Cleaning Tips to Keep Your Home’s Toughest Areas Pristine

Which room in your house is the dirtiest? If you said your bathroom, think again. The answer is your kitchen — despite all the cleaning products you use to keep your food-prep areas spotless.

Why is the kitchen so dirty? Because you prepare food there, which can lead to the growth of bacteria like salmonella and E. coli. These malevolent microorganisms are most often found on dish sponges, kitchen sinks and countertops.

So, what are some cleaning tips you can implement to keep your kitchen and other tough-to-clean areas of your home pristine? Here are some suggestions.

Kitchen Cleanup

When it comes to cleaning your kitchen, focus first on killing those germs. A bleach solution can work wonders for cleaning sinks and sponges. However, don’t use it on your countertop, as it may be made of a porous material. Bleach and anything acidic you might use as a natural cleaner — vinegar or lemon juice — can permanently damage granite and other stone countertops. Clean countertops daily with a cleaner designed specifically for them.

Other grimy places in the kitchen include the stovetop and the oven. If your cooktop burners have drip pans, take them out and run them through the dishwasher for a good cleaning. You can run the cooktop grates through the dishwasher, too. If the drip pans come out still dirty, it might be time to replace them. They cost a few bucks at a hardware store.

As far as the oven, many newer ovens dub themselves as “self-cleaning,” but that’s a bit of a misnomer: They still need to be cleaned manually. You probably only think about cleaning your oven right before Thanksgiving — or maybe right after, because all the gunk in the oven started smoking, and the fire department showed up. Don’t wait for a fire before you clean your oven. Instead, clean it every six months, or more often if you bake a lot. You can use a green cleaner like baking soda and vinegar or a good-old spray-on oven clean.

Dirty-Floor Prevention

Want to know the easiest way to keep your floors clean, beyond hiring a professional? Have everyone take off their shoes when they come in the house. Shoes track in dirt and other toxins, and over time they can wear down your floor. A worn floor always look dirty.

You should be vacuuming your floors and mopping them every week. Vacuum first, then mop, obviously. Make sure your mop isn’t too wet — sitting water can damage wood floors. Investing in disposal mopping pads might not be a bad idea for quick and easy cleaning. (Want someone else to do your cleaning? Here are three household tasks you can outsource.)

Furniture Upkeep

Unless you’ve got some serious stains on your furniture, you don’t really need to do more than a cursory dusting once a week. Now, let’s say you do have stains on a leather couch or a wood coffee table. What then? A cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol does a decent job lifting stains off leather. What about water stains on wood? Some people swear by a paste made of salt or toothpaste to rub out the water stain. And on the future, make sure everyone uses a coaster, OK?

If you’re looking to green your cleaning, what natural products can help? Vinegar works to clean nearly anything but those aforementioned stone countertops. The same with baking soda. Half a lemon can buff out rust stains. You can also put one in the garbage disposal and run it to help clean out the disposal and leave it smelling fresh. And a dab of olive oil on a cloth can shine up wood furniture.

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