No matter how thorough a housekeeper you are, there are certain blind spots in every home that are all too easy to overlook. As a result, they get bypassed during your spring-cleaning tirade, growing grimier … and grimier.
Curious where these surprising cesspools lie? Check out this hit list of areas in your home that we’ll bet you forget to clean this spring—and read on to find the best way to give them a thorough scrubbing.
If you have tile floors or countertops, the grout may harbor germs and mold, according to Mark Welstead, president of Rainbow Restoration. Not only is that awfully gross, the grout will eventually start to stain, meaning an even bigger cleaning job down the road.
How to clean it: Wipe the grout with vinegar, then scrub with baking soda and a brush. You can also try scrubbing with borax or olive oil-based Castile soap. For visibly moldy grout, you need to spray on 3% hydrogen peroxide diluted by half in water. Let it sit for 45 minutes, then rinse. Here’s more on how to clean tile grout.
The tops of door frames, cabinets, and bookshelves
If you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist, and therefore doesn’t need cleaning, right? Sadly, no. The tops of door frames, book shelves—anything above your sight line—are primo dust collection spots. If your upper kitchen cabinets don’t go all the way to the ceiling, the tops are probably coated in dust mixed with sticky kitchen grease. Charming!
How to clean it: Wipe door frames and bookshelves with a damp cloth. For greasy gunk, try rubbing dish detergent on, leaving it for a moment, then wiping it off. If that doesn’t cut it, level up to Goo Gone Kitchen Degreaser. For bonus points, take the glass globe off any ceiling lights or fans, and rinse out the dust and dead bugs.
You know that thing is gross, right? I mean, think about what you put into it! Beside general yuckiness, it’s important to clean, because, according to Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing, grease buildup can seriously back up your sink drains.
How to clean it: Run hot water and turn on the disposal. Pour a tablespoon of dish soap down, and let the water run for 15 to 30 seconds. Turn off the disposal and let the water run until there are no more bubbles. Scrub the underside of the drain flaps with a brush, hot water, and dish soap.
Toilet brush and holder
You don’t need me to explain why your toilet brush and holder are disgusting. But how do you fix them? What cleans the cleaning implements? There are options other than just throwing them away and buying a new one when it gets nasty (yes, we all know someone who does this).
How to clean it: First off, you can prevent some germ build-up by spraying down the brush with disinfectant right after you use it. Leave it to drip-dry into the toilet, smushed between the seat and the rim of the bowl.
For deep cleaning, you can either soak the brush and holder in a bucket of warm water and a few capfuls of bleach for about 10 minutes, or you can spray them both down with disinfecting spray, let sit for 10 minutes, then rinse with warm water. Yes, bleach is a harsh cleaner, but if you’re going to break out the big guns for anything, it should be the item that scrubs the inside of your toilet bowl.
Curtains are pros at passively catching dust, pet hair, and other particulate gunk from the air. If you’re not cleaning them, you should be.
How to clean it: Start with vacuuming them. And check the tag: Some fabrics can be machine washed, while others need to be hand washed and dried. Very heavy fabrics require a steamer, which you can rent.
Remotes, phones, and keyboards
All three of these items fall into the category of things your grimy fingers touch every day. Research shows that cell phones are dirtier than toilet seats, and keyboards have the added problem of snack crumb infiltration (don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about). Almost nobody is cleaning this stuff often enough.
How to clean it: For your phone, grab a microfiber cleaning cloth (of the kind you’d use to clean glasses) and spray it with a 50/50 combination of distilled water and vinegar or distilled water and isopropyl alcohol. Wipe down your phone thoroughly, without getting it too wet. Use a toothpick or Q-tip to dislodge anything stuck in the crevices.
You can use the same disinfectant and cloth (clean, obviously) on your remote control. Wipe with the cloth, use a Q-tip to go around the buttons, and a toothpick can help with crumbs.
Keyboard time: Flip the keyboard or laptop over and shake it out. Clean with compressed air while the keyboard is upside down, so the dust will fall out. Finally, use a Q-tip and alcohol to wipe anything gross off the keys. To sanitize, you can do a quick swipe with your handy cleaning cloth, lightly moistened with an alcohol or vinegar solution.
When your wintertime fires are over, it’s time to clean your fireplace. If you don’t, you risk a chimney fire, smoke, or even deadly carbon monoxide gas seeping into your home, says Richard Ciresi, owner of Aire Serv in Louisville, KY.
How to clean it: Since cleaning a chimney involves getting up on the roof, and doing it wrong can have serious consequences, you should call in a professional to tackle this task. Once a year is the minimum for having your chimney swept if you want to use your fireplace safely.