It's time to start planning for the holidays. Don't wait to spring clean, deep clean now before all the decorating and rearranging furniture starts! It's important to pay attention to your cabinets, baseboards, window seals, light fixtures, tops of high furniture, and places you normally decorate.
In The Kitchen
Circle Your Way Around: Always begin on the right side of your stove, then move clockwise around the room. The stove is typically the dirtiest part of the kitchen, so ending with it keeps you from spreading dirt and grease. (First, soak drip pans and knobs in warm soapy water. By the time you've worked your way around, they'll be easier to clean.)
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. 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 oven liner. 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.
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: Fill 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.