11 Expert Solutions for Cleaning Hard-to-Reach Places

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Do you ever find yourself avoiding cleaning hard-to-reach places because it’s a hassle to haul out the ladder or step stool?

If you’re short like me, and can best be described as “vertically challenged,” you might put off dusting hard-to-reach places like ceiling fans or that gap above kitchen cabinets. Taller folk may even find it tough to clean things like refrigerator coils or that space behind the toilet. But then the grime builds up, and your home looks shabby. Good news: I’ve got some cleaning tips and hacks for hard-to-reach places, so you can clean those spots regularly without needing to haul a ladder around.

1. Ceiling Fans

I used to wonder why my ceiling fans seemed to collect so much dust when the rest of my home is clean. It turns out, that’s the nature of ceiling fans. The reason ceiling fan blades get so dirty is because their constant motion creates static electricity which attracts and holds onto dust.

To easily clean ceiling fans, slide a pillowcase over each blade and pull it back, trapping the dust inside. Spray the inside of the pillowcase with all-purpose cleaner first to remove even more grime. Here are some other ways to clean ceiling fans, especially those on cathedral ceilings or other hard-to-reach places:

  • Extendable duster: Use an extension duster with a microfiber or electrostatic head to wipe the top, sides, and bottom of the blades. Be sure to dust the top of the fan housing, too.
  • Vacuum with a long attachment wand: Attach your vacuum’s dust brush to the attachment wand and secure that to the hose. Gently brush the top, sides, and bottom of the ceiling fan blades and housing. The soft brush bristles will loosen grime and the suction will remove it rather than knocking into your face.
  • Ceiling fan dust brush: These dusters are oval shaped and covered in bristles, so they clean both sides of the ceiling fan blade at once. Attach the ceiling fan duster to your extension pole or the end of a broomstick for hard-to-reach fans.
  • Broom and cloth: Dampen a microfiber cloth and secure it to your broom or mop handle with a rubber band. Use this to reach up to the blades and wipe.
  • Ladder and damp cloth: Climb a ladder carefully, with someone holding it for stability. Wipe the blades with a damp cloth or use the pillowcase method mentioned earlier. If you do not have someone to hold the ladder for safety, use one of the other methods.

Pro tip! Once you’ve cleaned your ceiling fan’s blades, attach a used dryer sheet to the end of a broom or mop with a rubber band and wipe the top and bottom of each blade to create an anti-static coating that will help keep them from collecting dust. This cleaning hack will make future dusting easier.

2. Bathroom Exhaust Fans

I never gave much thought to our bathroom exhaust fans aside from turning them on to remove odors or running them after a shower to prevent mildew. Then one summer, even running my bathroom fan for half an hour did nothing to get rid of the shower steam. Out came my ladder, off came the fan cover, and down came an avalanche of dust and debris.

Bathroom fans help keep the air fresh, but the slots between the fan blades can harbor dust and grime. This buildup can cause the fan motor to overheat and, since dust is combustible, it can start a house fire.  Follow these steps to clean your bathroom exhaust fan:

  1. Turn off the power supply to the fan at the breaker
  2. Remove the fan cover by gently pulling it down then pinching the two U-pins on either side together and sliding them out of the housing.
  3. Use compressed air to blow dust out of the fan housing, or use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to suction it away. 
  4. Wash the fan cover in warm, soapy water then rinse and dry it well before reinstalling it.
  5. Clean your bathroom exhaust fans in this manner at least twice a year. Between cleanings, dust or vacuum the fan cover when you clean your bathroom.

3. Ceiling Corners

Dust isn’t the only thing that collects in ceiling corners: cobwebs do, too. Spiders like to make their homes in undisturbed places, so cobwebs in your ceiling corners are a sign you need to step up your cleaning game. To clean the high corners of rooms, use a wand vacuum attachment, an extension duster, or a broom handle covered by a clean microfiber cloth. Use these tools to clean hard-to-reach places monthly to keep your home cobweb-free.

4. Above Kitchen Cabinets

Many homes, including mine, have a gap between the tops of the kitchen cabinets and the ceilings. Whether that space is an inch or a foot-tall gap, it collects dust, grease, and even stray cooking particles. This grimy buildup can attract household pests and create unpleasant odors. To clean the gap above your kitchen cabinets, follow these steps:

  1. Use your vacuum’s dust brush or crevice attachment to remove dry dust.
  2. Remove grimy grease with a microfiber cloth and warm, soapy water. Rinse the area with a fresh, damp cloth and dry it with a towel.
  3. Line the top of your kitchen cabinets with paper towels or wax paper to catch future dust and grime, then cleaning them is as easy as replacing the liner.

5. Door and Window Frames

As I explain in my Daily Small Wins cleaning series, door and window frames collect a surprising amount of dust. Every time you enter the room or open the window, that dust gets disturbed and floats around in your home’s air. Fortunately, cleaning your door and window frames is easy: wipe them with an extension duster, a dry mop, or a broom with a microfiber cloth attached. Use a damp, soapy rag to clean any stubborn smudges, too. Cleaning these two hard-to-reach areas helps ensure your home looks well-maintained.

6. Blinds and Curtain Rods

Blinds and curtain rods can be tricky to clean without the right tools. Dust and dirt buildup here can make your window treatments look dingy. To clean blinds, extend the blind fully then open the slats so they’re horizontal. Put an old, clean sock on your hand, sock puppet-style, and wipe each slat one at a time. Reverse the slats and repeat. For curtain rods, a simple wipe with a damp cloth does the trick. Go over blinds and curtain rods with used dryer sheets to repel dust between cleanings.

7. Window Tracks

Window tracks are tricky spots where dust, debris, and dead bugs collect. Besides making your home look dirty, this buildup can also make your windows difficult to open and close. Use your vacuum’s dust brush attachment to get rid of debris. Then sprinkle a small amount of baking soda along the track and spray it with a 50-50 solution of vinegar and water. The fizzing action will loosen the grime so you can wipe it away with a clean, damp cloth. Dry the track with a used dryer sheet to repel dust and keep your window opening and closing smoothly.

8. Behind and Beneath Appliances

Spaces behind stoves, refrigerators, and other appliances can become hiding spots for dust, crumbs, and even lost utensils. I use moving discs under my appliances so I can pull them out by myself. If you’re not comfortable doing that, and don’t have someone to help, there are still ways to clean hard-to-reach dust behind and beneath your appliances without moving them.

  • Use a long, flexible duster: Slide a flexible dusting wand behind and beneath the appliance, moving it back and forth to collect debris. Shake the duster outside and repeat until the mess is gone. Wash the duster in warm, soapy water and dry it so it’s ready for next time.
  • Vacuum with a crevice tool: Attach the ceviche tool to the vacuum hose and reach behind the appliance. The narrow design of the tool helps it fit into tight spaces, and the suction pulls out hidden dust.
  • DIY Duster for Tight Spots: Attach a microfiber cloth to a yardstick or long, thin dowel with rubber bands. Slide this DIY cleaning tool behind and beneath appliances and move it around to collect dust. Replace the cloth as needed until the mess is gone.

Dirty refrigerator coils will keep your appliance running nonstop, which means it’s costing you  money nonstop, too. Fortunately, cleaning the coils isn’t difficult and you don’t have to unplug it. If they’re on the back, pull the appliance out and vacuum them with the upholstery brush attachment. If they’re on the bottom, remove the vent cover and use a long, skinny brush to loosen the dust and your vacuum’s crevice tool to remove it.

10. Behind Toilets

That gap behind the base of your toilet and the wall is notoriously hard to clean since most mops don’t fit there. Unfortunately, that means you’ll need to do it by hand. I like to protect my knees during this task by placing a folded towel on the floor beneath them. The easiest way to clean behind the toilet is by wiping the area with a dry microfiber cloth to pick up any dust and debris, then spray it with bathroom disinfectant to kill germs and rinse it with a clean, damp cloth.

11. Nooks and Crannies in Your Car

Do you put off cleaning your car’s interior because it’s hard getting into the nooks and crannies? The easiest way to clean the space between your car’s seats and console is by loosening stubborn messes with a long, flexible dryer lint brush then vacuuming the gap with the crevice attachment. To clean under your car’s seats, slide them forward all the way and use a can of compressed air or a brush to loosen grime on the seat track, then vacuum the floor beneath the seat with the upholstery attachment. Slide the seat back all the way and repeat.

And when you’re done…

Cleaning can send dust floating around in your home’s air. To reduce dust and lessen allergy symptoms, run your whole-house fan after cleaning for 15-30 minutes and your system’s filter will remove the dust from the air. The less dust in the air, the less will settle on these hard-to-clean areas, so you can breathe easy and enjoy your truly tidy home.

Do you have any special tips for cleaning hard-to-reach areas? Share them in the comments and help each other out!

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  1. Katie, I’m also short, very short .🤗. This info is so valuable. I’ve been keeping house for 68 years and never knew about the used dryer sheet trick! It’s never too late to learn! Thank you.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Shorties unite! Those used dryer sheets come in handy. Be sure to check out the post about using them that I linked. There are tons of ways they can help around the house. ❤️

  2. Connie P. says:

    As always, great tips! I will be using the tips for above the kitchen cabinets! Can’t wait to see how much easer to clean next year when I just remove the paper towels. The window tracks have always been an issue for me, just always so dirty so love the cleaning tip. I also know I need to tackle those bathroom fans🤦🏼‍♀️!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Window tracks are so annoying! I feel like they get dirty every time we open or close windows in the Spring.

  3. Some great stuff right there👆🏻👆🏻. There were at least 3 tasks I need to tackle asap! Thanks for all the great info! ❤️

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hey, so glad you liked it! 😁❤️❤️