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It’s not enough to wash the cases, you should also throw the pillows themselves into the laundry (most are machine washable) once every three to six months to remove mold, bacteria, and odors.
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Out of sight, out of mind -- that seems to be most folks’ credo when it comes to the interiors of small appliances. Thing is, the insides see more action than the outsides, and deserve to be cleaned as well. For a coffeemaker, fill the carafe with equal parts water and white vinegar. Pour into the reservoir and turn the machine on. When several cups have filled the carafe, turn it off and let it sit for an hour. Then turn it back on and “rinse” with a few cycles of water. For a toaster, simply pull down the crumb tray knob or turn the toaster upside down to allow the crumbs to fall out; wipe the tray with a damp sponge.
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You’ve wiped down the counters and appliances and mopped the floor, but before you pat yourself on the back for a cleaning job well done, take a look at the ventilation hood over your stove. Once a week, wipe down the hood with hot, soapy water to prevent the buildup of grease. Once a month, remove the filters and soak them in hot water and dishwashing liquid before gently scrubbing. Some filters can even be tossed into the dishwasher.
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A buildup of dust around refrigerator coils (usually found under the unit) means they’re less efficient at releasing heat from the unit -- which means higher energy costs for you! Keep them dust-free and save money. Twice a year, clean the coils, either by vacuuming with the crevice attachment or using a refrigerator coil brush, sold at hardware stores. Be sure to unplug the refrigerator before you do this.
Photography: Bryan Gardner5 of 12
The fan in your bathroom sucks up moisture -- and a fair amount of dust as well. Remove the vent, soak it in soapy water, and scrub clean. Before putting it back on, vacuum the unit with the crevice tool.
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Chances are you dust the shelves but skip the books. Don’t. Left untouched for years on end, paper deteriorates at a faster rate. Once a year, remove the books from the shelves and dust them along the spines and tops, making sure to flip through the pages; this discourages paper deterioration.
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Dusting lightbulbs can make rooms feel much brighter. Smart idea: Use a new paintbrush to wipe away the dust.
Photography: Annie Schlechter8 of 12
Here’s a tip: When you’re cleaning, always look up. You may not be able to see the dust buildup on top of the ceiling fans, but it’s there. The easiest method is to use an old pillowcase to dust the blades. Stand on a step stool and drape the case over a blade. Pressing both hands against it, slowly slide the case off. Repeat with each blade, then launder the case.
Photography: Ditte Isager9 of 12
Yes, it’s just a receptacle for your trash, but if you don’t give your garbage can some TLC every once in a while, it can become a breeding ground for mildew or worse. Take it outside, rinse it with a hose, then use a long-handled brush to scrub the inside with a mixture of white vinegar and warm water. Rinse and let dry.
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Once a month, dust your window coverings using the upholstery tool on the vacuum (set on low suction). Once a year, if the fabric is machine washable, throw them into the wash on gentle cycle. If not, have them dry-cleaned. Curtains in the kitchen, bathroom, or in households with pets may need to be cleaned more frequently.
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We have two words for you when it comes to cleaning your electronics: compressed air. Keyboards, mouses, DVD players, CD players, remote controls, and laptops could all use some strong sprays of compressed air to dislodge dust and other tiny particles that may be impeding their performance.
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Washer and Dryer
It may seem counterintuitive, but the appliances that get your clothes sparkling clean may be dirty themselves. This is more likely if you live in a humid climate, have a poorly ventilated laundry room, wash with only cold water (which does not kill bacteria), or often leave damp clothes in the machine for extended periods of time. To remove mildew from the washing machine and discourage growth, clean the rubber door seal with a solution of 1 cup chlorine bleach to 2 cups warm water, making sure to wear rubber gloves while you clean. Then fill the bleach dispenser with bleach and run the machine without clothes in it through a complete cycle using hot water. Repeat this every two to four months. As for the dryer, have the exhaust duct professionally cleaned once a year. This will make it more efficient, saving you money, and lowering the risk of fire.