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Redefining Home Management

Monthly Archives: March 2020

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

Since most of us are interested in eliminating germs and bacteria these days I wanted to discuss another cleaning topic that makes me cringe even when we aren’t in flu and cold season… the kitchen sink.  We all wash our dishes before we reuse them. Ok, I have been in homes where they don’t actually wash dishes if no one ate off of them… but that’s an entirely different discussion!

 

Here’s the thing though… we all use the kitchen sink to wash our dishes and rinse our dish rags or sponges.  But, how often do you really clean your kitchen sink?  Research says most Americans don’t clean the kitchen sink very often, if at all.  In fact if you google the topic (which you may not want to!) you will find that in most homes the kitchen sink has more germs and bacteria than the toilets, and also has mold spores.  blahhhh!

 

Why is that?  Well in part, it is because we soak and rinse our dishes in the sink and never actually clean the sink itself.  We may rinse the sink out, but we down really wash and scrub it.

 

On a daily basis when I am done washing our dishes I use Dawn soap, hot water and my dish rag (or sponge) to wash the entire tub of the sink along with the faucet and handles.  I scrub the sink and all it’s parts just like I do the dishes we cook in and eat off of.  

 

Cleaning the sink on a daily basis will get rid of most of the germs and keep it from getting really gross, but there are still stubborn germs and bacteria that will thrive.  At least once a week (more when anyone is sick), I use a stronger and mildly abrahsive cleaner to really scrub the sink.  I use “Bar Keepers Friend Liquid Soft Cleanser” which uses oxalic acid to disinfect and is a mild abrahsive so it will provide a little deeper clean than regular dish soap.  You can also use Comet or Ajax, but I typically avoid bleach products in our house.  With any of these products you need to use a little water with the product to scrub the sink and then let the cleaner sit for at least a couple of minutes (5-10 minutes is best) before rinsing to give it time to kill more bacteria and germs.

 

When I thoroughly clean the sink, I also scrub down the sides of the drain and around the base of the faucet and handles.  I occasionally use a small “toothbrush” to clean around the drain surround and around the seam where the sink meets the countertop.  Many drain or splash guards (the rubber cover on the garbage disposal side) can be removed and cleaned as well, especially in newer homes.  If your splash gaurd comes out and you have never cleaned it, be prepared for what you will find! 🙂  You can also regularly remove those and toss them in the dishwasher.  

 

After cleaning my sink I disinfect the rag or sponge that I used, using the laundry and dinfecting procedures I discussed in my last post.   If you are particularly concerned with the germs in your sink, you can boil water in a kettle or pot and rinse the sink with it.  I worked as a nanny / housekeeper for a microbiologist many years ago and every time raw chicken was in their kitchen he would dump boiling water on anything it could have possibly touched.  I always remember that when I’m considering what will best kill bacteria and germs… boiling hot water!

 

Happy Cleaning!!

Disinfecting our Laundry

We are all a lot more consicous of germs these days, but I’ve been a little wary of them my whole life.  I know some of you can relate!  I always have antibacterial wipes in my purse, before I ask my kids if they had a good day at school I ask if they washed their hands when they came in the door, I can go barefoot outside all day but never in a hotel room…

However, there are a lot of things about germs that aren’t as obvious as, “don’t even touch the handrails on the escalator at the airport”.  Because I feel responsible for keeping client homes germ free all the time, I have done research on eliminating germs and bacteria and thought I would provide some guidance to all of you on how to disinfect your laundry.

A few facts that might surprise you…

  • The washing machine won’t kill most of the germs in your laundry, even with the hot water cycle.  Washing machines can actually spread germs while items are being washed.
  • More soap in your washine machine will be counter-productive.  Our newer He washing machines become less effective when too much soap is added.
  • Your dryer is the most effective place to kill germs and bacteria.  Germs and bacteria thrive when humidity is between about 23-77%.  High heat and high humidty is best, (humidity above 77%)  but high heat in the absence of any moisture is also good.
  • Towels of any kind (especially those from the bathroom & kitchen) are typically the dirtiest things we wash.
  • Although I love vinegar for general cleaning, it is not effective against these nasty viruses. (according to the CDC and FDA)

What you can do…

  • If someone is sick, wash their clothes seperate from everyone else’s.  Remember the dyer is where they will be disinfected, so keeping items seperate in the washing machine will reduce the risk of spreading germs.
  • Wash towels seperate from clothes, for the same reason.  Also, we don’t have to worry about shrinking towels so washing them separate allows us to use the highest heat possible in the dryer and then we can dry towels extra long.  This allows high heat and humidity at the begining of the cycle and high heat with little to no humidity at the end.  I always wash my towels this way and it helps with the mildew smell in the summer months.  
  • If you have special clothes that must line dry and can’t be exposed to high heat, drying them in the sun will also help kill germs.
  • After washing towels, cleaning rags or clothes from someone that has been sick, clean your washing machine to prevent the spread of germs in the next load.  Run a cylce with an empty washing machine and add bleach into the dispenser. If you can not use bleach, you can also use Hydrogen Peroxide (3% solution).  Although I regularly clean my washing machine with vinegar to clear odors and soap build up, it is not effective against the germs and bacteria we are currently working to eliminate.

There is also a laundry product, Lysol Laundry Sanitizer,  approved by the FDA to work against the coronavirus in the washing machine.  However, at this time I can not find any source where it is available for purchase.

Although the dryer is very effective, drying something that has not been washed and is not wet when added to the dryer is not effective.  For example, you can not take your child’s jacket that he wore to school and place it in the dryer to kill germs.  You need to wash the dirt away in the washing machine and have the jacket wet when placed in the dryer to create a high level of humidity during the dry cycle.

Last, if you have cleaned your home and want to make sure sponges or rags are exceptionally clean and sanitized you can place a large kettle of water on the stove and place rags & sponges in boiling water for 15 minutes.  This is considered the best possible way to kill all germs and bacteria.