The key to effective summer cleaning is knowing which functions are essential and determining whether your efforts are making a difference. Leanne Stapf, COO of The Cleaning Authority, gave us this fun test.
Let’s gauge your knowledge on a few topics relating to summer cleaning:
So, how did you do on the test? Did you learn something that you didn’t know? Since Stapf is an expert in this area, we asked her – and another expert source – for some summer ecleaning tips, which resulted in this checklist of items and helpful cleaning advice.
De-germ your home: “It may not be obvious, but some of the items in your home can get pretty dirty from your own hands,” Stapf says. Whether touching the remote control while eating popcorn, or coughing in your hands and touching doorknobs, she explains that germs can spread easily in your home. “Take a disinfectant wipe and clean doorknobs, electronics, and even your cell phone, to help protect against any illnesses.
Water filters: Many people use water filters to purify drinking water. “Water purifiers can remove chlorine taste, zinc, copper or mercury – but you need to change the filter.” Stapf says most filters need to be changed every 2 to 6 months, so make sure you are up-to-date.
Trashcans: “As one of the most used kitchen items, trashcans can house a lot of germs and odors,” Staph explains. “And when you take the trash bag out of the can, she recommends using a solution of half vinegar and half water to wipe the can down (inside and out) to remove any lingering odors.
Spices: You probably didn’t expect to see spices on this list, but Stapf says it’s something that is often forgotten. “If you’ve had certain spices for a few years, it’s time to throw them out and start fresh,” she says.
“As a general rule of thumb, whole spices (like cloves) will last about 4 years, ground spices (like cinnamon) will last about 2-3 years, and dried herbs (like basil) will stay fresh for 1-2 years.”
As it relates to electrical components, you need to do more than just dust your electrical appliances when you take on summer cleaning. “There are actually some other internal tips you should be using to maintain the health of these appliances,” says Mark Dawson, COO of Mister Sparky, an electrical repair, installation and maintenance company with several locations in Texas, including Houston, Dallas–Fort Worth, and San Antonio.
Light switches: “Switches are touched hundreds of times per week, by many different hands,” Dawson says. He recommends wiping them down to prevent passing germs around.
Electrical panels: “Every time you add electrical appliances and circuits, you increase the workload on your panel, and depending on factors of time and usage, your electrical panel may need to be upgraded or replaced.” As an alternative, he says you could also add a sub-panel to keep up with demand.
Lightbulbs: “Now is a good time to check that your lightbulbs match the listed wattage for each light fixture.” This is important because it reduces the risk of a fire. And while you’re checking, Dawson says you should clean your lightbulbs with a soft, lint-free cloth. Replacing old-school bulbs with LEDs can help save on energy bills.
Electrical cords: “There are many ways your electrical cords can be damaged, from getting pinched in doorways, punctured with tools, or even chewed to pieces by pets or rodents,” Dawson says. He recommends that you add this to your cleaning checklist. And while you’re cleaning up, make sure you gather cords out of the middle of the floor. “Remove any cords running under carpet, rugs, doorways, in bushes, hanging up – and most importantly, move them far away from water.”
Dryer ducts: A dirty dryer duct can cause your house to go up in flames. “By cleaning the interior and exterior of your dryer hose and exhaust vent and inspecting the dryer vent for clogs and lint buildup every few months, you can prevent this hazard,” Dawson says.
Dawson is also the COO of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, and he offers the following tips in this area.
Showerhead: There are two problems with having a dirty showerhead. “It prevents your shower from operating efficiently, and exposes you to bacteria.” This is how he recommends cleaning it:
Toilet: Fortunately, Dawson says you can clear your toilet with common household products. “First, pour vinegar into your toilet bowl and let it sit overnight, as the acidity breaks down deposits and debris,” he says.” In the morning, use a toilet brush to scrub around the bowl.” For those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies, he says you can use baking soda on a spare toothbrush. “One part that is often ignored is the flushing handle, which is constantly being touched, so be sure to give it a good scrub and a spray with disinfectant.” And he recommends throwing away rugs that wrap around the toilet. “They can be a nice decorative touch, but be aware that they can harbor many germs.”
Terri Williams is a freelance journalist with bylines at The Economist, USA Today, Yahoo, the Houston Chronicle, and U.S. News & World Report. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.