14 places that never get cleaned

Think you've got your cleaning routine down pat? We'd like to bet there are areas of your home that never get touched (and which should). So, what do you forget to clean? Take our test to find out

cleaning stains from a carpet
(Image credit: Getty)

Spring cleaning's well behind us, but whether you do it as a yearly ritual or like to do a thorough house clean on a regular basis, it's likely that there are areas of your home you'll always forget to clean. And we'd like to wager that we know what they are – mostly because (a quick ask around the Realhomes.com office later...) they're areas we've overlooked when cleaning, too.

So, we've updated our deep cleaning checklist to bring you the top places you should never forget to clean (but probably will if you don't read this), and why it's so important to clean them. 

Take our test to find out what your score is (and let us know on Facebook and Twitter). Love more cleaning tips, tricks and hacks? Don't miss our cleaning hub page – it literally sparkles with inspiration.

1. Clean germs from light switches

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Light switches are amongst the most touched items in our homes and yet they rarely get cleaned. And it's not that they need that occasional clean when you noticed grubby fingerprints on or on the walls around them – they're actually some of the most germ-packed fixtures and fittings in your home. In fact, 'research has proved them to be covered in both aerobic and faecal bacteria,' says biochemist, Dr Chris Etheridge. Find out more (and ways to get rid of germs and bacteria in the home) in our guide; we've also got a guide on getting rid of mould, packed with handy tips.


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2. Wipe germs off handles while you clean

Door handles probably get touched more often than light switches; and kitchen handles and knobs don't just get touched with hands germy from sneezes, for example, but from food prep, too. So, make them part of your cleaning routine and, particularly, your kitchen cleaning routine. What to use? A disinfectant cleaner, such as Dettol All in One Cleaner is the best choice for knobs and handles (and light switches for that matter), but if you want to clean without chemicals, you could use a solution of one part white vinegar to one part water. See our guide to cleaning with vinegar for more natural cleaning tips, and don't miss our kitchen cleaning hacks for more ideas. 

Use our sourcebook of the best 50 cleaning products to find the right one for the job in hand.

3. Give the TV remote a good clean, too

Every single member of the household is likely to have the remote control in their mitts at some point during the day and it only takes one of them to have a cold to pass it round the rest of you. Or maybe you're a fan of TV dinners and have got last night's curry wedged into the rewind button? Cleaning the TV remote really does make sense. A quick wipe over every couple of days won't hurt, but to really clean it properly, 'remove the batteries and use a cotton bud with disinfectant to rub around the buttons. Wipe the remainder of the remote with a lint-free cloth,' advise those clean-conscious people at Airtasker. Use our home office cleaning hacks to find more devices that need a regular clean (think: phone, keyboard and much, much more...).

4. Deodorise the mattress

girl sleeping in bed by getty images

(Image credit: Getty)

Washing the sheets is easy (read our guide to how to do laundry to find the best tips), but don’t forget about the actual mattress that you spend eight hours sleeping on each night. 

After you’ve stripped the bed of the sheets, use the vacuum to clean all the dust off the mattress. Next, use some bicarbonate of soda and mix with a few drops of essential oils (for example, lavender). Using a kitchen strainer, sprinkle the soda all over the mattress. Leave it on for at least an hour (you can get started on the next thing) and then vacuum with the hose attachment.

Use our guide to how to clean a mattress to find more tips and tricks, including mattress stain removal; we've also got tons of hacks for cleaning with bicarbonate of soda – a magical natural cleaning product that can tackle anything from stubborn stains to household smells). And that reminds us, don't miss our guide to getting rid of household smells, too. (We really have got everything covered.) See our selection of the best mattresses you can buy at the best prices (thanks to our nifty comparison tool). 

There is a way to avoid this job totally of course – and that's to buy a mattress protector (see our list of the best). Read our gross-out guide to find out just why you need one. Or just buy one. You know it makes sense.

5. Dust your house plants

cat sat on a sofa in blush toned space with an abundance of houseplants

(Image credit: Cubit)

'That’s right, these are susceptible to dust too!' say the folks at Airtasker. For larger plants, wipe over the leaves with a moist cloth, and be sure to cradle each leaf with one hand to avoid bruising or cracking them. For house plants that are smaller in size, fill your sink with lukewarm water, support them (and the soil) with your fingers, turn upside down and gently swish their leaves in the water.

Why clean house plants? The healthier they are, the cleaner the air will be in your home; the more dust-free they are, the less likely you are to disperse dust around the house as you walk past them (a must-know for allergy sufferers); the less dust there is on their leaves, the less sticky grime will gather (in kitchens and kitchen diners). And what does sticky grime do? It harbours germs and smells. Find out more about how to make your home more allergy friendly in our guide. And don't miss our guide to everything you need to know about common house plants to find the right ones for your home.

6. Clean extractor fans with baking soda

Extractor fans above hobs can get greasy and blocked easily; the best way to get around this is to give them a good clean every now and again. Using a large stainless-steel pot, boil water, and add bicarbonate of soda gradually – stop when you see it fizzing. Carefully using tongs, lower the filters into the pot. Leave them for five minutes, remove, set aside, and wipe clean before adding back into the fan. You can use our guide to find other ways to clean with baking soda at home.

7. Vacuum and mop down behind the toilet

close coupled toilet in white from Bathroom Takeaway in a bathroom with patterned tile floor

(Image credit: Bathroom Takeaway)

We'd like to place bets that you clean the toilet pretty thoroughly (you'd never have made it to number 7 on this list if you weren't interested, right)? But how often do you clean behind the loo? Go on, go and look behind yours – if it's anything like the Realhomes.com toilet, it had a gathering of dust balls, bits of loo roll and (we don't know why), the odd hair band. It might well be awkward to reach but it's an easy area to overlook. Our advice? Invest in a handheld vacuum cleaner (see our pick of the best) and a steam cleaner (another best buys guide) to reach those awkward places. We've got more great bathroom cleaning hacks (with more out-of-sight-out-of-mind cleaning spots for you to tackle).

8. Clean the garden and your home's exterior

Don’t forget about your backyard, it needs sprucing up too! Use a pressure washer to remove mildew and marks from your home's exterior, from your deck and patio. Also, be sure to check all the gutters for leaves that have built up over the cooler months and remove them, too. And don't forget your bins: rinse them out every now and then with the garden hose, and sprinkle them regularly with bicarbonate of soda to get rid of the rubbish smells.

9. Clean your home cleaning appliances

AO Built-in dishwasher

(Image credit: AO Built-in dishwasher)

They do all the hard work year round, so it's no surprise that your cleaning appliances – think dishwasher, washing machine and vacuum cleaner – all need a thorough clean on a regular basis. We've got guides on how to clean a dishwasher and how to clean a washing machine; to clean a vacuum cleaner, or at least make it smell better, empty it regularly, don't vacuum up food unless it's thoroughly dried, clean the filter regularly with warm, soapy water, and sprinkle bicarbonate of soda into the canister to get rid of nasty niffs.

10. Clean your cleaning equipment

Once you've completed your annual spring clean, give all the equipment that you've used a thorough clean too – after using them to reach every nook and cranny around the house, it’s important to eliminate all the germs that they have collected. The extra bonus is that when you go to use them next time, they’ll be ready and fresh as a daisy.

Non-labelled cleaning products

12. Clean your lightbulbs

What....?! (We can hear you say from here.) Yup, lightbulbs need cleaning, too, especially those in a kitchen diner and especially if you're a smoker. Why? Think about it... the grime from the smoke clings to the bulb, dust clings to the grime, it creates a sticky, dirty coating to the bulb, you switch on the light, the bulb heats up and acts like an electric air freshener gone rogue. The result? A smelly room. So, give your bulbs a careful wipe every time you dust. And find out how to get rid of more household smells in our handy guide.

13. Clean your radiators

What's the smell when you turn the heating on after it's been off for a while? That's dust you're smelling, and there's more of a potential hazard to it than just the smell. Regularly breathing in dust particles that get dispersed through the warm air could lead to respiratory problems and allergies. So, when your radiator is off and has cooled down, give it a thorough wipe with a damp cloth. Don't use a duster, as you'll just be disturbing the dust. The same applies to oil-filled radiators and other types of heaters. Obviously, unplug them before cleaning. 

14. Clean your pet's bedding and toys

Dog in this grass with a toy

(Image credit: Pure Pet Food)

Look at that little face. How could it do anything to displease you? Well, you know that dank smell you've got used to but which makes guests wrinkle their noses when they come in? That's likely coming from the dog's bed and/or toys. A hot wash in the washing machine or a good scrub down with hot soapy water then a thorough drying in the garden's fresh air is a must for getting rid of your pet's dander, dust mites and all sorts of other nasty stuff, hanging about in the bottom of their beds. How often to wash it? Before it smells again.

So, what did you score out of 14? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter

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Lucy Searle

Lucy is Global Editor-in-Chief of Homes & Gardens having worked on numerous interiors and property titles. She was founding Editor of Channel 4’s 4Homes magazine, was Associate Editor at Ideal Home, before becoming Editor-in-Chief of Realhomes.com in 2018 then moving to Homes & Gardens in 2021. She has also written for Huffington Post, AOL, UKTV, MSN, House Beautiful, Good Homes, and many women’s titles. Find her writing about everything from buying and selling property, self build, DIY, design and consumer issues to gardening.