Yikes! Bacteria can build up in the most unlikely places. Luckily, you can clean everything from a grimy washing machine to a sticky keyboard with items you already have in your home.
Lift keyboard grime with a vodka ‘cocktail’.
Keyboards are among the dirtiest surfaces because every time we touch them, we transfer bacteria that live on our skin, fingernails and hands. Just combine 1⁄2 cup of vodka with 10 drops of lavender essential oil (like Gya Labs Lavender Essential Oil, $7, Amazon), dampen a cloth and wipe the keys. Antibacterial properties in the solution sterilize the keyboard instantly
Sanitize sponges with a microwave zap.
Because they’re wet and at room temperature, sponges are a haven for salmonella and E. coli, says Jennifer Quinlan, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition sciences at Philadelphia’s Drexel University. The fix: Dampen sponges and microwave on high for one minute every other day. This kills 99 percent of bacteria. In between zaps, simply let sponges air-dry.
Ward off bacteria in washing machines with a vinegar cycle.
Bacteria from dirty clothes can linger inside the washing machine, contaminating items you launder later. To banish the germs, add 1 quart of vinegar to the detergent dispenser and run an empty load on the hottest setting. (For a front-loader, fill the detergent dispenser 3⁄4 of the way with vinegar.) The acetic acid in vinegar kills both food-borne and fecal bacteria.
Kill sink bugs instantly with a sprinkling of Borax.
Research shows 45 percent of kitchen sinks harbor bacteria because germs from dirty dishes multiply in the moist environment. To disinfect without effort, simply sprinkle Borax (try Milliard Borax Powder, $15, Amazon) on the bottom of the basin, then spray with vinegar. Let sit for one hour; rinse with hot water. The Borax lifts grime while the vinegar kills bacteria.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.