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

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

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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.

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.

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.

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.
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