12 Neglected Household Items You Should Clean More Often

12 Neglected Household Items You Should Clean More Often
Photo: No Mimimi, Shutterstock

You are reminded every day to wash your dishes after meals because they pile up in the sink. You remember to wash your tub when you see evidence of grimy build-up. You clean your toilet regularly for obvious reasons. But household items that slowly get dirty over longer periods of time get overlooked. Yet items like the dog’s food bowl or the dishwasher can harbour bacteria if neglected, and they too need a little TLC from time to time to truly keep your home clean. Here are 12 household items that often get left off the cleaning list, plus when and how to clean them.

Dishwasher

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It’s hard to believe something that cleans your dishes also needs to be cleaned, but your machine can get clogged with food debris causing bacteria to grow. The Washington Post suggests cleaning your dishwasher once a month to maintain its efficiency.

Fill a dishwasher-safe cup with distilled white vinegar and place it upright in the top rack of the dishwasher. With the machine otherwise empty, run the dishwasher on the hot cycle to brighten up the interior and eliminate bacteria.

Coffee maker

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As the only thing you put in your coffee maker is coffee, cleaning it out is not always the first thing on your mind. But hard water minerals can build up in its interior, affecting the mechanics and changing the taste of your brew. Food site Eat, This Not That! suggests doing a deep clean of your coffee maker once a month for heavy coffee drinkers.

Fill the water reserve with a one-to-one match of distilled white vinegar and water and set it to brew. Stop the brewing process halfway through, and let the solution sit for 30 minutes, then finish the brewing process to complete the deep clean.

Washing machine

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What really happens to the dirt and grime that is filtered through your washing machine after each load? It may be sucked out in the spin cycle, but particles of dirt also build up in the machine tubes and parts over time. Home and garden site The Spruce suggests cleaning your washing machine monthly to ensure your clothes themselves continue to be cleaned properly, and to keep mould and mildew from forming. Run an empty washer on hot with a quart of bleach. Run a second rinse cycle to flush out the remaining bleach and dirt.

Garbage disposal

Photo: SOORACHET KHEAWHOM, Shutterstock Photo: SOORACHET KHEAWHOM, Shutterstock

The garbage disposal seems like a household appliance calling out for regular deep cleaning sessions, but you probably just put it off because you don’t want to think about it. Home improvement guru Bob Vila recommends cleaning your garbage disposal every two weeks. Consumer report has three easy steps to a quick bi-weekly cleaning:

Step 1: With the disposal and faucet turned off, put six ice cubes in the chamber followed by 1 tablespoon of baking soda, three thin lemon slices, and 1 teaspoon of bleach. Top it all off with six more ice cubes.

Step 2: Turn the disposal on without running water until you hear the grinding stop.

Step 3: With the motor still running, flush with cold water for 30 seconds.

Microwave

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If your microwave gets regular use, The Spruce suggests giving it a weekly cleaning to keep the germs and bacteria at bay. If you have caked on food and bad odours in your microwave, put a microwave safe bowl of water and a couple of lemon slices in the microwave to boil. Let it sit for a minute then wipe away the softened bits. (For more microwave cleaning tricks, watch this video.) If you have a microwave turntable plate, wash it with the rest of your dishes in the sink or dishwasher.

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Refrigerator

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We have all been guilty of letting the jam container get stuck to the refrigerator door’s inside shelf, but you never want it to get to a point where every container is sitting in a pool of sticky goo. The home cleaning site Molly Maid suggests giving your fridge a deep clean every three to four months. Remove all items from the fridge and remove the physical drawers. Wipe down the interior with a washrag and hot soapy water. Wash the crisper drawers in the sink the same way you would hand wash dishes. Make sure to dry the drawers after cleaning. Once you’ve cleaned off any debris from the interior, wipe it dry and place the drawers and food back inside.

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Molly Maid also suggests grabbing your vacuum and brush attachment to remove any dust accumulated on the rear exterior fridge grill. Vacuuming will ensure the motor and cooling equipment is unblocked and working properly.

Oven

Photo: Creativa Images, Shutterstock Photo: Creativa Images, Shutterstock

The oven is often neglected when it comes to regular cleaning because doing so is so difficult. But regular maintenance makes keeping your oven sparkling much easier. Some people clean their oven seasonally, during spring cleaning and right after before or after the holidays. Melissa Maker, founder of the blog Clean My Space, told food and kitchen site Food52 to use your oven’s self-cleaning function if it has it. “The inside of the stove has a special coating, and if you use a sponge, you will ruin the coating, void your warranty, and your stove won’t work.” However, we’ve reported on the dangers of using your oven’s self cleaning function, so make sure you prep your oven for a self-cleaning before just turning it on.

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If you want to avoid the self-cleaning option, Mayer advises sprinkling salt on any spills or drips to absorb any liquid. Once fully absorbed, it can easily be swept or wiped away. This small hack will save you from a back-breaking deep clean down the road.

Blinds

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You never really notice how dirty your blinds are until the sun hits them just right, revealing caked-on dust. Architectural Digest’s Clever suggests dusting and wiping down your blinds once a month to avoid having to remove them and do a deep clean. And you don’t need to clean in between each blind — bring the blinds down all the way and close them. Take a microfiber cloth and wipe down the blinds all at once. Switch the direction of the blinds and repeat. Then, do the same process again with a damp rag. Use soap and warm water to remove any persistent stains.

Bath mats

Photo: Yusuf Ziya Arca, Shutterstock Photo: Yusuf Ziya Arca, Shutterstock

Bath mats are a welcoming home to mould, mildew, and all the bacterias inside your bathroom. The bathmat gets so much use that linen site Towel Supercenter suggests cleaning your bath mat once a week. Wash bath mats in the washing machine like any other cloth linen, following the instructions on the tag. Place the mat in the dryer on warm and remove it before the cycle finishes for the rug to keep its physical integrity. Do not machine dry bath mats with rubber bottoms. Instead, hang them to dry to avoid causing damage to the rug.

Air conditioner filters

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Air conditioner filters are crucial to maintaining the air quality in your home and keeping your unit operational. The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) company Air Conditioned instructs AC users to check and change their air filters once a month. They also suggest getting your HVAC or AC serviced twice a year by a professional. In between professional cleanings, you can use a vacuum on the AC coils and small filters to remove any dust or debris accumulated on the AC unit.

Pet bowls

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Pet food bowls are subject to harmful bacteria transfer from the dog’s mouth to the bowl, and any food left out can breed bacteria like Bacillus and Salmonella. Due to the dangerous bacteria growing in your pet’s food bowl, veterinarian site Vet Street instructs pet owners to clean their pet bowls every day with hot water and soap. Clean water bowls every other day in the same fashion.

Kids’ toys

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Kids’ toys get a lot of use and come in close contact with their faces ands, often, their mouths. While it sounds like a recipe for germy disaster, the disinfecting innovations site Safe Space doesn’t consider it a cause for alarm — kids build stronger immune systems when exposed to the elements, so they recommend cleaning kid’s toys only once a month. Clean toys more frequently if your kid has been sick or if they toys are particularly soiled. Wash toys that receive excessive use every week.

If the toys are machine wash safe, throw them in the dishwasher (or the washing machine, for stuffed toys). Wash dirt and grime off of toys with soap and water before disinfecting. To disinfect hard toys, put them in a mesh bag. Fill a basin with half a cup of bleach and one gallon of water. Dunk the mesh bag full of toys in the basin for five minutes, then remove and hang the bag to dry.

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