12 Things You Never Clean (But Really Should)
When it comes to giving your home a good, thorough cleaning, certain areas may seem obvious: cleaning the floors, vacuuming carpeting and rugs, laundering sheets and pillows. But there are other items and hidden spots likely to be forgotten, like your computer, the inside of your oven, and the plates covering your light switches. It may be easy to glaze over these areas during your regular wipe-downs and disinfecting rounds, but pesky dust, grime, and even harmful bacteria can quickly start calling these sneaky spots home.
Instead, consider adding these problem areas to your regular cleaning list. We know, we know. Another thing to clean! Fear not. It doesn't take much effort (or time) to ensure dirt and bacteria are kept at bay.
Your light switch plates, for instance, just need wiping with a bit of warm water mixed with a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Just be sure to wring out your towel thoroughly before wiping. Have extra stubborn grime from greasy fingerprints? You can remove the plates and give them a nice soak in the soapy mixture before drying them off and reattaching.
As for the inside of your oven, you don't even need to go out and buy a special oven cleaner! All you need are two basic pantry staples likely already in your all-natural cleaning arsenal: baking soda and vinegar. By mixing these two ingredients into a paste, you can transform the insides of this appliance in no time. So long, burnt on cheese and casserole drippings!
Read on for more of the things you probably never clean, but definitely should. Plus, the easiest ways to tackle them.
Your Wooden Cutting Board
Rinsing your board in the sink after each use—or worse, wiping them down with a bacteria-infested kitchen sponge—will not suffice. The grooves in wooden cutting boards can quickly become home to dangerous bacteria such as E. coli, especially if you use wooden cutting boards to slice raw meat. For proper cleaning maintenance, wash boards thoroughly after every use, and rub down with lemon juice and coarse salt occasionally to get rid of any lingering odors.
The Kitchen Sponge
Because it's a cleaner itself, it may be hard to imagine needing to clean your sponge. But this all-purpose kitchen tool—used to wipe down counters and sweep up crumbs—is the coziest of hiding places for bacteria like salmonella, E. coli, and staphylococcus. To keep your sponge clean, be sure to rinse and wring it out well after every use. And don't leave it at the bottom of the sink! Place it on a dish where it can air out. Most importantly, though, you should be replacing your sponge every two weeks.
In the same way that you sweep your floors and wash your windows, you should also be cleaning your walls (you'll be surprised what a good cleaning can do!). A little bit of warm water and dishwashing liquid can quickly banish grimy handprints and scuff marks.
From habits like sticking your pinky into your bottle of foundation (to get that last drop!) to mixing water into your mascara to reduce clumpiness, cosmetics can get pretty gross. The high water content in most cosmetics means your makeup bag can quickly become a bacteria hotel. The best advice: Be strict about tossing any cosmetics that have expired. Also, be sure to wipe down the rims of bottles after each use so that bacteria doesn't collect. Similarly, avoid wiping the mascara brush on the rim of the bottle as this will leave a deposit that'll clump and invite bacteria to stay.
Because your little one's bath toys sit in water nearly every day, they are excellent breeding grounds for bacteria (and yucky-looking mildew.) Clean them once a month: Fill a bucket or a large bowl with warm water and add 1/2 cup white vinegar per gallon of water. Soak in the solution for about 10 minutes, then rub gently with a sponge.
The Bottom of Your Oven
Chances are the bottom of your oven has been collecting melted cheese and grease drippings among other dinnertime residues for some time now. To keep this appliance in tip-top shape, set aside some time to give it a regular deep cleaning. You don't even need to purchase a special commercial oven cleaner; baking soda and vinegar will do the trick.
The Refrigerator Grill
The vent at the bottom of the refrigerator spends its life cooling the old freeze box—it also collects dust in pretty impressive quantities (especially if you don't dust or sweep regularly). You only need to clean it once or twice a year, but it's worth it; it'll preserve the life of the machine. Use a vacuum with the crevice attachment over the vent to remove dust bunnies.
The Shower Drain
Got some standing water in your shower? It's probably because you haven't cleaned the shower drain in a while and particles, oils, and your own hair have started to collect. To prevent this, aim to clean your shower drain weekly using our DIY drain cleaner.
A particularly dirty mop can leave a sour smell on your floors. Rinse your mop after each use in a bucket of clean, hot water. Hang the mop to dry in a well-ventilated area. Alternatively, you can try clamping an old towel onto a sponge mop head. Then, when it's time to clean, you can just detach the towel and throw it in the washing machine.
Light Switch Plates
Considering how often we touch them, switch plates are probably covered in grime from our oily fingertips. To de-germ them, clean with a cloth dampened with warm water and mild dishwashing liquid. Wring the cloth well before using. To avoid damaging the switch, never spray cleaner directly onto the plate. To clean very dirty plates, remove them from the wall and wash them in warm, soapy water. Rinse and dry thoroughly.
Your Damp Umbrella
But the rain washes it, right? Wrong. You should rinse your umbrella regularly with a spray hose to prevent buildup of mildew. In addition, be careful not to store the umbrella when it's still damp. Mildew will move in and stay. For persistent stains, remove the cover (if possible), checking to see if it's machine-washable, and launder with cold water and a cup of oxygen bleach.
Be it a laptop or a desktop, it's probably dusty. Electrical equipment generates static, which means your computer is prone to attracting dust. And the keyboard can get especially grimy as a result of constant contact with your hands. Plus, let's be honest, how often do you eat over that keyboard? For regular upkeep, aim to dust your computer weekly and wipe down your screen with a microfiber cleaning cloth. For extra stubborn grime, dampen the cloth with and a mixture of mild soap and water.