpets once a year
• Don’t wear shoes insi