We all know about the regular cleaning tasks at home like vacuuming the carpets, mopping tile and hardwood floors and cleaning the kitchen and bathroom, but there are a lot of places we overlook while paying attention to these bigger jobs. Following is a list of 31 obvious places you’re forgetting to clean, and ignoring them in some cases can make them turn into larger maintenance projects. Even worse, not taking care of some of these little jobs can impact your family’s health.
1. Baseboards & Toe Kicks
When was the last time you bent down to scrub your baseboards or got up underneath the kitchen cabinets with a sponge? Luckily, there are easier ways to clean these often overlooked spots. Try putting on a pair of old socks. Give them a spray of whatever dust-attractor you prefer, and then run your feet along the baseboards and under the kitchen cabinets. You’ll be surprised at how much dirt is hanging out there. In fact, it might take a few pairs of socks to get it all up.
2. Clean your Cleaning Supplies
You use a host of tools and potions to clean your home, but when was the last time they got some real attention or maintenance? Take a few minutes to wipe down your bottles of cleaning solutions as well as take a look at any of the tools you use often or occasionally.
Wipe down the vacuum cleaner and give the dust bin a good rinse or scrub. Clean the filter. Flip over the vacuum and see if there’s anything stuck in the brush bar. Doing just a little maintenance will keep your machines running longer and more efficiently.
3. Underneath Everything
When was the last time you looked under the refrigerator, sofa or dresser? Wonder what’s accumulated under there? Take a look around your home while keeping your eye low. Now is the time to clean underneath everything. You might be able to fit a vacuum extension (like an appliance wand) under some items. Others, you may need to move to get underneath them effectively.
4. On Top of Everything
If you’re average or even short, there’s a pretty good chance you don’t check the high areas in your home very often. Think the top of the fridge and cabinets and even on top of door frames. Now is the time to get out your step stool and do some vacuuming or wiping to get up any collected dust. Don’t forget curtain rod holders and ceiling corners where dust webs can collect.
Now is the time to let the light shine bright in your house. Take housing off of light fixtures, replace any bulbs that have burned out, and clean glass or plastic shades in warm soapy water. Dumping out any dead bugs goes without saying.
This is also a good time to tackle the ceiling fan. Either use a long duster, vacuum extension or ladder to get the top of the blades good and clean as well as any light fixtures incorporated into your fans.
6. Computers & Electronics
Your electronics can be a breeding ground for bacteria, and we’re generally in close contact with these items. Give your computer tower a good wipe down, vacuum around any cords (taking the time to tie up and organize any loose ones). Use a micro vacuum set to clean your keyboard and mouse. If you don’t have one, you can use canned air to blow out any debris.
After you’ve gotten rid of the dust is a great time to kill any germs on these items. Wipe your keyboard, mouse, remote controls, gaming controllers, mobile phone and headphones with a cotton swab with some alcohol. You can even use a Q Tip to get into the nooks and crannies.
When it comes to cleaning your flat screen TV or computer monitors, make sure you don’t use any harsh chemicals. It’s best to tackle them with just a soft cloth. However, if you have any spots that need to be removed, use a mild solution of equal parts vinegar and water to prevent any damage to these delicate screens.
7. Fingerprint Catchers
There are many places we ignore cleaning that get regular use by grubby hands. Think door knobs, locks, cabinet pulls, the toilet flusher handle, door edges and appliance handles like that on the refrigerator or dishwasher. Wipe all these down with a good antibacterial cleanser or use a natural solution of vinegar and water. Cleaning these surfaces regularly is not only a good cleaning practice – it’s also good hygiene.
8. Small Appliances
Your toaster oven, toaster, coffee maker and even ice cream maker may be appliances you use on a daily basis, but they rarely get a good scrubbing. Get out your supplies and descale your coffee maker. Not only will it look good, your brew will taste better. Take the toaster outside, open up the bottom and give it a good shake to get out any old crumbs. Give the inside of your toaster oven a good scrub. Wipe down the outside of these small appliances with a good antibacterial cleanser as well because anywhere fingers go, germs go as well.
9. Daily Use Items
If you use your curling or flat iron every day, it likely has some buildup on it from hair care products. Items like your toothbrush holder or charger, salt and pepper shakers, ice cube trays, dish draining rack and iron also get dirty without us really noticing. Look around your counter tops and give a good scrubbing to any of these small items you use every day.
10. Nick Knacks & Other Odds and Ends
If you have tchotchkes or any decorative items in your house, you can also call them dust collectors. Give vases, candles and holders, nick knacks and collectibles a good wipe down. If you have any dried flower arrangements, give them a good blow with canned air to get out any collected dust.
11. Inside appliances
We all know it’s a good idea to keep old food out of the fridge, but when you do your emptying, do you also wipe down the inside of the refrigerator? Take out the shelves and scrub them down in the sink. Wipe down the interior walls, and take out the crisper drawers to get down into those back corners where debris can collect.
You can do this with your dishwasher as well. Remove the racks and give the inside a good wipe down. Make sure you wipe out the filter on the back where stray food bits can collect.
12. Inside the Washer & Dryer
We clean clothes in these every day but these appliances need to be cleaned and maintained as well. Look inside the drum of each and clean out any scum or stuck on lint. While you’re at it, now is a good time to clean your dryer lint screen using dish detergent and water. Anti-static cloths like Bounce can leave a film on the screen that reduces its ability to filter lint, and the detergent will remove that residue.
It’s also a good idea to clean out your dryer hose. Sometimes these can get clogged up, causing a fire hazard. While you’re back there, do your best to vacuum behind both the washer and dryer and wipe any dust off the hoses.
13. Curtains & Blinds
If your curtains or drapes are machine washable, toss them in for a spin. If they’re dry clean only, drop them off at the cleaner’s or use an at home dry cleaning product. For blinds, wipe them down with a vinegar and water solution after using the vacuum to get off any loose dust.
14. Trash Cans
The place you put your trash can get gross quickly – especially in the kitchen. Empty all the trash cans in your home and take them outside. Then, use a long-handled brush with some detergent to scrub them out. Doing this outside works really well because you can use the garden hose to rinse them out and off.
15. Pillows & Blankets
Most of us wash our sheets regularly but what about throw pillows and the comforter? If you have a large enough washing machine, you can oftentimes wash pillows and larger blankets at home. If not, either drop them off at the cleaner’s or visit a laundromat where they have large drum washers.
16. Pet Accessories
You give the dog a bath, but what about his bed, his favorite rug and all his spitty toys? Most dog beds have a removable cover that can be washed at home, but if not, use the vacuum to get off hair, then hit it with the garden hose. Leave it to dry in the sun, as the sun is great for killing germs. Put his toys into a bucket with some mild detergent and give them a scrub.
17. Bathroom Accessories
When was the last time you washed your shower curtain or liner? You can usually wash both in the washing machine. If you have a plastic liner, put it in the machine with some bleach and detergent, then run a cycle on hot. Hang it back up in the bathroom to dry.
Also take a look around for other things you don’t clean often like the bath mat, soap dish or soap dispenser. Remember that hands aren’t clean before they get the soap! The same goes for the bath mat. Most of us step on it with dirty feet as often as we do with clean feet.
18. The Oven
Ack! Who wants to clean the oven? Most of us know how but avoid doing this dirty job. Once it’s done or while the cleaner is working, take the time to wipe down the range hood and clean out the filter. Clean the door glass and handle. Most stove tops lift up, so while you have the burners off, lift up the top and vacuum any dried food particles, then give it a good wipe down.
19. Mattresses & Cushions
Mattresses should be flipped a couple times per year depending on their use, but vacuuming your mattress may be something you’ve ignored. Dead skin cells tend to accumulate in these places where we sleep every night, so now is a great time to get the vacuum out and give it a good once over – on both sides.
The same goes for furniture cushions. Now is a good time to remove them, clean any spots as needed and give the corners under them a good cleaning. You might be surprised to find loose change or the remote you thought you lost forever ago!
20. Window & Door Screens
When was the last time you took a good look at the screens on your windows or screen doors? Since the holes are small, they tend to collect grime. Not only is it dirty, but it also affects the air flow if you’re looking forward to that refreshing spring breeze. Get out a brush and a bucket of soapy water to give them a good scrub. Make any necessary repairs while you’re at it.
Some of us are really good about cleaning out our closets, meaning going through periodically and getting rid of items we no longer wear or use, but have you ever actually cleaned the closets themselves? Take everything out, remove any shelves, get into the corners, wipe down any racks and make this space where you put your clean clothes shine. Then, only put back in those items you still love and want to keep.
22. Patio Furniture
Depending on where you live, you may pack up your patio cushions at the end of the warmer seasons, but do you clean the furniture itself? This can be easily done with some mild soap, a brush and the garden hose. Some cushions are machine washable but check the tags before cleaning them to follow the proper instructions.
23. Personal Items
Have you looked inside your purse or gym bag lately? We tend to accumulate a lot in our carryalls. This is a great time to take everything out, wash the bag or purse itself, as these tend to accumulate bacteria the more places we set them down. While you’re at it, clean out your wallet, and wipe down your credit cards. Just like with your closet, only put back in what you will actually use or need to have with you.
24. Clean Your Plants
Houseplants have the important job of cleaning the air in our homes as well as bringing a spark of life of the outdoors in. You water them, but do you actually clean them? Dust can accumulate on leaves, leaving your plants a little dingy and lifeless. Wipe down the leaves with a damp rag and give the outside of any flower or plant pots a good cleaning as well.
25. Girly Stuff
Most of us wear makeup every day and use the same brushes to apply our products. That’s gross. Over time, old makeup, skin oil and dead skin cells can accumulate on the brushes. You’ll be amazed at how fluffy they are after a good cleaning. Put some detergent and hot water into a bowl, and let your brushes soak for a while. If you haven’t done this often, you may need to rinse the brushes and change the soap solution a few times before they get really clean.
While your brushes are soaking, clean out the drawer or case where you store your makeup. I bet you’ll find a lot of makeup dust lurking around. Also check other personal care items like your hairbrush. After removing stray hairs, you can soak this in soap just like your makeup brushes to get rid of any buildup from hair care products.
26. Reusable Grocery Totes
If you use canvas or cloth totes when you go shopping, these need to be cleaned too. After all, you’re putting food into them so the less bacteria the better. Toss them in the washing machine on hot to get rid of any germy buildup.
27. Garbage Disposal
Just like with the trash cans, the garbage disposal can get gross quickly with bits of food that don’t go all the way down. One of the best ways to clean a disposal is by putting in a cut up lemon with a handful of ice cubes. The lemon will kill any bacteria, and the ice cubes will give the disposal a good scrubbing.
28. Laundry Basket & Hamper
Just because we collect dirty clothes in the hamper and laundry basket doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be cleaned regularly. In fact, it makes it even more important. Just like with your trash cans, you can take these items outside and hit them with a brush, some mild detergent and the garden hose.
29. Window Sills
Like baseboards, window sills often get ignored as does the frame where we use our hands to raise it up (or slide it side to side). Give all areas a good wipe with an antibacterial cleanser to get it sparkling. Speaking of sparkling – now would be a good time to clean the glass as well.
30. Air Flow Vents & Returns
It’s essential to keep anywhere air flows through in our homes clean. After all, you want a good filter on your vacuum cleaner, so why keep your vents dirty? Check places like the bathroom exhaust fan and the return for your furnace. Cleaning these places by vacuuming, blowing them out with canned air and giving any filters a good scrub (or replace them if they’re disposable) will help your whole family breathe easier every day.
31. Drains & Faucets
No one wants to look into the shower drain, let alone clean it. However, doing so will do your plumbing a favor and prevent future problems and clogs. Take the drain cover off and pull out any hair or disgusting gunk and soap residue that’s lurking in there. Follow that with by pouring in a pot of boiling water to dissolve any leftover residue. Then, do the same with your sink drains. It’s gross, but you’ll feel better once it’s done.
This is also a good time to take a closer look at your faucets. Often, water flow gets restricted because of buildup on the filters inside. Screw off the end of the faucet (being careful not to lose any of the small parts) and give the filter screen a good cleaning. If you see any damage or the seals look old, take the parts to any hardware store, where you’ll be able to replace them inexpensively.
All of the above are essential places to clean if you want to ensure you have a cleaner, healthier home for you and your family. By tackling some of these chores every once in a while, you’ll not only feel better knowing the grime is gone, but you’ll prevent costly maintenance down the road while helping your family live healthier.