If you’re like most people, you probably do some regular cleaning every week or so. But certain spots in your house or apartment can make it look or smell like you made no effort at all if they’re not properly cleaned. They even can influence your household safety and efficiency. Here’s how to tackle the worst offenders everyone forgets about.
1. The floor underneath large appliances
Most large appliances stay put for weeks, if not months, simply because they can be a physical inconvenience to move.
• Unplug the appliance.
• Gently walk it away from the wall or have a partner help you slide it out.
• Vacuum or sweep up all crumbs and dust.
• Give the space a good mopping or, if it’s truly gunky, go at it with a scrub brush.
• Wipe down the walls around the space before returning the appliance to its normal position.
2. Refrigerator coils
Before you tackle the floor under the fridge, grab your vacuum and get all the dust from around the refrigerator coils.
• If you need to take the base grill off, do so.
• There are special attachments you can get for better accessibility, but you also can use refrigerator coil brushes or improvise with other tools (e.g., reusable straw brushes).
3. The top of your shower
Most people will squeegee shower doors and scrub their tubs because these areas are readily visible and easier to reach. But dust, grime, and mildew can build up on the top of the shower surround, which is the part of the shower that wraps all the way around where you stand, too. (Related: 7 Ways to Create a 5-Star Hotel Bathroom at Home)
• Scrub down the top of the surround with a bleach paste, or make a paste from vinegar and baking soda.
• Rinse the surround.
• Dry excessively wet areas with absorbant microfiber cloths.
4. Heating and cooling vent grates
Heating and cooling vents often get passed over during vacuuming.
• Unscrew the grate.
• Hose out what you can see of the duct with your vacuum
• Use the vacuum’s brush attachment to remove dust from the grate.
• Screw the grate back in.
5. Baseboards/baseboard registers
• Standard baby or disinfecting wipes or a sponge and soapy water can quickly remove dust and grime from registers after you remove as much dust as you can with your vacuum brush.
• If you’d rather not be on your hands or knees, products like the Baseboard Genie or Baseboard Buddy are designed to let you walk along both baseboards and baseboard registers, wiping as you go. A window sponge on an expandable handle can also work.
• Once everything is wiped down, use the crevice attachment to vacuum right along where the carpet meets your wall.
Your main tool here is a soft bristle or sponge brush with a handle.
• Insert the brush between the radiator coils and scrub from top to bottom.
• Vacuum up the dust under the radiator.
• Wipe the floor clean with a damp cloth.
7. Trash cans
• Remove any trash from the garbage can.
• Spray both the interior and exterior of the can and lid heavily with an all-purpose cleaner.
• Sprinkle some baking soda in the bottom of the can to neutralize odors. Leave the whole thing to sit for at least five minutes.
• Scrub the can thoroughly with a sponge.
• Rinse the can and wipe it dry.
• Put some newspaper at the bottom of the can to catch future yuck.
• Insert a new trash bag.
8. Behind the toilet
Behind the toilet is an often-ignored area in the house because, as with shower surrounds, we tend to be more concerned with the rim and inside of the bowl we see and touch. But this spot collects dust easily and can be prone to mildew and mold due to leaks or condensation dripping off the bowl.
• Spray a mold and mildew solution, soapy water, or an all-purpose cleaner on the toilet base and the floor surrounding the bowl.
• Scrub with a sponge or scrub brush
• Wipe up extra residue and allow the area to air dry.
Even if you don’t have a “junk” drawer, these storage areas can become catchalls for crumbs, hair, bits of paper and other oddities.
• Remove everything from the drawer and, if needed, wash the items.
• Empty the debris from the drawer into the trash and wipe the inside down with a damp sponge or cleaning cloth.
• Let the drawer dry.
• Insert a reusable drawer liner.
• Put items back.
Cabinets can catch dust and crumbs along their trim, as well as on interior shelving. Ones next to the sink and stove also can get splashed during cooking or washing.
• Remove everything from the cabinet.
• Wipe down the shelving and inside of the door.
• Pretreat with a mild degreaser such as vinegar if necessary.
• Use a sponge and hot-as-you-can-stand soapy water to scrub away buildup. You also can mix vegetable oil with 2 parts baking soda to make a paste that can power through grime; this works especially well to shine the cabinet hardware. Keep your cabinetry varnish and material in mind here, and if necessary, wipe the cabinets with wood oil when you’re through.
Grout is a huge offender when it comes to making your home look dirty mainly because the soap scum that collects on it creates the perfect surface for dirt to cling to.
• Remove soap scum by scrubbing with an everyday bathroom cleaner, dish soap or other product.
• If there is mildew, spray it with a mildew cleaner or hydrogen peroxide.
• Whiten the tile by scrubbing it with a simple paste solution of cream of tartar and lemon juice. Leave the paste to sit on the grout, then wipe it clean.
• Repeat the process if needed.
12. Stove vent filters
Stove vent filters are designed to catch greasy particles from getting into your exhaust fan as you cook. These particles stick to the filter and turn into a nasty brown mess over time.
• Fill your sink or a large tub with as-hot-as-you-can-stand water.
• Add in a few scoops of Oxy-Clean or another degreasing agent you prefer.
• Put the filter in the water and let it soak for at least half an hour.
• Scrub the filter with a bristle brush.
• Dry the filter.
• Put the filter back in place.
While taking care of these areas might seem overwhelming at first, the good news is that you don’t have to tend to them constantly; just two to four times per year can prevent excessive buildup. Simply find a time every few months to knock out the items on the list, even if you spread the tasks out over a few weekends, and you’ll be in terrific shape.