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How Clean Is Your House?

If the words 'clean house' are always on your to-do list, here's help.

How to Clean House: Get Modern

Once your daily and weekly cleaning is under control, you can focus on seasonal cleaning. And it doesn't have to involve a Herculean effort, Townley Ewer says. "The reason for spring cleaning 75 years ago was coal and oil heating sources," she says. The buildup would make any house dirty. "If you have a modern house, there is no need for that kind of cleaning," she says.

Instead, focus on moving furniture and dusting or vacuuming behind it, hard polishing the furniture and cabinets, she says.

How to Clean House: Products Matter

Good old soap and water is often viewed as an ideal cleaner, but not so, maintains Philip Tierno, Jr., PhD, director of clinical microbiology and immunology at the New York University Medical Center, associate professor of microbiology and pathology at the NYU School of Medicine, and author of The Secret Life of Germs.

"Soap doesn't kill bacteria," Tierno tells WebMD. The best way to kill everything, in his opinion, is a mixture of bleach and water, following manufacturer instructions.

In the kitchen, use a disinfectant cleaner spray every time you clean up, ideally once a day, suggests Charles Gerba, PhD, professor of soil, water and environmental science at the University of Arizona, who has long studied germs in the home and office environments. Use it in the bathroom, too, he says, as the kitchen and bath are two of the germiest rooms in the house.

How to Clean House: Forget Tradition

"A lot of people have misconceptions based on what they saw their mom and grandmother do," Townley Ewer says. But people need to set their own standards. How often you clean house also depends on who's visiting, for example. "When my daughter-in-law visits, with a toddler on the floor, we are going to pay more attention," Townley Ewer says.

Finally, think about balance when setting house cleaning standards. Townley Ewer subscribes to the old adage about how clean a house should be: "Clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy."

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Reviewed on June 19, 2008

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