While there are a number of household spots that unquestionably require cleaning and sanitizing—the toilet, countertops, and floors, for example—there are just as many that fly under the radar. Often, these are high-touch areas, or places that inherently collect bacteria, dirt, and grime because of how frequently they’re used.
As a general rule of thumb, you should clean, sanitize, or disinfect these areas one to two times daily, says Carolyn Forté, the Director of Home Appliances and Cleaning Products Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute. But what, exactly, should you tackle? Forté says that the below 8 spots likely need your attention.
This may sound obvious, but how often do you really clean your doorknobs? The easiest way to tackle these: Wipe any visible dust off with a dry cloth; give them a good scrub with a sudsy cloth, give them a good scrub; then rinse.
Zap any lingering bacteria with a sanitizing agent like Microban 24, which kills 99.9% of bacteria initially and keeps working throughout the day to kill bacteria for a full 24 hours. Let it sit for five minutes and then wipe down with a cloth.
2. Light switches
Have you ever stopped to think about how many times you flip the lights on and off? (Answer: a lot—especially if the kiddos love to leave them on and you’re the one always flicking them off.) To tackle all that grime, clean light switches regularly with a wipe.
Think about all of the things you touch before you turn the faucet on. (Kind of gross, huh?) Start with your preferred cleaning agent of choice, then sanitize with Microban 24. Let it sit for five minutes, then wipe with a microfiber cloth.
4. Remote controls
Just about everyone touches remotes, whether they’re for the TV or the ceiling fan. To clean them, start by removing the batteries and replace the cover. Then, dampen a cloth with a cleaning agent and go over the entire remote, paying special attention to the spaces between the buttons. For any narrow grooves, use a cotton swab—just be careful not to get any liquid into the controls.
If there are any pesky crumbs stuck in-between buttons, use a toothpick to gently dislodge them. Finally, dry the remote with a lint-free cloth and replace the batteries. Voilà! You’re ready for movie night.
You probably touch your banister every time you go up and down the stairs—and we’d venture to guess that’s at least a dozen times per day. To sanitize, wipe off any visible dust and debris and hit the tops, sides, and any other areas that hands tend to grip with a disinfectant. Just be sure your product is suitable for the finish!
Electronics are tricky, because they require special consideration to avoid saturating control panels and damaging the machines. LCD screens also need special consideration, as certain cleaning agents can cause irreparable damage. Always check the owner’s manual—if you don’t have it, manufacturers often put this information on their websites.
In general, though, you can safely clean high-touch spots like the keyboard or mouse by spraying a cloth with a cleaning agent, then wiping down. To disinfect, spray Microban 24 onto a cloth and wipe down.
7. Cabinet handles
Think about what you touch most often in the kitchen and bathroom. Chances are, your cabinet handles are right up there with your countertops. Give these spots a once-over by wiping away any grease or grime from the handles with soapy water, then rinse and dry. Kill bacteria and germs with Microban 24; let it sit for five minutes, then buff with a microfiber cloth to shine.
8. Trash cans
All kinds of yucky stuff goes into your trash cans, but how often do you actually stop to clean the bins themselves? To properly tackle that grime, clean the can and any removable plastic liners with warm, soapy water. Then rinse, dry, and spray all sides with a sanitizing spray.