Cleaning & Organizing
17 Little Things Everyone Forgets to Clean—But Shouldn’t
No matter how much you plan, these always slip through the cracks.
Your 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, and wipe everything down with multipurpose spray. Soak drawers in warm water and scrub them clean with dish soap. These are the foods you should never keep in a fridge.
Yes, 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). Here are some other surprising things you can clean in your washing machine.
Windowsills and window tracks
It’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.
Kitchen drawers and cabinets
It’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. Don’t miss these ways you might be cleaning your kitchen wrong.
As 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.
Organizing 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.
Soap scum and mildew stains are haunting your shower curtain, but it doesn’t take long to clean them. Make sure you’re not making these bathroom cleaning mistakes while you’re at it.
All the cards in your wallet
You 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 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.
Their 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. Check out what professional housecleaners do every day in their own homes.
They may not have as many germs as once thought, but think: Have you ever cleaned a doorknob or a drawer handle? Ever? Take a few minutes and wipe down the most touched knobs in your house.
Vacuuming 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. Just make sure it’s not one of these things you should never vacuum before you do.
This includes microwaves, toasters, blenders, coffee pots, and any other small cooking appliances in the kitchen. Give each one a thorough cleaning, then be sure to clean underneath them as well. Here are some tricks to use to clean your kitchen in just five minutes.
Your 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.
Computer and TV screens
First 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.
Reusable grocery and laundry bags
Think 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.
Reusable water bottles
You’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. Don’t miss these other surprising things you can put in your dishwasher.