Healthy Hostess

How to Keep a Super-Clean House

8. Your shoes
Whatever sticks to your shoes comes into your house—irritating pollen during allergy season, pesticide residue from your lawn, lead-contaminated dust.

Simple fix: It's easy to keep the germs and yuck outside. Remove your shoes at the door. Wipe your feet on a high-quality, abrasive doormat. (Clean the mat once a week, too.) Also, consider some eco-friendly ways to keep lawn chemicals outdoors. Try organic lawn sprays and other nonchemical options—from aphid-
eating ladybugs to heat (electrocution) for termites; they work pretty well and won't contaminate your home, experts say.

9. The bedroom
You spend so much time in the bedroom (one-third of your life, actually) that it's no wonder some germs take up residence there. We all shed dead skin cells on the bedding, floor, or bedside table and sometimes toss sweaty clothes into a hamper instead of right into the wash. It's pretty rare, but those skin cells may contain staph.

Another potential problem is your damp clothes can grow mold in the hamper. What's more likely, however, is you'll be aggravated by dust mites, those critters that love sheets and mattresses—20 million people are allergic to them (signs include itchy eyes, a runny nose, even asthma symptoms like wheezing).

Simple fix: To eliminate dust mites and the dead skin cells they eat, wash bedding in hot water at least once a week. Turn up the water heater to a dust mite–killing 130 degrees before you wash, and turn it back down afterward. And consider using an anti-allergy mattress wrap (several are available at, which can keep mite waste from contaminating your air. Wet-mop the floor and clean surfaces with a germ-killing cleanser. And don't let damp clothes sit in a hamper longer than a day.

10. Dusty spots
"In general, dust isn't filled with germs," Schmidt says. "It doesn't have enough moisture." But dust can cover germy surfaces that should be disinfected regularly—and it may contain chemical residue and insect debris, which can trigger asthma and allergies.

Simple fix: Wet-mop floors at least once a week to keep dust to a minimum. And vacuum smarter with a high-quality unit that has a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Vacuum not just floors and carpets but soft furnishings and even counters and bookshelves. Decluttering can help, too, Schmidt says: "If you're into minimalist design, you'll be less prone to dust." Follow vacuuming of hard surfaces by cleaning with an antibacterial wipe or spray.