10 commonly missed cleaning spots

Green glove and soap wiping a window
Photo by gorillaimages/Shutterstock

Of course the new year is a great time to start over. And then there’s that fresh feeling you get at the beginning of the school year each September—no matter how long it’s been since you actually sat inside a classroom. But our favourite time to start anew is in the spring, when you can empty your closets of sports equipment and patio chairs, open the windows to get some fresh air flowing, and purge all those sweaters and jackets you didn’t touch all winter. While you’re doing that, it’s also a great time to clean those places that rarely—if ever—get attention. If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few important but commonly missed places to add to your list.

1. The vacuum. Chances are, when you pull out the vacuum, you’re thinking about all the dust and dirt on the rug, or maybe even the couch. But what about all the dirt that accumulates inside the vacuum itself? Take everything apart so that you can wipe down or remove the leftover filth sitting in the canister and beater bar. It’s not an easy task, but it really pays off once you see how much better the machine picks up dirt everywhere else in the house.

2. The washer and dryer. Other appliances that could likely use your attention are the washer and dryer. Your washing machine isn’t going to do a very good job cleaning your clothes if it’s accumulating a bunch of mold and mildew. Run a cup of white vinegar through the warm cycle to break up mineral deposits and clean any dirt caught in the drain. You can also pour the solution onto a rag to remove any grime that’s built up in the corners and around the loading area. As for the dryer, if you’re not already emptying the lint trap with every use, start now. To go above and beyond, take the filter out and gently rinse it with warm water. And while you’re at it, check that the dryer exhaust outside your house is clear of debris. This will ensure hot air is able to escape the flap vent without any blockages.  

3. Underneath rugs. This sounds like an easy one, but it’s really about how you clean under your rugs. In short, don’t just pull up the corners. Maybe that’s okay for a last-minute floor clean before some unexpected house guests walk through the door, but once in awhile, you should roll it up completely and wash every inch of the floor. Then vacuum the underside of the rug before laying it back down, so you don’t dirty the surface you just spent time cleaning.

4. Sink and tub drains. Cleaning your sink drains goes beyond just unclogging them—though that’s important too. Once you’ve removed the big stuff (hair, soap, leftover bath salts), freshen up your drains with a homemade vinegar solution. Pouring a combination of baking soda, table salt, vinegar, and hot water down rarely used sinks and tubs will keep them flowing freely.

5. Above everything. You might feel like you’re going above and beyond once you start pulling everything out of its original place, but when it comes to dusting, the most commonly missed places tend to be on top of things. As the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” Don’t forget to wipe above the fridge and along the top of cabinets, window treatments, and even ceiling fans.

6. Garbage cans. It’s something a lot of people neglect, but what could need more cleaning than your garbage can? We’re pretty sure no one manages to keep the bag in place at all times, and even if you do, it’s easy to get food around the rim or on top of the lid. If you have access to a hose, start by giving the can a good spray. If it’s a deep one, use a toilet brush to scrub it with some disinfectant. With a quick rinse and a dry, it will be back to new, and you won’t be able to detect any lingering smells.

7. Light switches, handles, and door knobs. These are some of the few places in your home that get touched every single day, multiple times a day. But it’s not just about the germs. Despite how clean your hands might look, if you neglect these surfaces, they’ll be full of fingerprints, and that’s really only acceptable if you have a four-year-old in the house. Grab enough paper towel or microfibre cloths to wipe down everything, then spray a little cleaner on the cloth and buff to dry.  

8. Light fixtures. Don’t be scared when you look up—glass light fixtures can collect an awful lot of dirt and dust, but they can also be super easy to clean. Just place your glass shades or globes in the dishwasher. Of course they’re not indestructible, so you do need to be careful. Make sure they’re well secured in the top rack, and don’t add anything with metal or wood trim that could be wrecked by water. To be safe, it’s also worth removing them early and drying them by hand, since heat from the dishwasher could damage them.

9. Behind the fridge. The fridge is a big one: there’s inside the fridge, under the fridge, above the fridge, and the coils on the back. The coils can be easy to forget, but they might be most important—if they get clogged with dirt and dust, they can’t efficiently release heat, which can affect how well the fridge operates. Use a flexible coil-cleaning brush, which can fit into tight areas. It also works great on dryer vents, dehumidifiers, and air conditioner coils, so it’s a worthwhile purchase. If your fridge’s coils are located at the bottom, clean the condenser fan and area around it.

10. Bedding. Sure, most of us wash our sheets on a regular basis, but we’re willing to bet you generally skip the mattress and pillows. To clean your mattress, take off the sheets and cover, then sprinkle some baking soda on it. Let the baking soda sit for at least 30 minutes so that it absorbs any odours, before using the upholstery attachment on your vacuum to clean it up. As for the pillows, most (including feather pillows) are machine washable and can be thrown into the laundry to remove mold, bacteria, and odours. The key is to ensure there are no rips or tears in the pillow, and that the ticking is secure. You’ll also want to keep the load to two pillows at a time, use a small amount of detergent, and run them through a delicate cycle.

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