It’s springtime, and we all know what that means – spring cleaning. Like a Disney Princess, ‘sing a happy working song’ to make cleaning fun. It might get those kids off the video games for a quick minute, and that would be almost magical – or miraculous. They may be persuaded to sweep or dust, but heavy-duty cleaning is best suited for an adult.
Tips for a Cleaning Marathon
First things first – always wear some type of all-purpose disposable gloves. These shouldn’t be reused week after week; throw them away instantly. Gloves will protect your nails and skin from harsh chemicals. Of course, you’ll also want to avoid any contact with your eyes. Additionally, with gloves acting as your first line of defense, you will feel more comfortable reaching into some not-so-pleasant places that need cleaning.
Disposable cleaning wipes are ideal, but they may be in short supply or perhaps you don’t want to make the trip to the store. If that’s the case, soft microfiber cloths will do the trick, and they can cover a large area. Just in case you thought sponges were well-suited for the task, you may want to know that they are a hotbed for bacteria. In fact, they may be dirtier than your toilet!
Scrub with Soap and Water Before Disinfecting
The key word is scrub – not a casual wipe or swipe as if you are looking at photos on your phone. Experts say to first scrub like you are trying to remove something sticky. Once the surface is dry, you’re ready for the strong stuff. Apply the bleach solution (formula below) and allow it to sit for 10 minutes before wiping off.
If you don’t have access to store-bought disinfecting wipes or any other cleaning products, you can make your own solution. Bleach is effective enough to kill nearly every virus on planet earth – and any other germ – according to Dr. Paul Pottinger, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Washington Medical Center. It can also damage surfaces, so be careful to test a small area first. Note: Over time, bleach can corrode metal.
The CDC has released a formula for a diluted bleach solution that is an effective disinfectant: One gallon of water with 1/3 cup of bleach. If that’s more than you need, pour 4 teaspoons of bleach into one quart of water. Remember to only mix bleach with water; resist the urge to play the role of an experimental chemist and add in other cleaning products.
Harsh chemicals can be hard on the olfactory system. If at all possible, open a window or two to allow in some fresh air.
Focus on High-Touch, High-Traffic Areas
Now, it’s time to activate your Ninja Warrior cleaning power mode and go on the attack to protect your home and loved ones; you are prepared and ready for your search and destroy mission. Germs and bacteria love to hide; they congregate and multiply on faucets, counter tops and drawer pulls. Germs hibernate on all doorknobs in your home, even the exterior door handles. Remember also to clean remotes, laptops, light switches, cabinet and refrigerator doors, and cell phones. Scientists tell us that our mobile devices are a breeding ground for harmful bacteria growth because they provide a warm environment.
Regrettably, most humans do not read labels. Anytime you are using chemicals, especially inside your home, it’s wise to always read all caution labels. Also, check the expiration date.
This is another efficient way to disinfect. The CDC defines steam sanitizing as “moist heat in the form of saturated steam under pressure.” This dependable method is often used because it’s nontoxic and inexpensive. Using steam requires caution as it can have adverse effects on some materials – and it may burn if it comes in contact with your skin. The direct steam contact at the required pressure and temperature is highly effective in disinfecting, especially carpet. The pressure allows higher temperatures, which are necessary to kill microorganisms.
What Not to Use
Vodka is a No-Go
Vodka may mix well in a drink, but it isn’t the right liquid to pour on anything in your home.
Distilled White Vinegar
It’s cheap and can clean glass but it has not proven to be a disinfectant.
Cleaning up a Storm
This process isn’t a speed cleaning contest; it will require some elbow grease and time. Consider this positive outcome: you will give your cardio a good workout. If you need help getting into the mood, turn on some music (Disney princess music is optional). Once you power through your disinfecting project, you may be more motivated to do several deep cleanings throughout the year, leaving your home feeling fresh and new.
Heather Allen is a freelance writer who began her career 20 years ago at a small Texas NBC affiliate, while attending SFASU. She’s written blogs on a diverse range of topics.