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How to Clean 9 Things in Your Bedroom (and the Rest of the House) That You Didn't Know You Had To

BY: Aimee Algas Alker | May 17, 2018

Moving on from the kitchen and bathroom, we've got tips on often-overlooked items you should clean in the bedroom, the laundry room, and the rest of the house. So if you were wondering how to clean pillows or how to clean the vacuum—or had no idea these things needed cleaning, we've got you.

This is part of a series. We've already covered the kitchen and bathroom. Stay tuned for how to clean things you didn't know you had to—in the bedroom, the laundry room, and the rest of the home.

Bedroom

Pillows

Why you should clean them: Two words: dust mites.

How to clean pillows: You have two options: in the washing machine or by hand.

In the washing machine (for synthetic pillows and feather/down pillows)

  • Wash in warm water on the gentle cycle with liquid detergent.

    • Wash in pairs if possible to keep the machine balanced

    • If you're using a top-loading washer, put the pillows in vertically, so they're less likely to wrap around the agitator (that pillar in the middle of the washer)

  • Run them through a second rinse cycle. Since pillows are thicker, it will take more rinsing to get all the soap and dirt out.

By hand:

  1. Fill the bathtub, a sink, or a basin with enough warm water to cover the pillow

  2. Add a tablespoon of detergent for each pillow

  3. Dunk the pillow into the water; massage and squeeze it to make sure the soapy water gets all the way through

  4. Rinse it well; it should take considerably longer than it did to get the pillow soaked in soapy water

You also have two options for drying. First, you can put pillows in the dryer on low heat, along with a pair of tennis balls to keep them fluffed. Alternately, you can air-dry them. Most importantly, be sure they are dry all the way through, to prevent mold and mildew.

How often: Every 6 months

Pro tip: To get your pillows ultra white, add the following in addition to the detergent: 1 cup of powdered dishwasher detergent, a spoonful of bleach or bleach alternative, and ½ a cup of borax

Mattress

Why you should clean it: Something we spend a third of our lives sprawled out and slobbering on deserves a freshening up now and then.

How to clean a mattress:

  1. Vacuum both sides of the mattress, and spend extra time in the seams with the crevice attachment.

  2. Spot treat stains. The best option is an enzyme-based pet-stain cleaner, but you can also use upholstery cleaner or a spray bottle filled with a solution of hydrogen peroxide, liquid dish soap, and baking soda

  3. To deodorize, sprinkle baking soda on the whole surface, and leave for at least an hour, though overnight is best.

  4. Vacuum the baking soda.

How often: Every 6 months

 

Laundry Room

Clothes Dryer

Why you should clean it: Even though clothes are clean when they go in there, lint builds up a lot, and so does mold and mildew.

How to clean the dryer:

  1. Unplug the dryer.

  2. Clean the outside with your usual surface cleaner.

  3. Clear out as much lint from the dryer as possible

    • The lint screen: scrub it with warm soapy water, and let it air dry.

    • The exhaust hose: Disconnect it from the dryer, and use your hands (wear gloves!), then a long-handled brush or a bent clothes hanger to pull out accumulated lint. Vacuum up whatever's left.

  4. Dampen a cloth with plain water or a vinegar solution; wipe down the inside.

  5. Let it air dry completely.

How often: Every 6 months

Washing Machine

Why you should clean it: Washing machines clean your clothes, and in doing so, mildew, soap, and water residue can build up.

How to clean the washing machine:

  1. Set washer on hottest setting.

  2. Pour in one cup of bleach or two cups of white vinegar.

  3. Run the washer through an empty cycle. Repeat with a cup of baking soda for an excess of buildup.

  4. Clean any remaining residue or mold from the interior with a cloth or old toothbrush and a bleach or vinegar solution. Rinse with plain water; if you use bleach, run another rinse cycle.

  5. Clean the exterior with a bleach or vinegar solution.

How often: Every 6 months

Clothes Iron

Why you should clean it: Minerals from water can cause spots on the plate and build up in the steam vents.

How to clean an iron:

The iron plate:

  1. Create a paste: 1 tablespoon water and 2 tablespoons baking soda.

  2. Spread the paste on the plate of the iron, paying special attention to areas with buildup

  3. Wipe clean with a damp cloth.

  4. Use a wet cotton swab to clear the steam holes.

The steam reservoir:

  1. Empty the reservoir completely.

  2. Fill it with distilled water or, even better, a 3:1 solution of water and white vinegar.

  3. Turn the steamer to high and steam-iron a clean cloth for at least three minutes.

  4. Turn off the iron and pour out the solution.

  5. Allow the iron to dry on a towel.

How often: Every three months.

 

 

Other/All Over

Vacuum

Why you should clean it: Dust and debris build up in every part of the vacuum; keeping it clean will make it last much longer. If your vacuum is losing suction, it probably needs a deep cleaning.

How to clean a vacuum:

The filters:

  1. For foam or plastic: remove and rinse with a vinegar-water solution; dry completely before replacing.

  2. For fabric: clean gently with a brush.

The hose:

  1. If you can disconnect the hose completely, run hot water through it to rinse away the loose debris.

  2. Pour half a cup of baking soda inside, then slowly add 2 cups of vinegar, letting the foam build and penetrate the debris.

  3. Rinse it with hot water and let dry thoroughly.

  4. If you can't disconnect the hose, use a long-handled bottle brush or even a hand vacuum to pull out as much debris as possible.

The canister:

  1. Remove it and wash it throroughly in the sink with dishwashing detergent or vinegar.

  2. Wipe down the outside with household cleaner or vinegar

The rotating brush:

  1. Remove debris with a grout brush or old toothbrush.

  2. Use scissors or a seam ripper to loosen tangled hairs and threads.

How often: Every 3 months

Oft-Handled Items, Such As Remote Controls, Light Switches, and Doorknobs

Why you should clean them: Just take a close look at one light switch, and you'll see why it needs cleaning. These are the dirtiest items in your home, some experts say, but it's also the easiest to clean.

How to clean them:

  1. Wet a towel with household cleaner, vinegar, or rubbing alcohol and wipe it down (never spray a switch plate or remote control directly).

  2. Use an alcohol-dipped cotton swab to clean and disinfect any crevices.

How often: At least once a week

Pro tip: For a quick cleanup, wipe it down with a disinfecting wipe

Vents*

Why you should clean them: Though you should have a duct cleaning at least once a year, in between cleaning, the vents need attention too.

How to clean vents:

  1. Turn off your HVAC system.

  2. Unscrew the duct covers.

  3. Clean the grates thoroughly with soap and water, and a wet grout brush or old toothbrush.

  4. Vacuum as deep as you can, using the hose attachment of your vacuum or a shop vac.

  5. Replace the duct covers when dry.

How often: Every 3 months

Ceiling Fan Blades

Why you should clean it: Dust accumulates up there.

How to clean the ceiling fan:

You have several options:

  1. If you can get up on a ladder, slide an old pillowcase over the blade, and slide it back. This should pull all the dust off the top of the blade, right into the pillowcase, keeping it from falling all over the room.

  2. If you can get up high enough, dust the blades as you would a bookshelf: with a dust cloth and cleaning spray; just be aware that you'll likely have to sweep the floor when you're done.

  3. If you can't get up there, use a long handled mop—some are designed just for this purpose—to first dust the blades, then dust the floor.

How often: Every 3 months

Baseboards

Why you should clean it: Often ignored, the crevices in baseboards collect tons of dirt and dust, and can even be a source of mold or mildew.

How to clean baseboards:

  1. Use a dry brush or cloth to remove the loose dust.

  2. If they're unpainted, simply use wood cleaner to wipe them down.

  3. If they're painted, you can clean them with a sponge and some soapy water.

  4. In between these deep cleanings, you can simply dust them with a duster or handheld vacuum

  5. To get stuck on dirt in the crevices, use an old toothbrush. Do not return it to its owner

How often: Every 6 months

Pro tip: Wiping down dry baseboards with a dryer sheet has been said to repel and reduce dust.

 

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