New This Month

Four Secretly Filthy Spots in Your Home

Even a sparkling interior can be dirtier than you think. Learn how to keep your home safe -- not just pretty.


If you’re a Martha Stewart fan, you probably have a cleaning routine -- at least for places where dirt is quick to accumulate and tough to ignore. But while vanity-cleaning the dust on your shelves and the crumbs on your floor is (as we say) a good thing, the bacterial buildup in less “dirty” areas poses more of a threat. Focus on these four often-overlooked (but important) spots to ensure that your efforts keep you and your home at your best.

The phone. Landlines may be on the wane, but they still pose a seriously germy threat to any home they're in. (Mobile users, you’re not off the hook. Would you hold the bottom of your purse against your face?) Refresh your receiver at least once a month to keep a dirty mouth from catching up with you.

The shower curtain. You may leave the shower cleaner than you came in, but the same can’t be said for the curtain, where moisture welcomes (and breeds) bacteria. Liners are inexpensive to replace, but washing the curtain is more sustainable -- a vinyl, nylon, cotton, or hemp liner can be machine-washed in hot water and mild detergent, like Ivory Snow. Rehang the liner to dry. Do this at the start of every season, and consider trimming your curtains so they’ll trap less dust and moisture.

Cleaning tools. Put-your-oxygen-mask-on-first logic applies to inanimate objects too: If they’re crawling with germs, how can they do right by the rest of your space? Brooms, mops, dusters, and other cleaning tools should be washed and dried thoroughly after each use. And don’t neglect the insides of your dishwasher and laundry machine. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions to keep these workhorses in fighting shape.

The kitchen. Between cutting boards used to prepare raw meat, sponges and dish towels that do daily duty, and shelves wiped out far less often than food that sits on them, the kitchen has tons of moving parts -- and falling behind could have serious consequences. Go in for a deep-clean, and remember that there’s more to maintenance than wiping up spills.

Any secret germ magnets we missed?