With COVID-19 and the flu season, we are all more aware of what we touch and how often we wash our hands more than ever before. I’m hoping all our cleaning habits have slightly improved over the past few months, and we are all being safer and more aware. But this new thinking also got me questioning the items I touch all the time that I don’t clean. Sure, we all now recognize our phones need to be wiped down more often, but there’s a ton more. Without getting into the germaphobe, overly paranoid mindset, me and my fellow writers sat down and thought about all the random things that we should probably clean or sanitize but almost never do.
- Gloves: We think of gloves as protecting us, whether that be from the cold, from a splinter, from dirt in the garden, and so forth. But we probably don’t think about how often we use our gloves to touch things that can easily come in contact with our faces and mouths. I know some gloves aren’t easy to sanitize, so just be aware of what you do with them on. But it’s also the reason I started buying cheap winter gloves (I get mine from Target for $3-$5) that are really easy to wash but if they develop a hole or just get worn out, they’re so cheap that I don’t feel guilty getting rid of them.
- Jackets and coats: I rarely wash my outerwear, however, I feel like this winter I will be more mindful of where I’m wearing it and washing more often if I’m touching a lot of things. It really just depends on the style of your outwear and what you’re wearing it to. How often does your coat end up in your car’s floor or on a restaurant floor on accident? Are the sleeves stretchy where you cover your hands with them? Some coats are easy to wash, some require dry cleaning. I often opt for a really hot hand steamer for in-between washes. The steam sanitizes and helps remove odors without being harsh on the fabric and it only takes a few minutes to do.
Around the House:
- Cleaning supplies: Cleaning your cleaning supplies might sound over the top, but think about it. Your brooms, mops, sponges, etc. probably have some buildup that most sanitizing solutions aren’t cleaning for you. Removing buildup and soaking in really hot water will ensure while you’re cleaning, you’re also not spreading germs everywhere.
- Washing machine: Less about germs and more about the smell of mildew and build up, here’s a great link on how to clean your washing machine. I promise once you start this habit, you’ll keep it up.
- TV remote and game controllers: I think this is the number one thing I forgot to sanitize until I started being more aware since COVID. I often eat and watch TV so having dirty remote controls can easily dirty my hands that are picking up food. Once a week, I’ll wipe down my controllers with a sanitizing wipe and it makes me feel a lot better.
- Handles & knobs: bathroom door knobs, sink handles, toilet handles, lamp knobs, front door, refrigerator and kitchen cabinet handles, you get the picture. There are lots of things we touch multiple times a day that we may never be cleaning. You scrub the inside of your toilet, but are you sanitizing the handle? The kitchen counter is spotless, but when’s the last time you wiped down your fridge and cabinet handles?
- Light switches: This one is pretty straightforward, but be particularly mindful of the switches in your entry way and kitchen.
- The outside of reusable water bottles: I handwash most of my water bottles and always focus on the mouth pieces and lids. Sometimes I forget how often I touch the outside with dirty hands then go a couple days without washing the bottle.
- Reusable bags: If they’re made of material that can be wiped down, dump out any stray onion skins or bits of trash and wipe down at least once a month if using often, including the outside that usually ends up sitting on top of your counter. If they’re cloth, throw them in the laundry once a month. Mine are canvas with no writing so I dry them in the dryer too, but feel free to air dry if you would like. The heat of the dryer helps kill extra germs though.
- Keys: Something you could sanitize constantly, but my biggest advice is keep the keys you carry daily to a minimum and avoid keychain accessories that are hard to sanitize, like plush toys, ribbon, or tassels.
- Credit and debit cards: Just be mindful of how often you hand over your card for someone else to swipe, especially if it’s before you’re dining (thinking of grabbing a pastry at the bakery and eating it before sanitizing your hands or card).
- Headphones: Just another thing that gets tossed around a lot and that easily gets dirty. Probably not the most likely thing to get you sick, but especially if they are headphones you insert in your ears, it is good idea to wipe clean weekly. Use a toothpick to get into the tiny corners of the headphones if there’s any buildup.
Around the Office:
- Keyboard and mouse: A quick wipe with a sanitizer a couple times a week will make a big difference. Think about how often you immediately get on your computer after coming into your office (even if that’s at your house now) and how often you eat and type.
- Mouse Pad: This is a little more for visual effect as well as a healthy practice. I clean my mouse pad just a few times a year by washing it with hot water and soap right before I’m done for the day and letting it air dry overnight. I eat at my desk a lot so spills on my mouse pad are inevitable.
- Desk and chair: Every Monday or Friday, declutter and wipe away all the crumbs, leftover staples, and tiny bits of paper. Then give your desk a good sanitizing. Wipe down the top of your desk and any cabinet handles and chair armrests.
- Pens: Especially if you’re a person that without realizing it puts their pen in their mouth. It’s a hard habit to break, so just be aware of it and sanitize your pens often. I’m sure you’ve seen lots of offices have a clean and dirty jar for pens now. It’s not a terrible idea to have some system in place to clean your personal pens too.
Car, Hobbies, and other Outdoor Things:
- Yoga mat & other workout equipment: I loved this article from Food52 on when and how to clean your yoga mat. I don’t travel much with my yoga mat but I often do exercises on it with my shoes on and those do go outside. So it was definitely way past due to wash mine. The article gives some good tips on how to avoid removing the sticky part of your yoga mat too. After cleaning your yoga mat, are there other home workout gear that you’ve neglected? From a stationary bike to hand-weights to resistant bands. They all could use a good spritz of a sanitizing solution and a wipe down more often than we are probably giving them.
- Car handles: steering wheel, gear shift. I don’t know about you, but my car is the dirtiest thing I own. It’s the last place I clean and although it’s much tidier than in my younger days, it so quickly builds up grime and dirt. Do you eat or drink in your car? Think about eating a sandwich and touching your steering wheel that you cleaned when? A month ago? I just keep a container of sanitizing wipes in my car now and wipe the handles down often. I also make sure I sanitize my hands when getting in my car to stop the spread of germs more easily.
- Toys and sports equipment: Particularly if you have kids and particularly if outdoor toys also make it indoors (like a soccer ball), it might be a smart habit to sanitize those toys a couple times a month.
What are some things you sanitized that we missed? Anything we wrote make you realize that you may be spreading a little more germs than you expected?