I know that we have heard the warnings….cold and flu season is here. Wash your hands, load up on vitamins and supplements, get plenty of sleep, etc. But there are some obvious things that we need to be doing to get rid of the germs in our house. I am not a super germaphobe, but when you think about some of these things, you might wonder WHY have I not washed these before? Maybe you did not even know they were washable, but they are…and it is pretty easy.
The boys have heavy duty backpacks that have lasted a few years now, and they have been through a lot. They get thrown on the floor, stepped on, tossed in the van, sometimes dragged through the halls at school so why wouldn’t we want to clean these little germ traps? I always make a point to wash them a few times a year. Because I mostly air dry them, they take a little bit longer to dry out. You obviously want to look for washing instructions on the backpack, but most backpacks are able to be washed in the washing machine with no problem. Empty all of the pockets and hidden compartments and spot treat any stains and then wash. I just throw them in there together, wash on warm with a heavy duty, but gentle detergent, rinse, then dry in the dryer for about 5-10 minutes with a couple of clean towels, and then hang to dry.
Some kids get a new lunchbox every year, but when my kids asked for higher priced, name brand lunchboxes a few years ago, I was okay with that, and let me explain why. First of all, kids go through character favorites SO quickly. Secondly, the character lunchboxes are not usually high quality, so they need to be replaced every year. Spend a little extra, make sure to wash the lunchbox every so often, and you are good to go.
To wash my boys’ lunchboxes, I actually just throw them in with their backpacks. Warm wash, good detergent, rinse, and skip the dryer. Wipe off excess water and hang to dry, and in about 24 hours, they are clean and ready to use. Now, if you have a hole in the lunchbox, it should probably be replaced because that could cause some mildew or mold to form. Speaking of mildew, lunchboxes need to be cleaned often anyway, because food can sit for longer that we like (hello, lunchboxes left at school over the weekend!) and wiping off the food and mold just doesn’t cut it sometimes. Spot treat any mold or mildew before throwing it into the washing machine.
Just like anything else, always read the washing instructions on the label, but most shoes should be able to be washed in the washing machine. Sports cleats, leather shoes, glitter shoes (to which I know nothing about, because I am a boy mom, mind you,) etc, should always be spot cleaned, but the regular old tennis shoe or athletic shoe should be fine in a cold wash in the washing machine with active wear detergent. Wipe off any dirt or mud, wash mud stains out with hand soap and a toothbrush, and wash in the washing machine. Do NOT dry shoes, because they could shrink, but take them out of the washing machine, form them if they’ve been smushed in the washing process, and let air dry in a warm room on a dry towel.
Sidenote: if your kid’s shoes have shoelaces and they do not know how to tie them or they just don’t want to keep them tied, get them something to keep them tied because THE grossest thing that I promise few people thing about that I learned while teaching kindergarten is that shoelaces drag all over the place, including the pee and who knows what else on the bathroom floor. And then the sweet little 5 year old comes to the teacher and asked to have their shoes tied. Nope. Just invest in velcro shoes or one of these little gadgets.
Now that it is colder outside, the boys have to wear coats and jackets. Sometimes we forget about these, but they need to be washed often. Just think about the last time you saw your kid’s coat hanging up. If they regularly hang them up, pat yourself on the back, you have trained your child well. My kids’ jackets are strewn about the house, on the couch, on the floor, in the bathroom, even, and I can only assume this is the case at school, until their teachers tell them to pick them up. This isn’t even just in the classroom, however, it’s in the gym, on the playground, in the lunchroom, etc. These things NEED to be washed. Just read on the label and follow directions. Easy peasy!
Sweat happens, especially when playing sports. Anything that your child touches while playing sports is likely to have sweat, germs, and dirt on it. Shinguards, balls, mouthguards, helmets, pads, anything and everything should be cleaned often during a particular season. Most things can be wiped down with wipes or washed with soap and water, but it really is essential that it is done. I think of this any time my son returns from practice, bouncing a basketball that has been handled by 8 other sweaty boys, bounced on the floor, and then rolls across my kitchen table. EEK. With that in mind, check out these simple storage solutions for kids’ sports equipment.
Many schools have issued out Chromebooks and iPads for school and home use. These, along with any cell phones or personal use technology should be cleaned regularly with a cleaning wipe, because we all know what kinds of germs live on those!
What else should be cleaned often that we do not think about?