The spring cleaning secrets that will make your home shine

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A SPRING refreshment in the warming weeks of March is standard fare for many families, but what about that deep clean that has you wrinkling your nose?

We need to get down to a microbial level to truly rout the dirt that matters. By getting used to certain practices now, delegating hard, and creating a cleaning kit that fits your style and sustainable principles, you can, with little effort, build a daily/weekly/monthly routine that really keeps the house fresh and healthy.

After that, you can romp through these charming, aesthetic March shuffles with a light heart.

ESSENTIAL VIRUSES

Covid has taken root as a perennial nuisance. If our guard and masks fall, it could still slip through your front door. Keep infection limited to the person who dragged it home, has close contact with someone with the virus, or is showing suspicious symptoms. The HSE provides detailed guidance on how to easily sanitize the home every day, including bathroom flash point – difficult when there is only one. It’s simple steps. If someone is in their bedroom, they can limit their exposure to everyone else by leaving their laundry outside the bedroom door. This is then picked up (gloved) and held away from the responsible person until it exits the basket and encounters a hot machine. A spray of 1:1 white vinegar in water can kill some – but not all – pathogens and has not been shown to be effective against Covid.

It’s as much a matter of routine as the products used, so print this information out and post it in each designated common area and room if you need a daily reminder of what it takes to get that hideous squatter out of the house have driven the door. 2.hse.ie/conditions/covid19/restricted-movements/if-you-live-with-other-people/#household-cleaning-washy-and-müll.

BATHROOM HAPPINESS

We were intrigued to think that a floral spritz is all it takes to bring some manners to the bathroom. The brutal truth is less fragrant. Every time the toilet is flushed (especially after the unspeakable), aerosol spray and fecal droplets are thrown several feet across the room. These pests stick to surfaces, nest in your towels, and can even smack you right in the face as you bend over the bowl. While invisible to the naked eye, these spatters harbor bacteria and viruses. Cleaning brand Harpic took some high-speed pictures to prove the ghastly point and released results in graphic photographs in November 2020. It was a terrible carnival under blue lights.

The best way to clean your loo is by wearing rubber gloves – mask off if you’re more comfortable. Use a plastic bristle brush and if you prefer, apply your sprays, liquid toilet cleaner and/or bleach products to work. Place the bowl cleaner just under the rim and let it drip over the bowl. Use your spray cleaner, green or commercial, to work on the bumps, levers, bolts, screws and hardware on the toilet.

Spray base and base thoroughly (don’t ask) and wipe up wet product with kitchen towels or reusable, washable rags. Buff clean with a fresh cotton or microfiber towel and toss any reusable towels straight into the washing machine. Clean the filters and head of our shower from limescale (PDFs online for each model). Work towels should be put in the washing machine after every third use and discarded after three years, according to the Good Housekeeping Institute.

GIT VS. GROT

It’s those smart spots we touch every day that pick up a largely undetectable and accumulating load of germs — but they’re easy to eliminate. When these items are used by every member of the house, it’s a carousel of possible infections. Staphylococcus aureus, yeast and mold, salmonella, Escherichia coli and (yes, you guessed it) feces can get up to the handle of your kettle if you live it in the bathroom with the lid open.

A 2020 study by US scientists published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that Covid-19 can survive on the surface of plastics and stainless steel for up to 72 hours.

Twice a week, focus not only on the counters, but also on the sink area, faucets, kettles and small appliances, light and power switches and handles, including the pulls on your fridge and stove. 1:1 water/white vinegar should be an under-the-counter staple, but never confuse vinegar and bleach—it creates a toxic chlorine gas that could burn your lungs. Soap (with some friction), specific detergents, bleach, ethanol, and chloride-based products used alone can break the surface tension that protects the virus.

FLOORING

You might think our bedroom rug was pretty safe in terms of its allergen and germ count. I mean, the flooring is really a stepping stone to the bed. Not correct. A scientific study published in 2020 and sponsored by the English sofa company ScS found that the bedroom floor was ten times dirtier than a normal toilet seat.

On a single square inch of rug were 140 colony-forming units of bacteria and yeast slithering under our slippered feet – double the number detected in the living room areas. Not to mention the dirt mite population and other petrochemical pests underfoot that can aggravate asthma, eczema and allergic rhinitis. Along with dusty surfaces such as furniture, curtains, upholstery, baseboards and lighting fixtures, dirty floors can have a major impact on air quality.

The answer? Bissel recommends all carpets be cleaned once a year, then deep cleaned (common practice in office spaces) and deep vacuumed twice a week with a HEPA certified machine.

Steam and water cleaning all help to disinfect the carpet fibers, but none will sterilize them – with the porosity, position and density of carpet, this is all but impossible. For more information on understanding and improving indoor air quality (IAQ), see our expert-backed feature here.

WASH THE WINDOWS

We expect a lot from our washing machines. Working at 30°C we were confident the load was spotless and the machine swept through by a couple of liters of detergent-heavy cold water. Hot washes are not only essential for the health and hygiene of your clothes and linens (see our guide), but also as a means of disinfecting the washing machine itself. A dry run with a descaler will keep the drum shiny and largely free of bacteria that can re-grow clothing and connect the appliance or the kitchen.

Wipe the rubber grommets around the door with a hot soapy cloth, working into any slime catcher grooves with your gloved hands and an old toothbrush (remember that if clean white vinegar is left on the surface, the acetic acid will destroy the rubber can).

Finally, clean the filter on the machine – there’s always the odd hair clip and a euro being held hostage.

The dishwasher can also clog with grease, undissolved detergent tablets and leftover food; it deserves a special, empty run with either a bottled product like Calgon or a cup of white vinegar placed in the top basket to loosen grease and fight limescale every two weeks.

The filter at the bottom of the machine should be rinsed out every week when you wipe the door and rubber seals; Simply run the filters under a hot tap and tap out anything trapped. Every six months (that would be now), take out the dishwasher arms and wash them in the sink in hot, soapy water, using a cocktail stick to poke out any residue you can find. This will release the spray to really make your dishes shine.

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