9 Places You Forgot to Clean

These nine places are often overlooked when you're cleaning. But if you want your home in tip-top shape, don't overlook them!

By Merryl Lentz

 

Those dust bunnies are hippity-hopping and shedding all over your house. Unlike their herbivore namesake, however, they are neither cute nor cuddly. They dig in and go into freeze mode with a stubbornness that belies their soft and fluffy forms. And they multiply with the velocity of flesh and blood bunnies. Here are some places you may have forgotten to clean where their camouflage hides them well as they hang out with dirt and grime, and how to send them running for other territory.

 

1. Window Blinds

Horizontal window blinds have a particular knack for hiding dirt. Go on, take a look. No, get closer. C’mon ― you won’t have nightmares for too long after this. Now, turn the louvers toward you. Yes, “yuck” is an adequate technical term for this window-protecting petri dish.

 

To clean, dust both sides of the slats with a feather duster or Swiffer. You can also use a vacuum hose or a can of compressed air. This process is on a par with the excitement of attending your local sewage committee meeting, but it must be done ― for vertical blinds, as well. Next, place towels on the floor, fill one bucket with warm, soapy water and another with warm water for rinsing. Keep dipping a rag in the soapy water, and running it over each side of every slat. When dry, wipe them with a fabric softener sheet so they’ll resist dust until the next cleaning.

 

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2. Couches

Under a couch’s seat cushions and behind its backrests can lurk a treasure trove of lost coins, and all sorts of tiny valuables. It can also be a rat’s nest of hair (pet hair and your own), crumbs, dirt, dust and toe jam. Because these areas are hidden, they’re sometimes overlooked during the cleaning process. Now that you know, there are no excuses.

 

First, use your vacuum’s brush attachment to eliminate debris from the sofa’s surface, paying extra attention to corners where shmutz can accumulate. Next, vacuum under the cushions, and whisk them with a lint roller to keep stray hair from making them resemble a rare breed of dog.

 

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3. Waste Bins

The curious contradiction about a waste bin is that it’s a container made for dirt that needs to be kept clean. Once you’ve managed to get your head around that concept, the upkeep of this contraption will be much less perturbing.

 

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First, put on rubber gloves. A garbage can is a bacteria factory: this is non-negotiable. Next, pull out any large bits of waste that may have eluded the garbage bag and put them….in the garbage bag! No, you’re not in “The Matrix”. Hose the can or rinse it in the bathtub to remove any lingering debris, then spray with disinfectant and scrub with a toilet brush. When it’s dry, it’s ready to go back to keeping the lid on garbage.

 

4. Picture Frames

A picture frame is like a hairdo: if it’s clean, it sets off what’s inside, but if it’s not, it detracts. Even a gloriously rendered, original Van Gogh ensconced in the Guggenheim Museum will look like chicken scratches inside a dirty frame. Well, actually, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea. Try to dust your frames every other day with a feather duster or other fluffy apparatus.

 

If you dust less often, remove the picture from the wall, dampen a cloth and run it over the frame, being careful to prevent the water from seeping into the picture or its mounting. Wooden frames can be cleaned with a wood furniture polish that should first be sprayed onto a soft, clean cloth. Frames that are made of pewter or sterling silver should be pampered with a top-notch silver polish.

 

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5. Dishwasher

In a convoluted parallel with the garbage can, the dishwasher is an appliance which cleans things and which, lo and behold, needs to be cleaned, itself! By following a few simple steps, you can banish, mold, mildew and other creepy substances, while enabling your dishwasher to run more efficiently.

 

First, take out the bottom dish caddy, and clear all debris from the drain. Next, leave the dishwasher empty except for a container filled with white vinegar and placed on its top shelf. Put the machine on a full hot run to eliminate dirt and odors. Finally, lightly coat the bottom of the dishwasher with a cup of baking soda, and put it through a brief hot water cycle. Take a break for about a month, and then repeat.

 

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6. Heaters

Man no longer wants to laboriously rub two sticks together to create fire when he could just give his thermostat the merest of nudges, so it pays to keep heaters in tip top shape. First, flip off the breaker powering your heater. Remember cartoon characters who would uproariously grab a live wire and turn into illuminated skeletons? If you do this, no one will find it amusing ― least of all you.

 

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If your thermostat is on your heater, use a flat-head screwdriver to gingerly extract its knob prior to removing the grille. When the grille is off, soak it in warm, soapy water. Next, you can blow out the heater’s dust with a blow dryer. It doesn’t have to be salon quality. Replace the grille, turn on the breaker, crank up the thermostat, and you’ve just successfully cleaned your heater!

 

7. Doors

Unless you live in a bank vault, the doors in your house or apartment are probably made of wood. They may be blemished with scuff marks, fingerprints (whose oil is a dirt magnet), and grime that can detract from the appearance of a room before anyone has even entered it.

 

Cleaning a door is a fast and simple process that will give you the dubious advantage of having more time to clean other things. The ridiculously simple method: wipe down doors and frames with a damp cloth, and use an all-purpose cleaner on doorknobs and stubborn stains. If you want to break a tiny sweat, however, whisk away dust with a dry cloth, or with your vacuum’s extension hose. A mixture of one teaspoon of dishwashing liquid in a gallon of water, wiped over surfaces with a cloth or sponge, will penetrate ornery grease stains. Rinse this solution by running a damp, wet rag over the door and frame. That’s all ― now you have time to calculate the theorem of the hypotenuse plus the algorithm times Pi.

 

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8. Plant Pots

Potting plants in used containers is akin to you using someone else’s bathtub. You’re a living thing; you need a receptacle that’s not crusty or rife with bacteria and communicable diseases. Yes, plants exist in dirt, but not filth.

 

To help your photosynthetic eukaryotes thrive, first scrub off salt deposits via a moist scrub brush or toothbrush with rigid bristles. Next, dunk them for a few minutes in a mixture of one part vinegar (a versatile cleanser/sterilizer) and three parts water. Thoroughly allow pots to sun dry. It’s beneficial for terra cotta pots to remain moist, as this dampens soil and makes it receptive to your plants.

 

9. Lamps

Cleaning lamps can be a shady proposition. OK, I’ll spare you from further puns. A clean lamp isn’t only sanitary, but it creates a brighter living space and conserves your bulbs. Glass shades can be dusted with a feather duster, then tidied up with a mild spray-on household cleaner applied with a paper towel or soft cloth. You can also fill a tub with soapy water, submerge the shade, rinse and let dry on newspaper. Fabric shades can be gently touched up with your vacuum’s brush attachment.

 

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Remove bulbs and wipe with a damp paper towel. Lastly, before you reinsert the bulb, wipe down with an essential oil or musk if you want to align your chakras, meditate like a Zen monk, and generally be at one with the universe.

 

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