10 Least-Cleaned Spots in Your Home—& How to Tackle Them

You know, the ones you've been putting off...forever.

March 21, 2022
Photo by Ty Mecham

Clean Like You Mean It shows you how to tackle the trickiest spots in your home—whether they’re just plain gross or need some elbow grease. You’ll get the cleaning secrets we’ve learned from grandma, a guide to our handiest tools and helpers, and so much more. Pull on those rubber gloves and queue up the tunes: It’s scour hour!

You know those corners of your home that get overlooked time and time again? The ones that remain dusty and sticky for months on end in favor of performing more obvious cleaning tasks like vacuuming the rug or wiping down the counters? They’re the ones that you put off because you’re not faced with them on the daily, so you kick the can down the road a bit and turn a blind eye.

I know them well. My shower tiles are in need of a good scrubbing, my windows are filthy, and my dishwasher? Well I don’t think I’ve cleaned it once in five months (but am shocked when it doesn’t perform). I’ve got a secret though: These are actually the most satisfying cleaning tasks to check off your to-do list, because it means you’ve truly accomplished something outside of daily chores like after-dinner dishes and wiping down the sink.

If you’re ready to handle some of the more neglected cleaning tasks around your house, here’s a list of the most commonly overlooked ones in our homes, too.

1. Dryer Vents

You’re probably cleaning out the lint trap after every load finishes drying (or we hope so, at least!) but the vent and ducts of the dryer also need to be cleared out from time to time. You’ll know they’re in need of a cleaning if your laundry is taking longer to dry than usual, or if your clothes are especially hot when they come out. You’ll need to pull the dryer away from the wall, remove the duct, and give it a really thorough vacuuming with a hose attachment. Then, reach in with a long-handled duster to pick up any errant lint your vacuum couldn’t reach.

2. Garbage Disposal

Given that the garbage disposal is supposed to get rid of yucky stuff instead of accumulating it, you might not remember to give it some tender love and care from time to time. No worries, though, as there are a couple tricks to clean and freshen this guy up, such as tossing a couple ice cubes down the drain to be crushed (which will dislodge lots of gunk in the process), flushing the area with baking soda and vinegar, and giving it a few citrus peels to gobble and improve any lingering odor.

3. Garbage Can

I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like my home is clean unless the garbage can is clean. I’m reminded of a dirty garbage can every time I throw trash out, only to find a pile of crumbs or some unidentified gloop, so I try to be on top of wiping down the rim, inside, and outside of the can as much as possible. Sometimes, though, it needs a deep clean, in which case I give it a thorough scrubbing with hot soapy water and follow up with a disinfectant.

4. Window Screens

Spring is right around the corner, which of course, means windows flung wide open to let the breeze roll in. Before you do that, though, you might want to give your screens a wash. Not only do they collect dirt and debris from the outside world, but after winter weather, they can accumulate mold and bacteria from sitting in moisture for too long. Once removed from the windows, you can either take the screens outside or plop them in the bathtub for a good scrubbing and rinsing. Just be sure to let them fully dry before reinstalling.

5. Grout

Let’s face it: Grout is nasty. While other parts of the floor (like smooth tile or hardwood) can be easily wiped clean, grout has a tendency to cling to any dirt or liquid it comes in contact with, because it’s highly porous and textured. We did the dirty work (ha!) for you, though, and identified four ways to clean your grout, all of which require a little wait time for the product to soak, a good scrub with a stiff-bristled brush, and a wipe clean with warm water.

6. Coffee Maker / Keurig

Something you use every day should certainly be getting a bit of attention in the form of cleaning, so much so that our writer Morgan suggests coming to terms with cleaning your coffee maker…every single day. What this really means is just washing each of the removable parts you use daily, like the coffee pot, filter cup, and portafilter on an espresso machine—which you might do each time anyway. The monthly deep clean is merely a white vinegar bath, which you’ll pour into the reservoir to let sit for 30 to 60 minutes, then run through a few cycles until you’re satisfied.

7. Walls

If your walls show no signs of scuffs, dirt, or dust then you can honestly skip this one. But if your walls have seen better days, you actually can wash them, and it’s easy to do. A few drops of dish detergent or Castile soap in a bucket of warm water, a microfiber cloth, and a free afternoon are all it takes to restore your walls to their former glory. Bonus points for a Magic Eraser on stubborn scuffs.

8. Washing Machine Filter

Yep, your washing machine has a filter. And yep, it’s probably pretty gross. Similar to the dryer vent (whose lint you can easily pull out each time you throw a load in), the washing machine filter collects lint, stray hairs, crumbs, and rogue clothing threads. Once you find where your filter is located (likely in the front of the machine behind a small latch, at the very bottom of the drainage hose, or under the cover of the agitator, but check the manual to be sure), give it a good soak and scrub in hot soapy water, then return it to do its important job.

9. Dishwasher

Unfortunately, dishwashers don’t clean themselves. We’re partial to thinking this is totally silly, given that their entire job is to clean dishes (and what’s a dishwasher if not one big pot of soapy water?), but alas, they need some TLC. The sides of the dishwasher (you know, the crevices where the gunk builds up) and the filter are really the yuckiest things to tackle, then all that’s needed is a white vinegar cycle and a wipe down of the outside.

10. Baseboards

Ever crouched down on the floor to pick something up and noticed just how dusty your baseboards are? Me too, and it’s always shocking to see how much has piled up, especially when we usually don’t give this part of our home much attention. Luckily, this is among the easier tasks to tackle, just requiring a quick dusting with your vacuum’s wand attachment, followed by a wipe down of soapy water with a microfiber cloth.

Did we miss any commonly forgotten areas? Do you have any tricks for tackling these jobs? Tell us below!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Smaug
  • Margot
  • Liz Summers
    Liz Summers
When I'm not writing & editing for Home52, I'm likely to be found DIY-ing a new piece of furniture (or restoring an old one), hanging things on the wall in my apartment, or watching hours of vintage RHONY.


Smaug March 21, 2022
Pull up your drain basket and see what's going on down there- this should really be done regularly, but a lot of people don't. A cleaner with bleach is the best way to clean it.
Margot March 21, 2022
Good list! You forgot a few other gross ones: wiping down the top of the fridge and vacuuming the heating coils, and soaking the vent filter over the stove.
Liz S. March 21, 2022
Agree good list plus your (@Margot) additions!!

Pulling out the frig, range (if freestanding), washer and dryer ... always an adventure in what I might find.