Sanitize the Sink: It’s hard to believe, but your dirty kitchen sink has more bacteria than your toilet seat. Use a product labeled as an EPA-registered disinfectant, or make your own. To disinfect, clean your sink with soap and water first, then spray a mist of vinegar followed by a mist of hydrogen peroxide, and let air-dry. (Don’t mix the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide together—spray one after the other.) If your sink is stainless steel, make it sparkle afterward by putting a few drops of mineral oil on a soft cloth and buffing. This prevents water buildup, which deters mold and keeps the sink looking clean longer.
Do Dishwasher Duty:: Once a week, shake baking soda on a damp sponge and wipe around the machine’s edges to remove stuck-on food or stains. To clean the inside, run an empty cycle with Dishwasher Magic, a product designed to kill bacteria like E.coli. “During cold and flu season, add a quarter-cup of bleach to the regular dish cycle to kill bacteria,” says Laura Dellutri. The dishes will be safe and sanitized after the rinse cycle is finished.
Love Your Oven: Keep the heart of your kitchen clean by lining the bottom with a nonstick ovenliner. It can be wiped with a paper towel, put in the dishwasher, and reused over and over.
Disinfect the Disposal: To get rid of odors, drop in a cut-up lemon, some salt and a few ice cubes. The lemon deodorizes, and the ice and salt clean away residue. Or try Disposer Care (DisposerCare.com), which is specifically designed for the job.
Crumple Paper Towels…Forever: Use microfiber cloths instead. When wet, they sanitize and clean floors, counters, glass and tile, and eliminate the need for other cleaning products. They’re reusable (machine-wash, hang to dry) and cost about $5 for a two-pack.
Clean as You Go: Linda Cobb suggests filling your sink with hot soapy water as you start dinner. “Place used dishes and pans in the filled sink so they’ll be soaking while you eat,” she says. Also, wipe up any spills immediately—don’t give sauces, oils or spices a chance to sit around.
Zap the Sponge: We all know that sponges can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Disinfect yours every night by squeezing it out and microwaving it on high for a minute. When it’s shredded and smelly, replace it.
Make Doors Shine: Rubbing a teaspoon of lemon oil on glass shower doors twice a month causes water to bead up and roll off. Or, try Rain-X Original Glass Treatment, a car-care product made to keep rainwater off your windshield. Use it twice a year.
Get a Cleaner Liner: Mold and mildew attacking your shower curtain liner? Throw it in the wash with a few towels, which will help scrub it clean, then hang it back up to dry.
Tame the Toilet: Drop a teaspoon of Tang Drink Mix in the bowl. The citric acid acts like a scrubber…and it’s nontoxic, in case the dog takes a sip. Let it sit for a few minutes, then swish and flush. And if you cringe at the idea of getting splashed by toilet water (ugh!), Donna Smallin suggests pushing the toilet brush in and out of the trap before you begin. This lowers the water level, allowing you to safely swish away.
Corral Strays: Keep drains free of hair and clogs by using a product like Drano or Liquid-Plumr to make sure potential clogs are gone, then pour boiling water down drains once a week to keep problem-free. Get rid of those annoying stray hairs on the floor by sweeping them up with a damp wad of toilet paper every morning.
Use Bedtime as Clean Time: While the kids are washing up at night, wipe down the tub, toilet and mirrors, and toss out clutter. When they’re finished, quickly wipe down the sink and floor. Bathroom done.
Pick the Right Broom: For indoors, choose one with finer bristles to pick up smaller dirt particles. For outdoors, go for stronger, stiffer bristles, which work better to clear porous surfaces.
Get Swept Away: To sweep, hold the broom like a canoe paddle, with one hand on top of the handle and the other toward the middle. Push your hands in opposite directions to get the most out of every sweeping stroke. Sweep from the outside in so that you don’t miss any spots, and move the dirt to the center of the room, where it will be easy to pick up.
Address Your Drawers: Most women have drawers full of clothes they don’t wear, and their dresser tops then become repositories for things they can’t store. Get rid of things you haven’t worn in a year and vow to put away your clean laundry each week.