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  • 4 Everyday Items You Shouldn’t Forget to Clean

    Add these germ magnets to your cleaning list for a healthier home.

    Things you should be cleaning

    Many of us clean house the same way our parents or grandparents did. But times have changed, along with the cleaners we use, the stuff we own, the lives we lead and the environmental challenges we face. And, despite all of the proactive steps you take to protect your family, you may be forgetting to clean these commonly used household items.

    • The stuff in your wallet or handbag

      TA 2012 study from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Queen Mary, University of London showed one in 10 bank cards and one in seven banknotes (paper money) to be contaminated with fecal matter*. They found similarly grim statistics for mobile phones.

      All of this stuff goes into your wallet or your handbag, right? And then you set your wallet or purse on the bathroom floor or balance it on the sink before bringing it home and dropping it on the kitchen counter.

      To right these hygiene wrongs, start by rethinking your domestic re-entry strategy—for example, no bags in the kitchen. Then, wipe down or wash the washable items with soapy water or disinfectant—credit cards can be lightly wiped down with hand sanitizer. Finally, clean the outside, bottom and inside of your totes and coin purses. And remember to go wash your hands—again.

    • Reusable shopping bags

      To shop intelligently and sanitarily, throw reusable fabric bags in the washing machine after every couple of uses. Use soapy water to wash reusable plastic bags, or spray them with an antibacterial solution and wipe down.

    • Electronics

      Think about all the places you set your phone down during a given day. Or all the times you pick it up after eating, shaking hands or dealing with money. Yuck! Use a soft, lint-free cloth to wipe down all the surfaces of your phone.

      At home, carefully wipe down remote controls and computer keyboards with a bleach-free disinfectant cloth. Use a compressed air can or a toothbrush to really get the gunk out of keypad crevices.

    • Cleaning tools

      Germs can hide in brush bristles, cloth fibers and sponge pads. And that handy plastic bin you use to tote them around? It’s a bundle of bacteria you carry along during every housekeeping round.

      To clean broom heads and scrub brushes, fill a bucket with hot water and add half a cup of OxiClean powder, which is biodegradable and environmentally friendly. To tackle toilet brushes, make a solution of two cups white vinegar, one tablespoon borax and one-half teaspoon dish soap. Soak for 30 minutes.

      Use the hottest setting possible to machine wash cleaning rags separately. Disinfect sponges by first soaking them in a bowl of water and then microwave for one to three minutes.

    • For good measure

      A few other notable items to clean regularly:
      Dish racks
      Toothbrushes and toothbrush holders
      Bath mats and doormats
      Garbage disposals
      Sink drains
      Vacuum cleaners
      Loofahs and bath scrubbers