8 Cleaners That Should Be Cleaned Before You Use Them
Simplifying one’s life is all about working smart and being efficient with our day-to-day tasks so we have time for the other more important things and aren’t overwhelmed with stuff left undone.
Another large part of living a simple life is doing things right the first time. This time of year many of us turn our thoughts to spring cleaning. Whether you typically reserve your heaviest chores for an annual spring clean or are more of a maintenance cleaner, there’s a lot to be said about using clean tools and appliances for optimum performance.
Cleaning your cleaners on a regular basis means you aren’t just moving dirt and bacteria around, you’re doing it right the first time and keeping your home and family healthier in the process.
Following are eight cleaning tools that in my opinion are worth keeping clean.
You dishwasher may do a good job at disinfecting your dishes on a daily basis but it will only work optimally if you keep it free of debris, soap scum and grease.
To kill germs, erase soap scum and cut through films of grease start by removing any debris from the bottom of the drain with a rag or paper towel.
Then pour white vinegar into a cup and place on the top rack of an empty dishwasher.
You can further deodorize your dishwasher by sprinkling a cup of baking soda on the bottom. Run a full cycle on the hottest water setting.
Does your washing machine stink? Foul odours could be caused from a build-up of detergent/fabric softener, bacteria from clothes or damp clothes left in the machine for long periods of time. Dampness in an enclosed area tends to breed mold and mildew.
Running a load of hot water won't zap all the germs, especially strains of bacteria like E. coli and salmonella from underwear or kitchen cloths which can live on washing machine walls and spread to other garments.
The best way to disinfect your washing machine is to use a combination of white vinegar, baking soda and hot water.
For top loading machines use 3 to 4 cups of vinegar to 1/2 cup of baking soda.
For front loading machines use 1/4 cup of vinegar to 4 tablespoons of baking soda.
Let the solution agitate for a bit and then sit for 30 to 60 minutes. Then start the machine, let the water drain, wipe and air dry.
As for your dryer, get in the habit of discarding lint after each cycle and at least once a month, remove the lint trap and vacuum the area.
Without proper maintenance, a vacuum is only good for moving dirt and dust around. A vacuum can get so clogged up with dust and allergens that it becomes less effective each time you use it.
The good news is you can clean your vacuum without having to take it apart.
For bagless vacuums you should be emptying the canister after each use.
For vacuums with bags, replace the bags when they are only a third full. Clean the filter by removing any build-up with your fingers and then shaking out the dust (ideally tap the filter against a hard surface like the exterior of your home, a tree or fence to remove any remaining dust). Consider replacing the filter once a year.
Make sure your rotating brush is free of hair. If you can't pull the hair out, use scissors to cut through the strands.
If worse comes to worst and you find your vacuum isn't performing up to par you may want to take apart each removable component and use a smaller vacuum to clean out the nooks and crannies.
If you notice a funky odor, give the individual vacuum parts a thorough washing (also press an old toothbrush into action as a small detail brush). Make sure all parts are completely dry before you reassemble them. The last thing you want to do is cause a breeding ground for mildew or mold growth.
Always shake off your dusters outside. To really clean your dusters you may want to use a canned air spray (typically used for key computer keyboards) to eliminate every speck of dust.
Once you’ve cleaned your floors you’ll have a dirty broom unless you shake it off outdoors. In addition to regularly removing debris from the bottom of your broom you may also want to occasionally wash the bristles with warm water and a mild detergent.
Let your broom air dry (ideally outdoors) with the bristles up. Then, store your broom on an elevated hook or upright with the bristles up to prolong its life.
We all know that sponges are breeding ground for bacteria. You can cut down on the gross factor though by disinfecting your sponges every couple of days and replacing them monthly.
To disinfect, soak your sponge in water and then place in a bowl and microwave on high for a minute. (Never microwave a dry sponge as it could catch on fire.)
Use 1/4 cup of water for scrub sponges and 1/2 cup of water for cellulose sponges.
For ‘scrub’ sponges, microwave on high heat for one minute. Add an extra minute and heat ‘cellulose’ sponges for a total of 2 minutes on high. Keep an eye on your microwave to make sure the sponges don’t dry out. Let your sponge cool down for several minutes before touching.
Alternatively, put a sponge into a regular dishwasher load of dishes, using the "heated dry" setting or soak in full strength vinegar for 5 minutes, squeeze out the liquid and let dry.
Keep several sponges on hand to serve different purposes and to avoid spreading bacteria. If you're using a sponge for pots, a sponge for counters and a sponge for dishes, try cutting the sponges into thirds to save money.
Microfiber cloths are ideal for picking up dust and debris and are certainly a better alternative than disposable cleaning cloths. You also don’t need to use cleaners with them, just water.
Toss your microfiber cloths in the washing machine with your regular laundry detergent. Just don't add any fabric softener as the oil's will clog up the fibers and render them ineffective.
A mop is like a sponge in it has the same potential to spread germs and dirt all over again if it isn't cleaned first.
If your mop has a removable head, toss it in the washing machine and run it with a cup of chlorine-free bleach and hot water.
For traditional mops, soak it in vinegar periodically and wash it with dish detergent and hot water after each use.
Squeeze out excess water and let it air dry. Store the same way you would a broom with the head up.
The biggest mistake is leaving a damp mop in a pail. It will just breed bacteria. Make sure your mop is thoroughly dry or you might as will not have cleaned it the first place.
So, what cleaner are you going to clean first?
I would love to hear your thoughts on cleaning your cleaners and any particular tips and ideas you'd like to share on the topic.
Please leave your comments below.
Do you ever yourself missing out on things you value because there aren’t enough hours in a day? I used to. I had my schedule packed so tight of ‘work’ stuff there wasn’t a lot of room for the important ‘family’ stuff.
Finding time for what’s important can be a challenge in our busy day-to-day lives but it CAN be done.
The first step is figuring out just what your priorities are. Next, you need to make some conscious decisions what you will and won't do and then commit to altering your daily routines. It takes discipline but the rewards are oh so worth it.
It really comes down to scheduling and priority management. For instance, consider how much more time you’d have if all family members got their hair cut at the same time instead of making separate trips to the hair salon over the course of a month or six weeks? (The same goes for routine medical appointments like dental check-ups.)
And what about routine tasks like cleaning the bathroom? Wouldn’t it be more efficient, not to mention easier, to quickly spray the shower after you use it instead of having to scrub off the soap scum that’s built up?
We often do things a certain way because it’s a habit, and not because it’s the best way to do it. By altering some of your habits, creating new ones, and doing away with ones that are counterproductive, you’ll find you can actually carve out more time in an average day.
Set your priorities and stick to them. Never start your day without a plan, or spend more time on the trivial and less on what’s really important. Not having a plan is one of the best ways to derail your day.
Here are a few ways I like to save time...
Group like errands together
Plan in advance. Schedule errands based on location so you aren’t driving all over town.
Don’t just buy one greeting card
Stock up on several greeting cards at the same time. Having a healthy supply of cards for all occasions saves a huge amount of time. Keep a good supply of stamps on hand as well.
Do the things only you can do and then pass along the rest to others. Think of delegating this way; you’re not losing control, you’re gaining control of your time and your life.
Do your office filing once a day
I find I’m more productive when I save all my filing to the last half hour of my workday when I’m clearing up and preparing my notes for the next day.
Simplify your hairstyle
Simple “wash and go” hairstyles are tops in my book. Having a no fuss, no muss hairstyle goes a long way to getting you up and out in the morning. I purposely grew my hair long so I could pull it back and save time on styling.
Keep your gas tank above a quarter full
Waiting to refuel when your tank reaches empty may result in adding undue stress being late for work or an appointment (which can cause a domino effect and can turn into a negative for a whole lot of other people).
Decrease time spent in line
Stuck in a long line at the bank or grocery store? Opt for the line that’s next to an unopened till, that way if it does open, you may be able to move from last to first.
Keep your wardrobe functional
Wash and wear is the way to go. If you’re serious about freeing up more time consider getting rid of any clothing that demands special care. If it doesn’t go in the washing machine, it doesn’t go in my closet.
Watch less TV
I rarely watch television anymore and when I do I'm selective. I make a plan to watch a specific program and then turn it off. Alternatively you could record favorite shows and watch them at a more convenient time. Being able to fast-forward through the commercials is a huge time saver.
Stop mindless surfing
I never surf the Internet or spend time on social media without a clear objective and setting a timer. I rarely ever read email forwards and if I do, it is over my lunch break and not at the start of my workday.
So what actions are you going to take today to start freeing up your time so you can focus more on your priorities?
I welcome your feedback.
Please comment below.