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Some items in your house may host some nasty germs. Learn how to clean these often overlooked items.

  • 1. Dishwasher

    Disinfect it: Pour vinegar into a dishwasher-safe cup, then place the cup upright on an empty dishwasher’s top rack. Run a full cycle, using the hot-water setting. Next, deodorize the machine by sprinkling a cup of baking soda on the bottom of the tub and running the dishwasher on a half-cycle with hot water. Leave your dishwasher door open for a few hours after to air it out.

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    When you see mold and mildew: Pour ½ to 1 cup of bleach into the bottom of the dishwasher and run a full cycle. For stainless-steel interiors, use vinegar and baking soda.

    Clean: Once a month

  • 2. Bed Pillows

    Wash them: Most pillows can be machine-washed and –dried; check the label. Set the washer on the gentle cycle, and wash in hot water using a mild liquid detergent (powder and leave residue). Wash two regular-size pillows together to balance the load (king-size ones should go one at a time). Run pillows through the rinse cycle twice.

    Dry them: Place pillows in the dryer along with two clean tennis balls, and set on low heat. Polyester- or cotton-filled pillows take one to two hours to dry; down requires two to three hours, sometimes longer. To prevent overheating, remove the pillow regularly, fluff and return.

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    Check for dryness: It’s imperative to dry down pillows completely to prevent mold and mildew from growing. After two hours, remove them from the dryers, let cool, then squeeze several spots on the pillows between two fingers. If there is any moistness or clumps, return them to the dryer.

    Clean: Every three to six months.

  • 3. Washer and Dryer

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    Wipe out bacteria: Hot water (between 140ºF and 150°F) and bleach is the only way to kill germs. Washing a load of whites in hot water and chlorine bleach sanitizes the machine.

    Take extra precaution: Once a month, run an empty load with hot water and bleach to sanitize the basin and wipe out any lingering germs.

    Clean: With each load of whites

  • 4. Computers

    De-crumb your desktop model: Start by disconnecting your keyboard and mouse. Remove dust and debris by brushing the keys with a soft-bristled paintbrush or computer cleaning brush, or suck up the dirt with the brush hose attachments on the vacuum. You also can use compressed air to blow out small particles. To disinfect, pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol onto a clean rag and wipe down the keys and mouse. Do not saturate the rag or keys. For deep crevices, use a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.

    Tackle your laptop: Turn off the unit, and unplug and remove such items as a USB port hub and an external mouse; then follow the steps for desktop computers.

    Clean: Once a month

  • 5. Your Purse

    For vinyl or plastic bags: Wipe away germs with a disinfecting wipe.

    For leather bags: Use alcohol-free baby wipes. (Test the wipe first on an inconspicuous spot to make sure it doesn’t leave a stain or darken the material).

    For cotton bags: Machine- or hand-wash in hot water and air dry.

    Clean: Weekly

  • 6. Sink and Drain

    Sanitize it: Every evening, wipe down the entire sink, drain and strainer basket with a disinfecting wipe. Place the strainer in the dishwasher weekly.

    Clear the drain: Once a month, pour 1 cup of bleach down the drain, then flush with hot water. Don’t use bleach if you have a septic system; instead, pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain followed by a cup of vinegar, then rinse with a pot of boiling water.