20 Little Things Everyone Forgets to Clean—But Shouldn’t

Updated: Jul. 31, 2023

No matter how much you plan, these always slip through the cracks while cleaning.

With the Covid-19 pandemic still taking thousands of lives each week in the US, we’re all doing our best to keep our homes clean these days. But there are always those sneaky spots even the most experienced cleaner can forget to wipe down. For example, did you know that your keyboards are a hotbed of bacteria? Or when was the last time you cleaned your shower curtain? To make sure your house is as hygienic as it can be, here are the 20 little things not to miss next time you’re cleaning the house.

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Opened fridge from the inside.


Your fridge could make you sick if you don’t clean it every once in a while. NSF International swabbed 20 Michigan kitchens as part of its 2013 Household Germ Study, and two of the germiest places were the vegetable and meat compartments in refrigerators. First, unplug the fridge and empty it out. Toss old containers and expired food, and wipe everything down with multipurpose spray. Soak drawers in warm water and scrub them clean with dish soap.

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modern style bedroom with pillows on bed


Yes, you can place down and fiberfill pillows in the washing machine. Wash two at a time following the instructions on the care label. Otherwise, warm water on a gentle cycle will do the trick. The same settings work for your comforter (which can also use a washing).


Windowsills and window tracks

It’s easy to tell when your windows are dirty, but windowsills and tracks often go unnoticed. Dust away any loose dirt and dead bugs (or use a vacuum with a brush attachment). Use a spray bottle of white vinegar to spray the area and let it sit for a minute. Wipe with paper towels and use Q-Tips for those hard-to-reach areas.

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Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen drawers and cabinets

It’s probably a good idea to keep the places you store all your food and dishes clean, right? Empty them out (preferably one at a time to avoid unnecessary clutter), toss expired food and wipe everything down. Before returning everything to its rightful place, see if there’s any dishware you haven’t used all year. It would probably be better off donated.


Patio furniture

As the weather warms up, why not make sure your patio furniture looks good as new before you actually start using it? The best part: You only have to clean it once a year.

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Clean garage


Organizing your garage is just as important as actually cleaning it. You’d be amazed how much stuff accumulates in there over time—and how much you actually don’t need.

Close-up of a striped shower curtain

Shower curtain

Soap scum and mildew stains are haunting your shower curtain, but it doesn’t take long to clean them. Try using hydrogen peroxide to clean off mildew and 16 other things in your home.

Close-up of open wallet with many credit cards in slots

All the cards in your wallet

You use them almost every day, probably without thinking of how many times you touch them and how few times you’ve actually cleaned them. One in 10 bank cards were contaminated with fecal matter, according to a 2012 study from Queen Mary University of London. Wipe the card with a damp cloth or anti-bacterial wipe, then gently scrub the magnetic strip with an eraser.

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Car and house keys hanging on wall


Keys are another item you use daily, so they can definitely use a wash. To keep them clean and prevent rust, scrub with lemon and salt and rinse with dish soap. If they’re already rusty, soak them in a vinegar and water mixture for 20 minutes, rinse, then put them back in for another 30 minutes. This ensures the rust comes out completely.

Two plastic garbage cans stand on clean asphalt on a background of green bushes of a thuja on a sunny day. The concept of recycling garbage, city cleanliness

Garbage bins

Its name implies that garbage bins are supposed to be dirty, but cleaning them out with a hose every once in a while will make taking out the trash a slightly less painful chore.



They may not have as many germs as once thought, but think: Have you ever cleaned a doorknob or a drawer handle? Ever? Take a few minutes and wipe down the most touched knobs in your house.

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Area rugs

Vacuuming rugs is easy enough to remember, but lift them up and you’ll find a whole lot of dirt and dust hiding in plain sight.

Toaster with ready bread slices in the kitchen. traditional breakfast at home

Small appliances

This includes microwaves, toasters, blenders, coffee pots and any other small cooking appliances in the kitchen. Give each one a thorough cleaning, then be sure to clean underneath them as well.

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Your child’s rubber ducky is a sneakily perfect location for mold. Take necessary precautions to prevent and remove mold on any bath toys. For that large bin of dolls and plastic trains, enlist your kids to help. Spend an afternoon going through toy bins, separating ones they want to keep and ones to donate and clean each toy before putting it back.

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TV on the cabinet in modern living room with plant on white wall background.

Computer and TV screens

First things first: Make sure your devices are turned off and cooled off before you start cleaning. Wipe away dust and loose dirt with a soft cloth. Dip that cloth into a solution equal parts water and isopropyl alcohol and wring it out (it should be damp, but not wet). Gently wipe the screen and dry with a second cloth.

reusable bags with groceries in a car trunk

Reusable grocery and laundry bags

Think of all the places these bags have been: the floor, the trunk of your car, the kitchen counter, the table at the laundromat. It’s time to give them a good cleaning. Throw them in the washing machine on a hot water regular cycle with the rest of your clothes. It can go in the dryer, too.

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Natural color eco bag with reusable metal water bottle. Zero waste concept. Plastic free. Flat lay, top view

Reusable water bottles

You’re helping the environment. You’re staying hydrated. Now use your reusable water bottle to stay healthy and add it to your next load of dirty dishes.

Close up of keyboard, focus on enter button


When was the last time you cleaned your keyboard? If you can’t remember when it might be time to get on that. Keyboards can be home to staphylococcus aureus, a type of bacteria that can cause potentially serious infections in humans, according to a 2018 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Plus, cleaning your keyboard doesn’t have to be a chore: you can get it done with one quick, easy swipe!

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A close-up of a silver chrome shower head spouting water


The next time you’re cleaning your bathroom, make sure you give special attention to your shower head. The bacteria commonly found on shower heads led to an increased risk of respiratory illnesses, according to 2018 research by the American Society for Microbiology. In fact, bacteria found on showerheads even led to an increased prevalence of lung disease in certain regions of the United States, according to the research.

Sink pipe under wash basin
ClausAlwinVogel/Getty Images

Sink trap

Most of us know probably know that bathroom sinks are not the cleanest of surfaces. But did you know exactly how dirty your sink trap was? Sink traps caused an outbreak of antibiotic-resistant bacteria at an Israeli hospital, according to research published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology in 2018.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest