How clean is your clean?

Housekeeping experts shed light on our dirtiest corners

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published August 19, 2015


METRO DETROIT — Are you the master of your domain? Can you see yourself in your silverware? How about the mirror, at least?

We asked some experts how often our environment should really be cleaned. Take a look to see if your home passes the test.

How often do you clean?

It’s not often that you can say quantity is better than quality. But that’s really the case when it comes to cleaning your home, experts claim.

John Cohen knows that better than anyone as the vice president of Michigan-based Molly Maid. He said if there’s one piece of advice he could give families, it’s to clean living spaces more often so the job doesn’t require more effort later.

“How often you should clean really depends on how lived-in a home is,” said Cohen. “If it’s a family, then it should be every week. But if you’re a couple with no pets, it could really be a month. But those customers of ours who are on an every-four-week schedule, they definitely start noticing buildup by that third week.”

That buildup is the key, he said, to knowing you’ve let your grime go too long.

“Countertops should really be sanitized daily. Bathrooms should be cleaned every few days, and toilets — a lot of people wait to scrub their toilet until they see a ring. But you should never develop that ring.”

Can you breathe easy?

Regular cleaning is a must for even the spaces you can’t see. Keith Meadows is president of American Power Vac duct cleaning service in Sterling Heights, and it baffles him how so many homeowners will dust their surfaces and ignore the very source of the dust: the air vents.

“The debris in your ductwork is the same that you have in your vacuum cleaner bags,” he said. “And if you have a previously owned home, it’s their debris you’re breathing. Every day our hair sheds, our skin sheds, we have pets (that shed), and it’s all that debris you find in your ductwork.”

Cleaning those ducts regularly can help reduce the sediment on home surfaces and, more importantly, can lessen the effects of seasonal and environmental allergies.

Dr. Steve Kallabat, of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics of Bloomfield in Bloomfield Hills, sees patients for a variety of ailments, but at least once each day he treats someone impacted by allergens.

“Nasal congestion; runny, watery, itchy eyes; chest congestions — I see all that almost on a daily basis. You have to gently ask if their environment might be the problem,” he said. “A lot of times we have dust in the house, and we need to pay attention to areas we’re neglecting. A lot of carpeting in the home holds dust, for instance.”

Pillows and bedsheets are another secret dust stasher. Kallabat said that after about six months of use, the majority of a pillow’s weight is actually dust mite dander.

“You can get hypoallergenic covers, but you really need to switch out pillows often,” he said.

Have you spotted the undercover crud?

Pillows are one place that most people wouldn’t expect to be exceptionally filthy — but what else? Cohen said most people overlook some of the dirtiest spots in their home during regular cleanings, and that means they’re getting extra dirty as days go on.

“Baseboards are one of the worst,” he said. “And what happens is with mugginess and humidity, the dust tends to stick to the baseboards. So instead of just a wipedown, you actually have to scrub it. It’s the same concept with blinds, or fan blades — really any ledge surface. People feel they don’t need to clean them until they see dust. Then it becomes a cleaning exercise instead of just a maintenance item.”

Did you pass the test? We want to know some of your favorite home-cleaning tips. Share them in the comments.