6 Germ-Ridden Things to Clean While Stuck at Home

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With the coronavirus outbreak still active, many people are scrubbing their homes — and hands — as never before.

The new coronavirus can live on certain surfaces for up to a few days, according to a study that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise cleaning commonly touched items such as doorknobs and countertops with a coronavirus-killing product. There are also precautions to take with your laundry, and when pumping gas.

What about all the other things we touch daily, but clean rarely? Kitchen counters, sure, they’re likely getting wiped down multiple times each day. But there are other household items that you may not think of cleaning. Following are some common objects you may want to wipe down, too.

1. Hairbrushes and combs

Professional haircuts and color touch-ups may be unavailable at the moment, but let’s hope you’re still combing and brushing your hair.

You can clean your combs and brushes in a surprising place: your dishwasher. As we advise in “17 Unusual Things You Can Clean in a Dishwasher“:

“First, strip as much hair from the brush as you can. Then, pop the brush into your silverware holder. Or, if they are plastic or you just want to be safe, put them on the top rack in a dishwasher basket.”

2. Phones

Smartphones seem more important than ever these days — for entertainment, communication, education and more. They’re touched, played with and pressed against our faces all day. Yet, since they’re expensive and delicate devices, not everyone may know how best to clean them.

Smartphone cases or covers can be washed in soap and water, but make sure you dry them completely before putting them back on your phone.

Apple, which makes the popular iPhone, advises users to shut it down and, ideally, wipe it clean with a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipe (if you can find them). Wipe gently to minimize damage to the iPhone’s oil-repellent coating, and avoid getting moisture from a wipe into any of the openings.

We offer more specifics in “How to Sanitize Your Phone Without Damaging It.”

3. Keys and key fobs

Before the new coronavirus, would you ever have thought to clean the keys to your house or car? Most of us probably never gave that a thought.

Give them a wipe. They’re easy to clean: Adventist Health advises wiping them gently with disinfectant wipes or a soft cloth moistened with a mixture of water and rubbing alcohol.

Sometimes, simplicity is indeed key. But if you’re in the mood to keep cleaning, see our guide to killing coronavirus in your car, too.

4. Remote controls

If you’re constantly clicking on a remote control to pull up the latest shows, remember to clean it every so often.

Good Housekeeping recommends first taking out the batteries, replacing the cover and wiping the remote with 70% isopropyl alcohol or a disinfecting wipe.

A cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol will help you scrub the spaces between the buttons. It’s not hard. You can even do this while watching “Tiger King.”

5. Credit and debit cards

Money is famously germy (studies detail how bacteria-ridden cash can be). According to CBS News, some businesses are shunning cash now for that reason.

But credit and debit cards aren’t exactly sparkling clean either. They may be used many times a day, in machines that have seen thousands of other cards come and go. And how often do you scrub down your wallet or billfold?

CNBC suggests gently wiping down cards with simple soap and water. Or you can use a stronger disinfectant or sanitizing wipe. Spray the cleaner on a soft cloth first. Don’t spray cleaners directly on the card, and avoid hard rubbing, in order to protect the card.

6. Door locks

You may not realize how many times a day you touch the door locks in your car, on the bathroom door or at the entrance to your home.

Lock manufacturer Schlage has tips for cleaning locks and door hardware. Start by removing dirt and grime with soap and water, and then wipe again with plain water and dry.

Next, use a disinfectant (the CDC tells how to make your own) to wipe locks and doorknobs gently. Don’t get them too wet, and be especially careful to immediately dry a smart lock’s keypad. Otherwise, you should let surfaces air dry, to give the disinfectant more time to work.

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