If you’re struggling to stay on top of housework during lockdown, you are not alone! We have more time than ever, but I for one am seriously slacking on some of the less-obvious chores. Check out the list and see if you ever forget to clean these areas.
Have you ever heard of clutter blindness? It’s that thing where you get so used to living in and amongst clutter that your brain literally stops noticing it. It’s one of the reasons why clutter problems often get so out of hand. Accumulation doesn’t happen overnight; it happens gradually, and if you’re living with it every day, you hardly even notice.
Well, dirt and grime are the same way. I don’t know if there’s a term for it (dirt blind?), but I think I have it. When I left the house regularly and my schedule was a little more, ahem, active, I used a tracking system to stay on top of my housework. But since lockdown, I haven’t been using my housekeeping system. I just do the basics on Saturdays because it’s not like I have any other plans.
But there’s a lot more to keeping a truly clean house than just vacuuming floors and cleaning toilet seats. And if you’re like me, you may have been slacking in some of these areas. It’s the kind of thing that happens so gradually that stuff has to get really bad for you to even notice.
1 | Base of toilet (and the floor around it, and the wall behind it, and the handle…)
Now, before you click away in disgust, let me clarify…I disinfect the toilet seat, tank, lid, and rim area every week with Clorox wipes, and I scrub the inside of the bowl with a Hydrogen Peroxide-based toilet bowl cleaner (I’m not an animal).
But the bottom of the toilet and area behind it is another matter. I hope I’m not the only one who tends to neglect these spots until, well, they can no longer be neglected. (If you live with dudes, you know what I’m talking about.)
So get yourself some bathroom cleaning gloves and get to work! Here’s a video that will teach you everything you never wanted to know about cleaning a toilet:
2 | Switchplates & doorknobs
Or, really any touchpoints around your home. Maybe you went on a disinfecting rampage when news of the novel Coronavirus broke, or maybe you’re just naturally a germaphobe. But if not, go ahead and tackle these now.
Obviously, you don’t want to spray liquid directly onto a light switch, so spray your disinfectant (I use 70% rubbing alcohol) on a cloth and wipe the area. For doorknobs and other handles, you can spray those directly with your disinfectant and let it air dry. You can also use disinfecting wipes if that’s your jam.
I try to do this monthly, but if you have children or a particularly messy housemate, you may want to up that to weekly (especially right now).
Here’s a video listing even more points of contact that you’re probably forgetting to clean:
3 | Electronics
If you watched the video linked above, you’re ready for this one….anything you touch regularly needs to be disinfected!
Firstly….y’all, please disinfect your phone, like all. the. time. At least weekly, but honestly you should probably do it daily. That thing is nasty.
As for all other electronics that you touch with your germy hands, consider these touchpoints and disinfect when you do your light switches and doorknobs. For your keyboard, a can of compressed air or a small dry toothbrush can be helpful to brush out dry debris. Then, follow by wiping with a microfiber cloth lightly dampened with disinfectant (watch the video below for the full rundown).
Same goes for your remote controls and computer mouse. Stash a few Q-tips in your cleaning caddy to get rid of hard-to-reach grime in between buttons.
4 | In/under/around furniture
Maybe I’d be more proactive about this one if I ever found money in the couch cushions, but I have never once found anything more than a penny (rude). But still, there are crumbs and stray bobby pins to be discovered, so pull off your couch cushions and go to town. If your cushions aren’t removable, use the skinny vacuum hose attachment to dig into the nooks and crannies.
And if you had the foresight to purchase upholstered furniture with removable covers, throw those babies in the washer and bask in the glory of a truly clean sofa.
Cleaning the piece itself is only half the battle — there’s nasty bits underneath your furniture as well. If you have pets or children or allergies, this is an essential task. Bill and I are adult people with a self-cleaning shorthair cat, and the amount of fur, hair accessories, and bits of food that I find when I move the couch is truly shameful.
And under the bed? My god. We could make a second cat with all the fur I find under there (not to mention those missing single socks….) If you can move the piece of furniture safely, by all means do so. Otherwise, use that long skinny vacuum hose attachment to get all up in those areas where the sun don’t shine.
5 | Underneath area rugs
I’m sure you’re vacuuming the visible parts of your rugs regularly, but have you ever lifted it up? Dust, dirt, and who knows what else works its way through the fibers and gets all over the floor, so a couple of times a year, fold your area rugs in half (pad included), and vacuum up all the debris.
The edges of your area rugs in particular are hot spots for dirt, grime, and sometimes cat litter (thanks, Mia). Every month, lift up the edges of the rug and sweep or vacuum under them to keep these areas clean.
If your rug is on the smaller side and you’re feeling ambitious, haul it outside and shampoo the thing. Here’s how.
Or, you can just freshen and deodorize your rug by sprinkling it with baking soda, let it sit for 15 minutes, then vacuum it up.
6 | Throw blankets and pillows
Unless you’re particularly messy (or you have children or dogs), your throw blankets probably stay looking and smelling pretty ok. But just because you can’t see the dirt, doesn’t mean they’re clean. After all, these puppies see a lot of action during movie nights or when your friend who thinks your 72-degree house is too cold visits. So, wash those blankets at least monthly.
If your throw pillows have removable cases (highly recommend!), remove them and wash according to the label. If you can’t remove them, spot clean any stains, then use a homemade fabric refresher spray like this one to give them that *clean* smell and feel.
7 | Showerhead
Can you say “mold city”? As much as I hate cleaning the grout in my shower, I do it pretty regularly. And yet, somehow I always forget to clean the showerhead. But I have no excuse, because it’s a really easy chore. Here’s how ya do it:
8 | Bathmats
I have seen some nasty bath mats in my day, and I’m sure you have too. Their job is to catch water after you step out of the shower, and anywhere there’s water, there’s the potential for mold. So wash these babies regularly according to the label (many recommend you air dry, so watch for that).
If you don’t want to wash them as often, make it a habit to dry off in the shower as much as possible before stepping out, so less water gets on your mats in the first place.
And for the love of god, close the toilet lid BEFORE you flush. When you leave it open, you’re basically projectile vomiting E.coli all over your bathroom (there’s even a term for it: “toilet plume,” which is much too nice a name for such a nasty thing, imho).
In between washes, you may notice your bath mats collecting hair strands, particles from shoes, and other stuff you don’t want on your clean bare feet, so shake them out weekly, then toss them in the dryer on “air dry” setting to fluff them back up (and while they’re in there, sweep and mop the floor!)
9 | Hair tools & makeup brushes
One time I stayed at a fancy hotel where the maid actually cleaned my hairbrush. I was shocked…it looked like new! And then I was deeply embarrassed because I had never once cleaned my hairbrush (not just pulling out clumps of old hair, but like actually washing the thing). Since then, I try to clean my hairbrush semi-regularly, because it nasty.
Guess what? Your hot hair tools are also gross. Learn how to un-gross them here:
Makeup brushes and sponges touch your beautiful face, and therefore should be cleaned super frequently (some recommend after every use, which does not happen in my life). My general rule of thumb is to clean anything that touches liquid (like foundation and concealer brushes) weekly, but the ones that stay dry (like for eyeshadow), I often forget to clean (whoops!)
Here’s a very in-depth video about cleaning all things makeup:
10 | Washing machine (and dryer too)
Yes, you need to clean your washing machine. Remember the whole where-there’s-water-there’s-mold thing? Also, soap scum builds up and actually makes your machine less effective over time. If your machine has reservoirs for soap and fabric softener, you may need to pull these pieces out and wash by hand to get rid of all the buildup.
Thankfully, cleaning your actual machine isn’t too difficult. The dryer? Eh, a little more complicated, but arguably more important because a dirty dryer is a major fire hazard. You may need an extra set of muscles if you have to move the machine to vacuum out the bowels.
Here’s a video that shows you how to do both:
While researching this post, I also just learned that your washing machine has a lint trap/pump filter too (wtf?). Melissa from Clean My Space put out the following video showing how to clean it, which may be useful if you have a newer machine.
Unfortunately, we have an older top-loading model, and from cursory research it sounds like this will be way more complicated on our machine. I’ll get back to you with results whenever we get around to doing it.
11 | Ceiling fans & light fixtures
As the saying goes, out of eyeshot, out of mind (or something like that). Get on a ladder monthly and wipe off your ceiling fan blades before they become too fuzzy.
You’ve probably heard that you can use a pillowcase to catch the dust, but the one time I tried this, it left a ton of dust on the blades and ruined a pillowcase. My preferred method is to dampen a microfiber cloth with all-purpose cleaner. Microfiber is the gold standard for dusting, because it actually, ya know, catches the dust?
Be sure to dust the glass parts using that same method (if they’re very dusty or full of dead bugs — it happens — you may want to detach and clean by hand. Here’s how). Also dust any exposed lightbulbs (make sure they’re off and cool to the touch) using a dry, flat-weave microfiber cloth.
Don’t forget about your lampshades! This video shows how you can dust fabric lampshades with a lint roller, as well as what to do if you need next-level cleaning:
12 | Window treatments
Dust is everywhere, even on your fabric window treatments. Since cleaning curtains is a Whole Thing (what do you mean I have to iron?!), I only do it twice a year. I’d probably do it more if I had dogs or kids, but you do what’s right for you. Prolong the period in between washes by using a handheld vacuum or hose with a brush attachment to gently remove surface dust and pet fur.
Same goes for your blinds. They make little tools for this, but I’m lazy so I just use the vacuum brush (turn the slats both ways so you clean both sides), and if I’m feeling very proactive, I may follow up with a wipe from a damp microfiber cloth.
13 | Purse or wallet
Ladies, clean the outside of your handbag! That thing has seen some shit, especially the strap and base. While you’re at it, go through the contents at least once a week. You’ll find all sorts of goodies that belong in the garbage.
If your bag is leather, make sure you take extra care when cleaning it. Here’s a safe method.
If you don’t use a handbag or briefcase, you probably have crap in your wallet like faded receipts, used gift cards, and business cards from some insurance salesperson you don’t remember meeting. Clean it out monthly.
And be sure to disinfect your credit and debit cards! I never did this before the pandemic, but I’m pretty sure I should’ve been.
14 | Car
Ok, this is one area where I’m simultaneously winning and failing in at the moment. Every time we come home from the grocery store, I disinfect all the stuff around the driver’s seat that Bill or I may have touched.
But the backseat? The trunk? No idea what’s happening back there. Back when I drove daily, I kept a trash bag handy, and would clean out the car and organize it at least weekly. I would even wet dust and vacuum the whole dang car biweekly or monthly. But I haven’t vacuumed that thing in months, even though there’s definitely dried mud from the last time Bill hauled his mountain bike around. Gross.
15 | Pet dishes
If you feed your pets dry food like we do, you might be guilty of this. I almost never wash Mia’s food bowl, because it almost always has food in it (she’s a grazer). I do rinse out her water bowl with hot water multiple times a week when I refill it, but I never remember to run it through the dishwasher.
To make this easier, I even keep a second set of dishes handy to use while her primary set is in the dishwasher…but I still have to remember to actually put them in the dishwasher.
Bonus | Your cleaning tools
Like your washing machine, the stuff you use to clean stuff needs to be cleaned too, especially after you put ‘em to work tackling all the items on this list (no, there’s no end to the injustice). I’m talking your vacuum cleaner, including attachments and filters, your sponges and cloths, and even your broom head. Here’s how:
You may have noticed a few things missing from this list…like an entire room of your house?
When I was drafting the list for this post, I came up with so many neglected tasks in my kitchen alone, that I figured it deserved its own post. The potential for nastiness in the kitchen knows no bounds, so stay tuned for that one.
And please let me know in the comments what non-kitchen areas I’ve forgotten to tell you that you’re forgetting about (huh?). If there’s enough, perhaps I’ll create another list like this one.
In the meantime, if this list didn’t make you sufficiently paranoid about all the stuff you need to disinfect when you come home from your weekly shopping trip, check out this fun little article from Grove. Happy cleaning!