From Top to Bottom, here are the healthiest and gentlest ways to fight dirt and grime in your home
Disinfect the healthy way
You know it’s out there: dust, dirt and grime which is all around your home, on your sponge, in your cupboards, and even on you. But how the heck do you give dirt and germs the boot in healthy, simple ways, using no harsh chemicals? Well here’s how.
One of the most germy items in your home, remotes should get a wipe down at least every couple of days with a disinfectant wipe. And save the channel surfing for after you’ve cooked your dinner: During food prep, you can easily transfer microbes like E. coli or salmonella to your clicker.
Inside your handbag
Your bag is a magnet for microbes, such as staph, salmonella, even E. coli. Watch out if you stash loose cash in your bag: Paper money is the dirtiest thing in your bag. The flu virus can live on bank notes for 17 days. (Coins that are made from copper, an antimicrobial, are surprisingly clean.)
If you pack a snack like freshly washed fruit, make sure to seal it in a plastic bag to prevent germs from attacking it. To clean the inside of your bag, vacuum using the crevice attachment, or use a long bristled suede brush to get rid of crumbs into the bin
Your handbag: The outside
Get into the habit of hanging your bag up instead of chucking it down on restaurant or bathroom floors, to avoid picking up germs. Clear the dirt and dust off a leather bag by applying a leather conditioner once a week.
If stains remain, use a leather cleaner or mix a capful of dish soap with 1/2 cup water, and wipe the bag with the mixture using a white paper towel or terry cloth. Rinse the soap off thoroughly, stuff the bag with towels to retain its shape, let air-dry, and follow up with a leather conditioner.
Every pair of dirty underwear has traces of faeces and that can mean E. coli and other bacteria are in there, too.
To kill germs and keep them from spreading to other clothes, wash your underwear separately from the rest of your laundry on the highest temperature possible, not in cold—many germs survive in cold water. Dry until the load is fully dry; wet or damp laundry provides a perfect environment for bacteria growth.
As for your bras, it’s OK to get two or three wears before laundering, but on days when you work up a sweat, even just from a few nerves over that big presentation or the start of a new job, don’t be tempted to simply let your bra air out and wear it again.
For maximum microbe fighting, wash it but if you’d rather brave a few germs in exchange for your most delicate, lacy, padded bra lasting longer, hand wash it with a mild detergent and let air dry.
Your mat, like your handbag, is a natural magnet for germs and grime on the floor beneath it, not to mention bacteria from your feet, hands, and sweat as you strike those poses.
Make sure you always put the same side of the mat down on the floor, get one with different colours or patterns on top and bottom so it’s easy to remember which side to use. And just to be safe, give it a scrub with good old dish soap and hot water after every couple of uses.
Whenever you touch your mug, you transfer all the germs you’ve encountered in your day to it. But that doesn’t mean you should go mad with over cleaning your skin: Excess washing and scrubbing causes irritation and redness, which, if extreme, can break down your skin’s natural barriers, making it easier for germs to get in.
Cleanse once daily, unless your skin is especially oily, and skip the washcloth. Instead, apply the cleanser in a circular motion with your fingertips, then rinse with warm, not hot, water.
You know to wash hands often, but germs like staphylococcus and streptococcus can lurk under your nails too, as well as bacteria that can end up giving you diarrhea.
Washing your hands helps, but to keep nails really clean use a nailbrush or toothbrush and antibacterial soap daily. To gently brighten nails, mix 1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide (a natural germ-killer) with 3 tablespoons baking soda, and apply underneath and on top of nails as needed with a cotton swab, letting sit for three to five minutes. Rinse with warm water, and smooth on hand lotion and cuticle oil to moisturise.
Whatever you’ve walked through in your shoes all day, it’ll also be on your floor once you’re at home. To keep the grime at bay insist on a no-shoes-in-the-house policy.
Unless your floor’s manufacturer recommends a specific product, you can gently kill germs with vinegar. Mix 2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar with 1 litre of hot water and use the mixture in a spray bottle, lightly spritzing a terry cloth towel or mop head until it’s just damp, then wiping the floor and respraying as needed.
Sponges and scrub brushes
If you let your sponge sit out wet all night, it will have all sorts of bacteria growing on it. In fact, these cleaning aids are the most contaminated sites for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), E. coli, mould, and general bacteria in your entire home.
To keep your cloths and sponges germ free, clean them on the top rack of the dishwasher for the full cycle every time you run it. Or microwave a slightly damp sponge (dowse it with white vinegar or lemon juice, then rinse and wring out) on high for two to three minutes and allow to air dry.
While germs can’t live in your freezer, ice has an annoying habit of taking on funny food odours, so unless you want your iced tea to have a slight smell of frozen pizza, throw it out at least once a month. To clean the empty bucket, fill it with warm water and 1/3 cup white vinegar, and let it sit on the counter for a few hours. Rinse, then sprinkle with baking soda and wipe down to neutralise odours. Ahh, now that smells better.