How often should we clean?
April 2, 2024 2:39 PM   Subscribe

According to a recent study, reusable water bottles contain twice as many germs as the kitchen sink. “You should be cleaning these every day, or after every use,” says Natasha Blythe, a food hygiene expert at online training provider High Speed Training. “For a daily clean, wash in hot, soapy water. If you use a dishwasher, handwash the smaller parts,” says Blythe. “Take extra care with built-in straws; these are the perfect place for bacteria to grow.” Blythe recommends a bristle brush to clean the straw, or leave it to soak in hot water with a tablespoon of vinegar added. Daisy Schofield consults with experts on household cleaning for The Guardian.

Topics covered: bedding, bath towels, toothbrushes, trash bins, refrigerators, toilets, shower heads (!), phone screens, jeans, bath toys, keyboards, reusable water bottles, wooden floors, washing machines, curtains, rugs, light switches, door handles, and kitchen sinks.
posted by Bella Donna (70 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sorry but all of these people just happen to be obsessed with cleanliness. The only thing that makes them "experts" is that they really love cleaning things all the time. Unless they cite their sources for all these claims I'm not going to take them seriously. I know people are getting more and more frightened of microbes but not every bacteria is actually lethal and if a person is not immune impaired I think this is rather overkill.
posted by mokey at 2:52 PM on April 2 [72 favorites]


There is no chance that I will clean my toilet every other day. Rather than asking cleaning experts, I wish they would ask normal people with relatively clean houses, because I think they're more likely to have some perspective on this topic.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:55 PM on April 2 [18 favorites]


If this is for The Guardian, why is the link to a water filter company in Colorado?

Also, this seems very unscientific? "We swabbed these items", well, what part of them exactly? I refuse to believe the actual water inside of stainless steel water bottles is high in bacteria, even if they're not cleaned daily. You put clean water in there, stainless steel is germicidal, and you're probably not spitting into the bottle.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:55 PM on April 2 [5 favorites]


Did you know that you don't do enough housework? It's true! Experts recommend that you do more cleaning than you are doing now. Run your finger along the top of the nearest picture frame. See all that dirt and dust? Living inside of that dirt are six trillion bacteria, and they're all judging you. When was the last time you disassembled and disinfected your thermostats? Last month? Last year? God help you, never? Do you even own an erotic robot vagina that keeps your phone clean?

Not to worry! "It's actually fine," says cleaning consultant and hygiene expert Blanc Stucco, "provided you never intend to invite anyone over to your home, or don't have children, who are probably coughing all the time due to living in your filth."
posted by phooky at 2:58 PM on April 2 [85 favorites]


I consider my fortnightly washed water bottle to be a probiotic supplement.
posted by condour75 at 3:01 PM on April 2 [36 favorites]


Yes, I'd really like someone to investigate whether these bacteria will actually 1. make things taste/smell/feel gross; 2. make a healthy person sick; 3. make a frail/immunocompromised person sick. If it's just "there are a lot of invisible bacteria here and doesn't that make you go ew", then whatever.

It's so interesting how "do you clean enough" has become another source of moralizing on the internet (almost universally without regard for the environmental impact of washing and washing and washing and soap soap soap, too). Don't just change your sheets weekly and use a mattress pad and pillow protectors that you wash regularly - you need to wash all your blankets, your pillows, your pillow protectors, your mattress pad and your quilts at least once a month or you are utterly unclean. Sure, you'll need to replace all those things every couple of years from wash-wear, but whatever, we're all made of money and live on an infinite planet.
posted by Frowner at 3:05 PM on April 2 [25 favorites]


Sorry about getting confused in my comment above. The article is indeed from The Guardian, but in the section about water bottles, the link to "a recent study" leads to a very non-scientific article on the website of a water filter company in colorado, which has incomplete information about methodology, and generally is not at all any kind of scientific "study".
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:09 PM on April 2 [8 favorites]


If someone needs a dirty hippie expert to show up and say "I take my stuff to the laundromat every few weeks and I am fine and I wash the bulk of my bedding seasonally" I am available. I appreciate that for some people it's really useful to have rules for cleaning so they can just schedule it and then not agonize over it. However I also think that it's easier to be a superstar on TikTok cleaning things than by just... leaving them alone. Like, yes, dust mites could cause rashes or allergies. But also they could not and you are fine and how much you clean is enough.

There's bacteria and mites literally everywhere and people need to assess their own personal health and "ick factor" profile and make decisions based on that. I know it's impossible to get to the "truth" of these things because there are so many overlapping variables and yet.... If you're using a reusable water bottle how much is that more sustainable if you're also using hot water and cleaning products to wash it every other day?
posted by jessamyn at 3:10 PM on April 2 [30 favorites]


My house is often grubby, and I'm usually fine. Visited my neighbor's tidy and clean home and was subsequently quite ill. Because she had a nasty virus and was breathing. I, too, breathed.

I would bet more than a few rubles that the study was funded by a water company that wants to keep shipping water around the country in plastic bottles. I try not to get conspirace-y but it seems possible that plastic leaches petro-cooties into water. Clean the water bottle as well as you clean a drinking glass. This is nor brain science. There's dander (bitty skin flakes) on everything, there's germs and little critters that live in bedding, eyelashes, other places and lalalala, not gonna look at those pictures because all cooties look terrifying when the photo is enlarged. Marketing is powerful propaganda.

Wash your hands. Do the dishes. Clean the bathroom. Do not serve food from the floor. Except if you drop something and no one sees.
posted by theora55 at 3:12 PM on April 2 [22 favorites]


(I will note that my water bottle, which has a lid of the "spout" type, will develop a slightly acidic smell after maybe two days of use, but I've checked where this smell comes from, and it's from the outside of the spout where my lips make contact, definitely not from the inside of the bottle or from the water.)
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:12 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


There is no chance that I will clean my toilet every other day. Rather than asking cleaning experts, I wish they would ask normal people with relatively clean houses, because I think they're more likely to have some perspective on this topic.

Ours gets cleaned every 3 days, but I have 4 kids, so it gets hella gross if we don't
posted by Dr. Twist at 3:13 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]


My Nalgene gets cleaned only a day or so after I make the mistake of drinking from it whilst eating nattō.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 3:16 PM on April 2 [5 favorites]


Yeah, no. I'm good.
posted by signal at 3:16 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


I won't judge you about your cleaning regimen if you don't judge me for mine

my regimen is sporadic, infrequent, and I suspect the experts would call it less than adequate. also my dog sleeps on my bed and sometimes we eat chips together and she will lick the crumbs off the bed so I have dog lick on my topcover, so you can safely place me on the Pigpen end of a spectrum and mostly I'm a pretty happy person so there
posted by elkevelvet at 3:19 PM on April 2 [25 favorites]


Yeah, I stopped using water bottles with any plastic spout parts because that's the part that gets grody really quickly to the point of developing a distinct funk. Doesn't happen when I just drink from the stainless steel part and wash the bottle (and lid! never forget the lid, this part can also get super grody ) 1-2 times a week. Not every day, what. And like, I'm not constantly ill! I am in fact pretty rarely ill! Most of my gastrointestinal upset comes from ill-advised dairy consumption! So if there are in fact twice as many germs in the water bottle as in the kitchen sink, whatever level of filthiness that's supposed to indicate, then it's clearly fine. Those germs can join the rest of the trillions of bacteria cells in my body that are simply vibing with my own cells in a ratio that very well might be 1:1.
posted by yasaman at 3:23 PM on April 2 [8 favorites]


The Guardian is a UK publication, a country with a deep history of having an astonishing number of cleaning staff so that no one with any money or reputation would ever have to lift a finger. You ask, where were the waste baskets in all those recreations of British Manors. They didn't have them. People just threw shit on the floor and the staff would pick it up. Just, like, consider the source.

Signed, someone who cleans things once a week only, unless it's food prep related.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:32 PM on April 2 [4 favorites]


You guys would be horrified by chez maxwelton, me thinks. Where do you guys find the time for all of this cleaning?
posted by maxwelton at 3:38 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]


A counterpoint, at least regarding dust: "You could just let it [the dust] sit around."

from Ben Bostick, a research professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, quoted in this piece about dusty NYC apartments via Gothamist the other day. I found this a bit liberating as someone who struggles with dusting and sweeping and vacuuming constantly
posted by okonomichiyaki at 3:41 PM on April 2 [10 favorites]


My water bottle resembles one of those catsup and mustard squeeze bottles you find on luncheonettes. The top unscrews and has a conical spout. One day I ran a q-tip thru the spout. It came out quite black. So I clean it every other day now.
posted by Czjewel at 3:42 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]


Sunday morning from about 8am to 10am, the two of us clean the kitchen thoroughly, sanitize two bathrooms, dust busy surfaces, pick up all the smaller items, vacuum and damp mop the whole condo. Once you get a rhythm, plan and established routine, it's just a thing you do.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:43 PM on April 2 [8 favorites]


Recently I've taken to thinking about the risk of germs on surfaces in terms of a fire triangle:

Germs + water + nutrients => zillions of germs

2 of the 3 => vanishingly small number of germs

I have yet to get food poisoning from a (foodless) water bottle or a (waterless) sugar bowl or a (germless) oryoki set, despite going days (!) between washing with soap.
posted by Phssthpok at 3:44 PM on April 2 [7 favorites]


There comes a point (a different one for each household, depending on a variety of factors) where cleaning becomes a hobby. I am happy for people who feel fulfilled by their cleaning hobby. I will not be joining their ranks.
posted by EvaDestruction at 3:46 PM on April 2 [17 favorites]


I gotta say though that for germs, "nutrients" doesn't have to be obvious to the naked eye. Which is why every once in a while you gotta spray some bleach in those things and shake it up and let it sit for a while.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:46 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]


All of these articles does feel a bit like "what can we get away with recommending" rather than what actual people do or what's even necessary. I mean, I love fresh clean sheets but man I hate cleaning/housework. I try to do 1-2 hours every weekend, but it's still a mess. Perhaps this a general "I should really clean my house more" thing that *everyone* has.

I visited some friends last weekend, and they are obsessively tidying/cleaning, to the point where I'm not actually sure they have any hobbies - little telly, podcasts, books, outside interests. Their house and garden are immaculate but I found it actually concerning. I've had them over for a weekend and they complained about the mess (seriously, I am not *that* bad). Unfortunately I've invited them for a weekend at mine and horror of horrors they've said ok, how about June? I'm gonna have to have the house professionally cleaned before they come round, sigh, because I ain't doing it to their standards.
posted by BigCalm at 3:51 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


I might wash my cup every 2-3 months... haven't noticed any ill effects. I rarely ever get sick, if that's any kind of data point. I have a totally pseudo scientific theory that we're adapted to a specific microbiome that lives in and on us, and a healthy population of that biome helps prevent foreign bugs from attacking us.

As in, bacteria from our mouth growing on our cups and bottle? Whatever. Potential salmonella from the raw chicken, or that stranger coughing their lungs out? Please be vigilant about that.

If you want to spend a minute cleaning something every two days your best bang for your buck might actually be flossing... aiming to make it to my grave without having a single cavity.
posted by xdvesper at 3:52 PM on April 2 [6 favorites]


I was pondering why there isn’t really much profit in writing articles that say you’re cleaning too much, but then I realized that the target market for those doesn’t actually want to bother reading prescriptive articles about cleaning.
posted by snofoam at 4:01 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]


My coffee cup at work gets cleaned probably yearly, whether it needs it or not...
posted by UhOhChongo! at 4:06 PM on April 2 [4 favorites]


It has never even occurred to me to specifically clean a toothbrush, nor has anyone I have observed at close quarters done so. Are there people out there cleaning their toothbrush once per week?
posted by ssg at 4:07 PM on April 2 [5 favorites]


Monica Geller (Courtney Cox) vacuuming the outside of her upright vacuum cleaner with a mini vac!
posted by Czjewel at 4:10 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


I have yet to get food poisoning from a (foodless) water bottle or a (waterless) sugar bowl or a (germless) oryoki set, despite going days (!) between washing with soap.
posted by Phssthpok


Some of us aren't chock full of boosterspice . No wait! What was the stuff?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:14 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Something like 85% of the alcohol industry's profits come from 5% of their customers. Gambling usage follows about the same curve.

I wonder if cleaning supplies are the same.
posted by mhoye at 4:14 PM on April 2 [14 favorites]


Some of us aren't chock full of boosterspice

Gotta say, this isn't the place I expected this particular crossover to pupate.
posted by mhoye at 4:15 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: washing and washing and washing and soap soap soap, too
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:16 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


I regularly clean my toothbrush by putting a dollop of polishing compound on it and vigorously scrubbing it with my teeth, followed by a thorough rinse.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:21 PM on April 2 [24 favorites]


As somebody who has been using bicycle water bottles for decades, I have developed a fairly straightforward cleaning procedure. I won't list it here, but it's somewhere in the middle between "sterilize every single bottle after each use" and "never ever wash until the inside is coated in yucky stuff."

The bit about how much dust is in NYC apartments is so spot on. When I did my out-of-the-city COVID break, it was amazing how much dust *wasn't* in my BF's apartment. Now that I'm back, I run an air purifier, and try to wipe down the tops of things more frequently in addition to regular to vacuuming. But dust gonna dust. Especially when two cats are also present.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:33 PM on April 2 [4 favorites]


You should definitely be a bit clean. No mould where you eat, fluids cleaned up asap, etc. But this is crazy pants bullshit of the highest order and can fuck right off, because it’s taking time away from living your life by encouraging you to clean continually.

But, of course, the graun knows that, and wants you to have an argument about it, the same way that “top 100 albums of the 90s” drives traffic.
posted by The River Ivel at 4:44 PM on April 2 [4 favorites]


i dont care
posted by AlbertCalavicci at 4:54 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]


If someone needs a dirty hippie expert to show up and say "I take my stuff to the laundromat every few weeks and I am fine and I wash the bulk of my bedding seasonally" I am available.

I wash my sheets and pillow cases approximately weekly (biweekly-ish if I am living somewhere without an in-house washer and dryer) simply because I think they feel nicer after being washed. There is zero health implication of letting those go way, way longer. You could never wash your sheets in your life and you'd be completely fine, they'd just be kind of oily and dusty and grungy. Same with clothes, they get stinky and gross eventually, but it's not like you are a health hazard with dirty clothes.

Cleaning dishes and sinks seems somewhat important from a health perspective, but also I've eaten off of a lot of semi- or not-cleaned dishes and haven't had any ill effects, so... (If I'm at someone's house and they feed me, I'm going to eat it even if their cleaning approach is not the same as mine.) Cleaning toilets is nice aesthetically, but unless you are drinking out of it, some filth won't hurt you.

I almost never clean a water bottle, but that's because I almost never use one.I've stayed alive this long without carrying water with me everywhere, so I'm not going to mess with what's been working.

Where do you guys find the time for all of this cleaning?

Everyone I know with a super clean house either has a one-earner situation, or pays professional cleaners. Or both.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:11 PM on April 2 [5 favorites]


Might be time for a re-listen.
posted by Token Meme at 5:14 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]


I've already died four times due to dirty water bottles. Don't be like me!

Seriously, this is just dumb. Yes, wash it once in a while. I only use water and ice in mine, and I wash it when it looks a little funky. You have an immune system, and tap water is chlorinated. My father in-law was just warning me about this (he watches an absurd amount of daytime Tv and local news, but at least he's not a right-winger). This story must be making the rounds.
posted by SoberHighland at 5:17 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]


I use denture cleaners for my night guard, and started tossing them in my water bottle if my bottle is around when I clean my nightguard.
posted by tofu_crouton at 5:36 PM on April 2 [5 favorites]


I had a pretty great thermos that was my coffee cup at work for a few years. I didn’t clean it completely every week, and then I left some coffee in it over a weekend. The rubber gasket got moldy, I cleaned the heck out of it with bleach and then I made sure to wash it and let it dry completely every weekend after that, even got another one to switch it out with periodically, but after a few years, the gasket has a permanent black mark that bleach cannot remove, so I retired it and got a different thing to drink out of on road trips, and I always take the gaskets out and clean them completely when I get home, and let it dry completely before I use it again.

I don’t really get that paranoid about cleaning anything else, but I don’t need to see the inside of my thermos getting all funky and slimy again.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 5:45 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]


i clicked some links, most of the 'experts' are self-proclaimed on Insta and elswhere and are cleaning-obsessed. The advice sounds like you should wash everything, all the time, separately. Hahahaha.

Here is my recent cleaning triumph. I got the trash to the road 20 minutes before the truck; cue Rocky theme and running around, arms raised in triumph. I need all the winning I can get.
posted by theora55 at 5:51 PM on April 2 [15 favorites]


Keep your water bottle antiseptic by adding 1:25 hand sanitiser in it. Adds a certain zing to the work morning.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:07 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]


I'm fairly confident that the majority of germs my water bottle is crawling with came straight from my mouth.
posted by rodlymight at 6:15 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]


I only drink 190 proof Everclear out of my water bottle so no need to wash ever
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:37 PM on April 2 [8 favorites]


dirty
posted by deadbilly at 7:12 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]


Hahahahahahahahaha

This is an April Fool's joke, right?
posted by Chuffy at 7:28 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]


You guys would be horrified by chez maxwelton, me thinks. Where do you guys find the time for all of this cleaning?

I recently asked a "how do you find the time" question on MeFi, lol, and now I find I can answer here the way I was answered there: I don't watch much television. But I mean also, like BigCalm's friends above, I don't really get around to much reading, or do much cooking, or go out a ton during the week. I do listen to an absolute buttload of podcasts, because that's something you can do while cleaning.

It is a little bit like a hobby in that I go beyond the purest barest minimum and I don't hate it, but it's also just a matter of doing something that makes me comfortable in my space. I grew up in chaos and a certain level of filth and don't want that for myself anymore. So my laundry is done often despite having to haul it to a laundromat; my bathrooms are cleaned weekly and wiped down daily. My toothbrush is indeed cleaned regularly because its base and handle gathers so much grossness! And I don't use reusable water bottles because they are perpetually gunked and annoying to de-gunk. My partner uses them and they're freaking revolting but it's his funeral lol.

But also it's not like I am up all night scrubbing the baseboards with a nail brush. I have dustbustered my vacuum. I can be fine in a less clean space; it's just not what I prefer.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:38 PM on April 2 [8 favorites]


The most important thing for anyone of a household of more than one is how any level of cleaning and resulting workload is discussed and agreed.
posted by jjderooy at 8:16 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]


Holy shit, about half of the things on that list get cleaned around here only if they become visibly dirty. A few (eg phone screen) never get actually cleaned, although I'll wipe the phone on the front of my shirt if it looks a bit smeary. I replace my toothbrush on a kind-of-regular basis but it would never occur to me that it's dirty enough to need washing?

Why are people so obsessed with the cleanliness of water bottles? I fill mine with tap water only, which is treated to kill exactly the things that people are worried about being in your water bottle, so what does it achieve? If it's left partially full for a few days without being touched, it can look a bit suspect and I'll wash it then, but other than that I'm not really bothered. I'm firmly in the camp that believes our bodies are perfectly capable of coping with a few billion bacteria a day and I've been sick maybe three times in the last decade, which I offer as incontrovertible proof of my theory.

I did used to regularly opine that hand sanitisers were likely to be the downfall of humans, the excessive use of which was lowering our immunity to dangerous levels. Then COVID hit and I had to pause my campaign to rid the world of all things hand sanitising outside medical environments. I wonder if it's too soon to recommence operations?
posted by dg at 10:34 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]


Our house is a bit messy (with all the ADHD people in it and all), but it's surprisingly dust-free, and that is mostly because dusting and vacuuming are excellent chores to parcel out to the kids to earn screen time. And even a half-assed dusting performed a couple of times a week tend to keep the dust level to a minimum.
posted by Harald74 at 1:15 AM on April 3 [2 favorites]


And talking about judging: I recently gave up my battle against receding hairlines and just buzzed what was left of my hair. Yesterday our cat was sitting on top of the backrest of the sofa, and after cleaning his paws he gave me a bit of side-eye, before moving over and giving my head a thorough clean lasting several minutes. Apparently he was not impressed by my level of personal grooming.
posted by Harald74 at 1:20 AM on April 3 [9 favorites]


Keep your water bottle antiseptic by adding 1:25 hand sanitiser in it. Adds a certain zing to the work morning.

I only drink 190 proof Everclear out of my water bottle so no need to wash ever


I briefly worked with a guy whose morning travel mug of coffee (the one he drank in the car while driving to work, so probably his third cup of the day) was about 50% whiskey. The mug was super grungy, but evidently the alcohol did its job of sterilizing things. You could smell the alcohol on him, but he never acted inebriated. I think he had that lifetime alcoholic practice and was good at looking, though not smelling, sober.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:01 AM on April 3 [2 favorites]


I did used to regularly opine that hand sanitisers were likely to be the downfall of humans, the excessive use of which was lowering our immunity to dangerous levels. Then COVID hit and I had to pause my campaign to rid the world of all things hand sanitising outside medical environments. I wonder if it's too soon to recommence operations?

There are all kinds of reasons to routinely clean your hands, but covid isn't one of them. It bugs me that somehow the paranoia about hand cleaning stuck and you still see hand sanitizer bottles everywhere (and worse, people wearing latex gloves), but you don't see any of the interventions (like masks, ventilation, etc) that would have any use against an airborne disease.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:07 AM on April 3 [7 favorites]


> Why are people so obsessed with the cleanliness of water bottles?

When they go bad they go really bad, and suddenly, in my experience. At least plastic ones do. It's the surprise that bothered me. So now I toss the lid in the dishwasher every day or five and it hasn't been a problem since then.

> Everyone I know with a super clean house either has a one-earner situation, or pays professional cleaners.

I have a few friends with super clean houses, and it's because one adult in each house has OCD or similar. So it's sad: they have amazingly clean houses, but to them their houses feel dirty. (I also have friends with super clean houses who just manage to have super clean houses and enjoy that, and I envy them!)
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:51 AM on April 3 [2 favorites]


There are all kinds of reasons to routinely clean your hands, but covid isn't one of them.
I’m always baffled when I see people going into the grocery store and wiping down their carts, but not wearing a mask.
Me, I use hand sanitizer in addition to masking. Just makes me feel a bit safer.
In the house, tigrrrlily (remember her?) and I got really lax about handwashing once we were super isolated to avoid COVID, until we managed to get a stomach bug somehow (likely food delivery? Wait - or water bottles!!!). Now we’re pretty cautious about handwashing again, just to avoid a repeat of that.
posted by Flight Hardware, do not touch at 6:58 AM on April 3 [2 favorites]


Something that I realized recently was that a lot of people I know hire housecleaners and then never mention it. I assume that their houses are so clean because they're much more organized and competent and non-ADHD than me, and I'm sure they are, but it's partly that there's stigma on paying for housecleaning services, so people don't mention that they do it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:01 AM on April 3 [9 favorites]


Sunday morning from about 8am to 10am, the two of us clean the kitchen thoroughly, sanitize two bathrooms, dust busy surfaces, pick up all the smaller items, vacuum and damp mop the whole condo

Wow. Is this even legal?
posted by dutchrick at 7:02 AM on April 3 [6 favorites]


Jeez, what a thread. Guess I'm not spending any seconds of my life looking at TFA.

A pity. Reliable information on the topic (assembled by people who aren't obsessed with the topic of perfection in sterilizing their environments) could be both interesting and useful.
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 8:22 AM on April 3 [1 favorite]


Thank you to the folks who provided a public service by clicking on the link in the guardian article, and discovering that the so-called experts were sketchy. I posted this last night just before I went to bed and it was so much fun to wake up to all of these comments. I suspected it would be a good discussion topic all about the many crazy-ass suggestions that felt like overkill to me.

At the same time, I read the article originally because as someone who has ADHD and struggles with keeping things tidy (that, my friends, is an understatement), I thought it would be useful to have a guideline for how often to wash various things. If anyone remembers the television show called Raising Hope, there was a great episode in which the family discovered that they lived in a mess. A neighbor, or somebody had some kind of light that could show invisible grossness. So they nearly killed themselves cleaning up everything. And then it turned out that the people who had a super clean house were frequently ill, whereas Hope’s family was robustly healthy, and the show suggested that their messy house was partly responsible for that.

I am not a doctor, I don’t even play one on TV. But my mom raised me on the following story. When I was a baby, my mom used to keep me all dressed up and in the crib, so I would not get dirty. Supposedly, I was kind of sickly, and a neighbor came by one day, who happened to be a nurse. She told my mom to take off those fancy clothes and to let me play outside in the dirt. Otherwise, I was not going to be a healthy kid.

Did that dirt help me become more resilient? I have no idea. I’m OK with a little grime. I make the grandkids wash their hands before we eat, and I wash my hands often. And I still wear a mask if I am on a train or on a plane. But otherwise, I don’t care. Thanks for all the skeptical comments and the less skeptical comments. I love them so much!
posted by Bella Donna at 8:29 AM on April 3 [7 favorites]


I find this thread baffling. We wash our sheets and duvet covers weekly. Water bottles (I get the strapless kind) go in the dishwasher every day. I wipe the fridge out on the weeks I deep-clean the kitchen, about every 3-4 weeks. I “swish and swipe” the toilet daily and all of us wipe the bathroom sink after brushing our teeth. I have a dog and two cats so I vaccuum at least twice a week, and mop on Saturdays.

Sure, it takes time - I spend, besides dishes (we do clean the sink as a part of finishing dishes), about 20-30 min an evening on cleaning something and then Saturdays I do the floors and the bathroom (1.5 hours ish?) and then Sundays I deep clean (declutter, baseboards etc.) one of the “zones” of the house (kitchen, living room/halls/my bedroom (the kids do theirs)/rec room and basement. (2 hrs? Depending.) it’s not just me either.

Sometimes, life gets busy for sure. I spent Easter catching up on some cleaning. My house is decidedly not a model OCD home. But like above, I grew up with a lot of chaos around cleaning and I would like a relatively calm and clean home. It’s not antiseptic. The article seems a bit fussy but not out of reach. I’m certainly not shaming anyone who disagrees with it - it’s fine. But I don’t find most of it over the top at all.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:41 AM on April 3 [5 favorites]


Sorry strawless kind. :)
posted by warriorqueen at 8:53 AM on April 3


These tales of impending doom allowed the Golgafrinchans to rid themselves of an entire useless third of their population. The story was that they would build three Ark ships. Into the A ship would go all the leaders, scientists and other high achievers. The C ship would contain all the people who made things and did things, and the B Ark would hold everyone else, such as hairdressers and telephone sanitisers. They sent the B ship off first, but of course, the other two-thirds of the population stayed on the planet and lived full, rich and happy lives until they were all wiped out by a virulent disease contracted from a dirty telephone.
posted by ocha-no-mizu at 10:24 AM on April 3 [7 favorites]


I make the grandkids wash their hands before we eat

a line I hope I never cross, this was related by a co-worker.. his dad and uncle came in to have supper, just as they're sitting down they can see out the window that the new stallion is trying to mount the mare (who is in heat) and they bolt out the door and between the two of them they kind of.. help the stallion by guiding the business in so to speak, he was really having trouble figuring out things on his own.

point of the story: they promptly come back in, sit down, and proceed with their meal. hands were not washed, folks, and I don't know about you but that's a bridge too far for me
posted by elkevelvet at 10:55 AM on April 3 [8 favorites]


View from the farm kitchen window derail. As a child, a friend remembers going on the reg'lar to have tea at his grannie's. While the kids tucked into scones and sponge cake, the hired hand would be seen crossing the yard to feed the boar-pig; with a bucket of slops in one hand and an iron bar in the other.
posted by BobTheScientist at 1:40 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]


and started tossing them in my water bottle if my bottle is around when I clean my nightguard.

This is the sort of cleaning advice that is actually helpful! Thank you.
posted by jessamyn at 2:02 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]


If it's cleaning tips people want ... You know how you're not supposed to put q-tips in your ears so q-tip boxes list a bunch of other random uses? Well one of those uses is housecleaning. I have used q-tips to clean:

- The (gross! so gross!) spout of a water bottle
- That tiny little space behind a sink faucet
- The gross little space under the hinges of a toilet seat
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:04 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


They're also good for the gross little tunnels in the rubber gasket of your frontloader washing machine.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:31 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


We hire a housecleaner, four hours every two weeks. Mostly to keep the peace, because my standards are relatively lax compared to my housemates. I do some of the chores but I absolutely cannot be fucked with vacuuming or dusting, so paying for the cleaner to cover that deficit goes a long way towards equitability in the house.

And it also helps indirectly, because having to tidy up my room every couple of weeks so that the surfaces can be cleaned, goes a long way toward helping me keep my own space civilized.

We’ve had great luck with hiring local individual cleaners too. Our first was great, but eventually her partner got a job on the West Coast so she moved on to bigger and better things. Our second has been great as well, and honestly we hope she also moves on to better things in her own time. It’s apparently a pretty good gig if they’re running it on their own, as opposed to working for a service.
posted by notoriety public at 3:37 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]


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