Things You Are Not Cleaning but Should

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Are you overlooking these places most people forget to clean? Find out the top 5 places most people skip and the others they don’t clean often enough.

Hand in latex glove holds folded cleaning towels and a sponge

Sometimes, it’s obvious when you need to clean things in your home. A sink covered in toothpaste splatters. A table coated in dust. A floor with clumps of pet hair rolling across it like tumbleweeds. It’s hard to ignore those messes.

Top 5 Things People Forget to Clean

Some areas in your home don’t look dirty even when they are. And since you don’t notice them, they’re easy to ignore. Now, that’s fine with things like dusty coat closets or cluttered junk drawers. Those things aren’t ideal, of course, but they’re not going to make you or anyone else ill. The things below can make your family sick if you ignore them, though. So make sure you’re cleaning these spots that people often forget to clean.

1. This Yucky Part of Your Kitchen Sink

Everything that goes down your kitchen sink’s drain slides across your garbage disposer’s black rubber gasket. The bottom of that gasket gets coated with a lot of gunk, too. If you’ve been unsuccessfully trying to get rid of fruit flies, this spot may be why. Household pests of all sorts love to feed on the grime you’ll find here.

To get your garbage disposal clean, pull up the rubber flanges on the gasket and spray them thoroughly with a disinfectant. Wait a few minutes for the solution to loosen the grime, then scrub the underside of the flanges with an old toothbrush. Rinse and repeat until the grime is gone. Try to do this weekly to keep your garbage disposal odor-free.

2. Your Pet’s Food and Water Bowls

Your dog or cat’s food and water bowls develop the same type of slime found on a dirty shower curtain, which is known as a biofilm. This nasty stuff thrives where moisture and nutrients provide a breeding ground for bacteria. Then it acts like glue, keeping the bacteria in place. Veterinarian experts warn this can make your pet very sick.

Make a point to clean pet bowls daily by scrubbing (not just rinsing) them to eliminate that biofilm. Then wash them in hot, soapy water and rinse them. It’s best not to do this in the kitchen sink but disinfect your sink afterward if you must. Once a week, disinfect your pet’s bowls by running them through the dishwasher. Or, to disinfect them in the sink, add 1 teaspoon to a gallon of cool water and let your pet’s bowls soak for 10 minutes, then scrub, wash, and rinse them.

3. The Bag You Take Everywhere

Did you know your purse might be dirtier than a toilet? First, there are those handles you reach for after touching money — and we all know how filthy that is. Your purse also picks up bacteria from surfaces you set it on, especially the floor. The sides of your handbag may also get contaminated with e. Coli when you hang your bag on a restroom stall’s hook. And, because the inside of a purse is a dark place, it’s also a breeding ground for mold spores. Ewww, right?

At least once a week, wipe your handbag’s exterior with a disinfecting cloth. (First, spot-test your bag in an inconspicuous area like the bottom or an inside flap.) Every few weeks, empty your purse and shake it out over the sink. Then, vacuum the interior using your machine’s dust brush attachment and wipe the interior with a disinfecting cloth. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes before putting things back inside. While you’re at it, wipe those things before you put them in there, too!

4. This Laundry-Day Essential

The inside of most household laundry baskets is coated with fecal matter from dirty underwear and bacteria from sweaty clothes. If you use the same basket to hold dirty and clean clothes, you may be getting grime over your freshly laundered stuff.

Plastic laundry baskets clean up well with disinfecting wipes or sprays. Scrub stains with hot, soapy water and rinse. Do this at the end of each laundry day, and you won’t have to worry. Fabric laundry hampers go into the washer for easy cleaning. Line dry or use a lower heat setting to prevent shrinkage. Do this weekly.

5. Your Floor Registers

Dust settles on floors. It settles on your HVAC’s floor registers, too. So does pet hair. Every time your system runs, it’s forcing that debris into your air.

Be sure to vacuum your register covers when you’re cleaning the floor — a dust brush attachment makes this an easy task. At least once a season, remove the register covers and wash them, too. If they’re unpainted metal, you can put them in the dishwasher. Otherwise, wash them in a sink of hot, soapy water and make sure they’re completely dry before you put them back.

26 More Things People Forget to Clean

Now, the list above is by no means exhaustive. People forget to clean all sorts of things in their homes. Here are a few other places you may be overlooking.

In the Kitchen

1. Your fridge and freezer gasket. It catches food spills and dust, and sometimes it grows mold. Use soapy water and a cloth, then wipe it dry.

2. Your coffee maker. Run glass pots through the dishwasher. Use a soft, soapy cloth on the rest of the machine. Follow these steps to descale the inside of a regular coffee maker, and these steps explain how to clean a Keurig.

3. The drawer beneath your stove. In homes with pets, this spot collects a lot of dust. Empty it and vacuum or wipe away the dust. It’s not a bad idea to remove it and clean the floor beneath your stove, too.

4. The gap between appliances. Use your vacuum hose and a dust brush to clean this spot. If there are sticky messes on the floor, fasten a damp rag on the end of a broomstick to wipe them clean without moving things around.

5. Your cabinet hinges. They get greasy and dusty, too! Wipe them with a damp cloth once a month. For really grimy messes, follow these steps to clean greasy kitchen cabinets, including the hardware.

6. Your tea kettle. Fill it halfway and add a splash of vinegar. Bring it to a boil, swirl it around, then dump and rinse.

Bedroom and Bathroom

7. Ceiling fans. Use an extension duster or slip a pillowcase over ceiling fan blades to remove that gray fuzzy coat of dust they collect.

8. Your mattress. Your mattress is basically a big pillow that soaks up your sweat and dead skin cells. Here’s how to clean your mattress and even get rid of stains.

9. Electric blankets. Yes, you can wash them. Follow the label directions or these steps.

10. Pillows. Tumble them in your dryer monthly to remove dust and help prevent mold. Then wash your pillows at least twice a year.

11. Floor mats and area rugs. Most people only vacuum one side of their area rugs, but that often leaves dirt building up underneath them. Flip your mats or rugs over and vacuum their backside and also the floor. You’ll get rid of so much dust that way.

12. Shower curtains and liners. Toss them in your washer with a towel to act as a scrubber and run them on a delicate cycle.

13. Sink stoppers. Carefully turn and lift the stopper out of your bathroom sink. Wash all of the nasty pink and green slime on the underside.

14. Showerhead. Spray bathroom cleaner on the showerhead when cleaning your bathroom and wipe it clean to remove buildup. For really nasty mineral deposits, follow these steps to deep clean showerheads.

Living Spaces

15. Candles. Dust and soot build up on candles, but they’re not hard to remove. Use an old pair of pantyhose or a nylon sock and a little warm, soapy water. Air dry.

16. Diffusers. Whether you’re using a diffuser to add humidity or just fragrance to your home, it may also be spreading mold and mildew in your air. Wash it weekly in warm, soapy water to remove grime, then rinse it in vinegar water to kill lingering spores.

17. Throw blankets. Sure, they make a sofa cozy, but they also collect dust and crumbs. Wash them at least once a month, according to the care label. In between launderings, you can tumble them in the dryer on a no-heat setting to remove dust and pet hair.

18. TV remotes. Wipe remotes with disinfecting cloths at least once a week.

19. Lampshades. Run your vacuum’s dust brush attachment over most lampshades to remove dust. For specific stains or special materials, check out how to clean lampshades.

20. Picture frames. The more ornate a frame is, the more dust it collects. But even minimalist frames collect dust in the tiny gap between the frame and picture glass. Use your vacuum’s dust brush attachment to clean this spot once a month, or even an old toothbrush.

21. Curtains and blinds. Dirty window treatments shed dust in your home every time you open or close them. Use your vacuum’s dust brush attachment to keep them clean, then wash your curtains at least twice a year.

22. Light switches and doorknobs. Make a point of wiping light switches and doorknobs when you’re cleaning a room. During cold and flu season, you should step it up and wipe them daily with disinfecting wipe. (Check out these other places you should disinfect daily, too.)

23. Door frames. The draftier the door, the more dust will build up on the inner lip of its frame. In time, you’ll see a fine gray smudge running all the way around it. Wipe door frames with a damp cloth once a season to keep them looking good.

24. Baseboards. No one enjoys this task, but it’s possible to clean baseboards without bending over. Doing this monthly helps keep your home from looking dusty.

25. Trash cans. Yucky trashcans attract pests and stink up your home. At least once a season, wash them with hot, soapy water and let them air dry in the sun.

26. Walls and ceilings. It’s crazy how much dust and pet hair collects on walls and ceilings. Use an extension duster on yours monthly or at least once a season. Check out how to clean walls and ceilings if yours have texture or stains.

Need Help Remembering it All?

My free printable cleaning checklists cover all of these things, so you never have to worry about the places people forget to clean. Whether you need a daily, weekly, or Spring Cleaning checklist, they’re yours for the taking — no signup required.

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  1. I use a grapefruit peel to clean the inside of my garbage disposal flanges.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Great tip!