How to Clean 8 of the Trickiest Spots In Your House
When it comes to cleaning the complicated spots in your home, do you find yourself giving up before you have even started? We’ve compiled all the tools and tricks to help you tackle those annoying and hard-to-reach places once and for all. With these easy, step-by-step instructions from the cleaning pros at Real Simple, you can tackle everything from up high (blinds and ceiling fans) to down low (garbage disposal and radiators) in a matter of minutes. And don’t worry—we’ve even included those items you use on a daily basis too, like your remote, mouse, and keyboard so your tech will feel fresh and new, too.
Believe it or not, the remote has more germs than most other household surfaces, including the tissue box and the toilet handle (ew!). Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine found that more than 30 percent of the remotes tested were positive for cold viruses. (Just imagine what's going on with its brother, the video-game controller.) Once a week, use compressed air to spray between the buttons if you suspect there could be crumbs lodged in there. Then clean with Wireless Wipes. (Feel free to hit your collection of video-game controllers with the same plan of attack.)
It’s time to gear up and take matters into your own hands. Slip on a pair of white cotton gloves and dip just the fingers of one hand into a solution of equal parts warm water and white vinegar. Then run your fingers through each of the slats, re-dipping into the solution as needed. (Feel free to replenish the formula when it starts to looks dirty). When you’re done applying the solution, swipe the blinds with a dryer sheet (a used one is fine). Its residue will repel dust in the future, giving you a nice, long stretch before the next white-glove treatment is needed.
For safety, first make sure you tape down the fan’s switch (so no one accidentally turns it on while you are cleaning). Place a drop cloth or an old sheet on the floor—covering an area about twice the span of the blades to ensure your floors don’t catch the dust. Fill a spray bottle with water and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and spritz generously into an old pillowcase. Climb up on a tall step-ladder and slide the pillowcase over the blades one by one, rubbing gently to dust them off. Dirt will fall into the pouch, not on your head. For a ladder-less method, use the Ceiling Fan Duster. This tool surrounds each blade to clean both sides simultaneously. (Be sure to cover your hair, though!)
The sink is a high traffic area in many kitchens. Here’s how to clean beyond what meets the eye: the garbage disposal. Pour 3 tablespoons of Borax into the chamber, let it sit for one hour, and then flush with hot water. If you have lingering odors that won’t go away and want to make sure you keep blades sharp, freeze ½ cup of white vinegar mixed with water in an ice-cube tray, toss in a few cubes, and turn on the disposal. Sometimes grease deposits can collect. To break those up, feed the disposal a small fruit pit or a chicken bone every now and then.
One study found that keyboards can be five times dirtier than a toilet seat. This could be because we never clean them… yuck! Start by removing the batteries or unplugging the keyboard. Turn it upside down and shake gently. Turn it upright and spray compressed air around each key; sanitize with a fast-drying cleaner, like Wireless Wipes. For stains or stuck-on gunk, use Cyber Clean, a putty-like compound; press it over the entire keyboard, then peel it up. It lifts dirt the way Silly Putty picks up a newspaper image. If you share a keyboard at work, consider a disinfecting UV wand. (One option: the Verilux Clean-Wave UV-C sanitizing wand.) It works in seconds and makes disinfecting effortless—even hospitals use them to kill germs. Do this once a month and even more often if you eat near your computer.
Start by tossing your mattress cover in the wash. If it's stained, first soak in cold water with OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover. Then wash with detergent on the hottest setting recommended on the care label, adding 1 cup of white vinegar to deodorize. Working directly over the mattress, pour baking soda into a sieve. Dust the mattress evenly with the soda, which will gradually draw dirt and moisture out of the mattress and eliminate odors. (You'll leave this light dusting on the mattress when you remake the bed.) When the wash cycle is complete, put the mattress cover in the dryer with a couple of clean tennis balls to fluff it back to form. You could also hang the cover outside on a line to dry. Remake the bed. (Vacuum up the baking soda the next time you change the sheets.)
A buildup of dust harbors allergens and can be uncomfortable to breathe in. And when you're dealing with vents and radiators, this dust is then propelled into the room, creating a vicious cycle. Also, excessive dust makes your cooling and heating system work harder and therefore costs you more money. Our technique will take just a few minutes and only needs to be done twice a year. Before you begin, make sure everything is dry—water can cause rust. Then, dust between the radiator fins with a bottle brush and make sure to vacuum up all debris so it doesn’t going back into the air.
Another spot we bet you aren't cleaning nearly enough? The computer mouse, which can be a hotspot for germs. At least once a month, begin by unplugging the mouse from your computer or laptop. Spray compressed air on the underside to clear dust from the trackball and crevices. Clean the top, along with the mouse pad, using a regular household disinfectant wipe. (Though make sure you do not get the trackball wet.) Dry with a clean, soft, lint-free cloth. You’ll be amazed how much smoother is glides across the mouse pad.