It’s spring—that time of year when a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love, pollen takes over the Earth, and winter coats get mothballed for another year. It’s time to live again! But it’s also supposed to be the time you pull on the rubber gloves and get to scrubbing, dusting, washing, and polishing so your home looks sparkling clean for the upcoming warmer months.
And yet there are some particularly grimy areas even the most diligent among us tend to avoid. But should we?
“When we do get around to spring-cleaning, chances are the first places we tackle are those that we—or our guests—will see,” says Cheryl Reed from Angie’s List. “But if it’s up high, down low, or behind something, it may never see your scrub brush.”
That’s all the more reason to tackle these oft-ignored areas today! Here are the six most neglected items for spring-cleaning.
1. Refrigerator coils
Did you even know your fridge has coils you’ve gotta clean? Well, it does. When dust and dirt cover said coils, your fridge has to work harder to cool food—and that can shorten this appliance’s lifespan.
You can find your refrigerator coils either at the bottom or behind the machine. Vacuum them with a crevice or upholstery tool. Then push a duster or refrigerator coil brush (about $5) between the coils to grab the rest of the pet hair and dust that stubbornly cling to the coils; position your vacuum under the brush to catch falling debris.
2. Ceiling fans
Ceiling fan blades are landing strips for dust and allergens, which the fan spreads throughout the room.
To grab the dust, climb a ladder and wipe the blades with a microfiber cloth. Or, slip an old pillowcase over the blades and grab the gunk as you pull it off. Shake the case outside so dust doesn’t fly all over, or throw the case in the laundry. You can also buy curved duster attachments made especially for ceiling fans for about $10.
While you’re on the ladder, reverse the blade direction so they’ll move clockwise and push air straight down, creating a cooling breeze and relief from warm weather.
OK, it’s not the sexiest home cleaning task (not quite up there with refrigerator coils, for example), but cleaning scuffed and dusty baseboards goes a long way toward freshening up your home. You can get rid of scuff marks by wiping them with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or cleaning wipes. Vacuum with an upholstery attachment to get rid of dust. For a really deep clean, run a Q-tip over baseboard tops and ridges to remove dust collecting there.
Sure, you clean pillowcases every week when you strip the bed. But once or twice a year, you should also wash the pillows, which absorb your sweat, dead skin cells, and dust mites. Gross, right?
Check and follow care labels for your particular pillow. You can wash most synthetic pillows in your machine on a short, gentle, lukewarm cycle. For down- or feather-filled pillows, wash in a basin with a little detergent. Knead the pillow, drain the basin, then wrap the pillow in a towel.
To remove the rest of the water, place pillows in the washer on the spin cycle. Then pop into your dryer on moderate heat for about an hour. Add a couple of tennis balls to fluff up the pillows during drying.
5. Shower heads
Need to remove mineral buildup from stainless-steel shower heads? Turn to white vinegar, says Glenn Gallas, vice president of operations for Mr. Rooter Plumbing based in Waco, TX.
Fill a small plastic bag with distilled white vinegar, and attach it with a rubber band over the shower head. Let the vinegar work its magic for an hour or two until the scale dissolves; then scrub the residue away with a toothbrush.
If you have a brass or bronze shower head, which are more delicate, rub away scale with a soft cloth and warm water.
Clean a shower head with white vinegar in a plastic bag.
6. The insides of your appliances
The appliances that clean your dishes and clothes can get quite gunky over time. You most likely are painfully aware of this. Food and soap scum build up along the bottom and sides of your dishwasher, and dirt and detergent collect in the drum and along the top of your clothes washer. Here’s how to get them clean.
Dishwasher: Place distilled white vinegar in a shallow bowl on the top rack of your empty dishwasher, and run a hot water cycle. If the machine still smells funky, sprinkle baking soda on the bottom and run the machine through a short, hot cycle.
Washer: To kill any mold in your washer, add a cup of bleach to the bleach dispenser and run the empty machine through the longest, hottest cycle available. Scrub any removable parts, and use a toothbrush to clean the gunk out of nooks and crannies. Open the lid, and let air dry.
Dryer: Vacuum the drum and lint screen. If you use dryer sheets, soak and scrub the screen to remove residue. Unplug the machine, remove the exhaust hose, and pull out lint you can reach with your finger, vacuum hose, or flexible dryer brush. Or you can blow out debris with a leaf blower.