There are some items that just make our cleaning routines a lot easier, like the ubiquitous and time-tested broom. There’s a reason it’s still around after a few hundred years. However, have you ever thought about how to clean your broom? But it’s true – there are methods to clean the very things we use to make our homes cleaner. Otherwise, we might just be spreading dirt and germs instead of actually getting rid of them.
Here are some of the most common cleaning tools and tips on how to properly clean them in between uses.
The problem: It’s been around forever because it’s practical and it works. But one glance at the end of your broom might send a shiver down your spine: it’s probably filthy. If you’re a pet owner, you’re probably doubly horrified. So…throw it away and buy a new one? No way!
The solution: According to Good Housekeeping, you can wash the ends of your broom with warm water and a mild detergent, letting it air dry (bristles up!) afterward.
The problem: After faithfully removing dried-on food particles and sanitizing your dishes, your dishwasher can get, well, a little disgusting. Think about it: all that stuff has to go somewhere. That can lead to a build-up of bacteria, mold, fungi or black yeast.
The solution: Remove any debris you can see from the bottom of your dishwasher on a regular basis. Every month or so, place a cup of white vinegar on the top rack of an otherwise empty washer, and run a full cycle on the hottest water setting, says Sherrie Le Masurier, author of House Cleaning Tips: How to Clean and Declutter Your Home.
The problem: After cleaning dishes, wiping down countertops and maybe scrubbing your sink basin, billions of bacteria are stuck in that sponge, just waiting to be redeposited on your “clean” surfaces. Running them through the dishwasher won’t kill all those germs because it simply isn’t hot enough.
The solution: Microwave them. Wet your sponge and microwave it for 2 minutes. You can also soak them in diluted bleach mixture. Either way, do this several times a week. After a month, toss it and get a fresh sponge.
The problem: You’ve removed dirty paw prints, scuff marks, a dried splat of lasagna and who knows what else from your floor. What are you left with? A sparkling floor…and a nasty mop. Like sponges, dirty mops have the potential to spread germs.
The solution: Go for mops with detachable, washable heads. These can be washed in your washing machine with bleach and hot water (or with no bleach and cold water, if you have a Laundry Pro). If you have a regular mop, wash the head with hot water and dish soap. Then squeeze out the excess water and dry them (outside, preferably) with the head facing up.
The Washing Machine
The problem: You not only use your washing machine to clean clothes, you may have just thrown your mop head in there, too! Not to mention dirty tennis shoes, cloth diapers, soiled pet beds and a whole host of other delightful items. Again: all that dirt, grime and germy residue has to go somewhere. And a lot of it can cling to the inside of your machine? The best telltale sign your washer needs a wash of its own? It stinks.
The solution: According to Good Housekeeping, use white vinegar and baking soda. Run with hot water, add the combo (for top loading machines, 3 – 4 cups of vinegar to ½ cup of baking soda; for front loading machines, ¼ cup of vinegar to 4 T of baking soda) as it agitates and let sit for 30-60 minutes. Restart the machine, let the water drain, wipe down and air dry.
To prevent bacteria, mold and mildew from growing, leave the door open after running a load, says Donna Smallin, author of Cleaning Plain & Simple.
You might also consider laundry units that install, allowing you to do away with bleach, detergent and fabric softener all together. Those items can leave a residue which then acts as a food source for bacteria.
The Vacuum Cleaner
The problem: You’ve successfully sucked up dust, dirt, pet hair, dander, skin flakes and a variety of other icky things. While much of that is stored in your vacuum’s bag, the bottom and bristles of your unit are another story. Good Housekeeping reminds us: “Without maintenance, a vacuum is only good for moving around dirt.”
The solution: For bagless vacuums, simply empty the canister after each use. For those with bags, replace them when they’re ½ to 2/3 full. Replace your filters according to your manufacturer’s instructions. You can also remove hair and fur that’s become entangled in the rotating brush. Using scissors to cut through it can help (just be sure not to cut the bristles themselves).
If you purchased your vacuum from a franchise that services the machines, reach out to them for service advice and tips.