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10 things you should be cleaning, but probably haven’t


We all know the obvious things to clean around the house — the dishes, the stove, the linens, the floors, the bathroom. You have your to-do list. But there are a lot of places we never think of cleaning. Where are these little pockets of germs and bacteria that are escaping us? Roll up your sleeves, put on your rubber gloves and get ready to tap into your inner Joan Crawford.

Bed pillows

Washing pillowcases isn’t enough. Not to gross you out, but sweat, hair oil and sloughed skin accumulate on pillows. Toss the pillows in the washing machine on the gentle cycle, and tumble dry in with a few tennis balls to keep them fluffy.

Washing machine

Your washer can breed mold and mildew, resulting in unpleasant odors.  And those odors can transfer to your clothing during the wash cycle. To clean the washer, run it empty at its fullest capacity with the hottest water, and add a quart of vinegar and a cup of baking soda as the water fills the basin. Lift the lid to let it all soak for an hour, and then complete the wash cycle. Or you can use washing machine packets such as Affresh — my washer even has an Affresh cycle.

Dishwasher

With the dishwasher empty, place a cup of vinegar in a dishwasher-safe bowl in the top rack, and run it through a hot-water cycle. Then sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher and run it through another hot-water cycle.

Toothbrushes

Since you put your toothbrush in your mouth at least twice a day, it makes sense to keep it free of germs. To disinfect your toothbrush, soak the head of the toothbrush in mouthwash for 10 to 15 minutes.

Remote controls

Television and gaming remote controls are petri dishes of germs. After removing the batteries, dip a cloth in rubbing alcohol and wipe the outside of the remote. Then dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and use it to clean around the buttons.

Can openers

Have you looked at your can opener blades lately? I usually run a paper towel through my can opener to get the gunk off, but for a good cleaning, scrub it with vinegar using an old toothbrush.

Kitchen sponges

What’s the point of cleaning dishes if you’re doing it with a germ-filled sponge? Just add the sponge to the dishwasher the next time you’re running a dry heat cycle, and you’ll get rid of most of the germs. You can also wet the sponge and microwave it to zap the germs.

Switch plates

Dirty hands touch light switch plates several times a day. Spray some disinfectant cleaner on a cloth and wipe them clean. (Never spray directly on the light switch.) While you’re at it, clean all your doorknobs and cabinet handles.

Shower heads

Mineral deposits can clog up the little holes in the shower head. To get all those tiny jets of water back, pour some vinegar in a leak-proof plastic bag. Tie the bag to the shower head with a rubber band so that the shower head is immersed in the vinegar. Let it soak for about an hour, and scrub the head with an old toothbrush. Rinse with water and polish with a clean cloth.

Chairs and sofas

Upholstered furniture collects dust, pet hair and cookie crumbs, but unless the upholstery is white, we don’t see the build-up. Vacuum your chairs and sofas regularly with the upholstery attachment, and don’t forget all the debris stuck beneath the cushions.