37 places you’re probably forgetting to clean

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Molly Flores/CNN Underscored
Molly Flores/CNN Underscored

Even the most dedicated cleaner has places in their home that they forget to clean — or don’t know they’re supposed to clean in the first place. If you’re looking to improve your regular cleaning routine, or you’re worried you may be forgetting to clean things that could be a safety hazard if neglected, we’ve got plenty of tips.

With the help of experts, we’ve identified 37 places in the home that often get overlooked in the course of routine cleaning. Some of these are seasonal or deep cleaning jobs (like cleaning a mattress or the washing machine), while others are chores you might want to add to your weekly or monthly cleaning routines. You’ll also find tips and tricks that make these tasks easier, and recommendations for the best products and the right cleaning tools for the job.

Places you forget to clean in the bathroom

Molly Flores/CNN Underscored
Molly Flores/CNN Underscored

In the bathroom, high moisture levels that cause mold and mildew to form are a particular problem in many overlooked spots, says Carylanne Brown, a customer happiness team lead at Grove Collaborative. “Mold can form anywhere that moisture exists, such as under sinks, behind toilets, around showerheads or faucets, and underneath, inside or around appliances like washing machines. Be sure to check these places regularly for leaks or water accumulation to avoid mold,” she advises. These are some other places and things in the bathroom that people forget to clean.

Behind the toilet

“An area often hidden from eyesight, the back of the toilet can accumulate dust and grime from usage over time. Using an extendable scrubber is an easy and efficient way to take care of any cleanup needed behind the toilet,” says Katie Dills, brand president of The Cleaning Authority.

Toothbrush holders

“A toothbrush holder can often be skipped when cleaning the essentials in the bathroom,” Dills says. “Giving the holder a rinse with warm water and wiping it out with a soapy damp cloth will help keep germs away.”


“Whenever pools of water begin to rise by your feet while showering,” Dills says, “this area is probably the culprit. Hair and soap scum can accumulate in the drain and cause clogging, which will decrease the efficiency of your drainage system and mess with your showers. It’s recommended to put on latex gloves and clean out your drain once a month.”

Fans and vents

Cleaning and maintaining bathroom vents and fans help to keep airflow moving, reducing not just odors but also the presence of mold, mildew and Serratia marcescens, aka “pink mold.” Use a vent brush or a telescoping duster to eliminate blockages caused by the buildup of dust and other environmental soils, which can clog the slats, reducing air circulation and ventilation.

Shower curtains

Shower curtain liners should be cleaned at the first sign of mold or mildew growth; to prevent it in the first place, clean shower curtain liners every one to three months. “Liners are non-porous and usually some type of plastic material,” says Wayne Edelman, president of Meurice Garment Care. “In order to clean properly, they should be sprayed at the tub level with a multipurpose cleaner, before washing on a cold, gentle setting.” While any multipurpose cleaner will do, you may find that spraying the liner with a mold and mildew cleaner and wiping it well with a damp microfiber cloth does the job on its own.

Handles and faucets

“People often forget about high-touch surfaces in the bathroom such as the toilet flush, sink tap and bathroom door handle,” says Julie McKinney, a global director of microbiology and virology at Reckitt (the maker of Lysol). Clean handles, faucets and other high-touch surfaces like light switches as part of your daily or weekly bathroom cleaning routine, paying particular attention to these areas when someone in your household has been sick.

Shower heads

Danielle Radic, a senior product manager of showering at Moen, says, “People should clean their shower head at least once a month to reduce mineral and bacteria buildup and prevent mold growth.” In our guide to cleaning a shower head, Radic recommends using distilled white vinegar for the job.

Under the sink

Moisture can accumulate in the space under the sink, causing the development of mold and mildew; dust and clutter can also be problems in this area. Decluttering and throwing out unused or expired products as part of seasonal cleaning is a good idea; with everything removed from underneath the sink, take the opportunity to examine the empty space for signs of mold and other problems. Check out our roundup of the best under-sink organizers for storage ideas.

Bath mats and towels

“Bath mats and towels can be breeding grounds for odor-causing and illness-causing bacteria,” says McKinney. Bath towels should be washed every three to five uses, washcloths every one to three uses and hand towels should be changed every couple of days — typically, this means using two to three fresh hand towels a week, and laundering them along with bath towels and washcloths. You should wash bath mats every one to two weeks.

Voweek Electric Spin Scrubber


Use a long-handled tool to get into hard-to-reach spots in the bathroom. The Voweek Electric Spin Scrubber includes four attachments for a variety of jobs, and the brush head can be angled in three directions to get into tight or oddly shaped spaces.

$55 at Amazon

Libman Nitrile Heavy-Duty Reusable Rubber Gloves

The Home Depot
The Home Depot

Many cleaning jobs in the bathroom can be dirty work; a pair of rubber gloves will protect your hands from germs, bacteria and other icky things.

ShowerShroom Shower Hair Catcher


Outfit tubs and shower drains with this clever hair-catching gadget that helps to prevent clogs and keep drains clean.

$13 at Amazon

Lysol Disinfectant Wipes Bundle, 4-Pack


Disposable cleaning wipes are an easy way to quickly clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in the bathroom that people often forget about, like flushers, sink faucets and door handles.

Lucy’s Natural Distilled White Vinegar

Lucy’s Family Owned Natural Distilled White Vinegar - Amazon
Lucy’s Family Owned Natural Distilled White Vinegar - Amazon

Distilled white vinegar breaks down mineral deposits that are commonly found on shower heads, and will eliminate any mold and mildew growth.

X-14 Professional Mildew Stain Remover

X-14 is a mildew eliminator that can be used on grout, tile, vinyl or plastic surfaces that have developed staining from mold or mildew. Spray it on the moldy surfaces, allow it to penetrate for 10-15 minutes and then wipe the surface clean with water to remove the product residue.

$17 at Amazon

Konex Premium Lint Brush Vent Cleaner


To clean vents and exhaust fans in bathrooms, use a vent brush to eliminate blockages caused by the buildup of dust and other environmental soils, which can clog the slats, reducing air circulation.

Libman Flexible Microfiber Dusting Wand


Use a telescoping microfiber duster to clean the space behind the toilet, under the sink, around exhaust fans and vents that are mounted up high and other hard-to-reach places that fall outside the line of sight.

Places you forget to clean in the bedroom

Molly Flores/CNN Underscored
Molly Flores/CNN Underscored

You know the basics: Make your bed, put your dirty clothes in the hamper, put clean clothes away and keep surfaces like dressers and bedside tables free of clutter and dust. But there are some easy-to-overlook spots in the bedroom that need to be cleaned.

Bed frames and headboards

“Sheets aren’t the only thing to clean regularly to avoid the buildup of dust and germs in bedrooms,” Dills says. She recommends cleaning headboards every few weeks. Headboards made of hard materials can be dusted with a microfiber cloth. If needed, use an all-purpose cleaning agent to remove fingerprints and smudges and eliminate germs and bacteria. Upholstered headboards can be vacuumed, and stains can be spot-treated using a stain remover.

Mattresses and pillows

In our guide to cleaning a mattress, Monika Stuczen, a senior research manager at Dyson, says, “A general rule of thumb is to clean them twice a year: once when you’re doing spring cleaning and once at the end of dust mite season in October.” In addition to reducing the presence of allergens, cleaning a mattress will keep it free of odors from sweat, dead skin and body oils that lend a stale smell to the bedroom. The same goes for pillows and mattress pads.

Stuffed animals

Stuffed animals — whether yours or your child’s — are one of the items that people often forget about in their bedrooms. This is especially true after someone has been sick, when enhanced laundry precautions may be needed.

Under the bed

Dust bunnies begone! “Whether used for storage space or left clear of items,” Dills says, “dust and hair can accumulate under the bed. Clearing out any items under your bed every few weeks for a vacuuming can be beneficial.” A robot vacuum can make the job as easy as pushing a button.

Lysol Laundry Sanitizer


Use a laundry sanitizer when washing bedding or stuffed animals that have been used by someone who has been sick, or when deep cleaning is called for.

Soak Laundry Soap


If the thought of putting a beloved stuffed animal in the washer is more than you can stand, we understand and help is here. Use a no-rinse detergent and our hand-laundering instructions to give these precious members of the family a gentle bath.

S&T Inc. Reusable Dryer Balls, 6-Pack


Dryer balls help to redistribute and fluff the stuffing in bulky items (think: pillows, comforters, duvets and mattress pads) and speed up drying time.

Black+Decker Dustbuster AdvancedClean Cordless Handheld Vacuum


A regular vacuum fitted with a brush attachment, or a handheld vacuum, is the key to quickly cleaning mattresses and upholstered headboards. Black+Decker's Dustbuster was the top pick in our review of handheld vacuums.

$50 at Amazon
$50 at Target

iRobot Roomba j7+


Our pick for the best robot vacuum, the iRobot Roomba j7+ will make vacuuming under the bed a breeze.

$570 at Amazon

Places you forget to clean in the kitchen

Molly Flores/CNN Underscored
Molly Flores/CNN Underscored

“The kitchen might be the heart of the home,” McKinney says, “but it can also contain more germs than other room. For example, the kitchen sink can carry up to 100,000 times the number of germs as the bathroom.” The sink isn’t the only place people forget to clean in the kitchen — everything from the coffee maker to the oven mitts is easy to overlook, but they all need to be cleaned.

Large appliances (and the space underneath and behind them)

“If you’ve ever happened to drop some food and bend over only to notice what is under your fridge,” Dills says, “you’ve probably been shocked to see what has accumulated. Just as surprising is the back of uncleaned fridges, which can house the same level of grime. Make sure to clean this spot around once a year to boost cleanliness in your home.”

Brown points out that the space behind and underneath all major household appliances need to be monitored and cleaned regularly. “Mold can form anywhere that moisture exists, such underneath, inside or around appliances like dishwashers or washing machines,” she says. “Be sure to check these places regularly for leaks or water accumulation to avoid mold.”

McKinney adds that “two additional forgotten areas include the fronts of appliances, like the dishwasher door and refrigerator door.” She recommends cleaning these high-touch areas regularly, but notes that many pre-moistened disinfecting wipes should not be used on some materials commonly found in kitchens, including brass, copper, aluminum and painted wood surfaces.

Check out our guides to cleaning major kitchen appliances for step-by-step instructions.

Small appliances

The small appliances we use frequently in the kitchen, like air fryers, coffee makers, toasters and toaster ovens, are often overlooked when it comes to cleaning, according to Brown. Routine cleaning and maintenance are critical to keeping these items working optimally and keeping your home safe.

Backsplashes and cabinets

Backsplashes and cabinets are focal points in kitchens, but people often forget to clean them. Fortunately, they are easy to clean with items you probably already have on hand: dish soap and a non-scratch sponge or microfiber cloth. However, when it comes to cleaning kitchen cabinets, it’s important to know the material to avoid costly or irreversible damage.

Oven mitts and pot holders

“Many of us often neglect to wash many things we use daily,” Brown says, including oven mitts and pot holders, which she recommends washing every week.


Outdoor kitchens need love too! Experts recommend deep-cleaning a grill every three months, but frequent grillers should deep-clean their equipment every six to eight uses. Our guide to how to clean a grill has more expert-approved tips and tricks.

Sinks and garbage disposals

As McKinney points out, sinks are breeding grounds for germs and bacteria, so it’s important to make cleaning the sink part of your daily and weekly cleaning routines. You can clean a sink with hot, soapy water; an all-purpose disinfecting spray; a disinfecting cleaning wipe; or a DIY cleaner. Garbage disposals need regular cleaning too — use baking soda and vinegar, or a garbage disposal cleaning tablet, for the job.

Vent hoods and filters

“Vents can become very messy and difficult to scrub if not cleaned regularly,” Dills says. “No one wants smoke, dust and grime spread around their kitchen, so make sure to clean your oven vents once a year.” Here’s how to clean a vent hood and filter the right way.

Scotch-Brite Dobie Original All-Purpose Cleaning Pad, 3-Pack


Dobie Pads, or non-scratch scrubber sponges, are the perfect thing for scouring kitchen surfaces without causing any damage to plastic or glass.

Lysol Kitchen Pro Antibacterial Cleaner


Use an all-purpose cleaning spray designed to tackle tough messes in the kitchen for everything from the countertops to the sink.

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Variety Pack, 6-Pack

Mr. Clean
Mr. Clean

To treat stubborn stains in the refrigerator or on cabinets, backsplashes, kitchen walls and more, try a Magic Eraser. To use it, wet the eraser sponge, squeeze it out then rub it vigorously on the stain.

$6 at Amazon

Easy-Off Professional Fume-Free Oven Cleaner

Cleaning an oven is a dirty, messy, labor-intensive job. Oven cleaner makes it easier, but precautions need to be taken when working with oven cleaner. Wear gloves, and make sure to work in a well-ventilated area.

Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Cleaner

Dishwasher cleaning tablets can be used in an empty or full dishwasher. To clean the machine with a load of dishes, place the tablet in the bottom of the unit; to clean it while empty, place the tablet in the detergent dispenser.

$4 at Amazon

Affresh Disposal Cleaner


Garbage disposal cleaning tablets are a quick and easy way to clean and sanitize, helping to keep odors and insects at bay.

Kona BBQ Grill Brush


A grill brush is an essential tool for keeping grills clean. The Kona BBQ Grill Brush, our pick for best grill brush, features a durable, large stainless steel brush head that effectively and safely cleans your grill.

$21 at Amazon

Places you forget to clean in the living room

Molly Flores/CNN Underscored
Molly Flores/CNN Underscored

In the living room, dust magnets and high-touch items are the most commonly overlooked items when it comes to cleaning. The experts we spoke to pointed out these places in the living room that you may be forgetting to clean.


When it comes to cleaning a fireplace, Dills says, “You can clean basic dirt routinely, but let the professionals take over if you notice any sticky tar, which could signal a dangerous fire hazard. Additionally, make sure to schedule a chimney inspection once per year to ensure a safe fireplace.”

Throw blankets and throw pillows

Just like your pillows and blankets in the bedroom, throw blankets and throw pillows in the living room should be washed at least once a year, and should always be washed after someone has been sick. “Make sure to always wash items according to instructions on the label,” McKinney says, “which may include removing inner filling.”

Picture frames and knickknacks

“Dust will often build up wherever air regularly flows, whether that object is moving or stationary,” Brown says. “Dusting all surfaces more regularly can help keep the dust at bay, especially those that tend to go untouched for extended periods or are textured and can capture a lot of dust particles.”

The television

TVs are dust magnets, and should be cleaned regularly — the experts we spoke to for our guide to cleaning TVs recommend dusting and cleaning the screen once a month.

Remotes and gaming controllers

“Imagine all the hands, food and grime that have been spread on your remotes over the years,” Dills says. “Clean your remotes once a month, but make sure to take out the batteries first to avoid an unintentional shock.”

Useful Products Drillbrush Stiff Red


Useful Products' Drillbrush Stiff Red brush attachment can be used to clean fireplaces of soot, dirt and grime. Our Drillbrush guide explains loads of other uses for the super-popular deep cleaning tool.

Windex Electronics Wipes, 25-Count


Window and glass cleaners typically aren’t safe for TVs, regardless of the screen type, because they can contain harsh chemicals like ammonia. Windex's electronic cleaning wipes, however, are formulated to safely clean TV screens and other devices.

Scrub Daddy Damp Duster Sponge, 8-Pack


A dusting sponge can help keep dust at bay in the living room and, because they're reusable, they can replace disposable dusters, reducing waste and saving you money.

Places you forget to clean around the house

Molly Flores/CNN Underscored
Molly Flores/CNN Underscored

Around the house, there are some common hot spots where dust, dirt and grime build up — many of these places fall outside our line of sight, making it easy to forget to clean them. There are also high-touch areas where germs and bacteria build up that you’ll want to add to your daily, weekly or monthly cleaning to-do list. Additionally, there are things like vents and ducts that require routine maintenance to keep them in good working order and keep your household safe.

Air conditioner filters and vents

“A/C filters are important to replace once a month,” Dills says. “When too much dust accumulates in the filters, it decreases the efficiency of your air conditioning, which consequently could raise your electric bill. Like a dryer vent, which should be cleaned once a year, A/C filters can also become a fire hazard if overly clogged.”


When was the last time you cleaned your baseboards? Use a dry microfiber cloth or telescoping tool to remove dust and a damp microfiber cloth for wiping away grime, splatters and other more stubborn buildup on baseboards.

Ceiling fans

“Ceiling fans can accumulate dust and grime if not cleaned every other week,” Dills says. “Instead of using a rag to clean the fan, try using a pillowcase. Slip it in between the fan blades and wipe one at a time. You can then just throw your pillowcase into the washing machine.”

Door knobs and door handles

Door knobs and handles are among the highest-touch spots in the home, so they should be cleaned and disinfected regularly to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria.

Dryer vents

Cleaning and properly maintaining your dryer is critical to optimizing its performance and ensuring the safety of your household. In our guide to how to clean a dryer, Gary Childers, a fabric care scientist and appliance expert at Procter & Gamble, says that deep cleaning and maintenance should be performed every 12 to 24 months.

Garbage cans

Garbage cans get really gross, really fast — especially those in the kitchen or the bathroom. To clean a trash can, start by throwing out the garbage. Then use a cleaning rag or sponge to wash the interior and exterior with hot, soapy water. Rinse and dry the trash can and, if disinfecting is called for, use a disinfectant spray to quickly eliminate germs and bacteria.

Humidifiers and dehumidifiers

Humidifiers and dehumidifiers need regular maintenance to ensure that they run properly — and safely. Clean your humidifier every 72 hours to prevent mold or bacteria growth. Dehumidifier water tanks should be emptied and washed once a week with soap and water; check dehumidifiers every month and clean them if dust or mold are present.

Light fixtures and switches

Another high-touch spot that’s easy to overlook when cleaning is light switches and fixtures. “Light switches can become especially unclean,” Dills says. “Simply wipe them down with a disinfectant wipe to prevent muck buildup and the spread of germs or sickness.”


Walls need to be cleaned too! Dust walls using a large microfiber mop, and remove fingerprints, scuffs, dings, splatters, stains and more using an all-purpose cleaner or an eraser sponge. Be sure to test any products in an inconspicuous spot to ensure they won’t damage the wall’s surface.

Washing machines

Experts recommend cleaning your washing machine every 30 wash cycles. Our guide to cleaning a washing machine explains how to clean front-loaders, top-loaders and washing machine filters, to keep these appliances running at peak performance.


In our guide to cleaning windows, Katie Jennings, a senior research manager at Seventh Generation, recommends different schedules for cleaning interior and exterior windows. “Clean the exterior once a year in the spring,” Jennings says. Interior windows should be cleaned more often. When it comes to cleaning moldings and window casings, skip the ladder and get a telescoping microfiber dusting tool. If dirt and dust from outside have built up on window casings and tracks, use a 1:3 solution of water and distilled white vinegar to clean them.

Window treatments

Window blinds, curtains and other treatments are magnets for dust, hair and odor-causing bacteria. “For blinds, you can easily wipe these with a microfiber cloth or duster,” Dills says. “For curtains, a simple way to freshen them up between washes is to use a vacuum brush extension to remove any dust or debris.”

Eastman Lint Wizard Small Duct Dryer Vent Cleaning Kit

Eastman Lint Wizard Small Duct Dryer Vent Cleaning Kit - The Home Depot
Eastman Lint Wizard Small Duct Dryer Vent Cleaning Kit - The Home Depot

Use the hose attachment of a vacuum cleaner or a shop vac to clean in and around the hole at the back of the dryer. If the dryer vent is very long, invest in a kit that contains flexible brushes to clean the vent’s interior walls.

$14 at Lowe's

Mr. Siga Professional Microfiber Mop


Use a large microfiber dust mop with a swivel head to clean baseboards, moldings and walls. Microfiber grabs more dirt and dust than a regular mop or broom, and a swivel style allows the mop to get into tight spaces.

$30 at Amazon

Windex Original Glass Cleaner


A good glass cleaner like Windex will leave windows streak- and fingerprint-free. We recommend using a microfiber cloth when cleaning glass to avoid leaving lint behind.

Hiware All-Purpose Squeegee


You can also remove the window cleaner with a squeegee. For the best results, don't clean glass in direct sunlight; this will help prevent streaks and water spots.

Windex Outdoor Glass & Patio Cleaner


Windex’s outdoor glass and patio cleaner is designed to attach directly to a garden hose for cleaning windows without a ladder. The sprayer has a dial that allows users to easily switch between rinsing and cleaning.

SetSail Deep Clean Brush Set

SetSail Deep Clean Brush Set, Small Cleaning Brush Set for Deep Detail Cleaning - Amazon
SetSail Deep Clean Brush Set, Small Cleaning Brush Set for Deep Detail Cleaning - Amazon

Use a small scrub brush to reach tight areas or corners when cleaning humidifiers or dehumidifiers. This set of two detail brushes can get into nooks and crannies where bacteria tend to form.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers' listed price at the time of publication.

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