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tips to properly clean your home to keep your family safe from germs and bacteria

Posted on June 29, 2014 at 10:46 AM Comments comments (1931)
We don't want to start a panic, so let's start off by saying that it’s perfectly acceptable to have some germs in your home. It's unavoidable, really. Germs and bacteria are all around you, and, believe it or not, they actually make our immune systems stronger.
There are, however, certain areas of your home that actually house more bacteria than others — bacteria that can be harmful if levels are not kept in check with regular cleaning.
You've probably already guessed that the bathroom is one of the biggest culprits, but does it surprise you that the kitchen is actually higher on the list? People are more apt to disinfect areas of their bathroom and not the kitchen due to the nature of its use. Therein lies the potential problem.
The Kitchen and Eating Areas
The kitchen is where most family members congregate, touching all areas, cabinets, faucets and appliance handles. Raw meat is handled here, which can carry dangerous bacteria as well. You don't even want to know what microscopic nasties can enter your home on the bottoms of your family's shoes and get trekked across your kitchen floor. To keep bacteria from lurking around, try some of these suggestions:

  • Scrape food from dishes and rinse well in warm water, as food sitting on plates can harbor bacteria.
  • Use paper towels and an antibacterial cleanser to clean spills, and choose an antimicrobial sponge to wash dishes.
  • Damp cellulose sponges should be heated in the microwave for two minutes every few days to kill any lingering germs and should be replaced every two weeks. (You could run them through the dishwasher.)
  • Clean the floor at least once a week with disinfectant cleaner.
  • Do not defrost frozen meats or poultry on the counter or in the sink, only in the refrigerator or microwave.
  • Use separate cutting boards for meats and vegetables, and be sure to disinfect whichever type of cutting board you use appropriately.
  • Don't put your purse on the kitchen counter. Twenty-five percent of purses harbor fecal bacteria on the bottom due to being placed on the floor in public bathrooms.
  • Use antibacterial cleaner twice a week to wipe down cabinets and handles, kitchen appliances (like your microwave touchpad and refrigerator door handle), and small appliances like your coffee pot and toaster.
  • Use bleach cleaner daily to wipe down kitchen countertops, the faucet, in and around the drain, and the entire surface of your sink.
  • Wipe down trash can(s) with antibacterial wipes two or three times per week.
  • Regularly wipe the salt and peppershakers clean — after every meal, ideally.
The Bathroom
  • Wipe down toilet seat, lid and bowl daily with antibacterial cleaning wipes.
  • Disinfect in and out of the toilet, as well as the floor around the toilet at least once a week.
  • Use antibacterial cleaner twice a week to wipe down bathroom cabinets and handles, bathroom countertops, the faucet, and the entire surface of your sink.
  • Mop floor with disinfectant cleaner weekly.
  • Routinely change out bathroom towels and hand towels used on a regular basis.
  • Use shower/tub cleaner to clean all surfaces of the shower and bathtub weekly.
  • Wipe down trash can(s) with antibacterial wipes two or three times per week.
  • Keep toothbrushes stored far away from the toilet, preferably inside a cabinet to avoid bacteria that is spread from the invisible spray that comes out of your toilet bowl when flushed. Regularly wash your toothbrush holder.
  • Close the toilet lid before flushing.
Living Areas
Use antibacterial cleaning wipes to wipe down commonly used items such as:

  • Television remote control
  • Telephone
  • Computer keyboard and mouse
  • Toys
  • Highchair and training potty
  • Pet food dishes
  • Light switches
  • Door handles
Remember, our bodies, particularly our children's bodies, need some bacteria to remain healthy and strong. Our immune systems are built to fight off diseases with help from the bacteria we come in contact with daily. However, keeping those bacteria at a healthy level is handled through proper hygiene and regular household cleaning.
While this isn’t a call to turn your home into a sterile hospital environment, just pay particular attention to those vulnerable spots to keep you and your family healthy.

Clean your microwave in 5 easy steps

Posted on June 29, 2014 at 10:42 AM Comments comments (1667)
A dirty microwave is generally one of those out of sight, out of mind chores. That is, until you need to heat something up and you open the door to expose the ugly truth. It doesn't take long for food to splatter and stick to the interior of your microwave. Cleaning it up is a snap with these simple tips.
1. Prevent Spills
When heating food in the microwave, cover it first with plastic wrap or paper towel. When food heats quickly, it can sometimes pop, causing messy splatters all over. Covering food helps keep the mess to a minimum.
2. Wipe Down Microwave Daily
You wash your dishes, wipe down your counters and clean off your stovetop daily, so why not the inside of the microwave? It's closed, that's why. Make an effort to include the inside of your microwave in your daily routine to keep it sparkling clean.
3. Use Simple Steam for Dried on Messes
Cleaning the microwave doesn't mean you have to haul out the hammer and chisel or even the chemical cleaners from under the sink. There's a simple solution that takes just a few minutes and costs almost nothing.
Fill a glass bowl or 4-cup measuring cup half full with water. Place inside the microwave and heat on high for five minutes. Leave the door shut for a few minutes more to allow the steam to really do its thing. Use oven mitts to carefully remove the container of hot water. Next, use a paper towel or damp sponge to wipe down the inside of the microwave. The grime and stuck-on food particles should wipe out easily.
4. Deodorize Your Microwave:
  • Add 1 tablespoon white vinegar to the water before heating. Vinegar has a very strong smell — 1 tablespoon is all you need!
  • Place a tablespoon of water on a microwave safe plate. Halve a lemon and place cut side down on the plate. Heat for one minute. Remove lemons and continue with water heating method above.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to the water before heating.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of bottled lemon juice to the water before heating if you don't have fresh lemons.
5. Safety First
Mishandling hot water from the microwave can result in burns. To be safe always:
  • Use oven mitts to remove the dish of hot water from the oven.
  • Use a bowl or measuring cup with a wide opening, which allows steam to escape. Pent up steam can have explosive results.
  • Stand clear of the microwave door while heating.

30-Minute Kitchen Cleanup

Posted on June 29, 2014 at 10:39 AM Comments comments (783)
Clean-Kitchen Priorities
Keeping a clean kitchen not only gives you a hygienic place to prepare meals, but it also makes you feel better about spending time cooking.
Food Hygiene—20 Minutes
For a quick clean, focus first on food storage and preparation areas—your fridge and countertops.
Take all the food, shelves and drawers out of your fridge. Shelves and drawers can get messy from food falling out of opened packages or dribbles from sauce bottles but are easy to wipe down with warm water and all-purpose liquid cleaner. After cleaning, as you put the food back in, try to arrange it in a more useful way by placing ingredients you use most at the front.
Take a quick look at expiration dates at the same time and throw out anything that’s too old. If your freezer is beginning to look like the Arctic, set aside another time to make it a priority rather than adding it to this focused clean.
On to the countertops. Take everything off (including jars and cutting boards) so you can really clean all the way to the backsplash. On a day-to-day basis, we tend to just wipe away the debris of food preparation, but messes stay hiding in every corner!
Adding Sparkle—10 Minutes
Most ovens these days have a 30-minute clean built-in. Use it! And while that’s working for you, give the kitchen windows a wipe, too—grease in the air can make the inside of the windows a bit grubby without you even realizing it.
Lastly, how often do you wash your sink? Give the sink its own quick clean with cleaning spray. Don’t forget to clean around the faucet.

Cleaning "Your" Bathroom!

Posted on March 17, 2012 at 5:47 PM Comments comments (1021)
How To Clean Your Bathroom
 Cleaning the bathroom is nobody's idea of fun, but the job has to be done. Yes, we know you'd rather be out shopping, gardening or riding your bike. But we promise: If you follow these tips and tricks to deep-clean your bathroom, you'll have plenty of time left over to get that manicure. And you'll have earned it!
 Remove the clutterClear your countertops of everything and set it all aside. If anything is resting on top of the toilet tank, remove that as well, and move bathmats and rugs out the way. You must start with a blank canvas. Wait until you have cleaned the countertops to sweep and mop the floor. Shower the shower curtain While you are removing items, take down your shower curtain and toss it in the wash. That's right: You can reuse your vinyl shower curtain by letting your washer get rid of the soap scum. Wash it on the gentle cycle using cold water, then simply hang it back up to dry (do not put it in the dryer!).Let it rest. Spray the countertops and toilet (even the part behind the seat and around the bowl) with an all-purpose, heavy-duty bathroom cleaner.
 Let the product sit for a few minutes to loosen up any caked-on dirt and grime. Then wipe down all the surfaces with a clean sponge.Lime awayIf your faucets have collected lime scaling due to too much calcium or magnesium in the tap water, soak a paper towel in white vinegar and then wrap it around the faucet (you may need to secure it with a rubber band). Let it soak for at least one hour, moistening the towel with more vinegar as needed. Remove the towel, wipe the faucet clean and tackle any hard deposits still remaining with an old toothbrush.Flush it out Before cleaning the toilet, force the water out with a plunger so any cleaner you apply will not be diluted by the water.
 Spritz toilet cleaner into the bowl and let it sit to remove any ring stains that may have accumulated. After five to 10 minutes, scrub the inside of the bowl with a toilet brush, being sure to get under the rim as well as the seat. If the brush won't do the trick on stubborn stains, try a pumice stone. Don't forget to flush!Scrub the showerSpray the shower and/or tub with a cleaner that tackles mildew, regardless of whether you can see any actual mildew buildup. Use an old toothbrush to clean the grout between shower tiles.Maintain the cleanOnce you have sufficiently deep-cleaned your bathroom, a little weekly touchup is all it takes to keep it in top shape. 
 Take a few shortcuts -- for instance, wipe down countertops with an antibacterial wipe.


Posted on November 24, 2011 at 10:36 AM Comments comments (2168)
When it comes to cleaning, the little things really make a difference. If you only have 10 minutes to spare, whip through one of these six extreme-cleaning tasks to purge your home -- or, at least, one part of it at a time -- of dust, dirt and grime. They’re guaranteed to leave you feeling lighter, healthier and a whole lot cleaner.
Shower fixtures and knobs build up mineral deposits and mildew without your even realizing it. When you have just a few minutes, try a trick from Michele Samuels, a Mill Valley, California, resident: "First, make sure white vinegar won't damage the finish of your shower head and knobs. Then, unscrew the fixtures and soak them in vinegar. I use full strength and put the showerhead in a container filled with white vinegar, but you can use one part vinegar to three parts water if you're worried about the vinegar on the finish." After soaking the fixtures, use a toothbrush to scrub the dirt and grime away. The whole process only takes a few minutes, and you'll love how clean your bathroom feels.
light fixtures
If you take a quick walk around your house, you may notice that your light fixtures are dusty and filled with dead bugs. All this extra grime affects the quality of light in your home, so giving them the occasional clean-out can do wonders for ambiance. Simply take the fixture down and rinse it out before replacing it. Michele Samuels notes, "If you still use incandescent bulbs -- which burn hot -- turn off the lights at least 15 minutes before you take the fixtures down so they have time to cool off."
Cleaning the crusted-on microwave food-splatter is one of those tasks most people want to avoid. It's nasty, and the dirt is well hidden, so it's easy to ignore. Rather than trying to scrub the crust off using old-fashioned elbow grease, use a trick from Maureen Smithe, the brains behind HomeMadeMothering.com: "Place a medium-size bowl filled with equal parts water and white vinegar into the microwave and set the microwave for five minutes. When the buzzer goes off, leave the door closed for a minute or two to let the steam penetrate all the icky goop. Open the microwave and carefully remove the bowl, then use a damp sponge to gently and easily remove the gunk." In about eight to 10 minutes, you'll have a sparkling-clean microwave with very little effort.
Fireplace Ash
Woodburning fireplaces build up ash fast, and that ash can contribute allergens and affect the air quality within your home. Grab your broom, dustpan and vacuum to sweep out the ash. A good cleaning should take only about 10 minutes.
Purge Drawers
Everyone has a few junk drawers (or maybe junk closets) where items without a set destination tend to accumulate. "Pick one drawer a week, take out all the items you never use, and put them in a cardboard box. Whenever you use one of the items, put it back in the drawer," suggests Ginny Snook, chief organization officer of California Closets. If items remain in the box at the end of the month, donate them or throw them away. 
If you're not up for a monthlong process, just ask yourself when the last time was that you used any of the items in the box. If you can't answer, or it's been longer than a month, toss it. All in all, each drawer should take you 10 minutes or less to sort, organize and purge.
Pet beds and pillows
If you're tired of all the pet hair that's been building up on your pet beds for months, toss them in the dryer for a 10-minute makeover. The drying process will shake some of that hair loose, depositing it into the lint trap for easy removal.