The Dirty Dozen: 12 Places You Probably Never Clean But Definitely Should

So, you think your house is clean? Well… you might have to think again! If you’re like most people, there are areas that you never even think about cleaning, unlikely places where dirt, dust, and germs may be lurking. Even if your home has its share of “dirty little secrets,” you’re not alone: A 2012 survey sponsored by Kenmore found that nearly half of Americans—49 percent—say they cut corners when vacuuming by skipping areas underneath or behind furniture, and clean only when they see visible dirt on the floor. Because identifying the problem is the first step toward a cure, here are some commonly overlooked areas of the home that should be added to your housekeeping regimen—and some tips on how to maximize your cleaning efforts.

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  1. Underneath and Behind Furniture


    Vacuuming is certainly already part of your cleaning routine, but with just a little bit more effort, you can eliminate a lot more dust and dirt. With a low-profile vacuum, you can typically reach under most furniture; extension wands and brush attachments are handy for getting to those really hard-to-reach areas.

  2. Refrigerator Gaskets


    Most appliances have flexible rubber gaskets around the door, and these collect dust, dirt, grease, and moisture. A quick spray with a vinegar-and-water cleaning solution (one cup vinegar and three cups water), followed by a gentle wipe with a soft cloth, will remove the grime; finish by wiping with plain water.

    Related: Bob Vila’s Guide to Kitchen Appliance Care

  3. Tops of Doors and Windows


    Door and window frames often harbor large accumulations of dust and dirt. A regular swipe with a microfiber or feather duster will help cut down on the dust buildup; a regular monthly or quarterly wipe with a soft cloth and plain water will keep those surfaces sparkling.

  4. Infrequently Used Pots and Pans


    Pot racks are a wonderful tool to keep kitchens organized, but unfortunately, they can also be a magnet for airborne grease, which in turn attracts dust. Rarely used pots and pans and the rack itself should be removed a couple of times a year, given a quick dunk in hot, soapy water, and replaced.

  5. Inside Heating Registers


    Many homes have heat registers in the floors or along the baseboards, and these collect dust, hair, and dirt, which in turn circulate throughout the house when the heat is on. Regular cleaning can cut down on airborne irritants. Carefully remove the register cover and vacuum thoroughly, then wipe down with a moist towel.

  6. Telephones and Cell Phones


    Telephones and cell phones are breeding grounds for bacteria—but you can’t just clean them with common household cleansers without risking serious damage to sensitive electronics. Cotton swabs and microfiber cleaning cloths moistened with a mild vinegar-and-water cleaning solution will eliminate bacteria and cut through grease and grime; follow with a second wipe with plain water.

  7. Inside the Closet


    Believe it or not, fibers from clothes are a major component in household dust. You should vacuum the floors of your closets whenever you are vacuuming the rest of the house. Once or twice a year, remove all of the items from the closet and wipe down all the surfaces with a damp rag.

    Related: Closet Organization 101

  8. Computer Keyboards


    Computer keyboards attract dust, dirt, and bacteria. Every so often, pick up your keyboard, turn it upside down, and shake—you’ll be amazed at what falls out! For deeper cleaning, pick up some compressed-air spray. Unplug the keyboard, turn it upside down, and spray all the keys with compressed air. Wipe with a clean, damp cloth.

  9. Inside the Dryer Vent


    Dryer vents are prone to lint buildup, which keeps the dryer from working effectively and can actually be a fire hazard. Unplug the dryer and detach the vent by unscrewing the clamp that holds it to the dryer. Insert a clean toilet bowl brush into the vent pipe and dislodge excess dirt and lint. Vacuum and reattach the vent pipe.

  10. Door Knobs and Handles


    Even if your door knobs don’t look dirty, they probably are. Fortunately, a quick wipe will go a long way towards removing dirt and germs. Antibacterial wipes are ideal for this purpose, or use a soft microfiber cloth moistened with a vinegar-and-water solution, followed by a wipe with plain water.

  11. Refrigerator Coils


    Refrigerator and freezer coils attract a large amount of dust, dirt, and hair. Keep your appliances operating at peak performance—and save energy at the same time—by vacuuming the coils once a month. Two or three times a year, wipe down the coils with a soft cloth and plain water.

  12. Remote Controls


    Remote controls can get positively sticky with grease and grime. The quick and easy solution: cotton swabs and antibacterial wipes. Remove the batteries and go over the entire remote with a moist wipe, then use a cotton swab on and around each individual button. Dry with a soft cloth, replace batteries, and continue with (germ-free) fun.

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