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    7 Unexpected Places Germs Congregate

    3M TB Quat Disinfectant Ready to Use Cleaner

    Ready for a truth bomb? Even if you’re working hard to keep your home clean and free from illness-causing bacteria and viruses, there are very likely some important areas you are missing. (Yes, even if you’re diligent about killing germs on high-touch surfaces, such as computers, phones, counters, doorknobs, and faucet levers.)
    Don’t worry: We’re not suggesting you have to hit every item or risk getting sick — we’re simply saying that tackling these hotspots with a little soap and water or a quality disinfectant, like 3M’s TB Quat Disinfectant Ready-to-Use Cleaner, will ensure you’re truly bringing your anti-bacterial A-game.
    Ready to get to work? Here are some of the most commonly overlooked household items, along with tips on how to banish as many germs as possible.
    Light switches

    Beecher LaFrance

    Chances are you already know that germs are present on your doorknobs, faucets, and appliance handles. But did you ever stop to think that your light switches are just as prone to them? You — and everyone else with whom you share your house — touch these spots multiple times a day, which means you’ll want to regularly clean them and hit them with disinfectant.
    Simply use a damp cloth to clean off any dust and grime, being careful not to let any liquid seep behind the switch. Then, use a disinfecting wipe or a cotton ball dampened with 70% isopropyl alcohol and swab all sides of the switch and backplate. (Again, take care to ensure no liquid gets inside.) Let air dry.
    If you have one, your microwave’s handle and touchpad are also among the germiest spots your hands land on during the day. According to one study, 48 percent of microwave door handles contained enough bacteria to be considered a high risk for illness transmission.
    To clean this oft-used gadget, first wipe away any grease or grime from the handle and touchpad with soapy water, then rinse and dry. To bust any bacteria and virus germs, use a disinfectant spray, then wipe clean after the amount of time indicated on the package directions.
    Exercise equipment

    Beecher LaFrance

    Exercise is great for your overall health, but the equipment itself often harbors plenty of illness-causing germs. In one study, researchers found rhinoviruses (the infection that causes the common cold) on 63 percent of equipment at the fitness centers they tested. But you don’t have to leave your house to encounter dirty fitness gear. Items in home gyms — weights, yoga mats, and cycling machines — aren’t exempt from sweat, odors, dust, and dirt.
    To keep things sparkling, bring good gym etiquette home: Make it a habit to spritz any machines you use with a multi-purpose cleaner after each use. Other personal equipment, such as yoga mats, can go about a week between wipe downs, says Carolyn Forte, Cleaning Lab Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute. (Of course, if you sweat a lot or the mat tends to retain odor, clean it more often.)
    Simply mix a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid and two cups of warm water in a spray bottle, then spritz the solution onto the mat and wipe the surfaces clean with a soft cloth. Finally, rinse the mat with a damp cloth, and lay the mat flat or hang it over a shower rod to dry fully before rolling it back up.
    The contents of your wallet — particularly paper money and credit cards — get handled by numerous people throughout the day. In fact, one study found $1 bills tested were teeming with hundreds of microorganisms, including oral microbes and DNA from pets and viruses. Another study revealed something even more alarming on paper money: pathogens like E. coli, salmonella, and staphylococcus aureus. Not to mention, germs can lurk in the cervices around credit card numbers, says Forte.
    While there’s not much you can do about the paper, you can lean on credit cards to minimize germs in your wallet. To give the plastic a quick clean, wipe each one down with an alcohol or disinfecting wipe. Then, let them air dry before placing them back in your wallet.
    Vacuum cleaner

    Beecher LaFrance

    According to research done at the University of Arizona by germ expert Dr. Charles Gerba, 50 percent of vacuum brushes tested contained mold and bacteria, including E. coli. What’s more, Gerba says, is that a dirty vacuum can transfer the germs from one surface to another, contaminating, rather than cleaning.
    To ensure your vacuum is clean and running efficiently, empty the canister after every one to two uses, and bags should be replaced when they are 2/3 or 3/4 full. You’ll also want to give any washable filters a thorough rinse at least every couple months depending on use (check your machine’s manual for specifics). Don’t forget any brush heads: Remove any hairs and threads, then clean with warm water, massaging bristles to remove embedded dust and debris. Let air dry thoroughly before replacing or using.
    You sleep with 1.5 million dust mites each night. (It’s alarming, right?) In fact, a 10-ounce pillow will double in weight in three years, thanks to an accumulation of said dust mites and dead skin cells. Take care to wash sheets and pillowcases weekly, cover mattresses and pillows with liners and vacuum your mattress regularly, says Forte. Plus: put your pillows in the washing machine two to four times a year. If they have a funny odor even after you give them a good wash, it’s time to replace them.
    Shower curtain
    Though certain items in your bathroom — like your toilet — are likely to be cleaned regularly, there are some items that might get overlooked. Take your shower curtain, for instance. In one study, researchers found the shower curtain was the germiest item in the entire bathroom, harboring more than 60 times more microbes than toilet seats.
    The good news: There’s no need to throw away your shower curtain, even if it’s speckled with mildew, says Forte. For plastic or vinyl curtains, wash on a delicate or short cycle with detergent. Add two to three bath towels for extra cleaning agitation, then hang it to dry, or put in the dryer on low heat or air dry for one to two minutes to remove excess moisture before rehanging them. (Be careful though — they can melt, so don’t step away and keep an eye on them.) For fabric curtains, follow any specific care instructions on the label, says Forte.
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    See How I Gave My Brooklyn Apartment a Total Refresh Just in Time for Fall

    Everyone has that one retail chain that gets them every time. You walk in with the intention of buying a few items at most, but somehow you leave with a cart full of stuff. HomeGoods is that store for me.
    So when HomeGoods offered me a complimentary shopping trip, I couldn’t have said “yes” faster. What’s more, they gave me access to interior designer Beth Diana Smith, who shares my eclectic aesthetic and offered pointers to enhance my shopping experience. (Check out Beth’s recent HomeGoods haul for her New Jersey home — it doesn’t disappoint.)

    HomeGoods in Glendale, NY.
    Monique Valeris

    Since I’ve been working remotely as Good Housekeeping’s senior home editor and caring for my two young children, a few spots in our Brooklyn apartment have gotten out of control, to say the least. I’ve been wanting a few more decorative pieces to add personality to my space for the season, as well as some organizational items to help keep clutter at bay. And with Beth’s guidance, I felt confident that a fall home refresh could be easy and affordable. Beth’s top tip: “This is the time of year where there’s no HVAC going, your windows are open, and you’re cozying up with a throw, and being still,” Smith says. “When it comes to fall decorating, I’m focused on accessories and comfort.”
    I made two safe trips to my local HomeGoods and thanks to Beth’s advice, I’m happy to report that I found exactly what I needed for my space. Here’s what I ended up purchasing for our bathroom and living room.

    My bathroom shelves were in desperate need of organizational solutions for bedding, towels, and cosmetics.
    Monique Valeris

    Baskets in varied sizes bring order to the bathroom shelves. 
    Monique Valeris

    Considering that I write about all things decor, it’s no surprise that I have a lot of bedding and towels. While many might think this is a good problem to have, they can easily take over your space if you’re not careful. Every time I tried to fold them neatly, they would end up looking disheveled just a few days later. I needed a smart solution to store them in style. To maintain a polished look, Beth suggested finding eye-catching baskets to complement my existing collection. I knew I wanted at least one round basket to create visual interest, and since Beth said “the funkier the better” when it comes to baskets, I had to snag a round C&C California design with trendy fringed detail for $29.99. It has just enough space to hold our most-used towels.
    Beth also directed me to think beyond round basket designs. “To maximize the space on each shelf, look for something that’s a rectangle or square,” she said. She was right. I found a few rectangular woven baskets that resolved the issue. One is adorned in white stripes and the other’s large woven pattern is a great focal point against the wood shelving.
    I finished the look by filling a glass hurricane I already owned with gold gilded pine cones and placing a ZZ plant on one of the upper shelves for a spa-like vibe.
    Now that we’re home more, my living room has become a multifunctional space. From serving as my daughter’s classroom to being a comfortable spot for lounging, it has become the hub of our home, possibly more than the kitchen. For that reason, it only made sense that it should make more of a statement, and the area next to its entrance felt lackluster to me. Not only was it bland — my kids grew accustomed to piling up their toys there, so it became even more unsightly.
    When I visited HomeGoods, I wasn’t exactly sure what furniture would work for this space. However, as soon as I entered the store, my eyes fell on this striking upholstered bench for just $150, and it had the exact dimensions necessary for the area. The pattern reflects my love of bohemian-inspired pieces and the pops of mustard played up the beauty of the fall season. It was the right piece of furniture to brighten up our cozy living room, which receives very little natural light. I sent Beth a photo of the bench, and she immediately approved it, mentioning that she loved its legs. Score!
    All I had to do was choose the right accessories to dress it up. Since Beth told me to find something “that brings a little joy,” I wanted a great piece of artwork in a white frame ($16.99) to complement the bench’s mustard hue. Thankfully, I found a rather minimalist piece, featuring white dots that remind me of umbrellas. It’s an instant mood booster and the white frame adds a fresh touch to the room. I also bought a long navy-and-white lumbar throw pillow ($29.99), and draped the bench with a black-and-white throw that HomeGoods gifted to me a few months ago. Like Beth, I enjoy layering pillows and throws, so it’s a no-fail combination to give the bench warmth and character for the cold months ahead.

    This area of the living room became a dumping ground for my kids’ toys. 
    Monique Valeris

    An upholstered bench and a few accessories pulled this living room spot together.  
    Monique Valeris

    It was time to find a new spot for the black table lamp.
    Monique Valeris

    A brighter table lamp and patterned rug are just what the living room needed.
    Monique Valeris

    Once I completed the bench arrangement, it was time to tackle our ever-growing gallery wall and replace a black table lamp that was long overdue for an upgrade. To update the gallery wall, I reworked pieces that were already in my possession. I incorporated a few family photos, including one of my daughter as a newborn, and finally decided to hang a chalkboard in a charming vintage brass frame that I already owned. I asked my daughter to write the word “Live” on the chalkboard as a sweet reminder to make the most of the challenging times we’re in right now.
    And while I love the black-and-gold table lamp that’s been in my living room for years, Beth felt it was time to bring in some color. Luckily, I came across a great table lamp for $49.99. The farmhouse-style lamp features the same mustard shade as the upholstered bench — so perfect! It helped the living room feel cohesive and was the jolt of energy the space needed. I added a washable diamond patterned rug ($19.99) right by the door to make the room feel more homey.
    Shopping at one of my favorite stores, especially after being in quarantine for so long, was just the retail therapy I needed. It was fun to find new ways to rearrange the furniture and decor I already own, and it was a thrill to seek out statement pieces to showcase more of my design style (especially at such a great price).
    This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at More