June 7, 2023
Summer is typically the season of leisure. We get to enjoy longer days, spend more time in the sun, and finally take those road trips and vacations we've been dreaming about. However, summer isn't a chore-free season. In fact, there are some household items and areas that actually require more cleaning and attention in the summer.
That's due, in part, to the fact that summers are getting hotter and wetter in many parts of the country, Allen Rathey, director of the Indoor Health Council, says. “This raises the value of cleaning as microbes need three growth factors to thrive: food source—like organic soils and skin oils—moisture, and warmth,” he says. Another reason that certain items need to be cleaned more often in the summer is simply because they’re being used more frequently (e.g. the grill and outdoor furniture).
After consulting with Rathey and several other experts, we’ve compiled a list of the items and areas of the home that need to be cleaned more often in summer months.
Okay, the kitchen is a room, not a specific item. But since so much in this needs to be cleaned more often, it’s just easier to broadly classify this category. “Around the sink and drains, and touch points on appliances, tables, and counters all need more cleaning in the summer,” Rathey says. “Kitchens tend to be ‘dirtier’ from a germ-growth perspective as they contain food residues and increased airborne moisture from cooking, running water in sinks, skin oils, and hitchhiking germs from those who touch handles and counters—think children, especially.” And since sink drains tend to concentrate growth factors, he says they may also need more frequent cleaning than other areas.
According to Courtney Walsh, resident cleaning expert at home cleaning company Homeaglow, the summer heat can cause mildew to grow in your appliances (dishwashers, washing machines, and garbage disposals). “You’ll know by the rotten smell, which you can eliminate with vinegar and baking soda," she says.
To treat a foul-smelling washing machine, Walsh advises adding vinegar in the drum and baking soda in the powder tray, then running a hot wash. “For a smelly garbage disposal, pour in vinegar, then baking soda, wait 10 minutes, then run hot water through with the blades on.”
You’re more likely to get hot and sweaty in the summer, and washing your sheets more often can help to keep them (and you) fresh. “Sweat can create a breeding ground for bacteria and dust mites in your bedding,” warns Adam Moore, owner and operator of Paradise Home Cleaning in Toronto, ON. He recommends washing your bed sheets at least once a week in the summer (if you don’t already wash them weekly).
But don't let this extra washing come at the detriment of your linens, Katie Dills, senior VP at The Cleaning Authority, warns. “Simply wash your sheets in cold or warm water—never hot—to avoid shrinkage and damage to your fibers, and make sure to use the proper amount of detergent,” she says. Considering that hot water also uses more energy, opting for cold water can reduce your energy consumption, helping you to save money on your laundry cycles and utility bills. Another tip to keep your linens and finances in good shape: “Ideally, try to air dry your bedding; or use the lowest heat setting if you opt to machine dry,” Dills says.
In addition to bedding, it’s also a good idea to wash your towels more often and Walsh recommends airing out these items daily.
We don’t have to tell you that your clothes get sweatier in the summer, so you’ll want to wash those more often, too. However, don’t just toss them into the hamper. Walsh says you should let your sweaty clothes dry completely before placing them in the hamper. “And, after you’ve done your laundry, make sure everything is completely dry before you put it away,” she adds.
Something else to consider: Not only will you sweat more, but Alex Varela, general manager of Dallas Maids of Frisco, in Frisco, Texas says pets will sweat and release more fur and dandruff, creating a perfect storm of unpleasantries if you have furry friends in the house.
The summer can also bring more dirt and grease—particularly in the form of grass stains and sunscreen. “To clean grass stains, use a solution consisting of two parts water to one-part white vinegar for the clothes to soak in for 15 minutes,” Dill says. If you get sunscreen stains, she recommends blotting them with a dry cloth and then applying corn flour, letting the stain absorb it for 30 minutes, then removing the excess powder and rubbing with detergent.
We’re not sure how often you wash your walls, but you should definitely add this task to your summer cleaning checklist. That’s because summer humidity can cause mold and mildew all over your home, Walsh says. “This is why some homes smell like musty basements in the summer,” she explains.
But fortunately, this is avoidable. “Prevent mold from building up on your walls by regularly opening windows to let a breeze through and wiping down walls at least monthly with vinegar and hot water,” Walsh says.
Your air conditioning unit works extra hard in the summer, especially if you live in parts of the country where the temperature is frequently 90 degrees or above. It’s important to get your AC unit serviced before summer, but there are also tasks that you should be doing more frequently, like changing the AC filter. “The air filter is designed to capture particulate matter from the indoor environment by forcing air through the filter, but to be effective, the filter must be dense enough to collect very small items but not so dense to restrict airflow and potentially damage the AC," explains Traci Fournier, vice president of operations at One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning.
“When the AC filter becomes clogged with dust, dirt, pet hair and other particles, it reduces airflow to your system, forcing it to work harder,” she adds. And Fournier says this can cause several problems, like decreasing energy efficiency—which causes your energy bill to go up—and it can cause your AC components to wear out faster.
Varela also recommends cleaning your air vents more often to improve your air quality, which, in turn, can reduce the symptoms of allergies and respiratory discomfort. If you find any dust and debris around your air vents, use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to remove it. “However, if there is still dust and grime between the vents, you might need to carefully remove the vents and soak them in hot, soapy water—a bathtub or a large bowl would be ideal for this,” she says.
Since the grill gets more use during the summer, this item will need to be cleaned more often as well. “Your grill can collect grease, food particles, and other debris,” says Moore. “To keep your grill functioning properly and prevent food contamination, clean the grates and exterior after each use and deep clean it at least once a month.”
And here’s a cleaning hack: Walsh recommends carefully scraping it down after every use while it’s still hot so that debris will come off more easily. Letting the grill get hot before you use it can also help burn off old muck, she says. And don't forget to give it a thorough cleaning when grilling season comes to a close. “At the end of the summer, empty out the ash and scrub everything down with a concentrated solution of dish soap and hot water, using baking soda to scrub off baked-on grease,” Walsh adds.
Sitting outdoors is a wonderful way to enjoy the summer season. However, during summer months, Moore warns that outdoor furniture and cushions can collect dust, pollen, and mold spores. “To prevent these allergens from accumulating, vacuum or brush the covers and pillows regularly, and wash them according to the manufacturer's instructions,” he says.
And while enjoying your favorite summer treats, chair cushions are also subject to food and drink spills. “I recommend scrubbing your cushions with a warm water and vinegar solution, then blasting them with a hose before air drying,” Walsh says.
All of that time spent on your deck can also make it a haven for dirt and grime. Walsh recommends using a pressure washer to remove any food chunks while also dislodging dirt from your deck. “Then, scrub your deck with a solution of hot water and vinegar, and for any tough stains, sprinkle some baking soda and keep on scrubbing,” she says.
Bathrooms are always among the most popular rooms in any house. “During the summer, you might be hosting more house parties, increasing the number of guests using the home's plumbing system,” Michael Green, COO at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, says. He recommends cleaning your shower head (scrubbing in between the small holes, and then soaking the shower head in a tub of white vinegar), and toilet (especially the flushing handle) more often. Pour vinegar in the toilet ball and let it sit overnight to break down debris and deposits. “Lastly, throw out old carpets that wrap around the toilet—they can be a nice decorative touch but be aware that they can harbor many germs,” Green warns.
And don’t forget about your shower curtain. According to Josh McCormick, president of HouseMaster, that shower curtain has a tendency to get mold or mildew stains due to the moisture in the bathroom. “Throw the shower curtain in the wash at least monthly to keep it fresh and clean, especially before guests visit during the summer months.”
When you’re perspiring, it’s not only affecting your body and your clothes. Your shoes are also getting drenched with sweat, due to the heat and an increase in activity. “To prevent foot odor and bacterial growth, alternate the shoes you wear to allow them to air out, and regularly clean them according to the manufacturer's instructions,” Moore says. He also recommends using odor absorbing products (with baking soda or activated charcoal) to keep shoes fresh.
Insects also love the summer, and standing water and debris can especially attract them. “These conditions provide excellent breeding sites and habitats for mosquitoes and other biting insects,” says Lou Schager, president of Mosquito Joe. Potential water sources include leaky outdoor faucets, gutters, and buckets. Also, change the water in bird baths at least once a week, and call in the pros to spray your backyard if needed.
Since kids are out of school and spending more time at home, their toys are probably getting played with more frequently. According to Kathy Cohoon, operations manager at Two Maids, these objects accumulate more dirt and grime in the summertime. “Instead of spending hours hand-washing each toy, plastic toys without batteries can be safely put in the dishwasher for a quick and effective clean,” she says. However, she recommends air drying, since the drying cycle might melt some types of plastic. Also, don’t put rubber-based toys in the dishwasher since the high heat and detergent can make for a long summer if you ruin your kid’s favorite.
For hand washing, Cohoon advises soaking the toys for five to 10 minutes in a half and half mixture of vinegar and water, then wiping them dry or allowing them to air dry.
Source: Real Simple, Terri Williams
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