When you walk into your home, it’s pretty easy to spot what needs cleaning—dishes in the sink, muddy pawprints on the floor, dust clinging to the furniture, and cobwebs in the corners. So you get to work and follow your usual routine of doing laundry, vacuuming, mopping, and bathroom scrubbing until the entire space is clean and neat.
But is everything clean? Even if your home looks clean, there may be tasks you weren’t even aware should be part of your cleaning routine. While most of these jobs don’t require daily or weekly cleaning, a bit of attention every few months will leave your home cleaner, safer, and healthier for you and your family.
Emptying the dryer’s lint trap after every load should be routine because it helps the dryer work more efficiently. But when was the last time you cleaned the dryer venting duct? Dryer vent fires are second only to kitchen fires as the cause of fire damage to a home. At least seasonally, take the time to inspect and then use a long-handled brush to remove lint deposits from the dryer duct and outside vent. If the outside vent is clogged, the moist air cannot escape, causing musty odors and mold to form. Follow our full how-to here.
Reusable Grocery Bags
Reusable grocery bags are a responsible way to keep plastic out of landfills. But when was the last time you washed yours? It is particularly important to clean the bags used for produce, meats, and prepared foods after every trip to remove bacteria. Cross-contamination can also occur between cleaning products and food. Most bags can be machine-washed on the gentle cycle (remove the bottom insert and turn the bags inside-out). Air-dry them, and they’ll be ready for your next shopping trip.
Take a look inside your toothbrush holder. It can be a dark, scary place filled with scum and, possibly, mold. Hand-washing or a weekly trip through the dishwasher will solve the problem. Don’t forget the soap dish as well.
If you notice a foul odor coming from your bathroom and kitchen sink drains, it’s time to clean the P-trap. That’s the curved portion of the pipe under the drain. With just a wrench and a bucket to catch the trapped water and mess, you can easily clean it out (or find the earring you just dropped down the sink). Flush the pipe with clean water (from another faucet) before reassembling. Run the water for 30 seconds and check the pipe for any leaks.
Air Filters and Vent Covers
One of the easiest ways to improve the air quality in your home is to change the filters in your heating and air-conditioning system. Then dust or wash the vent covers that have trapped cooking grease particles and dust. Your air system will work more efficiently and you’ll have less dust on your belongings. If you don’t have a central HVAC system, clean individual window unit filters, kitchen hood vent filters, and filters in heating units.
Even with all the detergent and water flowing through the dishwasher, it can still use a good cleaning at least monthly. A dishwasher has strainers and drains that can become clogged with food particles and bits of paper labels. The debris begins to smell or redeposits on dishes. Regular cleaning with a quick scrub of baking soda and a cycle run with just a cup of distilled vinegar can keep the odor away, break down mineral deposits from hard water, and leave you with cleaner dishes. Follow the detailed cleaning how-to here, then try these tips to extend the life of the appliance.
Vacuums, Mops, and Brooms
The hard-working tools you use for cleaning deserve a good cleaning. Wash or replace vacuum filters. Check hoses and rollers for blockages, and cut away tangled hair.
Wash mop heads with hot water and a good detergent. Swish the broom in a bucket of hot, soapy water, rinse, and air-dry. With clean tools, you’re ready to clean every space—even those you didn’t know you had to clean.