Meg Pritchard admits that she ignored a lot of the deep cleaning tasks at her home in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania — until the pandemic hit.
Endless hours at home meant that Pritchard, 57, had time to tackle big cleaning projects. She cleared out cupboards, closets and the refrigerator, scrubbing the shelves, vacuuming the dark corners and disinfecting surfaces — and the amount of dirt and dust surprised her.
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"It's amazing how much dog hair collects in the shoe closet, [and] there was a layer of detergent in the laundry sink that I'd never noticed before,” she says. “I wrote out a long list of home cleaning projects that I want to get to."
The pandemic inspired a lot of deep cleaning. And in some cases that emphasis on cleanliness and order at home has lasted.
A 2021 National Cleaning Survey from the American Cleaning Institute found that 85 percent of respondents said they were very likely or somewhat likely to maintain the same levels of cleaning they adopted at the start of the pandemic. The survey found Americans have increased their use of disinfectant wipes and spray disinfectant since the onset of the pandemic, and 70 percent reported that cleaning, disinfecting and proper hygiene are ways to ensure individual health and safety and that of their families.
Even though people may have continued to emphasize home cleaning, there are some places and spaces that get overlooked. So when you start spring cleaning, don't forget to clean these seven essential — and often-ignored — areas of your home.
Even if your plates and utensils look spotless, your dishwasher may be dirty. Researchers have found that dishwashers often contained bacteria that were linked to health problems, ranging from food poisoning to skin infections.
"Food gets left in there and it can start to smell,” says Haley F. Oliver, a professor of food science at Purdue University. “You end up rewashing your dishes with old dirt."
To clean out trapped food particles, unscrew the screen from the dishwasher floor and remove the filter; use dish detergent and a brush to scrub the filter, then let it air-dry. Oliver suggests cleaning the dishwasher filter every week.
After the filter is clean, clean the inside of the dishwasher. Fill a dishwasher-safe mug with white vinegar and run it on the “normal” cycle with hot water to loosen soap scum and grease from the interior.
Scrubbing the burned foods crusted on the bottom of the oven and the grease coating the oven door might be the least appetizing item on a housecleaning to-do list. Oliver notes that temperatures get so hot inside the oven that bacteria have no hope of survival, but germs are not the sole reason to get out the scouring pads.