Ah, Spring. Its longer days bring abundant sunshine…the better to highlight all the dust and dirt that’s been accumulating in your home all winter. It’s no wonder that in a recent national survey by the American Cleaning Institute, most folks—77 percent of respondents—said they do some form of spring cleaning.
Yet most say they don’t feel they’re necessarily doing it right or doing enough. Some 56 percent admit they’ve either never cleaned their washing machine or can’t recall doing so, and 41 percent don’t remember the last time they gave the inside of their refrigerator a good wipe-down.
Kitchen garbage and recycling bins didn’t get much love either: Only 13 percent of those surveyed said they pay special attention to the germ-ridden receptacles. Such overlooked spots can harbor months, even years, of bacteria, requiring a much more thorough cleaning than the usual swab-down.
Read our pro-tested and approved solutions for tackling some of the areas in your home that often go ignored, or just require a little extra attention, to take your grime-busting to the next level.
Deep Cleaning Your Living Room
Even if you clean on the regular, dust and dirt have a way of redepositing themselves. Now’s the time to wash or dry-clean window coverings and fabric upholstery, following care labels. Then tackle surfaces you usually bypass, starting at the highest spot in the room, and working your way down.
- Ceilings: Sweep over them with a telescoping microfiber wand, making sure to get into cobwebby corners.
- Light Fixtures: For pendants and chandeliers, turn off fixtures and spray a 1-to-4 solution of isopropyl alcohol and distilled water on a lint-free cloth. Wipe down, and follow with a dry cloth.
- Ceiling Fans: Slip an old pillowcase over each blade to trap dust as you wipe it with a microfiber cloth sprayed with a dust repellent like Endust.
- Heaters: “If heat registers are filthy, pop them out and run them through the dishwasher,” says American Janitor Service owner Keith Goldstein. For radiators, he suggests vacuuming with a radiator-brush attachment, then using a microfiber dusting wand.
- Walls: Dust from ceiling to base molding with a microfiber cloth or Swiffer duster; tackle scuffs with a Magic Eraser. Then gently go over walls with a Swiffer wet mop. To fight grease, first dip the mop in warm water mixed with a few drops of mild detergent.
- Carpets: Vacuum well, then spot-treat stains with a 1-to-5 solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide and distilled water with a few drops of plain dish soap (spot-test first). Got pets? Order a black-light flashlight—its UV wavelengths cause the phosphorus molecules in old urine stains to glow in the dark; treat with an enzyme cleaner like Nature’s Miracle. Steam clean or call in a pro if carpets still look dingy.
- Wood Floors: Avoid dousing them with water. Rely on a microfiber mop and a cleaning spray with a pH level of 7, like Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner. Goldstein recommends a coat of paste wax every few years to create a water-resistant finish, so liquids bead up.
How to Deep Clean Your Kitchen
Extend regular surface cleaning to cabinets with a 1-to-1 solution of distilled white vinegar and water. Freshen up the garbage disposer by running it with 2 tablespoons of rock salt, a handful of ice cubes, and some lemon peel. Scrub garbage bins with hot, soapy water, starting on the outside; once dry, spritz with a deodorizer, such as Zero Odor Multi-Purpose spray. Then clean appliances inside and out—they’ll work better and last longer, says Repair Clinic pro Chris Zeisler.
- Oven: Tough, baked-on spills? These may require commercial oven cleaner. Or try this GE tip to loosen crusty residue: Place ½ cup of ammonia in a shallow glass pan and let sit in a cold oven overnight.
- Cooktop: Zeisler likes tackling greasy gunk on burners, caps, and grates with hot, soapy water or a degreaser like Fantastik, and a nylon scrubber. To clean glass cooktops, Goldstein swears by non-gel toothpaste and a Dobie pad.
- Vent-hood Filter: Fill a bucket with a gallon of hot water and add a scoop of OxiClean laundry powder. Soak filter for 10 minutes; rinse.
- Refrigerator: Wipe down the inside, door, and gasket with hot, soapy water mixed with a tablespoon of baking soda. To keep gaskets from sticking (and ripping prematurely), Zeisler suggests coating them lightly with petroleum jelly. Dust coils with a long, flexible appliance-cleaning brush or a universal vacuum-brush attachment designed for the task.
- Dishwasher: Clear the drain of debris, wipe the gasket channels with hot, soapy water, then run a hot cycle—Zeisler likes Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner tablets.
Deep Cleaning Your Bathrooms
Stubborn stains from limescale, rust, mold, and mildew require a targeted approach. Faucets For mineral deposits, Goldstein swears by a squeeze of lemon juice. “In most cases it dissolves the stains right away.”
- Shower Doors: To clear away cloudiness, spray on undiluted white vinegar; follow with a sponge dampened with water and a few drops of dish soap.
- Shower Heads: To descale these, fill a plastic bag with white vinegar; secure it to the showerhead with a rubber band so the head is submerged overnight. Remove and flush with hot water. Tackle stuck-on buildup with a toothbrush or toothpick.
- Drains: Over time, hair and product residue can cause a black slime that makes drains sluggish. Sprinkle in 4 tablespoons of baking soda and follow with 2 cups white vinegar. Once the bubbling stops, flush with boiling water. Or try a biodegradable enzyme drain cleaner like Green Gobbler Dissolve.
- Grout: TOH’s Tom Silva brightens dingy grout this way: Pour vinegar directly on grout lines; use a stiff grout brush to scrub with a mix of baking soda, water, and a few drops of dish detergent. Let sit for 5 minutes, then brush again. Wipe up with a damp sponge and rinse. Follow up with a grout sealer.
- Toilet: To nix rust stains, pour 2 cups of white vinegar in the bowl, wait 30 minutes, then scrub. Avoid chlorine bleach, which can set rust stains.
How to Sanitize Laundry Room Appliances
Just because a washing machine circulates sudsy water doesn’t mean it’s free of dirt or potentially dangerous bacteria, including E. coli and MRSA—especially if you generally opt for the energy- and fabric-saving cold cycle. Dryer vents that see a lot of action should be deep cleaned once a season, say the pros, to get rid of flammable lint buildup.
- Washing Machine: To sanitize the drum, pour in a quart of white vinegar with a cup of baking soda, and scrub with a stiff nylon brush, then run a heavy-duty cycle at the hottest setting. Use a toothbrush and vinegar to scrub detergent compartments, or toss removable ones in the dishwasher. Use hot, soapy water to deslime the door gasket, then dry. Zeisler also likes Affresh Machine Cleaning Wipes.
- Dryer: Clean the lint trap with a crevice vacuum attachment, then wipe down the drum with a 1-to-1 solution of diluted white vinegar. To rid the exhaust of lint buildup, unplug the machine and remove the duct at the back of the dryer. Use a rotary brush to pull out lint and debris, then vacuum up any remaining fibers. Be sure to remove and clean the exterior vent, too. A specialized kit, such as the Gardus LintEater Rotary Dryer Vent Cleaning System, which includes a spinning auger-brush drill attachment, flexible extension rods, a lint brush, and a wet/dry vacuum attachment, makes the job easier.