11 Things in Your Home You Never Clean but Definitely Should

by | Updated: August 16th, 2021 | Read time: 4 minutes

I love keeping things clean. Some people call me obsessed. I call myself anal. I live a minimalist life, so it’s easy to maintain this extreme.

As you might assume, I’ve found all kinds of home items to wash down and suck spotless. Here are 11 household things you should clean regularly but probably haven’t thought of.

Person Cleaning Door Knob at Home with Cloth | Vitacost.com/Blog

1. Kitchen sponges

Yes, you’ve probably thought of this one, but it’s worth including due to the constant debate over whether or not microwaving sponges sanitizes them. Studies go in and out of favor when it comes to the practice.

Skip nuking altogether and instead soak your sponges in a mixture of bleach and water, which makes them look better too. Clorox, the brand synonymous with bleach, explains how. I do this every week or so.

2. Refrigerator coils

If your home doesn’t have pet hair and isn’t too dusty, you can likely get away with cleaning your fridge’s condenser coils once a year. But if you’re lazy about keeping dust minimal, you might need to do it every few months. Home-repair master Bob Vila has intel on how to clean coils safely.

3. Microwave/stove fan filter

This is the aluminum filter that’s underneath microwaves and traps grease from stovetop cooking done below it. Check yours; it might not be visibly dirty, but if you use the fan regularly, it surely is. The smell test is a good indicator. Soak the filter in warm soapy water, and use an old toothbrush to scrub it.

4. Space beneath stove/oven and refrigerator

It’s a pain to move these appliances if they’re wedged between walls or counters, but rest assured if you don’t, the crumbs, blueberries and spills that have migrated underneath will eventually smell or attract pests. While you’re at it, use a soapy cloth to wipe down the sides of the stove/oven and fridge if you couldn’t otherwise access them. If you cook frequently, I’ll bet greasy drips have dried along your oven’s sides.

5. Glass cooktop

This one seems so obvious to me, but I do not lie when I say I recently visited a friend whose glass stovetop had enough food baked on its burners that I thought I was damaging its soul by cooking on it more. She said she cleans it with vinegar. That’s fine for easy spills, but for anything that has adhered to the surface via heat you need glass cooktop polish. Use it every time you have such a spill. I’ve had several glass stovetops, and they looked new years after purchase thanks to this practice.

6. Oven

The oven is another item that seems obvious, but see above, lest you doubt me. My friend’s oven is a terrifying hull of burnt food. At this point, her oven’s self-cleaning function — which uses lots of electricity, smells awful, and is way too hot to use in summer — might be its only salvation.

Wipe the inside of your oven down when it gets dirty, so you can save yourself hassle later. Use baking soda and water for cooked-on bits, if soap and water aren’t powerful enough.

7. Blinds

Props if you dust your home regularly. But if you aren’t wiping down your blinds too, they’re dispersing dust every time you lift and lower them. If you’re mocking the concept of spending time on this task (Who has time for that?) I’m with you. I’m also one of those “who’s,” though I’m efficient at this chore: I do it during lengthy phone calls. Try it. Use a microfiber cloth, and feel the satisfaction of dust rolling up on it.

8. HVAC intake vent

Your paper HVAC filter is great, if you change it regularly. But your system is less efficient if dust covers its slatted metal housing. See “blinds,” above, for when and how to clean that vent (plus be sure to turn off your system while cleaning it). Another method: Remove the vent then rinse or vacuum it (be sure it’s completely dry before putting it back on).

9. Door edges

It’s beyond me how people — including those from professional cleaning services — don’t see (then clean!) the dark trails people’s hands leave along door edges. Look any and everywhere in public spaces to witness these dirty marks. Save your own home from them. While you’re at it, use that soapy cloth (or rubbing alcohol) to clean doorknobs, light switches, handles and the like.

10. Pillows

You’ve probably drooled while sleeping at some point. Your pillow paid for it. Clean the thing. While you’re at it, clean your throw pillows too — unless they’re only for show, in which case you can bat them a few times (outside) to remove dust.

Seventh Generation has tips, and recommends you clean the puffy stuff every six months. My pillows have three layers of protection, and I wash them every six months to a year (using Seventh Generation unscented detergent, it turns out).

11. Toothbrush (and its parts)

Yah, look at that thing up close. Gross. Every few weeks, stick its bristles in hydrogen peroxide for the day. If you use an electric toothbrush be sure to clean its base and attachment end, as well.

Journalist Mitra Malek writes about wellness. She has long loved keeping things clean.