blonde haired women cleaning kitchen countertops in late afternoon

How to start cleaning the germiest household items most people forget.

Last Updated: May 24, 2021

The most overlooked things in your home you should be cleaning right now. Have you been cleaning these items?

The COVID-19 pandemic may have had us all washing our hands and trying to not constantly touch our faces. And the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) advises that we regularly clean our “high-touch” surfaces like countertops, the dining room table, and cabinet and drawer handles, which you’ve probably got covered.

But what about the overlooked germs you could be accidentally introducing into your home? Well, we’ve put together a basic household items checklist of some of the high-touch spots you might not have considered in your cleaning routine, plus cleaning tips for giving them a good scrub down with natural household cleaning products you probably already have on hand. Grab your cleaning supplies and let's run through a home inventory checklist together to make sure you're covering all of your bases.

What is Grove Collaborative?

From natural household to personal care, everything at Grove is healthier for you and the planet — and works! We recommend monthly shipments and product refills that you can edit or move at any time. No monthly fees or commitments required.

How to clean personal electronics

Illustration of a hand holding a phone with a leaf on the screen

You're probably cleaning: Your phone

You're probably forgetting: Your smartwatch

An FDA study revealed how many people bring their phones with them into both the bathroom and the kitchen, picking up and depositing germs and bacteria … that you then hold next to your nose and mouth. Think about how often your phone touches your face!

Your smartwatch also goes everywhere with you: to the store, the gym, and the toilet paper roll in the bathroom. You’re also not just glancing at the screen all day; you’re also touching it — almost as often as you’re touching your face.

How to clean your cell phone

1. Unplug your phone and switch it off.

2. Gently wipe the exterior with a lint-free cloth that has barely been dampened with a disinfecting solution (or use a disinfecting wipe).

3. Avoid scratching the surface or getting any moisture into your phone’s opening, like the charging port or headphone jack.

How to clean your smartwatch or wearable wrist device

1. Apple says it’s okay to use a disinfectant on Apple devices: Choose a 70-percent isopropyl alcohol wipe to gently wipe the exterior surfaces, as long as they’re not fabric or leather and you keep moisture away from any openings.

2. To clean the band, detach the watch first. Wipe the band surface with a cloth lightly dampened with fresh water. For leather bands, use as little water as possible. Martha Stewart suggests using a leather cleaner.

3. Dry the band with a nonabrasive, lint-free cloth.

Grove cleaning tip

Different models or devices may require different cleaning methods, so be sure to check your manufacturer’s website. But for all phones and wearable devices, avoid using hand sanitizer, bleach, Lysol, or compressed air. Also, avoid using a paper towel or anything else that may be too abrasive and scratch the screen or protective coating.

How to clean entryway items

woman in white apron using broom to sweep the kitchen floor

You're probably cleaning: Doorknobs

You're probably forgetting: Keys

You’re likely already wiping down your door handles in your house or apartment (Antibacterial and disinfecting antispetic wipes do a great job), but what about the keys that go in and out of your purse or pocket, get handled by your not-always-clean hands, and are dropped onto tabletops?

There are simple steps you can take to clean your items of grime before disinfecting them.

How to clean door handles and knobs

1. Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting.

2. If visibly dirty, door handles and knobs should be cleaned with a detergent/cleaning spray or soap and water.

3. Disinfect with antiseptic wipes or spray, 70% alcohol solution, or diluted bleach solution.

4. Allow to air dry.

How to clean your keys

1. If your keys include an electronic fob or a decorative keychain attached to your ring, remove them. You can clean your electronic fob with a disinfectant wipe.

2. Drop metal keys in a bowl of soapy water and give ‘em a quick scrub with an old toothbrush.

3. Rinse in clean water.

4. To disinfect, use a disinfecting wipe or dunk them in a bowl with a diluted bleach and water solution. Rinse clean.

5. Let them air dry.

Grove cleaning tip

Don’t forget to wash any decorative keychains! A plushie fob can be tossed in your washing machine in a mesh bag or pillow case, the same way you’d wash a stuffed animal. Learn more tips here for washing stuffed animals naturally and effectively.

Plastic or novelty fobs probably shouldn’t see the heat of your dishwasher, but you can go the soap-and-water route, along with those keys.

How to clean shopping necessities

woman kneeling in garden placing flowers into a woven reusable shopping tote

You're probably cleaning: Shopping bags

You're probably forgetting: Credit cards

A food safety study found reusable shopping bags could be carriers for a wide range of bacteria and pathogens, but when's the last time you cleaned yours? Since COVID-19 can live on a number of surfaces for anywhere from hours to days, your bags may be offering germs a free ride into your house or apartment.

And it’s not just your reusable bags that may be in need of a tune-up. You’re taking out your credit cards and touching the chip reader or swiping, even if cashiers aren’t handling them.

How to clean reusable shopping bags

  • Fabric reusable bags: Toss in your washing machine, launder with detergent in hot water (unless using cold wash), and run through the dryer.
  • Bags made with polypropylene (recycled plastic): Avoid the laundry maching and wash by hand in warm, soapy water, and line dry.

How to clean your credit (and other) cards

1. Give them a quick rub down with a disinfecting wipe.

2. Let them dry completely before returning them to your wallet.

3. If the strips have some gunky build up, you can gently rub it away with a pencil eraser.

Grove cleaning tip

Don’t run your credit cards through a clothes washer when doing laundry. Though your credit cards may withstand the trip, the dryer can ruin the EMV chipor magnetic strip.

How to clean home office must-haves

woman reading a book while holding a mug of coffee by a window

You're probably cleaning: Your computer keyboard

You're probably forgetting: Your glasses

You constantly touch your keyboard, spill food and drink on or near it, and maybe sneeze on it, too. An NHS study found that up to 96% of keyboards could be contaminated with bacteria. The good news: As of March 2020, Apple says it’s safe to use an isopropyl alcohol solution to wipe down MacBooks and other Apple devices.

Another oft touched and even more overlooked item on the basic household items checklist? Your glasses. Studies have found that your hands can transfer oils, bacteria, and even microscopic bits of your lunch to the frames residing on your face — and no, you shouldn’t polish them with the hem of your shirt.

How to clean your keyboard

1. Unplug and turn off your computer.

2. Use isopropyl alcohol and a soft, dust-free microfiber cloth or a cotton swab to gently rub the key tops.

3. Let air dry.

4. You can also use compressed air to chase away dust and crumbs.

5. If you want to use spray cleaner, spray it onto a cloth and apply that to the keys; do not spray directly onto the keyboard. Also, try not to drip any liquid between the keys or inside the keyboard.

How to clean your eyeglasses

1. Run your glasses under warm water.

2. Place a small drop of gentle dishwasher detergent on the lens and rub to create a lather. Rinse the dish soap away with warm water.

3. Dy with a clean, soft cotton cloth. Avoid using a paper towel or dish towels to dry the lenses and frames.

4. Rubbing alcohol (70-percent isopropyl alcohol) can be used to disinfect glasses. But check with your optometrist to make sure it won’t damage any special coating your lenses might have.

Bonus: How to clean when you're out and about

 sunlight shining through trees

You're probably cleaning: Kitchen refrigerator handles in your house

You're probably forgetting: Gas tank handles outside of your house

Inside your home, your refrigerator handle can be a bacterial hotspot, just like any other doorknobs in your home. Regularly tackle the metal or plastic with a cleaning spray and cloth or antibacterial wipe.

Kimberly-Clark researchers looked at bacteria counts on high-touch areas (elevator buttons, ATMs) in major U.S. cities and found the worst offenders by far were gas pumps. As tempting as it may be right now to clean everything in your path, this is where you’re probably best off just practicing safe handling procedures.

How to avoid gas handle germs

1. Use a disinfecting wipe or disposable paper between the keypad buttons and your fingertip to key in your info.

2. Make sure your hand is protected with paper or a wipe from touching the gas tank handle.

3. After you’re done, discard the paper.

4. Use your credit card to pay? Remember to wipe it down, too!

clean team logo

Ready to tackle the dirtiest spots in your home? Grove Collaborative has you covered with Clean Team. Each week, we’ll do a deep dive into how to clean a different place or item in your home. No spot is too small — and we’ll tell you how to conquer them all, naturally.