NDSU Extension - Mercer County

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It's Spring, Are You Inspired To Do Some Cleaning?

spring cleaning, cleaning

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Community Wellness

During this time of year, cleaning tends to be on people's minds. As we drive around town and see potential treasures set out for city wide cleanup. Garage sales also pop up as people clear their clutter after winter.

Although cleaning may not be everyone's favorite activity, cleaning has some real advantages. In fact, cleaning can be good for your health in several ways, according to researchers.

Having an uncluttered environment is good for your mental health, according to psychology researchers. Being surrounded by piles of stuff is stressful and can make concentrating on your real tasks more difficult.

Besides mental health benefits, cleaning may help promote physical health. A research team from Indiana University noted that people with cleaner homes were healthier and more physically active.

Cleaning can burn calories. For example, a 150-pound person doing light housework burns about 90 calories in 30 minutes. Mopping for 30 minutes burns about 150 calories, which is about the same amount you burn during a 30-minute walk.

Cleaning also can reduce illness-causing bacteria, especially in your kitchen. Several types of illness-causing bacteria may be lurking on your kitchen surfaces.

Unfortunately, unlike stacks of paper and a layer of dust, you can't see bacteria with your bare eyes. You can't smell or taste the most dangerous types of bacteria, either.

Disease-causing bacteria such as salmonella, Staphylococcus, E. coli and/or listeria may inhabit our kitchens. Bacteria may arrive on raw chicken, meat, eggs or other protein-rich foods.

Bacteria can be transferred around your kitchen on other foods, such as salads, and by hands, cutting boards or knives. Bacteria also might hitch a ride on a used washcloth, towel or sponge.

Keep these cleaning tips in mind all year.

  • Wash surfaces, such as countertops and cutting boards, thoroughly with hot water and soap.
  • Follow the washing step with a sanitizing step, which further reduces the presence of bacteria. You can use a commercial disinfecting spray or make your own sanitizing solution. Prepare a chlorine bleach solution consisting of 3/4 teaspoon of unscented chlorine bleach per quart of water or 1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water. Apply to the surface, and let the bleach-water solution stand on the surface for several minutes. Then rinse and air dry.
  • Consider using paper towels to clean kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels, wash them in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
  • Check out your refrigerator. Does it need cleaning? Experts recommend cleaning your refrigerator weekly to decrease germs that can contaminate foods.
  • Clean your kitchen sink, drain and disposal once or twice a week with warm water and soap.
  • Inspect the inside of your microwave oven. Are there spills? Heat a microwave-safe bowl filled with water on high for about 4 minutes. Remove the bowl, and use the hot water and dish soap to wipe down the microwave interior. Dry with a fresh paper towel.

Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension food and nutrition specialist

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