Your Home Isn’t as Spotless as You Think—Here Are 8 Things You’re Forgetting to Clean
Even for people with a rigid cleaning routine in place, life in quarantine provides a few new motivations to keep things tidy. The introduction of new germs, of course, means you’re probably disinfecting more areas, more frequently. And then, there’s your garden-variety chores. Not only have you likely found yourself with more time on your hands than usual; you’re also somewhat confined to your living quarters—which means you’ve probably spent plenty of time scrubbing or decluttering every visible space in your house.
The key word here? Visible. While your efforts to maintain a sparkling-clean space pay off no matter what you’re cleaning, there’s always more to do. And just because you can’t see it (or don’t think about it) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cleaning it. Here’s what you’re forgetting to clean—and what you should prioritize on your next cleaning spree, according to cleaning experts:
1. Your sliding doors and window tracks
Maybe you’ve got the glass and sills totally spotless, but when was the last time you scrubbed down the tracks? The pros at Molly Maid, a Neighborly Company, suggest removing loose debris in the crevices of your tracks by vacuuming, then using a dry toothbrush to dislodge the rest. If necessary, sprinkle the tracks with a light dusting of baking soda, spritz with a mix of vinegar and water, and allow it to sit for five minutes. Then, wipe the solution and all the grime it picked up with a clean rag or paper towel.
2. Your hood fan
Your stove’s hood fan dissipates the smoke, steam, and other particles from whatever you’re cooking—so it goes without saying you’ll need to clean that, too. Molly Maid recommends wiping down all surfaces using a commercial degreaser or a mixture of hot, soapy water. Place the fan’s filters in a clean sink filled with a few inches of very hot or boiling water and add one-quarter cup of baking soda. Let them soak for several minutes, then carefully remove and rinse with clean water. Once all parts are dry, replace it in the vent.
3. Your garbage disposal
You might not see the grime in your garbage disposal, but by the time it collects enough to have an impact, you’ll probably smell it. According to Merry Maids, odors in your garbage disposal likely stem from an accumulation of food particles on the underside of the black rubber splash guard. After disconnecting the power, don a pair of rubber gloves, spray a paper towel with an all-purpose cleaner, and continue to wipe until all stinky debris is removed. You can also toss your entire sink stopper in the dishwasher for a spa treatment.
4. Under your fridge
Kevin Geick, manager of the biohazard cleanup company BioRecovery, says he’s noticed people often neglect the spaces behind and under the fridge. “Being that these places are hard to access and often overlooked, even the most spotless apartments tend to be shockingly filthy under refrigerators, harboring anything from food and dried liquid to bugs and pests,” he says.
To clean under your fridge, you’ll have to move it, being careful not to scratch the floor. Then, use a mop and a bucket of water and all-purpose cleaner (after ensuring the cleaner of choice is safe on your floors) to scrub away at the debris before sliding the fridge back in place.
5. Your walls and ceilings
Kelly Love, co-founder of Branch Basics, says taking care of hidden dust in your home is one of the most important things you can do for improving your indoor air quality. “Allergens and pollutants can actually ride on dust and linger throughout the home, so ensuring you’re hitting all of its sneaky hiding spots is key,” she says.
Two of the most common spots dust likes to hang out? Your walls and ceilings, which might visibly appear spotless, but often contain residue you won’t notice until you do a good deep clean.
It’s not as hard as you think. Prepare two buckets of water: one with 1 teaspoon of concentrated cleaning soap per gallon, and one with clean water for rinsing. Once you prep your buckets, dip your mop in the solution and squeeze out as much as possible. Thoroughly wipe all vertical surfaces, starting with the ceiling, then the walls, then the floors, making three passes over each area. To reduce the chance of inhaling particulates, Love recommends wearing a mask as you clean.
6. Your fridge’s water dispenser button
You probably already know to regularly disinfect high-contact surfaces like light switches, door knobs, and faucets. But you’re probably forgetting one thing: your refrigerator’s water dispenser button. According to Elise Kubicki, CEO and founder of Polly Cloth, it’s likely the button is worse than your light switches.
“If it’s no-touch, the rim of your and everyone else’s cup touches it multiple times a day,” she says. “If it’s a button you press, then multiple people touch it multiple times a day.”
To make sure your water dispenser button (and the surrounding area) is free of potentially harmful germs and grime, spray lightly with a disinfecting solution, following dwell time instructions on the label before wiping away.
7. Your fridge gasket seal
Because it’s sandwiched in the gasket walls, you probably rarely see evidence of dirt in your refrigerator’s gasket seal. “This may be one of the dirtiest places in a house if neglected—a pretty gnarly mix of grease, dust, and dirt may be lurking,” says James Scott, co-founder of the cleaning company Dappir.” To stave off the grime, James recommends cleaning with a narrow cleaning brush or old toothbrush and disinfectant of your choice.
8. Your sponges
It may seem counterintuitive to clean your cleaning supplies, but they can hold onto and cross-spread germs that can lead to stink or sickness. That’s why Kathy Turley, director of marketing at Home Clean Heroes, prioritizes cleaning your kitchen sponge on a regular basis. To remove the funk, simply throw it on the top rack of your dishwasher and set the machine to the hottest and longest cycle possible. If it still seems grimy, replace it. “If it look dirty, smells dirty, or it’s starting to come apart, it’s definitely time to say goodbye and replace it,” says Turley.