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Neglected cleaning tasks hiding in plain sight

By: Daniel Bortz The Washington Post
March 31, 2018 Updated: March 31, 2018 at 4:18 am
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Keeping a clean home is important to about 8 in 10 Americans, says a survey by cleaning technology company Kärcher. But some areas get more TLC than others.

Your kitchen countertops might be spotless, but can you remember the last time you cleaned oven racks or the dishwasher?

Don't fret. We spoke to housekeeping experts and got the dirt on how to clean several often-neglected home items.

- Ceiling fans: These should be cleaned every other month - or monthly if you have a particularly dusty environment or often open your windows, says Beth McGee, author of "Get Your House Clean Now: The Home Cleaning Method Anyone Can Master." Wipe the blades with water and dish soap using a microfiber cloth, rinsing the cloth after each blade, McGee says.

- Baseboards: These accumulate dirt easily, especially if you have pets or small children. First vacuum up hair, dust and debris using a horsehair-brush attachment, then scrub with a microfiber towel and all-purpose cleaner, says Melissa Homer, chief cleaning officer at the MaidPro franchise.

- Inside the washer and dryer: Mold, mildew and lint can build up in these appliances. For a newer washer with a sanitizer setting, run an empty cycle with a quarter-cup of bleach, McGee says. For older washers, run a quarter-cup of bleach in a cycle for the largest load with the hottest water setting, McGee says. Then open the door and let it air-dry.

- Dishwasher: To banish bad odors, use a dishwasher detergent. Prefer a do-it-yourself approach? Remove the filter screen in the bottom of the dishwasher and soak it in warm water, says Debbie Sardone, co-owner of SpeedCleaning.com. Use a scrub brush to scrape off embedded food and debris. Then place a small dish filled with a cup of white vinegar in the top rack and run an empty cycle with hot water; open the door afterward to let it air-dry.

- Oven racks: If you have an oven with a self-cleaning function, you're all set; racks also can be cleaned in the dishwasher. If they don't fit, lay them on the counter and spray them with a mixture of one-quarter cup of white vinegar, one-quarter cup of grease-cutting dishwashing liquid and one cup of water, McGee says. Let them sit at least 20 minutes, then use a steel pot-scrubbing pad to remove any cooked-on mess.

- Mattresses: Invest in a high-quality mattress protector that guards against bedbugs, liquids and dust mites, Homer says. Most covers are machine washable and should be washed every three to four months. Find a stain on the mattress? Scrub with a microfiber towel and diluted laundry detergent, Homer says. Then rub the spot with a damp towel to "rinse."

- Hampers: The cleaning method depends on the material. Hampers made with fabric liners or bags can be washed on a delicate cycle. If the hamper is plastic, "wiping it out with a disinfecting all-purpose cleaner and a microfiber towel should be all it needs," Homer says. Let the disinfectant sit at least 10 minutes to remove bad odors.

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