9 Things You Never Knew You Were Supposed to Clean
Even the most diligent cleaners sometimes skip over some pretty germy household spots. Here’s how to flush out the grime in a flash.
Microwave Touch Pad
It’s easy to forget about this small area—but it can become cross-contaminated when you’re making a meal, so it’s smart to clean it after food prep. First, open the door so you don't activate the microwave if you push any buttons. Then apply a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water using a cotton ball. Dip a cotton swab in the solution to clean the surrounding frame and door latch. Before you close the door, dry everything with a microfiber cloth.
A germy film (bacteria from raw meat and other foods) can form on this surface if you’re not cleaning it weekly. It’s easy: Sprinkle the drain with Bar Keeper's Friend (or another gentle abrasive) and scrub with a toothbrush, then flush clean with water. You can take it one step further and disinfect the area by wiping with a clean rag dipped in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water, then buffing dry with a cloth.
Kool-Aid Can Clean Your Dishwasher
The kids’ drink can remove iron and lime deposits from the inside of your dishwasher. How you might ask? The next time your dishwasher is empty, pour a packet of the lemonade flavor into the detergent cup and run it. Don’t go for cherry—lemonade is the only flavor that works. Why? The citric acid in the mixture fights those tough stains.
Most knobs are touched by various hands multiple times a day, so it makes sense to de-germ them every so often. Once a week or so, swipe each with an antibacterial wipe (stick with one per room, so you’re not spreading bacteria). Make it easier on yourself by keeping a few canisters of wipes around the house.
Refrigerator Shelf Seams
It’s not just that crumbs can get stuck in there—this is actually a prime spot for mold and bacteria to form. But a once-a-season scrub down is plenty (in addition to any time you spill in the fridge). Cleaning is easiest if you take the shelves out. Make a paste of equal parts baking soda and hot water and gently scrub where the glass meets the plastic edge using a toothbrush. Wipe with a damp sponge, wash the shelves in the sink with soapy water, then dry and replace them.
You’ve heard that you should toss and replace your toothbrush every three months, right? Well, germs and bacteria can get stuck in the bristles, so it’s also a good idea to give it a quick cleaning every other week. Swirl it in a solution of equal parts warm water and baking soda, let it soak overnight, then rinse.
Even if you don’t use your phone in the bathroom, it can be a magnet for germs, including the ones lurking at the bottom of your handbag and even the germs from your fingertips that end up pressed to your face when you talk. Aim to clean your cell phone every other day with a UV sanitizer or electronic sanitizing wipes (Wireless Wipes, $8 for 20, amazon.com).
Every time you use them, they absorb sweat and wax—and any with foam or silicone coverings attract dirt and dust too. Give your earbuds a monthly wipedown using a soft cloth dipped in a solution of dish soap and water. (Clean the coverings with just a dab of dish soap and a quick rinse.) Let dry.
Seems funny to think about cleaning your cleaning tools, but this appliance in particular collects a lot of dust that can be spread around your space. You can use the vacuum’s crevice tool to remove dust from the brush attachment bristles. Wipe the bin clean whenever you empty it, and use a clean, dry cloth to wipe the casing, hoses, and attachments.
This article originally appeared on Realsimple.com.