5 Cleaning Tips We Learned During Quarantine—And Plan to Continue

These are the cleaning tricks you won’t want to forget about.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, cleaning and disinfecting have been a big focus, and for multiple reasons. In part, we wanted to learn the best ways to disinfect surfaces to stop the spread of the disease. Then, as many of us quarantined at home for several months and started cooking and baking for days on end, other cleaning tasks—like how to scrub all those burnt pots and pans—caught our attention. Among the cleaning tips we’ve picked up over the past several months, there are a few we plan to continue. From the importance of washing your reusable grocery bags to the right way to disinfect, here are some cleaning tricks worth remembering.

The difference between cleaning and disinfecting

In our quest to create homes that weren’t just “clean” but actually germ-free, we had to learn how to properly disinfect. While cleaning is the process of removing all visible dirt, dust, and debris from a surface, disinfecting works on the microscopic level to rid a surface of bacteria and viruses. 

Here’s the deal: In order to fully disinfect a surface, you first have to clean it. That’s right, it’s a two-step process. Start by wiping away dust and crumbs before spritzing the surface with disinfecting spray, otherwise the debris will act as a barrier, preventing the spray from reaching the surface underneath. 

Even once the pandemic is over, we can use this tip to keep germs at bay during cold and flu season. 

The importance of contact time

Contact time is the recommended amount of time a spray or product has to sit on a surface in order to kill the percent of bacteria or viruses it claims to destroy. There’s a reason we call not following contact times the #1 cleaning mistake: not waiting long enough could allow germs to linger on surfaces. 

When you buy a new cleaning product, take a second to read the fine print on the packaging and follow the suggested contact time. 

How to wash reusable grocery bags

Coronavirus completely changed many of our routines, including how we grocery-shopped. That’s when we realized: when’s the last time we washed our reusable shopping bags? According to 97 percent of participants in one 2010 study, that answer to that question is “never.” The study found that the majority of grocery bags tested contained coliform bacteria, a category which includes E. coli.

To make sure shopping bags are germ-free and avoid cross-contamination, follow these cleaning steps and designate a specific bag for transporting raw meat. 

The trick to cleaning a burnt pot

During quarantine, many of us found ourselves cooking and baking (and bread-making) more than ever before. One result of all that home cooking: the pot we left on the stovetop a little too long and is now covered in burnt-on food bits. 

That’s when we learned the secret to cleaning a burnt pot by deglazing, first with water and then with white vinegar. Once the deglazing is done, reach for one of these scrapers to remove every last bit of stuck-on food. 

How to refresh a mattress

Studies found that Americans spent more time sleeping during quarantine. That extra time in bed made us reconsider just how clean our beds are. Sure, we were washing our bed sheets, but what about the mattress, duvet insert, and pillows? In addition to washing our bed sheets more often, we learned how to refresh our mattresses with the help of a vacuum and some baking soda. 

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