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20-Minute Kitchen Cleanup to Prevent Mold and Bugs

Quick, what’s the most unhygienic place in your kitchen? It might be the sink, but it might also be under the sink. When’s the last time you really cleaned there?

Aricia LaFrance, a psychotherapist, parenting coach, and organizational consultant, says, “We worry about the countertops, sink, and stove. But nobody ever thinks about under the sink. But it can be a hazard. You can get mold under there, and a lot of times it’s where bugs -- and even mice -- get in if there are gaps.”

  • Take out everything.
  • Check the pipes. “We’re always stuffing things under the sink and it pushes on the pipes," LaFrance says. "They may leak just a little along a seam, and then you get mold and mildew building up in the walls.”
  • Wipe hard surfaces clean with a disinfectant spray or distilled white vinegar.
  • Purge old products -- anything you haven’t used in a year -- and overly toxic chemicals.
  • If you find gaps, make a note to pick up a can of spray foam sealant at the hardware store. It expands and fills in spots where pests can get in. Be sure to read and follow all safety directions carefully before applying. These products can be very flammable and toxic.

20-Minute Allergy Buster in the Laundry Room

When was the last time you actually cleaned your laundry room or closet? Don’t be embarrassed if you can’t remember. Many of us think changing the lint trap regularly and collecting the change that falls out of pockets counts as “cleaning.”

But all kinds of dust, mold, and mildew can accumulate around the sides of and behind washers and dryers. “People don’t think about these areas," LaFrance says, "and they get really, really gross.”

While kids are doing homework in the evening or watching cartoons in the morning, you can purge the laundry room of allergens such as dust mites and mold.

  • Come prepared with a trash bag -- you’ll probably collect more fuzz and goop than you expect.
  • Move the machines. It’s easier than it sounds. Many move easily on their own; if not, get a package of little furniture coasters -- many drugstores and hardware stores carry them -- to smooth the job.
  • Use a dust cloth or hand vac to get up all the lint that’s accumulated.
  • Spray surfaces with a disinfectant or distilled vinegar and wipe. You probably don’t need to let it sit as you do in the bathroom or kitchen.
  • Throw away old bottles of detergent, empty fabric softener bottles, and other junk that’s collected.
  • Dust or wipe down storage shelves.

10 Hidden Allergy Hotspots

Do dust mites and mold lurk in your home? See where they hide.
See slideshow