House cleaning might seem like a simple, everyday routine, but it takes a bit more time and consideration than a beginner might realize. The truth is, many students don’t know where or how to begin when they start living in a dorm or apartment.

Nevertheless, a clean living space is essential for your overall health and well-being and helps protect you from illness, germs and bacteria, said registered nurse Janice Haile. Today, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have become increasingly aware of daily cleaning routines.

Public health senior Adam Gonzales said house cleaning should be second nature, regardless of any pandemic. There needs to be some sense of order and routine because who wants to live in an unclean environment? No one.

Gonzales said he makes sure to always have the basics: disinfectant wipes, spray and some bleach.

Haile said disinfectant wipes are actually the No. 1 cleaning product that everyone should have in their home. Disinfectant wipes kill 99.9% of bacteria and are easy to use for just about any surface.

Haile recommended leaving packages of disinfectant wipes at different areas around the house, like the laundry room, kitchen and toilet.

“Just have it accessible so that it’s really easy to use and convenient,” she said. “You can just quickly pull out a wipe and wipe down whatever surface that you need.”

Disinfectant wipes are the best for surface cleaning, but Haile also suggested having a disinfectant spray on hand for cleaning the air of germs and bacteria. Reusable microfiber cloths also come in handy for surface cleaning so long as you wash them between uses.

When selecting cleaning soaps and detergents, you should look for labels that say, “kills viruses and bacteria,” Haile said.

You’re going to want gloves as well for cleaning areas like the bathroom and kitchen, she said, and a vacuum or other floor cleaner depending on your floors. Brooms, mops and cleaning agents are a staple for hardwood or tile floors.

The frequency of your cleaning regimen should depend on the number of occupants in your living space, Haile said.

If you live by yourself, areas like the bathroom should be thoroughly cleaned top to bottom at least once a week. However, you’ll need to wipe the sink and toilet surface daily with those wipes and maybe spray the toilet bowl with a disinfectant every other day.

Gonzales said he tries to thoroughly clean his bathroom at least once a week. For his room, he’ll tidy up daily and deep clean it every other week or whenever he has a free weekend. Areas like the kitchen aren’t much of a concern for him because he said he eats mostly on campus.

For most people, though, the kitchen needs daily maintenance. The dirtiest thing in the entire house is the kitchen sink, Haile said; not the toilet. You’re going to want to spray and wipe the sink out with disinfectant at least once daily to avoid bacteria and germs.

As for the floors, high-traffic areas will need to be cleaned every other day, while low-traffic areas only need cleaning once a week.

Public health freshman Emmeline Millhouse said it’s hard for her to concentrate on homework and other responsibilities when her apartment is messy or unclean. It’s a satisfying feeling to come home to a clean space, so she tries to clean as often as her schedule allows.

Living in an apartment with three other people, she said they try to sweep the hardwood floors a few times a week and mop at least once a month, depending on how dirty they get.

Gonzales said he keeps a small hand vacuum for cleaning his carpet and picking up dust mites on the walls or by the windows.

Don’t forget the dusting. It needs to be remembered at least once a week in general. Many people blow it off, Haile said, but they need to think about what dust is -- skin cells, pollens, hair, fibers, bacteria, dead bugs and soil particles.

“When you think of all those things, and that’s what dust is, it kind of makes you want to be a little more careful to dust more often than you normally would,” she said.

Many students fail to wash their sheets, often going weeks, months or even semesters without a cleaning, Haile said. Don’t be that student. As a general rule, wash your sheets at least once every week or two because they’ll fill with dust and germs, too.

Gonzales said by living in a dorm, he found that his most often forgotten areas are behind furniture, the closet floor, personal fridges, bedding (blankets included) and the floor under the bed.

For Millhouse, the washing machine and dryer take a little extra care because she or her roommates will frequently spill laundry detergent. Relatable.

Haile said most people forget to clean the things they use most often, like TV remotes, laptop or computer keyboards, gaming consoles, cellphones and doorknobs. Disinfectant wipes are perfect for these appliances, too.

By now, you might be wondering how you’re supposed to find wipes during this coronavirus pandemic. The truth is that disinfectant supplies can be hard to come by right now.

However, household vinegar can serve as an easy substitute, Haile said. Fill a spray bottle with 50% vinegar and 50% water, and if you want, you can add a few drops of essential oils to give it a new scent.

“That is a great cleaning product,” Haile said. “It cuts grease, it’s a disinfectant, it can kill mold.”

She said she likes a vinegar solution better than bleach because it won’t burn your skin, eyes, mouth or lungs. It’s also cheaper. You can use household cleaning vinegar or regular kitchen vinegar.

If you’re not home often, you won’t have to clean as much. The more people in your home, though, the more cleaning you have to do, Haile said. Luckily though, that means more people to help share duties.

Gonzales said cleaning duties should be delegated according to the needs and wants of each student living in a dorm or apartment together. When he lived with his roommates, chores were never officially divided because each roommate took personal responsibility over their own space, and communal areas were a joint responsibility. However, some roommates will need a more official contract to keep everyone accountable.

Millhouse said it’s important to care for your own space but maintain the same level of cleanliness throughout the dorm or apartment. Don’t forget about communal areas like the coffee table, and remember to take coffee mugs and wine glasses back to the kitchen after using them.

Keeping the communal areas clean makes the dorm or apartment more presentable for friends, guests, your parents and anyone else who might stop by, Millhouse said. Most people don’t want to invite people over to a dirty place, and let’s face it. Most people don’t want to come over to a dirty place, either.

Cleaning might seem like a thankless task at first, but you’ll reap the benefits of a clean space. With a clean space comes a clear mind, Gonzales said.

“When I clean, there’s an aspect of my life that I can control, and that gives me stability, like mentally,” he said. “If I can control the environment that I’m around, and I can make it to where it’s a lot cleaner, I controlled something in my life that helped me better myself.”

Cleaning provides a sense of tangible security, but it takes a conscious effort, he said. So get to it.

@CecilLenzen

features-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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