17 Little Things Everyone Forgets to Clean—But Shouldn’t

No matter how much you plan, these always slip through the cracks.

Refrigerator

01_fridge_little_things_you_istock/Anna_OmYour fridge could make you sick if you don’t clean it every once in a while. NSF International swabbed 20 Michigan kitchens as part of its 2013 Household Germ Study, and two of the germiest places were the vegetable and meat compartments in refrigerators. First, unplug the fridge and empty it out. Toss old containers and expired food (these are the foods you should never keep in a fridge), and wipe everything down with multipurpose spray. Soak drawers in warm water and scrub them clean with dish soap.

Pillows

02_pillow_little_things_youistock/eugenesergeevYes, you can put down and fiberfill pillows in the washing machine. Wash two at a time following the instructions on the care label. Otherwise, warm water on a gentle cycle will do the trick. The same settings work for your comforter (which can also use a washing). If you don’t sleep well after the wash, it may be time to replace your pillows.

Windowsills and window tracks

03_windowsill_little_things_you_istock/MaximkostenkoIt’s easy to tell when your windows are dirty, but windowsills and tracks often go unnoticed. Dust away any loose dirt and dead bugs (or use a vacuum with a brush attachment). Use a spray bottle of white vinegar to spray the area and let it sit for a minute. Wipe with paper towels and use Q-Tips for those hard-to-reach areas. For clean windows all year long, follow these clever cleaning solutions.

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Kitchen drawers and cabinets

04_Cabinet_little_things_you_istock/TerryJIt’s probably a good idea to keep the places you store all your food and dishes clean, right? Empty them out (preferably one at a time to avoid unnecessary clutter), toss expired food, and wipe everything down. Before returning everything to its rightful place, see if there’s any dishware you haven’t used all year. It would probably be better off donated. Just don’t give away any items thrift stores really don’t want.

Patio furniture

05_Patio_little_things_youistock/TimAbramowitzAs the weather warms up, why not make sure your patio furniture looks good as new before you actually start using it? The best part: You only have to clean it once a year.

Garage

06_Garage_little_things_youistock/JodiJacobsonOrganizing your garage is just as important as actually cleaning it. You’d be amazed how much stuff accumulates in there over time—and how much you actually don’t need. Luckily, there are ways to find new, improved uses for the junk in your garage.

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Shower curtain

07_showercurtain_little_things_you_istock/LokibahoSoap scum and mildew stains are haunting your shower curtain, but it doesn’t take long to clean them. Just toss it in the washing machine with any of these homemade cleaning solutions.

All the cards in your wallet

08_Wallet_little_things_youistock/cveltriYou use them almost every day, probably without thinking of how many times you touch them and how few times you’ve actually cleaned them (the answer: zero). A 2012 study found that one in 10 bank cards were contaminated with fecal matter. Wipe the card with a damp cloth or anti-bacterial wipe, then gently scrub the magnetic strip with an eraser.

Keys

09_Keys_little_things_you_istock/akinshinKeys are another item you use daily, so they can definitely use a wash. To keep them clean and prevent rust, scrub with lemon and salt and rinse with dish soap. If they’re already rusty, soak them in a vinegar and water mixture for 20 minutes, rinse, then put them back in for another 30 minutes. This ensures the rust comes out completely.

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Garbage bins

010_Garbage_little_things_youistock/RyanJLaneTheir name implies that garbage bins are supposed to be dirty, but washing them out with a hose every once in a while will make taking out the trash a slightly less painful chore.

Door knobs

011_Doorknobs_little_things_you_istock/silverlining56They may not have as many germs as once thought, but think: Have you ever cleaned a door knob or a drawer handle? Ever? Take a few minutes and wipe down the most touched knobs in your house.

Area rugs

012_arearugs_little_things_youistock/irina88wVacuuming rugs is easy enough to remember, but lift them up and you’ll find a whole lot of dirt and dust hiding in plain sight.

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Small appliances

013_smallappliances_little_things_youistock/BrianAJacksonThis includes microwaves, toasters, blenders, coffee pots, and any other small cooking appliances in the kitchen. Follow these instructions to give each one a thorough cleaning, then be sure to clean underneath them as well.

Toys

014_Toys_little_things_youistock/FatCameraYour child’s rubber ducky is a sneakily perfect location for mold. Take necessary precautions to prevent and remove mold on any bath toys. For that large bin of dolls and plastic trains, enlist your kids to help. Spend an afternoon going through toy bins, separating ones they want to keep and ones to donate, and clean each toy before putting it back. You can watch a funny family movie to make the time pass faster.

Computer and TV screens

015_Computer_little_things_youistock/RawpixelFirst things first: Make sure your devices are turned off and cooled off before you start cleaning. Wipe away dust and loose dirt with a soft cloth. Dip that cloth into a solution equal parts water and isopropyl alcohol and wring it out (it should be damp, but not wet). Gently wipe the screen and dry with a second cloth. And as long as you’re cleaning technological appliances, here’s how to clean your phone.

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Reusable grocery and laundry bags

016_re_little_things_youistock/RawpixelThink of all the places these bags have been: the floor, the trunk of your car, the kitchen counter, the table at the Laundromat. It’s time to give them a good cleaning. Throw them in the washing machine on a hot water regular cycle with the rest of your clothes. They can go in the dryer too. Here are more things you never knew you could put in the washing machine.

Reusable water bottles

017_water_little_things_youistock/tezzstockYou’re helping the environment. You’re staying hydrated. Now use your reusable water bottle to stay healthy and add it to your next load of dirty dishes.

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