7 Things That’ll Get Even Cleaner If You Leave Them Out in the Sun

updated Jun 23, 2020
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Hands hold cutting board in the sunlight.
Credit: Joe Lingeman

Is there anyone who doesn’t love the inimitable and intoxicating scent of line-dried sheets? Mmmmmmm. In addition to using the sun to dry wet laundry, setting things outside in the sun is the easiest way to whiten, kill dust mites and mold spores, and deodorize. A set-it-and-forget-it solution that takes advantage of the sun’s ultraviolet rays to make things clean and fresh, “sunbathing” your things can be an easy way to spruce up some kitchen items. 

Note: Do keep in mind that leaving colorful things out in the sun can fade them. And remember to flip your items over if you’re setting them out on a surface. 

Here are some things you can leave out in the sun this week, depending on your local weather forecast.

Credit: Catherine Meschia

1. Garbage cans

Hauling the garbage cans outside, hosing them down, and then leaving them to dry in the sun is our favorite way to clean them. Drying time that also deodorizes and can help disinfect? Sold. 

2. Lunch bags

You want to know something that’s teeming with bacteria? Lunch bags that are dragged all over school and then set on a table with a bunch of grade-school kids eating and talking over them. Hand-washing them (to get rid of bacteria) and then hanging them in the sun to dry (no mold!) is your best bet. Do this now — especially if you’ve been neglecting your kid’s lunch box since you started teaching them from home.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Reusable grocery bags

Bags that can be washed, such as canvas ones, should be — and frequently (like every time you use them). But insulated bags can’t be tossed in the washing machine. After hand-washing them or wiping them down with a disinfecting wipe, a stint in the sun helps ensure they’ll be ready to be used again when you need them.

Related: Your Reusable Grocery Bags Are Disgusting — Here’s How to Clean Them

4. Wood cutting boards

While some sites will tell you that the sun will disinfect your wood cutting boards (after a good hand-washing), we can’t 100 percent confirm that. However, we can confirm that a stint in the sun will help your wood cutting boards (and utensils, for that matter) dry faster, which will help prevent the growth of bacteria and warping. If it also helps to sanitize, well, that’s a fun bonus.

5. Upholstered chairs

Leaving fabric or suede dining chairs in the sun will help to deodorize them if they’ve started to take on a certain musty odor. The sunlight can also help kill dust mites. Just make sure you rotate the chairs so that all parts get an even amount of time in the sun — and do not do this with leather.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

6. Stained plastic containers

Plastic storage containers can get stained (especially if they’re used to hold things with tomato sauce or food dyes). Spritz the stained containers with lemon juice and let them sit outside in the sun. Tip: Weigh the containers down so they don’t blow away if a gust of wind comes through.

Related: The Best Way to Get Stains Out of Plastic Containers

7. Moldy fridge drawers

If you’ve accidentally let some food rot in your fridge drawers or shelves, chances are you’ve got some cleanup work on your hands. Pull out the moldy fridge selves, wash off what you can, and then set them out in the sun for a few hours.

Do you let any other kitchen items sit out in the sun? Tell us in the comments below!