Take these cleaning lessons with you into 2021.

By Katie Holdefehr
December 17, 2020
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In 2020, the pandemic changed every aspect of our lives—yes, including how we clean. Suddenly, cleaning was less about getting our places sparkling before guests came over, and more about properly disinfecting surfaces. Then, as we spent more time at home and cooked more often, we had to learn the easiest way to clean that burnt pot or pan. Here are a few of the major cleaning lessons we learned in 2020, and plan to continue in 2021. Our cleaning routines will never be the same.

When the pandemic began, many of us realized we needed a refresher course on a basic kindergarten lesson: the proper way to wash our hands. Most of us admit we weren't washing them long enough—at least 20 seconds—or frequently enough.

And while hand sanitizer is a convenient solution when we're not at home, we learned that it's not a replacement for regular old hand-washing with soap and water. 

RELATED: You're Probably Making These 7 Hand-Washing Mistakes—Here's What to Do Instead

Before 2020, disinfecting a countertop meant quickly rubbing a cleaning wipe along the surface. But this year, we learned the importance of contact time. Check the labels on your disinfecting wipes or sprays—most will tell you how long they need to sit on a surface in order to kill the most germs possible. Don't dry off the countertop until the recommended contact time is up. 

Plus, did you know that disinfecting works best if you clean a surface first? Translation: remove visible grime, crumbs, and dust before using a disinfecting wipe. 

RELATED: 7 Things You Should Sanitize Immediately to Avoid Getting Sick

Most of us had probably heard the term before, but it was in 2020 that we became intimately familiar with every single germ-infested "high-touch surface" in our homes. Some were obvious—like countertops—but others we'd neglected cleaning for far too long (we're looking at you, light switch plates, steering wheel, and game controllers). We'll be adding these oft-forgotten spots onto our regular cleaning routine from now on. 

For those of us who weren't exactly home cooks in pre-pandemic life, making our own meals resulted in a scorched pot or two. Luckily, we learned that deglazing isn't just a cooking term—it's also an effective cleaning method. By adding water to the pot while it's still hot on the stove, the heat helps loosen up burnt-on food bits, so you can spend less time scrubbing. Follow these steps to make a scorched pot look shiny and new again. 

After enough time spent at home this year, we started to notice dingy spots we'd ignored before, including soap scum-covered glass shower doors. The secret to making them sparkle: a homemade cleaning spray crafted from that bottle of white vinegar in our pantries. In 2021, we'll be using this easy cleaning hack to make our daily showers a little more spa-like.