Cleaning tips and tricks
You know the obvious of washing your towels and sheets, but what about not-so-obvious items like stovetops and coffee pots? Many items in your cupboard and pantry deserve a good cleaning too, so you might as well take the time to clean your home.
Sometimes, it’s not enough to clean what’s in front of you, but what’s up above you as well. “[Ceiling fans] need to be cleaned regularly,” Jacqueline Janus, cleaning expert and owner of cleaning company Two Chicks and a Broom tells Reader’s Digest. “You can’t see up there, but it’s a great place for dust to settle, even if you keep them running.”
Prepare outdoor furniture
Freezing temperatures outside isn’t an excuse to neglect outdoor furniture. “Give your outside furniture a good clean,” Jennie Varner, Brand Manager for Molly Maid, told Reader’s Digest. “Mix up a mild solution of dish detergent and water to clean umbrellas and cushions, and combine 4 litres of water to ½ cup of vinegar, ½ cup of rubbing alcohol and about 2 squirts of dishwashing liquid to clean glass tables.”
There are a few items around the house that you don’t even think about cleaning. Window screens are just those items. “Did you know that rain actually doesn’t make your windows dirty? It’s when rain passes through a dirty screen and carries dirt and debris with it onto your window that you see splotches after a shower,” David Flax, Vice President of Operations for Window Genie, tells Reader’s Digest. “It’s likely your screens accumulated a lot of dust, dirt and other contaminants over time, so prevent recurring dirty windows by also having your screens thoroughly cleaned during your next window cleaning.”
There are a lot of items in the house that are overlooked for cleaning – and that includes trimmings. Trimmings like skirting boards, wall mouldings, doors, and wall switch plates are all things that get a lot of use and need to be wiped regularly to prevent grime build-up. To clean these kinds of trimmings try using a damp microfibre cloth.
The kitchen sponge
The often thankless task of cleaning cutlery, dishes, and random kitchenware goes to the kitchen sponge. In the end, instead of actually cleaning it, the solution might be to just toss the sponge and get a new one.
Sometimes, the most overlooked spots in your house that should be cleaned are also the most obvious. Fortunately, dusting blinds is easy to do. “Close the blinds and use a microfibre cloth, a clean pair of cotton gloves or an old, clean sock to run your hand along each slat to pick up dust starting at the top and working your way down,” says Varner. “Next, close the blinds in the opposite direction and repeat.”
Outside of kitchen appliances
When cooking dinner or baking a cake, you don’t really think about cleaning the front of a microwave or the knobs of the oven – but those items can get dirty, too. “These items regularly pick up dust, grime, build up from cooking oils, etc,” Janus says. “Clean the front, sides and top (especially the fridge, it gets really grimy up there).”
“Coffee makers can get dirty inside just like anything else, and if you’re not using distilled water every time you brew, hard water build-up can take a toll,” says Janus. “Mix a 50/50 vinegar and water solution, add it to the water reservoir and start the brew cycle. I would recommend doing this twice, before running it again with just water 2-3 times to clear out the vinegar.”
You may be concerned with cleaning up your credit, but you may also need to clean your physical credit cards, too. “People often forget to clean the things inside their wallets such as credit cards, bus passes, library cards, and debit cards, even though these quickly accumulate germs,” says Varner. “To clean, wipe down with a damp towel or antibacterial wipe. Use a rubber eraser on the magnetic strip to wipe away excess grime.”
Cleaning the floor under furniture
You’ve heard of sweeping something under the rug as an idiom, but you may have also done this… literally. “Tons of dirt, debris and grime hide under things like tables, chairs, couches, etc,” says Janus. “Anything you can quickly slide to the side to vacuum and mop when you’re cleaning your floors should be moved, and bigger items you can use the wand or hose feature on your vacuum.”
Vacuum cleaners are an efficient way to clean your home, but you want to make sure you’re cleaning it appropriately. Unplug the vacuum cleaner when you’re cleaning and empty the bag, if applicable.
Refresh the fridge
When you take out your milk carton for your morning coffee, are you doing a morning check on the contents of your fridge to see what’s good and what’s…not? “Increase efficiency, save money and get ready for fresh ingredients by cleaning out your refrigerator,” says Varner. “Clear out old food and defrost your freezer. Use a sponge and a baking powder solution to wipe out the inside of both your freezer and refrigerator.”
Inside of appliances, cupboards and drawers
It may be convenient to place a clean plate from the dishwasher back in the cupboard, but the cupboard needs to be cleaned, too. Janus recommends removing everything from the inside of those containers and wiping down the inside before putting everything back in. Throwing away expired items is a good idea, too.
Taking a shower is a great way to wash your hair, body and generate great ideas. However, your shower needs to be washed, too. “To clean a dirty shower curtain, put it in the washing machine with two bath towels on the gentle cycle,” says Varner. “Add 1/2 cup baking soda to your detergent during the wash cycle and 1/2 cup vinegar during the rinse cycle. Don’t put your curtain in the dryer, but let in air dry instead.”
“Often, homeowners focus on the inside of their home during a cleaning-up but it’s important to evaluate the condition of the exterior of your home as well,” says Flax. “Gutters should be the priority. You want to be sure they’re clean and free of any clogs. Clogged gutters cause a number of issues including water damage, mould and rotting of your roof and siding, as well as providing a nesting area for birds and mosquitoes.”
Bedroom pillows and pillowcases
It may be gross to think about, but if you’re not consistently washing your pillowcases and pillows, you may be sleeping with 1.5 million dust mites. Even though experts recommend washing pillows a few times out of the year, it depends on how often you wash your pillowcase, which should be more frequent.
You already know to brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day, but there’s another item on the kitchen sink that you may be forgetting to clean. “People usually remember to clean their toothbrush, but what about the holder where it’s stored?” asks Varner. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to clean. “Rinse the holder with hot water and use a clean cloth to wipe down the outside. Next, fill the toothbrush holder with an antibacterial mouthwash, allowing it to sit for two minutes. Rinse and run the holder underwater and let it air dry.”
Yes, you should be cleaning your car regularly, even in winter. Think of how often you’re in and out of your car commuting to work or going grocery shopping…and think of the days of accidentally stepping in puddles or spilling coffee all over the car.
Gone are the days of popping in your headphones and taking them off without a care in the world. According to Wirecutter, you should be cleaning your earbuds at least once a week with a soft cloth and soap and water. However, you should wipe down your headphones more frequently after every workout.
On a similar note, you should be cleaning your phone more often than you think. It might be hard to wrap your mind around this, but you should really be washing your phone as often as you wash your hands. If you think about it, you take your phone everywhere, and, likewise, there are germs everywhere.
Baby bath toys
We know children like to have fun outside, but indoor baby bath toys are a lot dirtier than you think. “At the end of each bath time, we recommend soaking all your child’s bath toys in a tub of warm water and mild liquid dish soap for several minutes, then rinse well with cool water,” says home cleaning expert, Debra Johnson. “Once dry, store them in a basket or storage bin outside of the bathroom.”
Sometimes, when heating up food in the microwave contents tend to spill over. But cleaning a microwave should happen beyond just cleaning up a spill. Place wet paper towels in the microwave and then heat for a few minutes. The steam will break down food on the inside of the microwave and you can then wipe down the sides with a towel.
It’s important to remember that the things in your home that clean other things need to be tidied, too. “Things that clean other items, like your washer or dishwasher, need to be maintained like anything else to make sure they’re cleaning as they should be,” says Janus. “They make tabs you can run through your washer and dishwasher to clean out grime and remove odours.”
From high heels to suede shoes, you shouldn’t let your shoes gather dust in the closet and instead clean with the appropriate products. It’s possible to even put some sneakers in the washing machine.
You should be cleaning your toilet at least once a week, possibly more given how many people share the space.
To have a happy and healthy clothes dryer, it’s best to make sure that your dryer vent is in tip-top shape. That means cleaning the dryer filter after each cycle and the dryer drum.
The best way to clean a mirror is with a microfibre cloth in an “S” motion. Contrary to popular belief, moving a cloth back and forth just moves the dirt in the same area.
Pet water bowls
Pet bowls are actually quite dirty and since you don’t want Fido to get sick, it’s best to create a routine to clean your pet’s bowl.
Yes, you should be bringing out and cleaning the silver cutlery more often than you think – and if you’re planning on using it in the near future, you should clean it three days before you use it.
Gone are the days of writing letters by hand to keep in touch with friends and family, and doing homework by hand. Instead, we do everything online, and that includes touching the keyboard of your computer. Among other reasons, you could actually get sick from your laptop, so it’s best to clean it ASAP.
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