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Fall cleaning: 5 Hidden health hot spots

In addition to washing windows, swapping out bedding and organizing closets we need to clean less obvious items in our home that can cause us to sneeze, wheeze and go ah jeez. Here are five of them.


1. Washing machine: Mold and mildew

t Moisture remains after every wash and good ole mold thrives where it’s damp and dark, reproducing spores within 12-24 hours. Kill and disinfect mold and funky odors this way:

t Fill detergent dispenser with white vinegar or bleach and run an empty normal cycle. Clean the lid with a disinfecting wipe or white vinegar.

t After each wash, dry with a clean cloth and leave open until the moisture is gone to prevent mold growth and weekly repeat instructions above.

t Note: Disinfectants like white vinegar must stay on a surface for at least 20 minutes to be effective.

2. Drip pans: Mold

t Regularly empty residual water in your single-serve coffeemaker, refrigerator’s water and ice dispenser and drip pan. Spray with a 2:1 mix of white vinegar and water. Use an old toothbrush to scrub nooks and corners. Wipe dry with a clean microfiber cloth or paper towel.

3. Indoor plants: Mold and mites

t Soil: Remove the mold growth on the surface and discard in a sealed plastic bag. Replace with a layer of fresh potting soil. Use essential oils and spices like cinnamon, peppermint and rosemary on soil to repel future mold growth.

t Leaves: Discard dead leaves pronto since mold feeds on them. Spray both sides of the leaves thoroughly with white vinegar. Leave on 45-60 minutes. Wipe dry.

4. Plastic toys: Mold

t Old toys: Wash in the top shelf of your dishwasher. Run a full normal cycle with detergent. Squeeze and dry thoroughly. Alternatively, place in a sink filled with hot water and a cup of white vinegar. Soak for 10-15 minutes. Squeeze and dry thoroughly.

t Between baths keep toys in a netted hanging bag to help air dry.

t Please note: If there are any holes or torn parts, throw out as this can harbor and hide mold and mildew.

5. Stuffed toys: Mites and their doo

t Dust mites thrive in dark, warm and humid places. And, their doo is what causes us allergy-like symptoms…Aaachoo! Here’s how to smite mites, and remove doo too:

t Place stuffed toy into a plastic bag. Add enough baking soda to coat toy. Seal and shake until toy’s coated. Leave for 15 minutes. Remove powder, mites and doo with a vacuum or brush. Alternatively freeze toy in the bag overnight and vacuum.

t Kill mites by laundering in hot water. (Read care instructions to be sure toy is washable.) Remove batteries or sound boxes. Place in zippered pillowcase. Dry on high heat.

t DO NOT WASH if there are any holes or tears since this will trap moisture inside and mold will thrive.

Photo credit: darak77/Getty Images

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