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10 Overlooked Places to Clean Around Your Home

Add these often missed spaces and appliances to your normal cleaning routine to ensure your home is squeaky clean.

A neutral colored living room with throw pillows and blankets. iStock

If you clean your home regularly, you may be under the impression that it’s spotless. But there are many overlooked places in every house, and chances are you’re making some of the same home cleaning mistakes that most people don’t realize they’re making.

Here are a few places to clean that should be added to your weekly, monthly, or seasonal rotation, along with tips on how to tackle these awkward spaces in your home.

Things to Clean in Your House

Baseboards and molding

The number one overlooked parts of the house to clean are the baseboards and molding that run along the perimeter of just about every room. Because they’re close to the floor or ceiling—and not near eye level—you don’t realize that dirt is building up there.

But peer closely and you’ll see that dust and grime are accumulating in these areas, especially along the base moldings. So, add the room trim to your list of areas to cover when you’re making your regular rounds with the duster.

Door frames

Like the baseboards and molding, door frames are a magnet for dust, and because you’re not often eye level with the top of the frame, you just won’t see it. The grime is there, though, and should be addressed every month or so with a good dusting or wipe-down!

Ceiling lights and wall sconces

A home office with wall sconces running down the length of the hallway. Chad Holder

Cleaning a ceiling light or wall sconce can be simple or complicated, depending on how simple or complicated the fixture is. So, if you have a light with many delicate pieces, give yourself plenty of time to do the job carefully and properly.

To clean these fixtures, you should start by removing the bulbs and wipe them down with a soft cloth. Next, disassemble the various parts of the light, taking careful note of where they go. Let the pieces soak in soapy water for half an hour, and then clean the soap off with a wet cloth and dry immediately with a dry one. Finally, wipe the base of the light or sconce with a damp cloth, then reassemble the pieces.

Light switches

Think about how often the light switches in your home are touched each day, and you’ll realize how filthy this area must be. And even if you regularly wipe down the panel, do you get into the thin grooves around the switch itself? Dust and dirt are prone to build up here, so make sure you use a stiff-bristled toothbrush to dislodge the crud from the crevices every once in a while.

Grout

A kitchen counter top with a tile backsplash. Anthony Tieuli

Grout between your bathroom and kitchen tiles should be scrubbed cleaned once a season, especially in high-use areas. Grout is a very porous material and easily stained—and the discoloration happens so gradually that it’s difficult to realize it’s dirty.

Use a stiff-bristled toothbrush, a bathroom cleaning product, and some elbow grease to rub away the stains on your grout and restore it to its original hue.

Throw pillows and blankets

Because throw pillows and blankets sometimes reside on the couch instead of on your bed, you may forget that they should also be cleaned regularly, just like your bedroom pillows and blankets. Make it a habit to throw laundry-safe pillows (or pillow covers) and blankets into the washing machine regularly, and more often if they’re used frequently.

Patio furniture

Outdoor furniture weathers the elements day in and day out and gets grimier all the time. It’s important to clean your patio table, chairs, and cushions at least once a year to keep them looking fresh; otherwise, they’ll become dull and worn-looking very quickly.

To clean outdoor furniture: Use a gentle soap, some soft rags, and a garden hose, whether the furniture’s made of wood, metal, or wicker. Don’t resort to power-washing or harsh cleaners that might wear away at the furniture’s finish; follow manufacturers’ directions with respect to outdoor pillows, cushions, and cushion covers.

Dishwasher

Most people don’t think to clean the inside of the dishwasher because they think it’s self-cleaning—but unfortunately, this is a housekeeping myth. Grease, food bits, and detergent residue can build up inside the dishwasher after months of use, which ends up leaving spots on the dishes and glasses it’s designed to clean. Plus, mold and mildew can grow in dishwashers that don’t dry completely after use.

To deep clean your dishwasher, start by taking out all the removable pieces and wiping them clean. From the dishwasher interior, extract any bits of food, remove the filter and scrub it with a soft-bristled toothbrush, wipe the walls with a wet sponge, and scrub the gunk off the rubber seal with a toothbrush. After you’re done, return the removable pieces to their proper places, dump a cup of baking soda into the empty dishwasher, and run it.

Garbage disposal

The garbage disposal can get very smelly very quickly, but fortunately, it’s easy to freshen it up. Just pour half a cup of baking soda into the disposal, followed by one cup of vinegar, and let the mixture sit for 15 minutes. Then switch on the garbage disposal while keeping the hot water running to rinse out the cleaning agents. Throw in some citrus rinds and grind them up for the finishing touch.

Trash cans

A gray kitchen with a bright yellow trash can. Colin Poole/GAP Photos

Even though they’re meant to be receptacles for smelly, messy garbage, your trash cans need to be cleaned every once in a while, too, otherwise, the buildup of odors and traces of spilled garbage will render them attractive to insects and animals, even when they’re empty.

To give your trash bin a thorough cleaning, start by laying it on its side and using a high-pressure hose to rinse it out. Then use an all-purpose cleaning solution and an extendable brush to scour the inside. After you’re done, rinse with the hose again, and let the bin air dry.

By adding these overlooked spots to your cleaning list, you’ll make sure you’re truly keeping an immaculate home.