How to Keep a Germ-Free Home

A conversation with cleaning expert Tracy McCubbin
March 12, 2020 Updated: March 23, 2020

Maintaining a clean and clutter-free home is always a good idea. With the spread of the new coronavirus, families are taking a more serious look at the state of their homes and, beyond simply creating a pleasant place to live, are perhaps, considering what they can do to reduce the spread of germs at home.

I asked Tracy McCubbin, a decluttering expert and the author of “Making Space, Clutter-Free: The Last Book on Decluttering You’ll Ever Need,” for her advice on maintaining a clean and safe home for your family. Here’s what she said.

The Epoch Times: Broadly, what are the key steps to keeping a clean, germ-free home?

Tracy McCubbin: The first and, I think, most important step is to declutter the stuff you don’t need, use, or want. If your home is cluttered and full of stuff, it makes it much more difficult to clean, giving germs a place to breed. Cleared surfaces are easier to wipe down daily during flu season.

Countertops in the kitchen and surfaces in the bathroom should be cleaned on a daily basis, as well as doorknobs to the outside.

The Epoch Times: What areas of the home should one give special attention to when aiming to mitigate the spread of germs?

Ms. McCubbin: Start in the entryway. Have a place to take off and store shoes that have been worn outside, so you don’t track dirt and germs into the rest of the house. Designate a hall closet for coats and bags so that anything worn outside isn’t brought into the rest of the house. Shed the outdoor layer of clothes as soon as you come home. Consider having indoor and outdoor clothes.

Sinks should be clean with ample hand soap and towels for hand drying. Consider making the bathroom closest to the entry door a hand-washing station. Everyone washes their hands the minute they come home. Don’t forget to wash while singing “Happy Birthday” twice.

Clean your cell phone! Microfiber cloths help, but for a serious deep clean, Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona recommends trying a home solution of 60 percent water and 40 percent rubbing alcohol. To use, he says to “lightly dampen the corner of a soft, lint-free microfiber cloth or cotton swab or square with the mix.” Important: Don’t apply or spray the mix directly onto your phone, which could damage it. “Gently wipe phones to kill unwanted bacteria and use a dry corner of the cloth to remove any excess liquid on your phone,” he says.

Don’t forget to wash canvas shopping bags on a regular basis. If not cleaned, they can harbor E. Coli.

The Epoch Times: What common mistakes or misconceptions do you encounter in helping families keep their homes safe and clean?

Ms. McCubbin: That a cluttered home is a clean home. In a home full of stuff, it’s very, very difficult to keep it really clean. Items are picked up to be wiped or dusted around. Books can hold dust and mold. While I’m not saying throw everything out and live with one plate, one bowl, and one cup per person, I am saying, the more things you have, the more you have to clean.

The Epoch Times: What ongoing practices do you recommend to keep a home clean?

Ms. McCubbin: In addition to weekly cleaning sessions, people need to schedule in weekly decluttering and home organization. That means put everything away and if it’s something you don’t need, want, or use, then instead of shoving in a closet or drawer, let it go.

The Epoch Times: What specific cleaning supplies do you recommend to keep your home free from germs?

Ms. McCubbin: Every household needs a good antibacterial cleanser. I use Method products in my own home. The CDC’s recommendation is an EPA-registered disinfectant to kill germs. Read the label to make sure it states that EPA has approved the product for effectiveness against influenza A virus. During this time of uncertainty, use a stronger product than maybe you normally would.

The Epoch Times: For those overwhelmed with the prospect of cleaning their home thoroughly, where do you suggest they start?

Ms. McCubbin: Start with the entryway, kitchen, and bathroom. Those are the most frequented areas and most likely to have germs from the outside. Once you get those areas under control, move on to laundry. The build-up of laundry can be overwhelming, especially for families. Often times if someone gets upside down on doing laundry, they will buy more clothes to have something to wear, which only adds to the problem of more stuff.

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