How to Clean the Things You Never Do ... But Should

We often ignore important things in our housework routine. But adding a task or two is easy

By Emily Goodman and Jamie Novak Published Oct 19, 2022 16:31:38 IST
How to Clean the Things You Never Do ... But Should

You routinely change your sheets, but when was the last time you cleaned your mattress? And you run your dishwasher regularly, but how long has it been since you gave the machine itself a wash? Chances are, you haven’t thought to clean certain household items in a long while—and might not think to clean them at all, until they become bigger projects than they would be if you’d given them a little regular care.

If you feel you already spend too much time cleaning, don’t despair. Many of these tasks are easy to tackle, especially if you add them on to existing chores. And you don’t have to clean these items as often as you do other objects in your home. Here are some suggested routines for each—they are goals to aim for, not actual homework. To start, it’s enough to notice these frequently overlooked items more often than you perhaps have before. The nicest part? Most of them need attention only once in a while.


Faucets and ShowerHeads

*How to clean Fill a plastic bag about halfway with white vinegar. (Use litre-sized bags for faucets and four-litre-sized bags for showerheads.) Wrap the bag around the fixture so that every place where water exits is completely submerged in the vine­gar. Use a rubber band to hold the bag in place, and leave it for an hour or so. Then remove the bag and rinse with water, using a toothbrush to scrub away any lingering residue.

*How often Once a month.



*How to clean Empty all water from the unit. Check the filters and replace any dirty ones. Then clean any mineral deposits with a small brush and whichever disinfectant the manual or company website recommends. (Remember to wear gloves and goggles if you’re using a bleach solution.) Afterwards, rinse the tank several times to wash away all cleaning chemicals.

*How often Whenever you notice it looks dirty, and always before you put it away for the season. Let the humidifier dry completely before storing it.



*How to clean Remove the filter, utensil holder and racks, and wash them separately with soap and warm water to remove any greasy food residue, then replace the parts. Next, clear any debris from the dishwasher drain. (You’ll be surprised by how much gets stuck there.) Sprinkle baking soda across the bottom and set a bowl filled with vinegar on the top rack. Run a cycle on the hottest temperature setting.

*How often Once a month.


Washing Machine

*How to clean For a top-loading machine, pour 450 grams of borax (known in India as suhaga) into the drum and add four litres of vinegar. Then run the washer on the hottest and longest cycle available. For a front loader, pour 180 milliliters of ­vinegar through the detergent compartment, wait 20 minutes, then run the self-cleaning cycle. Afterwards, wipe down the inside and leave the door open to let the machine air-dry.

*How often Once or twice a year, or any time you notice mould or a foul odour.


Refrigerator Coils

*How to clean Pull the fridge away from the wall and run a handheld vacuum over the coils, exhaust fans and air vents.

*How often Once a year.






*How to clean These surfaces are delicate, so use a microfibre cloth to prevent scratching—and don’t ­apply too much pressure. A dry cloth is all you should need, but to remove stubborn stains, use a mild soap highly diluted with water. Put the solution on the cloth instead of directly on the screen, then wipe. Wiping in circles creates streaks, so use straight strokes, either vertical or horizontal. Don’t use glass or window cleaner, as they often contain acetone or ammonia, which can discolour screens.

*How often Once a week.



*How to clean Turn the keyboard upside down and gently shake it to dislodge any dust and crumbs. Flip it back over and sanitize with a disinfecting wipe. It pays to run one of these wipes over the mouse (and your TV remote) as well.

*How often Once a week.



*How to clean Wipe the plastic part with a dry lint-free cloth and scrub the mesh part with a dry cotton swab. Never use alcohol or disinfecting wipes on the mesh part, but you can wipe it with a slightly damp micro­fibre cloth if it’s really dirty. These tips also work for your cell phone’s charging port, although compressed air is your best bet for cleaning that.

*How often Whenever you see gunk.



Cabinet Doors

*How to clean Wipe down the faces and knobs with a damp microfibre cloth.

*How often Once a week. The interiors need to be wiped down only once a year.



*How to clean Mix equal parts baking soda and hydrogen peroxide with a splash of degreasing dish soap. This combination breaks down the greasy buildup that is common in most kitchen areas (but the solution loses its effectiveness if it sits around for too long, so don’t make too big a batch). Apply the paste with a micro­fibre cloth, then rinse it off with a separate damp microfibre cloth.

*How often Once a month.



*How to clean Do a quick pass over each lampshade with a handheld vacuum. Use the same attachment you would on other upholstered surfaces. (Speaking of this, you’d be surprised by how much dust and debris is hiding under your couch cushions, so vacuum there too.)

*How often Once or twice a year.



*How to clean Toss them into the washing machine, along with other seldom-washed fabric pieces such as oven mitts and reusable grocery bags. As for shower curtains, wash them every few months or so, and simply replace the plastic in­terior liner when you do.

*How often Once a year.




Window Screens

*How to clean Remove screens from windows; use an all-purpose cleaner mixed with warm water and apply it with a soft brush to loosen any debris. Then rinse with a hose. This is a job best done outdoors.

*How often Once a year.


Home Items


*How to clean Sprinkle with baking soda, let it sit about 20 minutes, then vacuum the entire surface. (Baking soda absorbs moisture and neutralizes odours.) At the same time, throw the cover and mattress pad into the washing machine. Sun your mattress for a few hours under bright sunlight to destroy dust mites and bacteria.

*How often Once a month.

Trash and Recycling Bins

*How to clean Scrub them—inside and out—with an all-purpose cleaner.

*How often Once a month.


Cleaning Tools

*How to clean Finish any job by washing your cloths, sanitizing your sponges and cleaning your vacuum’s filter.

*How often Anytime you clean.



—With inputs by Ishani Nandi

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