Most people are aware of the increased potential to get sick in the fall and winter months thanks to all the germs that spread indoors. And while we could all seriously help to prevent that by cleaning areas around our homes that are touched frequently by multiple people (light switches, doorknobs, buttons on electronics, etc.) – there are still lots of other germ-filled items that can be easy to completely forget about cleaning.
Since some of these items are ones that we use every day (or even several times a day), they should probably be cleaned at least once a week, but as often as daily for some. How many of the following cold weather items are you forgetting to clean as the days, weeks and months go by?
Number one on the list definitely goes to the one item that goes on our hands. Most of us don't wash our hands before slipping our gloves or mittens on, so anything that's already on our hands gets transferred to the fabric inside them. And then of course there are all the things we happily touch while our hands are covered, transferring more germs to the outer part of our gloves and mittens. Throw them in the wash at least once a week to kill germs both on the inner and outer layers.
Hats are one of those items that, like gloves and mittens, we don't think to wash very often. But we touch them with our hands a lot when pulling them over our heads and taking them off, and then we stuff them in our coat sleeves (along with those germ-filled gloves/mittens), where any bacteria may be able to thrive due to the warmed up/possibly sweaty coat fabric from our body heat. Gross! Throw them in the wash again once a week along with your gloves or mittens.
Depending on how cold it is outside and how you wear your scarf, this stylish winter item can quickly turn into something that resembles more of a handkerchief as it becomes covered in snot and saliva when we use it to cover our mouths and noses from the cold. While you may not get sick from your own snot and saliva-soaked scarf if you're healthy already, you still make it easier to spread any germs that you pick up from somewhere else.
4. Coat Pockets
Our coat pockets are the treasure troves of all the small, germy things we touch. We stick our used tissues in there, our change that have been touched by all sorts of other people's hands, our smartphones and our keys. If you're going to keep stuff in your pockets, make sure you empty them every so often and throw your coat in the wash with the pockets turned inside out so they can be cleaned out more thoroughly.
5. Throw Blankets
We all love to keep a throw blanket near the couch or lounge chair during the colder months, but how often do any of us remember to wash it? Since multiple people probably use it to snuggle up to a good Netflix marathon every now and then, the potential for it to become covered in all your family members' snot, saliva, food spillage, pet germs and all sorts of other disgusting stuff is pretty high. Next time you do a load of laundry, remember to throw your throw in there too!
6. Lip Balm
The dryness of fall and winter is often a sign to step up the moisturizer or lip balm quickly becomes something many of us reach for multiple times a day. While it's always a good idea in general to replace tubes and tubs of lip balm anytime after they get kind of old, you may want to think about doing it sooner if you frequently use your unclean fingers to take swabs of it and transfer it to your lips.
7. Thermos/Mug Handles
Last but not least, thermoses and portable mugs that we take with us on the go may not be getting as thorough of a cleaning if you simply hand wash the parts that hold food/beverage and the parts that touch your mouth. If you're in a hurry, it can be easy to forget to wash the handle and outer areas of the thermos or mug too, which can have germs that made their way there from your hands. Make sure you cover all areas when you handwash your thermoses and mugs, or better yet, throw them in the dishwasher (as long as they're dishwasher safe).
Written by Elise Moreau. This post originally appeared on Care2.com.