The Spruce | Updated on 01/31/23
Out of sight, out of mind doesn’t always work when it comes to cleaning. Sure, you can pretend that those areas you can’t easily see or reach are immaculate. But, deep down you know the truth and it is to everyone’s benefit to clean these spots periodically. You’ll reduce dust that can trigger allergies and asthma, kill some bacteria that can cause illness and make your mother proud.
1) Ceiling Fans and Light Fixtures
You don’t have to sit on someone’s shoulders to clean a ceiling fan or high-up light fixture (nor is that a good idea). A disposable duster with an extendable handle is a much better way to capture dust and spider webs. Choose a disposable duster over a feather duster because the disposable dusters are made of materials that cause the dust to cling rather than simply be scattered around.
If you don’t have a disposable duster, use a clean microfiber cloth and secure it to a broom or mop handle with a rubber band.
And if you must use a ladder, it’s a good idea to have another person to brace the ladder and come to your aid if you slip or fall. Using a ladder when you’re home alone is never a great idea.
2) Ceilings and Moldings
Take a minute to look up; you may be shocked to see all the dust and spider webs that have taken hold near your ceiling and crown moldings. Use a long-handled duster, clean and dry sponge mop, or broom to whisk down the dirt. Always do this first when cleaning a room so you can vacuum up the fallen debris.
3) Cabinet Tops and Tall Furniture
When you buy a disposable duster with an extendable handle, be sure to get one with a pivoting head so you can adjust the angle to reach to the tops of cabinets and tall pieces of furniture.
If you have allowed dust and particles of grease to accumulate on kitchen cabinets, use a sturdy step stool and clean with a soft cloth dipped in a solution of two cups warm water, one teaspoon dishwashing liquid and one teaspoon household ammonia. Wipe away the soil and then rinse with a cloth dipped in plain water. Dry with a soft clean cloth.
4) Window Blinds
When you dust blinds with a static duster, remember to close them and clean one side and then reverse the direction to clean the other side.
Or, to clean both sides of the slats at once, wrap two microfiber cloths around each end of a pair of kitchen tongs and secure with a rubber band. Then simply slide the tongs along each slat to wipe away the dust top and bottom. Toss the microfiber cloths in the washer and you’re done.
5) Window, Sliding Door and Shower Door Tracks
Window, sliding door, and shower door tracks attract dust and dirt in amazing amounts and cleaning them can be difficult because of the tight spaces. When it’s time to clean, you may need to remove screens and give them a good cleaning. Then, start by using the crevice tool on your vacuum or making a custom crevice cleaner. Removing as much loose dust and grime will make the rest of the cleaning easier.
After vacuuming, mix a solution of two cups warm water, one teaspoon dishwashing liquid and one teaspoon household ammonia. Use a flexible stiff-bristled brush to scrub out the tracks and then rinse with plain water. You may have to use some vinegar and extra care to remove soap scum on shower door tracks depending on the type of metal.
Here’s an extra tip on cleaning outside window and door tracks: if you have a pressure washer or pressure nozzle for the hose, a good burst of water can often make tracks sparkle.
6) Behind the Toilet
Unfortunately, the floor and wall behind the toilet are very difficult to reach since most mops and cleaning tools simply won’t fit the space.
This is when it’s time to grab some knee pads and rubber gloves and get down to work. Start by using a dry stiff brush to remove loose dust, hair, and soil (don’t forget the baseboard). The crevice tool of your vacuum is useful to suck away the debris. Then use a soft brush or sponge dipped in warm water and a disinfectant cleaner to wipe down the area including the back of the toilet base. Rinse with a sponge or cloth dipped in plain water and dry with a soft cloth.
7) Refrigerator Coils
Dust and debris on refrigerator coils raise your utility costs and keep your refrigerator from performing efficiently. With just a couple of tools and a little effort, you can clean the coils easily. You don’t even have to unplug the refrigerator.
The coils that condense and cool the refrigerant are located on the back of the appliance or underneath. For coils located on the back, simply roll out the refrigerator and use the vacuum upholstery brush attachment to vacuum away dust.
For models with coils on the bottom, unsnap the ventilated grill. Use a long-handled stiff brush and the crevice tool of your vacuum to remove dust and debris. Use the brush to reach into all corners where dust bunnies may have collected. While you’re there, also clean the condenser fan so the blades are dust free and turn easily. You may need to remove a separate panel on the back of the refrigerator to access the fan.
8) Dishwasher Filter
Most dishwashers have a filter that catches food particles and prevents small objects from being flushed away. Cleaning the filter regularly is the best way to have both sparkling clean dishes and no bad odors. Check your appliance manual to locate the filter–usually on the floor of the dishwasher–in your model.
For easy access and cleaning monthly, empty the dishwasher and remove the bottom rack. Use a soft, damp cloth to clean around the area. Some filters cannot be removed, only lifted, so be sure to clean under the cap. If you have a removable filter, unscrew and soak in warm soapy water then wipe down with a soft cloth to remove debris before replacing.
To remove any interior build up in your washer and deodorize, pour one to two cups of distilled white vinegar in the bottom of the empty washer and allow to sit overnight. Replace the bottom rack and run a short cycle in the morning for a fresh smelling dishwasher.
9) Garbage Disposal
With all of that water traveling through, you would think in-sink garbage disposals wouldn’t need to be cleaned. But just one whiff of a dirty one and you’ll know that cleaning is necessary.
Start by using the disposal correctly by running it with a full stream of cold water and allowing the water to run for ten seconds after turning off the disposal to flush all the debris away. If you smell bad odors, either grind some citrus peels while running cold water or add some ice cubes sprinkled with baking soda and grind with cold water.
NEVER place your hand or a scrubbing brush down into the disposal unless the electricity has been turned off–not just the switch–on the electrical breaker. At that point, you can use a stiff scrubbing brush and baking soda to give the interior a good cleaning. Switch back on the electrical breaker and run the disposal with plenty of cold water.
10) Heating and Air Register Covers
If your HVAC register and air return cover look like they’re wearing a heavy winter coat, it’s time for some heavy duty cleaning. If possible, remove the vent–usually just a couple of screws–and take the covers outside to spray away the mess with a water hose. Or, you can rinse in a sink or soak in some hot, soapy water because the dust often contains accumulated grease particles from the kitchen.
To prevent this mess, use the upholstery brush attachment of your vacuum to clean the vents and change or clean the filters at least monthly. You’ll have cleaner air circulation and your HVAC system won’t have to work so hard.
11) Computer Keyboards
Think about what you touch before you use your computer keyboard; not to mention all the things that land on it when you’re double-tasking a meal and work.
For safe cleaning and getting into all those nooks and crannies, disconnect your keyboard from the computer or turn off your laptop completely. Turn the keyboard upside down and give it a good shake over a trashcan.
Next, grab some compressed air and use it with the keyboard tilted at about a 75-degree angle so the dust and small particles can be easily blown away. Finish by dipping a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol to clean between and the tops of keys. Grab a new swab as each one becomes soiled. This will remove body soil and grime and disinfect any hidden germs.
Cleaning the keyboard once a week is a good goal. If someone has a cold or virus, it should be cleaned after every use.
While you’re cleaning electronics, don’t forget your cell phone and those accessories like a computer mouse and earbuds.