You’ve just spent an entire Saturday morning cleaning your home—washing the floors, vacuuming the carpets, wiping down the kitchen and scrubbing the showers. But before you head out for lunch, be sure to check one more chore off your list: cleaning your cleaning supplies.
When not taken care of properly, brushes, brooms, mops and cloths not only lose their ability to deliver results, they can also spread germs and grime throughout your home the next time you clean. Here’s a list of the five cleaning supplies we tend to use most, and how to keep them in tip-top shape.
The sponge is the little workhorse of the kitchen, often used multiple times every day to wipe up spills and hand wash dishes. But sponges can get dirty and germ infested in a hurry. The USDA recommends that you put your kitchen sponge in the dishwasher and run it through a dry cycle*. It will come out fresh and sanitized.
Keep your kitchen sponge in a low-rimmed dish on the counter so the air can help it dry out between uses. And remember: Sponges have a short lifespan. Replace your kitchen sponge every week or so.
If you don’t give your mop proper TLC, it will quickly become more harmful than it is helpful. Wet mops should be rinsed in extremely hot (but not boiling) water after every use and then dried upside down thoroughly, which prevents that icky, sour smell.
If it’s a removable wet mop head (but not a sponge head), you can toss it in the laundry with a cup of white vinegar. To give sponge mops a deep clean, soak them in a utility sink filled with hot water and a cup of vinegar, then dry thoroughly. If you can dry your wet or sponge mops in the sun, even better!
It’s the best thing for sweeping up kitchen crumbs and those pesky dust bunnies that collect in corners, but your broom will lose its cleaning mojo if you don’t give it regular attention. Keep those hardworking bristles clean by taking your broom outside and banging it against a tree every few uses to dislodge accumulated dirt and dust particles. You can also use your vacuum’s brush attachment to suck up debris.
Scrub brushes that have plastic handles can—and should—be put in the top rack of your dishwasher every time you run a load of dishes to get clean and sanitized. If your scrub brush has a wooden handle, soak only the bristles in a bowl of hot water with a few tablespoons of white vinegar and a drop of dish soap for at least an hour. Then let the bristles dry thoroughly.
If your dishrags harbor a yucky smell even with regular washings, you don’t need to toss them, but you do need to bust out the big guns when it comes to disinfecting. Your best bet? Boil your rags in a large pot for 15 minutes to kill the bacteria, mold and mildew that’s stinking them up. Next, carefully remove the rags from the pot and run them through a regular cycle in your washing machine.
To keep smells at bay going forward, add a cup of white vinegar along with your regular detergent every time you wash your dishrags. Reach for a fresh dishrag every morning, and avoid a stinky laundry room by letting each rag air dry before tossing it in the hamper.