Let’s get clean

by July

32 Unexpected Places You Should Be Cleaning In Your Home
Gross. Just…gross.

I’ll admit our sliding-glass door tracks and my jewelry have not been cleaned in a long time.  There are other places that I prefer not to think about.

Revealed: The cleaning mistakes that could make your home DIRTIER – from making the bed too often to using a feather duster (so how many are YOU guilty of?)

Who knew it was a mistake to make your bed too often?

What cleaning mistakes do you make?  Which places do you neglect to clean on a regular basis?  Are you a clean freak, at least about some things?  Or are you a slob?  Or in between?  Any cleaning tips to share?  And tell us how you handle any family conflicts that arise from different preferences among household members.

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137 thoughts on “Let’s get clean

  1. Expert Home Tips explains: ‘When we make our beds, we’re trapping bacteria, dust mites and dampness inside, creating an environment that encourages the multiplication of germs.

    Yay! I hate making the bed.

  2. I had heard that about making the bed. As a compromise, I make them after the kids have eaten breakfast and are ready and I have exercised, showered and dressed.

    I am a germaphobe. Lately the wood floors have started to skeeve me out. No good way to disinfect them.

  3. What about cleaning clothes dryer ducts? When I replace my dryer a few months ago I half expected the duct to be full of lint because I almost never cleaned the duct. But no, it was clean as a whistle (well almost). Now with my new dryer I’m thinking of just getting one of those handled brushes that reaches into the vent opening, which in my dryer is at the base of the door.

    When I researched this before I found thorough cleaning methods included detaching the duct from the dryer and vacuuming it. Also there are cleaning services that do it. I don’t think I really need all this, but I do want to avoid starting any fires!!!

  4. Last time I cleaned my closet floors, reaching into the corners and all, oh man the dust bunnies I found.

  5. I take issue with a lot of things in the article – don’t flush your toilet with the seat open because it sprays germs all around the bathroom? Wooden chopping blocks need to be soaked in bleach?

    There are not two diametrically opposed states of cleanliness – “disinfected” and “infected”. The world is full of germs. All the lysol in the world doesn’t make your bathroom sterile, and the toilet spray doesn’t make it more full of germs. Cleaning is about removing visible dirt. The invisible? In most cases it isn’t going to hurt you and you are never going to make anything germ-free. Cleaning beyond the visible stuff (yes, remove the moldering chicken from your countertop and wash the underwear in hot water, but that’s all stuff you can see) will not substantially decrease your risk of getting sick from your environment.

    The infections that people get are rarely related to unbleached surfaces. I don’t think kindergartners have less colds just because I have to send tubs of bleach wipes to school with them. They get norovirus because they eat other kids’ poop. They get colds because they put other kids’ secretions on their mucous membranes.

  6. Ada said it better than I. The current understanding of germs and bacteria is a lot more nuanced than what appears in that article.

  7. Ditto to Ada. DW always says she’s amazed at how lax I am about germs being a medical professional. Germs are everywhere. All the cleaning and disinfecting does is give people a false feeling of cleanliness.

  8. Germs are everywhere.

    90% are either not bad for you or beneficial to you. Only a small minority are dangerous. And, in terms of kids, the 10% that are dangerous give your immune system something to do so it doesn’t get bored and attack your own cells in the forms of allergies, lupus, type 1 diabetes, arthritis, etc.

  9. I am unlikely to eat other people’s poop, and yet I have a solid chance of getting Norovirus if I go on a cruise ship. Why?

  10. @DD – strangely, not all of my work colleagues agree with me (it’s really strange that not everyone agrees with me on just about everything, but maybe that’s a separate subject that I should submit as a topic…..)

    We share workstations – you have yours for the shift, but when you come on you are using a computer, phone and desk that someone else may have just vacated. A surprising number of doctors get out the special wipes you have to wear gloves to use and spend 5 minutes scrubbing the keyboard, phone, etc. I’m not sure what they are accomplishing with that.

    I’m pretty sure I had influenza this year. I also am pretty sure I know the moment I got it. I was looking into someone’s ear and they suddenly coughed. They were masked, and a fine droplet spray hit my face as it came out from the side of the mask. I had a sinking feeling that I was contaminated. 2 days later, fever, muscle aches and all the good stuff. But maybe it was from not wiping down my monitor with carcinogenic wipes.

  11. I will not stop making my bed as soon as I get out of it because of this article.

    I will say, that as a fairly neat person, the pictures that accompanied the Buzzfeed article really skeeved me out. Who lets their phone get that dirty without cleaning it??? I mean – if you don’t have a cleaning cloth, don’t you at least wipe it with a tissue/towel or your sleeve or something? And that cookie sheet – who wouldn’t clean that???!!! (or throw it out)

    I am less worried about big, bad germs than about things just being generally clean, not dusty, not cluttered, not stinky-dirty with food that can grow mold or bacteria, etc.

  12. I actually think that cleaning is really effective at lowering the risk of infection. When my oldest was getting ready to come home from the hospital, the neos read us the riot act about keeping his healthy and reducing infections for the first 2 years. So, we did it. We showered/changed our clothes when we got home from work, wiped everything down with bleach on a regular basis, cleaned our keyboards and phones all of the time, washed our hands a ton, etc. None of us got sick during that time. Of course, the first time he went to a group class at age 2, he got sick and ended up hospitalized. But we could basically create a bubble for a period of time.

  13. My cleaning lady is meticulous for many of the cited items, so I can pay attention to most of the others . I use plastic cutting boards for proteins and put them in the dishwasher. The condo association does a dryer vent cleaning every two years and charges us for it. I noticed how gross the drawer organizers have become, so I am guilty on that one, and I never thought of washing the knife block. I run Glisten in the dishwasher and disposal. Who doesn’t wash the pet bowls? My cats are very fastidious – they wouldn’t let me get away with that. My counter tops are impermeable – quartz. My kitchen floor could be sterilized if I wanted to do it – operating room grade marmoleum brand organic linoleum. With just the two of us and no shoes on the bath mats once a month is plenty. I disinfect the food container recycle bin every couple of weeks with white vinegar because of the cat food cans, the Febreze trash bags fit snugly in the Kitchen trash can so that is only a few times a year. I wash/scrape brushes and combs, not all that often, but before they get too nasty. And I am not a germaphobe and a very casual housekeeper.

    Some UUge things that help both with germs/dust/mold and device longevity were omitted. Regularly changing or cleaning reusable air intake filters on your HVAC system or individual A/C units. Disinfecting/descaling humidifiers, coffee pots, pumps on the hvac system. Changing your toothbrush head or toothbrush (well, maybe that is not a “cleaning” task per se).

  14. @RMS – I hate to break it to you, but you get norovirus on a cruise ship from eating other peoples’ poo. They poo many many times a day (ah! the brilliant logic of this virus). They don’t always wash their hands. They touch a railing. You touch a railing. You pick up some all you can eat mediocre pastries. You put the poo in your mouth.

  15. We are more into visibly clean. We don’t use antibacterial products. I fail to clean our blinds, closet floors, under the bed and our ceiling fans which really need to be cleaned.
    I make the beds, nothing fancy but the rooms look awful with untidy beds.

  16. RMS – because people don’t wash their hands after using the restroom. ANd then they touch tournament food and doorknob and bathroom counter. And everyone is crammed in there, so it spreads. Blech!

  17. This is why I try never to touch anything when I am in public. And I always wash my hands. I think I need to drop off for today. I am getting too grossed out!

  18. My kitchen floor could be sterilized if I wanted to do it – operating room grade marmoleum brand organic linoleum.

    It could be cleaned like an operating room floor. However, if they drop an instrument on the floor in the OR, it is considered dirty and cannot be used. OR floors are very clean, but they are not sterile.

    And, fecal matter on toothbrushes is probably okay from an infection control standpoint. Everyone in your home (barring current or chronic infection), has very similar gut biomes. The poo the flies out of the toilet is something that was just in your body. It’s actually not dangerous for it to go back in there. I get that it is super gross. However, your laundry basket is way more full of microscopic poo that the trace of water coming out of your toilet.

  19. I agree with Kate’s point about people with special needs (NICU babies, my FIL with compromised immune system) needing special, clean situations to minimize their chances of serious illness. I’m not much of a housekeeper and part of my marriage strategy was to marry someone with similar or higher standards, because otherwise housecleaning is a game of chicken in which the person who cares more gets stuck doing it. My kids also get sick less often than average and get less sick than what other parents report. I have no idea how much of this observation is my optimism bias and how much of it is lack of concern for their wellbeing.

    The most memorable point on this topic occurred almost 20 years ago, when my division moved into a new building at work and the floor went from ~3 women to ~15 women. Someone called to ask that another soap dispenser be installed in the restroom so we wouldn’t run out of soap. The response was, “The men’s room only has one soap dispenser, and they never run out of soap.” As my friend making the call observed, “I did not want to know that.”

  20. Sorry Ada. Very clean is of course accurate. Sterile is a precise term. I can recall once loudly redacting a document in which an unwitting author had used the term salary for an independent contractor payment.

    However, I was stripping furniture in the kitchen once and a bit of stripper missed the dropcloth and hit the floor. I didn’t notice it for a bit. Wiped right up, no deterioration. These floors are amazing, and are soft on the feet – no need for those rubber mats. I have NEVER understood wood floors in kitchens and bathrooms.

  21. I am intentionally not reading the articles.

    I am happy with a house that doesn’t embarrass me, kids that are fed and educated (notice that I didn’t say “clean”), and a home cooked meal on the table. Don’t ask me for more–my head might explode.

  22. I actually think that cleaning is really effective at lowering the risk of infection.

    For people with normal immune systems, this is a non-issue.

    This is why I try never to touch anything when I am in public.

    How do you go grocery shopping? You have to touch so many things that have been touched by a ton of people previously.

  23. When we were all up and out first thing in the morning I made my bed almost immediately. Now that I get up an hour or so before anyone else, the bed usually gets made about 10 when I take break or at noon when I have lunch. Our “cleaning flaws” besides the bed are (1) the bed skirts, (2) the sliding glass door and (3) throw pillows. I am not sure about the jewelry. Some of what I have can’t go in those cleaners like they show, but I wipe down earrings when I take them off with alcohol.

    Our pediatrician told us if we used antibacterial products in our home to stop unless (1) it was for cleaning a cut/scrape, or (2) we had been directly told to do so by a medical professional for a specific purpose. Otherwise, she said were were just creating a germ free bubble rather than having our kids build up immunity.

  24. I actually think that cleaning is really effective at lowering the risk of infection.

    For people with normal immune systems, this is a non-issue.

    I totally agree. I think the area where the issue gets muddy is “cleaning” vs “hygiene”. Washing hands after sneezing or going to the bathroom makes a difference. Taking regular showers, changing your socks, etc. matters. Using anything other than basic cleaners to mop your floors? Doesn’t matter for health.

  25. In regards to the above, I’m a pretty big fan of hand washing. Just want to be clear on that in case I meet any of y’all in real life.

  26. “I’m a pretty big fan of hand washing.”

    Is hand sanitizer an effective substitute? I’m not meticulous about washing my hands before restaurant dining, and I really don’t want to think about how many people and places my hands have touched, like the subway or shaking hands or whatever.

  27. Ada is cracking me up today.

    I did something very radical and non-totebaggy this spring. I increased our cleaning woman’s visits from once to twice per week (!!!!). As a result, I now do almost no housework and no cleaning, other than the daily wipe down of the kitchen, which we are having the kids do more and more of any way.

  28. Which places do you neglect to clean on a regular basis?

    Ewwww, now that I look at it more closely… my laptop.

  29. I am very insistent the toilets should be closed. I am paranoid about things falling in, including cats (have heard horror stories of cats falling in, and my cat may be that clumsy), and I just don’t enjoy looking at toilet water.

    But I also make my bed everyday. My bed is the cat’s preferred place, and I don’t like cat hair on my sheets.

  30. Laptops can get very disgusting. I try to clean mine on a somewhat regular basis.

  31. If (most of) those things are really problems, then guilty as charged. We clean our selves, house, washing machine -able stuff, food prep surfaces and tools well enough and regularly enough. It’s not something I really worry about.

    I also don’t worry too much about washing my hands before eating at any restaurant. Remember, someone, probably > 1 someone, handled your utensils in order to set the table/wrap them in a napkin, and who knows where their hands were right before that, despite the “employees must wash hands after using the toilet” signs that are in the restrooms. Exception for me is if I feel my hands are particularly dirty as in e.g. if I’ve just loaded bags of mulch into the car and I’m stopping to get something to eat after that.

  32. Ada – loving your posts. So glad you’re part of this group, particularly on topics like these.

    I too am shocked, shocked I tell you, that other people disagree with me. What is up with that?

  33. “employees must wash hands after using the toilet” signs that are in the restrooms

  34. My building has a playroom, primarily used by the babies to pre-school families and their nannies/sitters. One family wanted to donate a permanent hand sanitizer dispenser to the play room. Well, I will just say that, among those families that use the playroom, an ongoing cold war has erupted over this issue.

  35. Rhett – very funny.

    side note – I was looking into seeing the Steve Martin / Martin Lawrence later this year but have yet to find pricing I like at a location I can get to via driving.

  36. I never use hand sanitizer. My MIL tried to squirt some on my kids the other week on our way out of the National Aviary and I told her no. My kids wash their hands before lunch/dinner if they are visibly dirty and I encourage them to wash their hands after going to the bathroom but don’t monitor that by any means. My house is usually fairly clean but our toilet seats are never closed and I’m lazy about washing out the tubs. We entertain fairly regularly and so the downstairs gets cleaned almost every week but am less regular with the kids’ bedrooms.

  37. My kids school was on the rampage for a while about handsanitizing, but then backed off. We use only the alcohol based ones and only rarely. I keep it in the first aid kit mainly as a wound cleaner if nothing else is available. And, if we are traveling, I throw one in with my toiletries. Again, more for use as a last resort. I had a coworker that took germ-x pads and wiped down her silver ware in restaurants.

    When we went to one zoo, we were told to go into one area every one had to use handsanitizer because you could touch the animals and it protected them. They encouraged, but did not police at the same level, handsanitizing after touching them.

    I generally prefer toilet lids down mainly to keep the cats out of them. One likes to drink and one likes to play in the water.

  38. Ok, I should just stay away from this entirely. So let me just say that, with an 11-yr-old boy in the house, our concerns are so much more basic. Like “when’s the last time you showered?” and “didn’t you wear that shirt yesterday?” and “did you flush?”

    Luckily, I have fairly low standards and subscribe to the hygiene hypothesis.

  39. Fred, I wanted to see that show as well but we are going to be out of town when they come here.

  40. Ya, we are so not germaphobes. I didn’t even uphold the NICU’s standards of clean. My kid ate cheerios off the floor of an airplane (there were his, not ones previously dropped). I’m either the worst mom ever or my kid will have a great immune system.

    My kids have seriously made me less squeamish about germs and gross things. They are gross and they don’t know how *not* to be.

    My house is clean, but not *very* clean. I do clean off the fan blades regularly because they get super caked with dust and my allergies go nuts. I haven’t cleaned my windows in forever. And my utensil drawer and fridge need love. But we haven’t been too terribly ill, so I guess confirmation bias is strong in my life.

  41. LFB & Kerri, I live with two boys so I also add “did you lift the seat or do you need to wipe it before you wash your hands”! And I warn folks to look down before you sit.

  42. Used to Lurk – we are fortunate enough to a have a separate bathroom for the boys and a cleaning lady. If we have guests staying with us, I do pay more attention to their bathroom.

  43. One friend will not take any books out of our (wonderful) public library. Too many people have touched them before her. Probably the biggest fan of the kindle in America.

  44. Or, when is the last time you put on clothing other than those pj’s I’ve seen you in constantly for 3 days. (And, I have girls).

  45. We have a no shoes rule in our house, that keeps from tracking outside dirt in but still if you run a Swiffer cloth over the hardwood floors everyday there is dust that sticks to the cloth and strands of hair (mine mostly). Must be losing a ton of hair.

  46. On living with a 9yo boy – DH informed me earlier this week that I should not yell “Did you remember to wash your *private boy parts*” down the hallway when we have the windows open. Sometimes I think the phrase I say to him most often is “Did you change your underwear?”

    I avoid the boys’ bathroom in our house like the plague. It’s better for me not to know what’s going on in there.

    @Frequent lurker – I have a friend that refuses to take books out from the library too. She claims that they have bedbugs.

  47. And yes, I know that pretty soon the ONLY thing DS will wash carefully is his private boy parts. I’m in denial about that. And it’s not happening yet.

  48. One friend will not take any books out of our (wonderful) public library. Too many people have touched them before her. Probably the biggest fan of the kindle in America.

    Lots of people used to get skeeved at the old-style card catalogs. They definitely had a few germs on them.

  49. **Note to self… in my next house (or remodel), make sure to have enough bathrooms that (a) mom and I can have our own, (b) the boys (DH included) can have another one and (c) a powder room for guests.

    I really don’t think I want to share a bathroom with boys anymore. DH I tolerate, but I’m getting close to have 2 little boys who might find things like a distance contest fun! (Thanks Clorox for that commercial…)

  50. “I’ll add “are you wearing underwear?” to that list.”

    Wow. I had completely, totally forgotten that one but it just came roaring back.

  51. I feel like if the author of the Buzzfeed article came to our house s/he would pretty quickly stop pointing out things that could use a clean and just get very quiet and wide-eyed.

    Last weekend I had a fun argument with my local 12 yo boy over what “cleaning up” the horrible festering school backpack area entails. His position was that he’d removed everything he considered his. My position was that no one was going to claim things like an empty Frito wrapper or a miscellaneous piece of cardboard or desiccated bunny poop as being theirs, yet they still needed to be disposed of as part of “cleaning up.”

    The area did end up clean and I’m not asking questions about what all got thrown away.

    Re the top of the refrigerator, to me that’s not an area capable of being dirty because I’m not tall enough to see it.

  52. One of the worst parts about living through our remodel is the fact that we have been down to 2 bathrooms for the 4 of us. I had no idea how much of my boys’ time was spent in the bathroom until it affected me.

  53. Oh, look yesterday’s lunch and an even older one!

    Ugh, yes. I found one shoved to the back of my trunk last week, goodness knows from when. One nice thing about summer break is no half-eaten lunches hidden away to molder.

  54. “One of the worst parts about living through our remodel is the fact that we have been down to 2 bathrooms for the 4 of us.”

    Horrors! What would previous generations think?!

  55. “I’m not much of a housekeeper and part of my marriage strategy was to marry someone with similar or higher standards, because otherwise housecleaning is a game of chicken in which the person who cares more gets stuck doing it. ”

    Did your really do this? You’re good! Seriously, the person who cares more gets stuck doing it or they are eternally frustrated or they adopt a zen attitude so it no longer bothers them. No one in my family cares as much as I do, more about the clutter than the grime but really about both. I’ve adjusted a bit, but not completely.

    “Shall we talk about riding the subway or public restrooms next?”

    Let me just say that I try to avoid drinking too much if I’m out and about. ;)

  56. Let me just say that I try to avoid drinking too much if I’m out and about. ;)

    I read that and thought, well, yeah, if you’re going around a city by foot and public transit you want to keep your wits about you. Then I realized you were actually thinking of the public restrooms part of it, and “drinking too much” didn’t mean alcohol.

  57. Re: marriage – I remember a friend telling me her first two years of marriage were dominated by her husband saying “Sharon, you’re going to have to lower the bar”. “Yeah, not low enough”. “Babe, seriously, lower”. Still makes me chuckle.

  58. They’ve done a studies about the subway and it isn’t as germy as you would think it might be for a public place. There are many places with more germs.

    I have a cold right now, and it is annoying because I try to avoid colds. I wash my hands constantly. I try to avoid colds because the cough always lingers and I dislike being all stuffy/drippy.

    Ever since swine flu in 2008, I became aware of places where there are a lot of germs, and I try to never touch these things. This includes – the gas pump, the plastic pointer to pay at any store, door knobs, and just about anything that other humans have touched. I use clothes or napkins to touch this stuff. If I have to touch a gas pump, then I use hand sanitizer right away.

    I also notice and can’t stand how SO many people that are about to hand you a cup wipe their nose, mouth or hair with their hand BEFORE they hand you the cup or your food. It’s gross, but I just sort of live with it unless someone actually sneezes in front of me. This happened at Starbucks two weeks ago, and I asked her nicely to wash her hands or have someone else make my drink. I know she was annoyed, but come on…if I am over paying for iced coffee, please do not sneeze and then make my drink without washing your hands.

  59. I was about to describe my technique for availing myself of fine hotel restrooms, when I realized that by public restroom people might mean a restroom not in their home or place of business. In any case, enter a good hotel briskly, find the likely location of the restroom as you come through the door, and proceed. If you are well dressed, enter and just ask for the location. No one has ever refused me.

  60. My mom just told me that her public library had to send out a warning to all of the locals. It wasn’t about germs, but they found bedbugs in the books that were sitting in the drop off box. I do take books out of the library even though there is a germ factor, but this reminded me of yet another reason why the Kindle might be a better option for borrowing books.

  61. My SIL will not use a public restroom if she can help it. A fine hotel restroom and other few select places but not store/fast food places or even casual restaurants. I’ve heard that controlling like this is not good.
    When my DD was little, she would drink lots of water and then wanted to go to the bathroom frequently. I knew the location of many restrooms about town.
    I guess my standards are much lower because the public facilities in the home country are appalling.

  62. “Shall we talk about riding the subway or public restrooms next?”

    I try not to touch anything with my hands on the L/bus. The only time I use hand sanitizer is if I have had to hold onto a pole/handhold on the L or if I ride a bikeshare bike and can’t wash my hands afterwards for awhile. I don’t really wear short dresses/shorts, so the “bus pants” thing isn’t really a concern.

    Public restrooms don’t bother me as much, if reasonable, because I am going to wash my hands at the end anyway.

  63. “In any case, enter a good hotel briskly, find the likely location of the restroom as you come through the door, and proceed. If you are well dressed, enter and just ask for the location. No one has ever refused me.”

    I definitely do this when out & about for the day. Lifesaver in NYC for sure. Or downtown Chicago – but I do know where the good restrooms are here & I’ve used the one in my work building in a pinch before.

    That said, once it gets past about noon on a workday, I think my work bathroom is filthier than a lot of other public restrooms. UGH. Sometimes I go to other floors that aren’t as busy or have a high male-female ratio.

  64. Back in front of a computer after a hiatus at the State Homeschool Convention. Eye-opening. No one would have criticized WCE’s family choices there, except perhaps to tell her she should consider more children. I know the homeschool community tends to be quite Christia, but was not expecting the number of books and courses offered about Dinos in the Bible, Great White Conquerors, Fossil Lies, etc.

    Genuinely curious what diseases one is worried about catching from a gas pump? They seem quite safe to me. Germs don’t last long in exposed, outdoor environments (sunshine IS the best disinfectant).

  65. On hand sanitizer, I think it will be the margarine of this generation. Something purported as healthy that ends up causing more problems that it solves. (Also in this category, Sunny-D from the 80s, and more recently, Go-Gurt). There is some research showing endocrine disruption from some of the active ingredients.

    I use it at work, but don’t lick my fingers. I hate that my kindergartner is using it all the time at school, as I am sure a decent amount is ingested.

  66. Meant to also add (and share the anecdote) – You can’t catch swine flu from a gas pump. You also can’t catch it from an airplane coming from Mexico, if you live beneath the approach path to the international airport. Had a patient present in 2009, height of Mexican Swine Flu panic worried that the plane, thousands of feet above her home, may be showering her house with disease.

  67. “One of the worst parts about living through our remodel is the fact that we have been down to 2 bathrooms for the 4 of us.”

    Horrors! What would previous generations think?!

    Well, if my mother (b. 1922) is a “previous generation”, then they think “As God as my witness, I will never live in a house with only two bathrooms ever again.”

    Just because previous generations put up with stuff, doesn’t mean they liked it.

  68. There is some research showing endocrine disruption from some of the active ingredients.

    Even the stuff that’s just alcohol?

  69. I hadn’t seen a lot of hand sanitizers that were “just alcohol” – though various sources say that Purel is either mostly ethyl alcohol (woo-hoo!!) or isopropyl alcohol (less party fun). I think there has been some shift over the past 4-5 years to decrease triclosan use (now illegal in Minnesota).

    I suppose the alcohol based ones are probably fine, but I know the one I use at work is mostly made of carcinogens.

  70. So we should all just carry little bottles of vodka. I’m on it.

  71. downtown Chicago – but I do know where the good restrooms are here & I’ve used the one in my work building in a pinch before.

    I’ve done the same thing here. There are very few public restrooms in the downtown area.

  72. I used to be a rather huge germaphobe and hypochondriac but then having 2 boys 18 months a part has cured me. I still wash my hands obsessively. DH for the most part doesn’t care about germs; however, he worries a lot if the boys get cuts. DH accidentally scratched himself under his eye when I was 36 weeks pregnant with our first kid. The scratch got infected and turned into cellulitis. I nearly had a heart attack when I googled cellulitis. DH had a very fortunate series of events that prevented it from getting really bad.

  73. “Sometimes I go to other floors that aren’t as busy or have a high male-female ratio.”

    Because females mess up the bathrooms worse than the males?

  74. “There are very few public restrooms in the downtown area.”

    Doesn’t the large homeless population have a lot to do with that?

  75. Ada, glad you enjoyed the convention. There are a lot more Christian homeschoolers that believe the Earth is 14 billion years old than there were a quarter century ago, so I’m somewhat less rejected than I used to be. My summer babysitter is not currently homeschooled, but her younger siblings (including 8 year old twins) are. She’s thinking of being either a dentist or a teacher like her parents.

    July, Mr WCE is quite clean, except of course when he’s hunting and there are no facilities, and the boys have never peed on the floor. We both clean/pick up but at this stage of life, the house is kind of a losing battle. Part of the reason I have so much laundry is that the boys want to change a dirty shirt or pair of pants. After today’s discussion, I think I’m quite happy with that aspect of their personalities.

    I use hand sanitizer after taking Baby WCE to port-a-potties at the soccer field or changing a diaper. She recently learned to open her bottle and fill it out of the dog’s dish, and gave her a new bottle and told her that water is for the dog, and Baby WCE should get new water out of the sink.

  76. I did not before but now I care more if my kids are bitten. Is there more reporting or are more diseases being transmitted by ticks ? We are suburban but have a lot of rain and grass in our yards so in the warm season my kids are stratching on bites on their legs.

  77. If you’re ever in Denver near Civic Center Park, and you want to use the bathroom in Denver Public Library, take the elevator up to the 7th floor. That’s the admin floor, and no one uses those bathrooms. The cops told us that the first floor bathrooms have more druggies than any other public bathroom in the area. Sigh.

  78. She recently learned to open her bottle and fill it out of the dog’s dish

    Clever child! My big talent when just learning to crawl was seeking out the dog’s water dish, dumping it over, and chortling. Apparently it was my big thing. Never thought to drink out of it though, let alone refill my bottle.

  79. Doesn’t the large homeless population have a lot to do with that?

    Maybe. Both Palo Alto and Santa Cruz used to have that issue. But even us housed people have bladders. There are now better options in Santa Cruz, anyway, and you can always go to the City Hall in downtown Palo Alto.

    As a Diet Pepsi addict from a young age, I learned to find the public bathrooms in any area.

  80. When you all get old, trust me, you will know the location of every decent bathroom in your regular or occasional circuits. And if you are clean and walk in confidently, nobody stops you from going into McD’s or similar joints to use the facilities, although they might not meet everyone’s definition of decent.

  81. And if you are clean and walk in confidently

    And white, and middle class or higher.

  82. Sometimes, I have seen “No public restrooms” signs. I can’t remember where exactly I saw them but I think they were in the street facing hotels downtown.

  83. When the kids were in diapers, we knew where along our regular circuits there were bathrooms that were clean and had changing tables.

    When traveling, one mantra we have is to use the bathrooms when we can, not when we need to.

  84. HM, I don’t go downtown much, and when I do, I’m usually going to someone’s office where, if necessary, I can use their restroom.

    But IIRC, at least at one point in time, there was a bathroom in a police substation that was made available for public use. Do you know if that’s still the case?

  85. I’m not worried about catching swine flu. I should have explained what I meant about 08 and swine flu. The media did a lot of news about where there are germs that you might not realize in surfaces after that outbreak. I just got grossed out by what I learned and I changed my habits.

    People blow their nose and pump gas. I bought gas twice this week and I had a terrible cold. I no longer like touching surfaces that 100s of people touch. That’s my thing. That was the question in the topic.

  86. WCE, was 14 billion a subtle joke or a typo?

    The homeless population is indeed the big driver for the lack of public restrooms in our downtown. The businesses and restaurants in that area may have facilities for customers, but they do their best to make them hard to just walk in off the street and use (special codes or keys required, that kind of thing).

    And Finn, I assume the reference to going to a floor where fewer women worked was because they have a separate men’s and women’s room, so that women’s room would be more lightly used.

  87. The Chinatown substation bathroom is indeed still available afaik. It’s one stall and you have to ask whoever’s at the desk for the key/code, or at least that was how it worked the one time I used it.

  88. Back in front of a computer after a hiatus at the State Homeschool Convention. Eye-opening. No one would have criticized WCE’s family choices there, except perhaps to tell her she should consider more children. I know the homeschool community tends to be quite Christia, but was not expecting the number of books and courses offered about Dinos in the Bible, Great White Conquerors, Fossil Lies, etc.

    A friend of ours homeschooled her kids a few years back and she said she had a really hard time finding curriculums/materials that weren’t religious focused.

  89. “And Finn, I assume the reference to going to a floor where fewer women worked was because they have a separate men’s and women’s room, so that women’s room would be more lightly used.”

    Bingo!

    @RMS – I could see that about the library. I don’t remember having trouble finding a decent bathroom when we were there. The one at Union Station wasn’t bad at all for a train station bathroom.

  90. Louise – more reporting yes but the number of tick borne diseases are on the rise in some regions. RI is the capital of Lyme disease but with warmer springs Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is coming in. So now I have to worry about deer AND dog ticks. And I’ve already pulled a dog tick off the oldest. We have some tick tubes out in the yard and my friends in more rural areas swear by them. We’ll see.

    DH relayed to me an experiment he did in college to find out how much toilet paper is necessary to prevent fecal bacterial transfer to your hands after going to the bathroom. 16 sheets were needed. 16. That little story has kept me washing me hands for nearly 20 years…

  91. Ivy, does that mean that the women in your building really mess up the restrooms on a regular basis? How do they do that? I can see with men and bad aim, but women?

  92. DD – is is pretty easy to grocery shop without touching much that others may have. To the extent that I do need to touch a cooler door or the like (dependent on the store; many keep their cold stuff in an open case), I just wash my hands when I get home (which I would do any way). Other than that, I am trying to think what I would touch that would freak me out – automatic doors, I swipe my own credit card and use my pinky to sign/push the buttons, people probably touch (and do worse to) the produce, but I wash that well before eating, I wipe the handle of the cart and try to use a towel.

    For whatever reason, public restrooms don’t freak me out too much. I wash my hands well and don’t ever touch the door handle on the way out.

  93. I just saw the tip for cleaning ceiling fans in the article. Will use it. I also ordered a drawer organizer. Hope it works.
    I clean my work desk and wipe down my laptop with Windex. Again just to get the dust and grime out, not to desanitize.

    Finn – the women’s bathrooms at work are not dirty with use but more like grimy as the day goes on. In the mornings they are pristine after being cleaned at night.

  94. Finn, a heavily used restroom runs low on refillables like tp, soap, and paper towels, and can also get that lingering methane odor. And there may be a line. Even with everyone cleaning up after themselves, putting their menstrual waste in those little bags (you keep asking about the ladies’ room, you hear about this), and spraying those little scented deodorant sprays that people bring in, a heavily used bathroom will still show more evidence of others’ use than a lightly used one.

  95. I keep hearing how 2017 is turning out to be a big year for ticks and I just ordered permethrin to douse my clothing in addition to using other repellent when I hike. Part of the reason for increased tick reporting may be due to an increased interest in hiking, at least around here and particularly by NYC residents. The suburban trains departing NYC have increased their runs to stations convenient to trail heads for popular hikes and usage of those trails has skyrocketed. Local hikers often mention trying to get on the trails early before the first trains arrive carrying the city slickers. :D
    http://highlandscurrent.com/2017/06/09/breakneck-keeps-booming/

  96. DD – sure, but the part that grosses me out is the stuff that (multiple) people who are sick have touched really recently like handles to coolers, cart handles and the credit card machine. If the guy who delivered the PB on Tues touched it, I don’t care. Things like RSV don’t live that long on hard surfaces.

  97. We always have a lot of ticks around here because we seem to have more deer even though we’re just a few miles from you. The new problem we have is coyotes. We used to hear them at night in the winter. We never saw them, but now we see them at all hours of the day. I saw one in my backyard next to my grill last week. My neighbors see them when they’re walking their dogs. This used to be common in the northern parts of the county, but they got pushed out of the woods by construction of new homes. The Town keeps sending out emails and pamphlets about how to stay safe, but there is nothing they can do except educate everyone.

  98. . Local hikers often mention trying to get on the trails early before the first trains arrive carrying the city slickers. :D

    Some of the closer-to-Denver trails in Colorado get so crowded you can’t even hike at your own pace. There are online groups that hikers use to tell each other about which places are less crowded on any given day.

  99. Kate, what about the stock person who touched it a couple of hours ago (or less)? Or the customer who took it off the shelf, looked it over, and put it back? Not to mention the cashier scanning the items, and if there is a separate bagger, that’s another handling. Unless you live in a bubble, you’re exposed to germs.

    And fyi, your pinky isn’t immune from germs :)

  100. RMS, did you see the article in the Post recently about the parking situation for the Manitou incline?

  101. Completely off topic. Thank all of you who gave me ideas for an everyday set of plates. I was able to find one on Amazon that really makes me smile (at least in the pictures), and you all know that most days I am a moron so I like to smile.

    Now when the new plates arrive, Junior and I intend to have a grand time smashing all the old plates into the fireplace to the accompaniment of traditional Greek music.*

    *Of course, we are not Greek and do not have a fireplace.

  102. There’s a trailhead about half a mile from my house for a trail that used to be a nice little neighborhood gem that you could pop up to and just go a little bit up to feel like you were by yourself in the trees. Then it got written up everywhere and became hugely popular as a tourist trail (minutes away from Waikiki you can be hiking through the jungle! not to mention movies/ shows that have filmed there). They paved the first quarter mile of it and put in bathrooms (the bathrooms were nice, at least), took away the few parking spots by it, and someone opened up a big commercial lot for $5 nearby. So you can’t go there without it being a production, plus it’s so much more crowded. At least my house isn’t near enough for people to park near us for it, though . . .

  103. I have a couple of nice alternative trails nearby that I can suggest to anyone thinking of visiting, btw. Honolulu is cupped by the Koolau range, with the neighborhoods spilling back into its valleys and onto its slopes, so there’s no shortage of trails.

  104. Better illustration:

    That big multi-lobed harbor is Pearl Harbor and you can see the airport’s reef runway just to the right of it. From there to the bottom right corner of the island is Honolulu proper. Those tentacles of development reaching up into the mountains all have a couple of trailheads at the back of them.

  105. HM – we enjoyed the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse trail.

    For everyone it’s a paved trail till the very end; kinda steep in parts, maybe a mile one way to the end. It’s located farther, though not much farther, to the right than HM’s picture shows. Though DS2 and I talked about it, we never walked/hiked the trail I think you’re talking about.

    There tons of things to do/see on Oahu. It’s really not just about Waikiki and Pearl Harbor, you just have to want to get away from the tourist areas. There’s a state park, Hanauma Bay, ~45min from Waikiki, with cool snorkeling.

  106. Yes exactly what others have said about the women’s restroom at work. Also, as they have crammed more & more people onto each floor to save $$ (oro to promote “collaboration” if you believe the company propaganda), the bathrooms have stayed the same size. It just gets gross with that much use & minimal cleaning during the day. Floors with few women are better. Less traffic.

  107. One good thing BITD about attending high level tax conferences in fancy hotel function rooms was that there was never a line in the ladies room at break, and often the hotels had those private stalls with real full length doors. And for the very literal minded among us, the reason for no line was that there were very few women attendees, but the hotels used the rooms for regular social functions as well, so there were adequate stalls provided for that purpose. Also the ample front area in said ladies’ rooms (for fixing one’s makeup, etc, was a good networking venue.

  108. For some reason on my floor there is a women’s restroom with stalls and right opposite it there is a single restroom by itself where you can close the door. The single restroom where you can close yourself off is what many women prefer.
    Speaking of private there are hardly any offices and hardly any places to carry on private phone conversations so people stand in the hallway talking on their phones by the restrooms. One former workplace had small soundproof booths which employees used.

  109. In the old days, I spent many nights in conference rooms at various law firms across NYC because we had to wait to sign documents. All of these firms had good spaces to have a private phone call. I could always count on these little rooms, and great cookies. The firms always had good cookies.

  110. WRT hiking here, please be very careful about where you decide to hike.

    Many of the trails recommended online are not on public land, or are closed to the public, so hiking on those trails involved trespassing.

    The reason many of those trails are closed to the public is because they are dangerous. Hikers requiring rescue is a regular occurrence here, and unfortunately, deaths and serious injury are not uncommon either.

    Are there similar problems with hiking trails near where you live?

  111. Lack of privacy in our office is compounded by poor cell coverage.

    It’s quite common to see people standing outside the building, talking on their phones, in part for privacy, and in part because cell signals are stronger.

    It’s also not uncommon to see people walking through the building looking at their phones, as they seek locations with stronger cell signals.

  112. DD – of course all of those things are possible, but not as probable as the nasty germs on the things that I mentioned. I have changed lanes when I saw that the person checking me out was sick. I always bag my own groceries if possible, mostly because I hate how they bag things and I once worked in a grocery store and am an excellent bagger. Raw meat in its own bag always! My pinky doesn’t touch my face like some of the more useful fingers do. Pinky is ok to have germs. He is the sacrificial lamb. I am quite rational about my germaphobia. :)

  113. RMS, did you see the article in the Post recently about the parking situation for the Manitou incline?

    No, I’ll look for it. But I assume it said, “Wow, parking is a nightmare!” and I’m willing to believe it.

  114. That’s the gist of it :) There’s a restaurant right near the base that is charging $10 for parking making a killing.

  115. Pinky is ok to have germs. He is the sacrificial lamb.

    And a knuckle, or the edge of my phone case, for elevator buttons or other things requiring a push. And what do people expect to get from a gas pump? Ebola!!! But I am willing to allow my family members to take the risk and pump my gas for me.

  116. Referring back to the library books with bedbugs, Kindle and Echo devices are all on sale now. A friend threw out most of her books after a bedbug infestation. Although they had been treated and she only found dead bedbugs in the books, she couldn’t bring herself to keep them or donate them to a library. IMO she did the right thing since it’s better to be safe than sorry when dealing with those bugs. (Speaking from experience.)

    I don’t hear of many hikers suffering injury from going on restricted trails. There is a National Guard training camp bordering on a very popular local trail with prominent signs to stay off the military property.

    Speaking of restrooms, I’m noticing more and more gender-neutral restrooms in restaurants and other places. IMO that’s much preferred to encountering a person who looks like someone of the opposite sex in a (sometimes somewhat isolated) public bathroom.

  117. Becky understands.

    I expect to get RSV or rhinovirus or norovirus or any number of different viruses from the gas pump. People are pretty gross.

  118. I’m in a very (did I mention very) long line at the car wash. This and valet parking are a germ person’s nightmare. They touch steering wheels and door handles all day. I’ve been sneezing and coughing all over my steering wheel for a week. I did the nice thing and wiped everything with a Clorox wipe, but no one dies that so germs spread between the cars.

    This line is a total waste of my time, but pollen is stuck to my car and I really need to wait.

  119. Lauren – what kind of car wash? We always use the one with the flappy things – no one touches anything inside of the car. I usually just wait for the next time it rains to wash the pollen off. ;)

  120. Y’all are killing me with all the talk of germy surfaces. It isn’t on my radar at all. My mother was extra cautious. She would wash fruits and vegetables many times. I would do the exact opposite and pop things like unwashed grapes in my mouth which horrified her.

  121. It has been raining here a lot, but the rain didn’t get this stuff off the window. This time of year around here is terrible for cars. I don’t like to wash my car because it is seems to get dirty abut a minute after I wash it because of all of the grass and trees. Stuff is blowing every where. It is worse than the snow in the winter because my car gets covered in all sorts of green or other pollen dust. This stuff on the windshield is nasty. It didn’t come off in the car wash, so I have to go back. They won’t charge me, but I just didn’t have time to wait in the line. I wish we had more of the floppy things that you describe where you can ride through. I’ve seen more of those in other parts of the country, but we don’t have many of those types of car washes nearby.

  122. @Lauren – we go to the hand wash places too. Usually I am more concerned about the inside of the car than the outside. And living in a city building with a tight shared garage makes it a bit more complicated to vacuum/wash the inside of your car yourself, although I suppose it could be done. But the handwash place is only $20 (less if you buy a pack of washes in advance), so it’s not a big expense to get the car washed every other month or so. Since we don’t drive much, it doesn’t get that dirty anyway except for the few times a year we take road trips.

  123. $20/month all you can wash (1 per day allowed), exterior, with the floppy blue chamois things, including them hand drying it. 2 of their locations are very convenient for me.

    Ivy, they’re in your area, but mostly in the burbs. deltasoniccarwash.com

  124. Oh yeah – I used to go there when I worked in the suburbs. They did a nice job. My car was also dirtier when I did a long reverse commute!

  125. Ivy, some gas stations around here have vacuum stations. I’m not sure, but am guessing that they are like the drive through car washes at gas stations where you can pay when you’re filling your tank.

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