We’ve been doing our best to navigate a global pandemic and hear so much about what companies and organizations are doing to reduce the spread of germs. While the world has made this a focus lately, I’ve been thinking about our homes and how we can safeguard our families from germs and thinking differently about how my home is cleaned.
You might not know, but I have an extensive background in commercial design. I’m no stranger to creating maintenance and cleaning instruction manuals for facilities managers. When designing a home, I am always looking at the materials I’m specifying and how the pieces I’m curating come together from a durability standpoint in addition to how they need to be maintained to meet a family’s needs.
Today I wanted to visit some of the places in our homes that are breeding grounds for germs and help you learn how to navigate them in terms of cleaning and maintaining cleanliness in these areas.
The maintenance for our kitchen countertops varies depending on which material you have installed. It is important to clean your kitchen countertops at least once a day (if not more should you have kids or regularly prepare food).
Here is a quick breakdown of the different materials and their maintenance…
Laminate: These countertops are actually quite hygienic due to its plastic laminate coating which ensures that it is fully sealed. Generally speaking, the countertop won’t grow any germs however you should maintain good general hygiene in any event. You can use most general kitchen cleaners on this material, just make sure that it kills 99.9% of bacteria and wipe it down each evening after your main meal preparations. If your laminate countertop has seams, this is in fact an area that can accumulate bacteria, so pay careful attention to cleaning.
Granite: These countertops are sealed and so long as you keep up with sealing every few years this will prevent water or germs from seeping into the stone itself. You should use either clean warm water or PH neutral detergent. Wipe the countertop with a dry cloth after cleaning to avoid streaks. It’s really important to never use abrasive sponges or detergents – bleach and high chlorine content cleaning products should be avoided. Generally, mild soap and warm water work fine, but to maintain the shine there are some great cleaning products specifically formulated for Granite.
Marble: Just like Granite countertops, Marble counters need to be sealed to avoid any spills or germs from going deep into the stone. It’s strongly advised to avoid any vinegar or other acidic cleaning products. Warm water and mild soap work fine, but again – there are some great cleaning products that are specific to Marble countertops that I highly recommend to my clients.
Quartz: As Quartz is one of the toughest materials and countertops out there, it is incredibly straightforward to keep clean. Quartz is a non-porous and non-bacterial material so warm water and a small amount of non-abrasive cleaner will do the job. Again, there are Quartz specific cleaners on the market which can be helpful too.
You may also find my previous blog post on Kitchen Countertop Materials helpful!
In a similar way to kitchen countertops, there’s, unfortunately, no “one fits all” way of keeping our floors clean… It all depends on the flooring type! And it’s likely that you have a combination of at least two of the flooring types we’re breaking down below…
Tile: Cleaning tiles is relatively straightforward… Most can be cleaned with warm water and a general anti-bacterial cleaner. However, if you have marble or stone tiles, you should follow the supplier’s or manufacturer’s instructions closely to avoid any damage.
Wood: Cleaning wood floors is typically more time consuming than other surfaces because often it requires a two-step process. This starts with vacuuming or sweeping up any dust or crumbs followed by cleaning with a mop. While many articles online suggest using a mix of vinegar and warm water – this can actually break down the surface of your floor and reduce shine over time so should be avoided. Instead, you should opt for any pH-neutral, wax-free cleaner specifically formulated for wooden floors.
Carpet: The best way to clean most carpets is through a hot water extraction method. For many it seems odd cleaning their carpet without solvents, however, this is the best way to remove dirt. Solvents often embed in the carpet fibers and actually attract more dirt over time. Be sure to check with your carpet manufacturer to confirm this is the best approach. It’s also worth mentioning to be careful with wool carpet, as a hot water extraction method shouldn’t be used in this case, as the wool fiber runs the risk of shrinking too much. In general, the hot water extraction method should be done no more than once or twice a year. While general vacuuming is recommended at least once a week, and more often for particularly high traffic areas or families with pets.
A key area of the home to keep clean is of course the bathroom! The room accumulates the most dirt and germs and should be very regularly maintained. Weekly cleaning is recommended, while more regular spot cleaning of the toilet may also be required.
Cleaning our sofas, armchairs and other upholstery furniture pieces often gets forgotten about! (This does also include curtains!) But these are surfaces that need attention just as much as kitchen surfaces. Generally, cleaning upholstered furniture should be done at least once or twice every couple of years. Ideally once a year. You can clean them more often if you notice a musty smell or they get frequent use by kids and pets. The manufacturer may also recommend more frequent cleaning so always check this before planning when certain items will need cleaning.
For leather upholstery, there are many great leather cleaners out there you can purchase. Alternatively for general leather cleaning, you can use a moisturizing soap. Lather onto the leather surface with a soft cloth and wash the item. It’s important not to over-wet the leather and not to rinse. Cleaning leather items is about buffing the material so it conditions the leather.
Cleaning cotton upholstery is quite different… For spot cleaning, create a mixture of mild dish soap and water to then dab the area with a cloth. If you have pets, use a rubber glove to rub the upholstery surface gently with your hand. This will make any hair cling to the glove to form balls. Then, it is recommended to use a vacuum cleaner with a fabric or upholstery brush attachment.
There are other upholstery materials that we could explain here, but leather and cotton are the most popular. If your fabric hasn’t been listed, check with the manufacturer for the recommended cleaning process.
There are so many other small areas that get overlooked when it comes to cleaning. These include light switches, faucet handles, doorknobs, cabinet pulls and knobs, and remote controls.
While this list may seem like a lot of missed areas, you can easily build it into your weekly or monthly cleaning routine. For example, use an anti-bacterial spray with cloth or sponge and go round every light switch, door handle or knob, and remote control. (Spray the cloth first, then wipe the area clean.)
Curtains are also an overlooked item to keep clean… They can accumulate a large amount of dust where germs can build up so it’s important to have these professionally cleaned if needed. Similarly to other fabrics around the home, they should be cleaned once every year or so. Always check on the label before attempting to wash them yourself!
Lampshades should also be cleaned regularly with a lint roller or a vacuum attachment. This will keep dust under control, and will also allow the most light to be emitted from the fixture possible.
So there you have it! A complete rundown on keeping a clean home… While this may seem like a lot, once you identify the surfaces and materials you have within your home, you can formulate a plan. Have you found this blog post helpful? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!