No matter what the season, we all want to avoid getting sick! Wearing a mask is one way to stop the spread of germs and viruses. Keeping your home, personal items, car and office clean is another, especially in a large family or if you have roomates.
Lots of these tasks are great for chores for young children and teens. Share this page with your loved ones and co-workers and we’ll all stay more healthy!
The “Top Ten” Germ Hall of Shame
I cover a ton of items in this list, so I thought I’d highlight the top ten yuckiest, most grimy items. If you are too busy to do a deep-clean, do your best to at least get these notorious germ-monsters sanitized:
- Mobile phone
- Purse, briefcase or backpack handles
- Computer keyboard and mouse
- TV remote & Gaming devices
- The couch in your family room
- Refrigerator door handles
- High traffic door knobs
- HIgh traffic lightswitch plates
- Your car steering wheel
Now let’s dig in and look at all these categories in depth:
5 Tips for Keeping Personal Care Items Clean:
1 – Glasses: During a pandemic or flu season, and if you work with the public or a lot of people, you should wash your eyeglasses each day that you wear them. If you work at home or are more isolated at your workplace, you could just wash them every other day. Glasses get face oil, sneeze droplets (from ourselves and others) and we touch them many times a day. Use individual eyeglasses wipes so you can keep them with you when out and about.
2 – Toothbrushes: Rinse toothbrushes in a bacteria-killing mouthwash and store them in a drawer, or use a special cleaner made for toothbrushes.
3- Hair Accessories: Once a week, wipe off or wash your combs, hairbrush handles and barrettes with a cloth soaked in sanitizer or mouthwash. Wash your hair elastics in hot soapy water.
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4 – Hair appliances: Clean surfaces on blow dryers and curling irons each time you use them. If the family shares these things, clean between users.
5 – Sanitize the air: Use a UV-C light technology air sanitizer. We have purchased three of the “Germ Guardian” models shown here for our bathrooms, and they not only stop development of organisms such as bacteria or viruses, they quietly clean the air of odors without using chemicals. I am sensitive to chemicals so this is a lifesafer. (We also take one traveling to help with smelly hotel rooms). We bought them back in October 2015. With 24-hour-a-day use for the last five years, one finally died, but the other two are going strong!
6 Often-Used Electronics That Get Very Dirty:
- Phones: Sanitize your phone 1x per day or more if you’re a frequent user. Take it out of the case and clean the nooks and crannies. Try not to use any ornamentation on phones right now, it’s easier to keep clean that way.
- Computing: Your computer, notepad or laptop mouse, mousepad, and keyboard get dirty. Use screen cleaner on the screens and windex or similar on the durable parts.
- Music: Headphones, earbuds and VR Headsets need frequent cleaning. Like eyeglasses, you don’t want to use Windex on many of these devices.
- Gaming: Game controllers need cleaning each day they get used. if two people are playing, clean the controllers between users.
- Entertainment: TV and VCR remotes (and where the remote lives, like a coffee table or chair pocket)
- Photography: Clean your camera, microphone, or lighting each time you use them
7 Tips for Cleaning Cars, Bikes and Scooters:
- Dashboard: Wipe controls such as music and A/C, the console, and cup holders
- Steering wheel: Sanitize the steering wheel and and gear shift. Make sure steering wheel cover is extra clean in the patterns and textures… better off not having one right now, especially if someone in your family is sick
- Seatbelts: Wipe down the handles and belts themselves since they go right under the “droplet zone!”
- Handles: Clean inner and outer door handles
- Keys: Sanitize garage door openers, keys and key fobs.
- Car seats: Clean the child car seat cover, and wipe every place your child can reach with disinfectant wipes or a spray
- Bikes and Scooters: Wipe down the seat and handles, helmets, goggles and any gloves worn
7 High-Traffic Areas In Your Home That Get Yucky:
Because I am sensitive to any chemical fragrance, I like to use hot steam to eliminate dirt and germs without chemicals. For people not bothered by scent, there are any number of easily available, tried-and-true disinfectants for these chores:
- Kitchen: Clean the doorknobs, refrigerator and drawer handles in your home
- Towels: If you use cloth hand towels in the bathroom and kitchen, change them once or twice a day or use paper towels in flu and cold season.
- Controls: Wipe the control panel for your HVAC, your alarm, and all your light plates
- Lamps: Sanitize the knobs and switches on lamps that get used daily
- Toys: Clean your children’s plastic and rubber toys, get rid of porous toys. Never use rubber ducks in the tub! They get water inside and breed a crazy amount of germs and bacteria.
- Garbage: Wash your hands after touching waste cans and garbage cans
- Mail: Clean your mailbox handle/door and the mail slot on your front door. The postal carrier touches many things.
5 Simple Ways to Keep Your Couch Clean
Most families spend many happy hours on the couch. We eat and drink while we watch our favorite shows. Our loved ones and pets snuggle. We never forget to wash our clothes, but so many people forget to deep clean the sofa! The following tips will help you do it with ease:
1. Know What You Are Getting Into
To know how to clean your couch the right way, check the manufacturers tag. Does it look like gibberish with a mix of letters and symbols? Don’t worry, we can translate! Here are common cleaning codes and what they mean:
“X” means that you should only clean the sofa with a vacuum or brush. We don’t know why they do not use a “V” for this code. It’s just one of life’s little mysteries!
“W” means you are fine to use water on the couch surfaces
“S” means you should not use water, but a cleaner that is solvent-based
“SW” means that you are okay to use either water or cleaner that is solvent-based
There are numerous “solvent based” products on the market, and some that are fragrance free.
2. Know When to Call an Expert
If you do not have much experience with cleaning, or if your couch is extremely expensive or made from light colored or fancy fabrics, you may want to let an expert do everything but vacuum out crumbs. (Why do you have crumbs on your expensive couch anyway? Take that snack to the family room!) Expert cleaners will also know how to remove tough stains and odors beyond normal cleaning.
3. Clean the Vacuum before you Vacuum Your Couch
Using the soft brush head attachment, you should vacuum in between your couch cushions as often as you vacuum the floor. One important word of caution: your vacuum cleaner head is dirty! Before you vacuum the sofa, first wash and dry the attachment, or designate a dust buster for “couch and curtains only.”
4. Mix Shampoo or Liquid Soap with Water
If you combine a few drops of clear liquid soap or clear shampoo with a few cups of warm water, you will have a gentle and color-free solution for cleaning. Using a clean and white terrycloth towel (washcloth is fine), dab the cloth in the solution, squeeze the cloth to get our excess liquid, and gently blot the stain without soaking the couch fabric. Let the wet spot air-dry. If you did not get out all of the substance that caused the stain, using a hairdryer to accelerate the drying action will often cause the stain to set permanently. Even if you got the stain out, you can leave water rings by cooking this wet spot with heat. Be patient and keep the kids off the couch until it is dry.
5. Buy a Steam Cleaner
Steam cleaners are terrific for cleaning and sanitizing all kinds of things with just water. No more smelly cleaner chemicals to give you a headache or much worse, cause neurological damage in children. Steamers have come way down in price and are often as small as a dust buster, so they are easy to carry around the house for chores. A steamer will not only remove stains on your sofa, it will kill bacteria and viruses that cause illness. Follow the steamer manufacturer instructions for use on fabrics, but be certain to test on a part of the sofa that is out of sight, like the back of a cushion or on the inside of a skirt/flap near the floor.
7 Ways To Make Safe Trips Out of the House:
It’s smart to stay home as much as you are able, but most of us have to leave the house to go to work or to pick up groceries. Be safe out there!
- Timing: Go off-peak to avoid the crowds and stay at least 6 feet from others
- Carts: Wipe down the handle of your shopping cart, wear disposable gloves if you can.
- Payment: use with debit/credit cards and not paper money to reduce human contact. If you hand your credit card to a merchant, take it back with a tissue and leave it in the tissue until you get home and clean it. Cashiers are exposed to a lot of germs.
- Pens: Never use a public pen. Carry a pen when you leave the house.
- Sanitizer: Carry hand sanitizer in your purse, backpack or car in case you can’t get to soap and water.
- Gloves: Take your gloves off (peel them off as they turn inside out), and wipe your hands with sanitizer before getting in your vehicle
- Back home: Wipe down items before you put them away. Wipe down the counter/table the items were on while you were putting them away.
Product note: Since I am sensitive to fragrance, I rarely get to use anything that smells yummy like EO Lavender Hand Sanitizer wipes shown below. Not only is the EO fragrance natural so that I don’t get a headache, they do not leave my hands with that awful stickiness that so many do, and they are 60% alcohol (not 90% like most wipes) so they do not over dry my skin.
7 Public Places So Dirty You Should Use a Tissue or Glove:
- Public washroom doors and handles. Dispose of tissue and wash your hands.
- Shopping carts and basket handles (these are filthy – try to wear disposable gloves)
- Check-out card swipers and ATM panels: wipe with a sanitizer wipe first.
- Elevator button panels (use your elbow if no tissue or gloves)
- Staircase handrails
- Door knobs and handles, and train and bus grab handles and poles. Wipe down airplane and train lap trays and arm rests.
- Condiment jars on restaurant tables. Wipe off table before sitting.
After you touch an item, fold the dirty side of the tissue inward or glove take the glove off inside out, and dispose without touching the contaminated surface.
Product note: The clear gloves below are not for medical use, but they are great to keep in the car so that you can use them and toss them at the store, the gas station and so on.
7 Hygiene Habits for You and People You Assist:
- Cooking: Use soap and water before and during food preparation, especially after you touch meat, or the garbage pail lid.
- Eating: Wash your hands before and after eating.
- Coughing/Sneezing: Aim for the crook of your elbow. After each time: wash your hands! When someone else is coughing or sneezing stay 6 feet or 2 meters away.
- Babies: Read what the CDC says about the safest way to change diapers or clean up a child who has used the toilet.
- Sick people: Use soap and water before and after caring for a person sick with a cold, Influenza (flu) or a coronavirus.
- Injuries: Wash before and after treating a cut or wound for you or another person.
- Masks: Wear a mask! See patterns and tutorials on how to make DIY masks here. Train yourself to not touch your face, especially your mouth and nose.
4 Ways to Keep You, Your Pets and Pet Accessories Clean
It is not believed that COVID-19 transmits from pets to humans, but humans can pass the virus back and forth to each other on the pet’s toys, bowls, leash, collars and fur. If everybody is snuggling the dog, germs could get passed.
- Snuggles: Each person in the household should wash hands each time after snuggling the family pets, especially if the neighborhood kids pet the animals.
- Bedding: Wash the dog bedding as often as is reasonable.
- Accessories: The dog leash, brush, ball thrower and poopy bag dispenser all need washing after using
- If people are sick: If you or someone is sick, keep all family pets away from the sick person, or the sick person’s germs may transfer to another human on the dog. Have another member of the family or a friend walk and pet and feed them.
5 Habits for Keeping the Office Clean:
Share this Contagion Cleaning Checklist with your co-workers so they can help keep the place virus-free. It takes everyone pulling together to beat this.
- Your space: Clean your computer or laptop keyboard, mouse, mousepad and desktop surface after lunch and before you go home for the day. You could pick up a virus at a lunch counter or in a conference room.
- Kitchen: Grab the coffee pot, refrigerator, and drawer handles with tissue during the day
- Restroom: Touch bathroom door handles with a tissue (use a new one each time).
- Commuting: Wash your hands when you arrive at office or back home from commuting, even if you touched everything with a tissue.
- Briefcase or backpack: It won’t get dirty in the car, but if you commute and carry a briefcase or backpack, wipe it down on arrival to office and when home again.
Not everyone agrees on the effectiveness of masks against airborne germs. However, we *all* agree on the danger of spreading disease by touching infected surfaces. Share this amazing cleaning checklist, so your family and co-workers get on board!
Elizabeth Riegel performed consumer goods new product development for Fortune 500 companies in the 1980’s and 1990’s, helping to invent Jack Daniels Country Cocktails for Brown-Forman Distillers, Purina O.N.E. dog food for Purina, and dozens of products for Frito-Lay. From 1988 through 1994 she worked as a freelance costume designer for numerous Chicago theaters including the Steppenwolf Theater and Universal Studios, and her credits including working on the Tony award-winning production of Grapes of Wrath starring Gary Sinise, and episodes on the 1992 season of The Roseanne Show with Roseanne Barr and John Goodman. From 1999-2016 Elizabeth co-founded and was Managing Director of KHRONOS.org, home to paradigm-shifting open standards (OpenGL, OpenGL ES, OpenCL, Vulkan) currently used in billions of mobile devices. From 2016 through present day Elizabeth has directed the development of Web Income Pros selling premium domain names, and Web Info Life, a digital publishing company. Elizabeth lives in Colorado, enjoys yelling at political pundits on TV, and writing rhyming autobiographical poetry.