Do more than knock the dust around. Really look for areas that need cleaning.
Here are 10 don’t-miss messes that could be hiding in your home:
- Brave the back of the refrigerator. Ask a friend to help you push your refrigerator away from the wall so you can unplug it and clean the entire floor underneath of it. Empty the refrigerator and freezer, and give it a good cleaning—inside and out. Use a bottle brush or a long, narrow vacuum hose to clean the coils under the unit. Vacuum and scrub the floor and the wall that hides behind the refrigerator before carefully moving it back into place.
- Climb onto your roof (carefully, please!) or trudge into the back yard and find your air conditioner’s condensing unit. Give it a good dusting, and remove any debris or plants from on or around it. The unit needs to be clear of obstructions so it can easily draw air into the system in order to cool and circulate inside. If it’s cluttered, it won’t work efficiently. A caution: Do not hose down your condenser. Water and electricity don’t mix!
- Clear your gutters and downspouts. More Arizona homeowners are installing gutters to divert rare rainwater away from the home so it doesn’t get under the foundation. If you have them, clear leaves and debris from them regularly. Inspect them for holes and corrosion. Remove the elbows from downspouts and force water through with your garden hose to unclog them.
- Clean your cleaning machines. Dishwashers and clothes washers are designed to clean things—but they don’t clean themselves. Mold and mildew can breed in any machine that uses water. Clean your dishwasher with hot, soapy water. Then place a cup of white vinegar on the top rack and run the otherwise empty dishwasher on the hottest setting to wash away grime and odors. To sanitize your washing machine, fill it will hot water until it begins to agitate. Add a few cups of white vinegar and half a cup of baking soda. Turn it off and let the mixture sit for an hour. Turn it back on, let it complete the wash cycle and wipe it down, inside and out, with a damp cloth.
- Tend to your septic tank. Treat it with a product like RID-X Septic System Treatment, which contains active bacteria and enzymes that break down household waste. Pour it down only one drain or toilet in the house. Use the treatment before you leave the house for a while so it has time to settle into the bottom of the tank before being flushed out.
- Make your toilet sparkle. That means cleaning more than just the stains you can see. If your toilet is running or leaking, the culprit could be a filthy flapper inside the tank. Lift it up and run your finger around the inside edge. You might be able to dislodge the gunk that has accumulated. If your finger turns black, it could mean the flapper is dissolving and you need a new one.
- Cleanse your countertops. Unless your granite countertop has a permanent seal, you’ll need to reseal it once a year. First, give it a good cleaning with a product made for natural stone. Then uniformly apply the sealer using a clean brush or cloth. Let the stone absorb the sealer for a few minutes and then apply some more. Seal a small section at a time for best results. Let the countertop dry for at least two hours and apply a second coat.
- Get rid of dirty grout. It can detract from your beautiful tile floors and walls, but that’s not the only reason to clean it. If you don’t maintain it, it could deteriorate, and that can eventually harm the tiles it’s meant to hold together. Use a soft-bristled nylon brush to scour the grout with a mild household solvent that won’t damage the tile. Once you restore it to its original clean color, seal the grout with a professional grout sealer, which will help keep the dirt out.
- Clear the drains. Avoid harsh drain cleaners. Instead, flush half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of vinegar down the drain, and do it regularly. Or ask your plumber to recommend a drain cleaner that won’t harm your septic system or your pipes. Clean the drain trap—the “S”-shaped portion of the pipe under your sink. Turn off the water and place a bucket under the trap before unscrewing the slip nuts on each side of it. Use a wire brush to clean it on the inside and rinse it with water before putting it back together.
- Destroy the dust. Haul out your step ladder and search for dust in all the places you usually ignore: on top of ceiling-fan blades, plate racks, kitchen cabinets and hanging picture frames. Vacuum the dust from exhaust fans.