Welcome back! Last week, we talked about pronouns. If you missed that blog and would like to catch up, click HERE.
This week, we are going to talk about keeping things clean. With the cold and flu season upon us, it’s important to think about that which we need to keep clean as opposed to that which would be nice if it was kept clean. Nobody likes being sick.
Let’s Break It Down
It’s much easier to keep things clean if we have a list of when it’s due, right? So let’s start with the least amount of cleaning we need to be worried about.
Fireplace. Avoid carbon monoxide, fumes, and soot by having your chimney inspected annually. A certified chimney sweep can check for problems and clean out any buildup.
Twice A Year
Let’s talk about mattresses. Unless it’s brand new, your mattress is probably home to millions of dust mites. A good vacuuming can help suck up those tiny critters, as well as the dead skin cells you’ve been shedding that keep them well-fed. It’s also recommended to flip your mattress to keep it comfortable.
What Can Be Cleaned Quarterly?
The refrigerator. Every four months or so, get in there and really clean out the fridge. All the leftovers that were pushed to the back and overlooked can leave behind mold spores after you’ve tossed them, so to keep germs at bay, empty your refrigerator and clean the shelves and walls with a tablespoon of baking soda dissolved in a quart of water. Rinse and let dry before replacing food.
Ceiling fans. These often get passed by on the cleaning check list but these whirring dust collectors also gather grease when they’re in the kitchen. You can give them a wipe whenever you notice buildup, but use a damp cloth and all-purpose cleaner to clean the blades and body well every few months.
Blinds or shutters. While you can clean these during your weekly dusting, you will need to remove long-held grime on these slats every 3-4 months. Use warm, soapy water. Take down curtains once each season, and run them through the washing machine.
Toothbrush. After a few months, the bristles get too worn to work as well as they should. If you see fraying before then, that’s a sign to switch. In our home, we also replace our brushes after every illness to avoid reinfecting ourselves.
Pillows. Put pillows (and throw pillows) in the wash on hot every 3-6 months to kill bacteria and keep them fresh. The same goes for your comforter or duvet. If it’s too big to fit in your machine at home, take it to a laundromat with extra-large commercial-size washers, or have it professionally cleaned.
Washing Machine. Just as your dishwasher needs a refresher, so goes the washing machine. Any appliance that uses water is at risk for mold and mildew. Wipe down the door and rubber gasket of a front loader after every wash load. Give your machine a deeper cleaning every 3-4 months by adding 1 cup of bleach and running a hot cycle (sans clothes) to sanitize.
What Can Be Cleaned Monthly?
Let’s start with the dishwasher. Yes, even though they go through our dishes, cleaning them up nicely every day, they still need attention in this department. Over time, buildup in your machine can keep your dishes from getting the cleaning they need. Once a month, toss in a cup of baking soda on the bottom and set 1/2 cup of white vinegar on the top rack; then run a regular cycle. Easy Peasy, just needs to get done.
Furniture can also be pushed onto the monthly clean list. Spills should be spot-cleaned right away, but for upholstery upkeep, once-a-month vacuuming across the cushions and into nooks and crannies should do.
Make-up brushes. Sponges and brushes can be a breeding ground for bacteria. They collect dirt, dust, and anything else floating through the air as well as on your skin. Wash brushes for wet makeup once a week; dry makeup brushes, monthly. Mild soap and warm water followed by an overnight drying session work well.
Shower Curtains. A plastic curtain, or the plastic liner for a cloth curtain, should get a bath with warm water and baking soda once a month to remove soap scum and prevent mildew. Spraying it with a cleaner after every shower and wiping it down weekly when you clean the bathroom will also help.
Air Filters. Replace the small particle filters in central heating and cooling systems once a month. The same goes for the filters of in-room air conditioners. Remember, you want them to filter all the debris out of the air you are breathing. They need new filters to stay relevant. This will also help prolong the health of the units and can bring down your energy bill as the units won’t have to work as hard.
What Can Be Cleaned Weekly?
Sheets. Wash bed linens once a week in water hot enough to kill bacteria (around 140 F), and tumble dry. You may need to increase this schedule if you have pets, night sweats, and midnight snacks in bed (Not sayin’, just sayin’). Alternating between two sets of sheets can make it easier to keep up.
Remotes. Take the batteries out first! Then use cotton swabs dipped in mild soapy water to get off sticky, oily fingerprints and crud from around the buttons. Wipe down the whole thing with a solution of one part vinegar and two parts water to kill bacteria. Make sure the battery compartment is dry before you put the power back in. If someone in the home has been ill, it is especially important to sanitize between uses.
Da Stuff. Anywhere dust settles needs a regular swipe with a dust-grabber like a microfiber cloth or a damp soft rag: bookshelves, trinkets, picture frames, lamp bases, mirrors, side tables, etc.
Rugs/floors. Vacuum large carpets and toss small area rugs and floor mats in the wash once a week. Keeping your floor coverings clean is key for cutting back on allergy triggers in your home, and if you have pets this can be a lifesaver to avoid flea infestation.
Kitchen floor. If you see food crumbs, be sure and sweep right away to avoid bugs and mice infestations, and the same goes for a sticky spill, but other than that, the mop and bucket can go a week between rounds.
What Can Be Cleaned Daily?
Cell Phones. You touch your phone countless times a day. The fingerprints you leave on the screen are a grease trap for gunk and germs. Get in the habit of wiping it clean at least once a day. Sanitize it more often if you’re exposed to someone who is ill. Studies show alcohol is best for killing bacteria but check with your device’s manufacturer to see what it recommends to avoid damage. Clean the case, too!
Eye Glasses. I have a spray that I use for my eyeglasses, and my routine includes spraying the glasses and the cell phone screen at the same time. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s done. We touch our glasses numerous times a day.
Toilets. Every time you flush, water sprays the room, and with it, bacteria. The more action your porcelain throne sees in a day, the more motion in your ocean, then the more reason to squirt your cleaner of choice into the bowl and give it a swish with a long-handled brush. Save the deeper scrub-down for your weekly round-up.
Kitchen counters. Wiping down and sanitizing kitchen surfaces after each time you use them ensures stray germs from last night’s dinner prep don’t end up in your next sandwich.
Every 3 Days
Humidifiers. When your humidifier is working nonstop, replace the water daily. Clean it with a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution, or the disinfectant the manufacturer recommends, every 3 days to prevent mineral deposits and filmy buildup. Change the filter regularly, according to the instructions.
Every 5 to 7 Uses
Razors. Did you know a dull blade causes more cuts and irritation than a sharp one? Start with a new blade every week or so, if you’re shaving daily.
When Someone Is Sick
My mama taught me these tricks, and they work like a charm.
If someone in your home is sick, then every day, no matter how cold it is outside, open up the windows/doors and let the old air out and the new air in. It only takes ten minutes or so.
Daily, go around and wash anything people may have touched, like door knobs, shower handles, computer keyboards, game consoles, cupboard handles, remotes, phones, etc.
Do not keep used tissues in the house. At the end of the day, walk them to the can outside.
Halfway through the illness, change the bedding, and at the end of the illness, change it again, along with all toothbrushes.
If you leave for the doctor’s office, wipe down the car handles and steering wheel upon return.
AND…wash your hands, making sure to keep them off your face. She used to say that a germ needs an entrance. Don’t give it one. Eyes, nose, and mouth, are off limits for touching if you want to stay well.
This saved me more than once when I was a single mom and couldn’t afford to be sick with two sick children to tend to. (And don’t forget the chicken soup!). You’d be shocked at how many days it knocks off of an illness.
Chicken Soup Recipe
Our family has used this recipe for decades, and it never fails to help folks feel better, faster.
1 whole chicken
fresh parsley (take it off the stem, about ½ cup)
4 stocks of fresh celery (chopped into small pieces)
1 small bag of freshly shredded carrots (it comes already shredded)
4 small cubes of chicken bouillon or 2 large ones
2 tablespoons of freshly minced garlic (sold in jars, stored in the refrigerator)
4 tablespoons of dried onion flakes
** Salt/pepper – You will need this for flavoring.
** Egg noodles
Fill a stock pot with water. Clean and add the chicken. Boil until the foam reaches the top. Skim off the foam (stand watch while this happens or it will boil over and make a huge mess).
** Add all other ingredients except salt/pepper and noodles. Cook at a low boil for an hour.
Remove the chicken and add noodles to the broth for 10 minutes while you debone the chicken. Add chopped meat back into the pot and remove from heat.
Slowly add salt and pepper, taste testing for flavor.
Enjoy and feel better!
As always, this blog is not a replacement for sound medical advice. I am not a doctor. Please make an appointment to see your healthcare provider and put a good plan in place that works for you and the needs of your body.
That’s all I have for you this week, dear reader. I’ll see you back here next Wednesday to share another cup of coffee. Until then, be good to yourself and each other.
Mind, Body, Spirit…Osteopathic Doctors treat the whole person, not just the ailment. Is your PCP a DO? Would you like to learn more about Osteopathic Physicians? Click HERE!