The Expert's Guide to Cleaning 12 Hard to Reach Areas in Your Home

Kitchen Mess

It’s Time to Finally Learn How to Clean Those Hard to Reach Areas in Your Home

When it comes to cleaning, most of us go by the “out of sight, out of mind” mindset. We convince ourselves that - because we can’t see it - it must be clean.

Can’t see the tops of your cabinets? They’re spotless.

Don’t look under the bed that often? Must mean there’s no dust under there.

Never ever see the back of your oven? Grease? We hardly knew ye.

Then one day, we crouch down to pull the holiday ornaments from underneath the beds and come face to face with enough dust bunnies to fill a down coat. Because, as it turns out, those out of sight, out of mind areas still get dirty regardless of whether or not we clean them (who knew?).

And unfortunately, dirt, grime, and dust attract even more dirt, grime, and dust. That means that when an area of your house goes unclean, it makes the areas you do clean get dirtier even faster.

To help you finally clean those out of sight areas, we put together these smart, clever tips and tricks to cleaning the 12 hardest to reach areas of your home.

Get ready to experience a truly clean home for the first time since...well, the first time since move-in day, probably.


12 Hard to Reach Places in Your Home and How to Clean Them

1) Behind the Toilet

In the name of biting bullets, we’re getting the grossest task out of the way first: cleaning behind your toilet.

The floor space between the back of your toilet and the wall is tiny and hard to reach, so most of the time, we mop/sweep/vacuum around it.

Rather than deal with it, we pretend all the dirt, grime, and, well, the things you use your toilet for, doesn’t exist and move on with our days.

(We did warn you this one would be gross.)

We could explain all of the negative health effects of letting all those things build up, but you probably get the picture.

ANYWAYS, stop ignoring the back of your toilet when you clean your bathroom, friends.


How to Clean Behind Your Bathroom Toilet

Supplies: Rubber gloves, knee pads (if you’ve got them), scrub brush, hand-held broom or vacuum, disinfecting spray, clean kitchen towels

Step 1: Put on some rubber gloves and knee pads.

Step 2: Grab a dry, stiff brush or scrubber, and scrub the floor to release all the dust, soil, and hair that’s built up. Don’t forget to scrub the baseboard.

Step 3: Grab a handheld broom or vacuum, then sweep or vacuum up all of the dust, soil, and hair you just dislodged from the floor and the baseboard.

Step 4: Spray disinfecting spray on the floor, baseboards, and back of your toilet and wipe with a clean towel or sponge.

Step 5: Dip a second clean sponge or towel in plain water and wipe down the area, then leave to dry.


How Often to Clean Behind Your Toilet: Weekly


2) Ceilings and Moldings

You know what’s great about high ceilings? They’re high and far, far away from us.

So far, in fact, that we can’t be blamed for forgetting to clean them when we do our weekly house cleaning sessions (you are cleaning your house at least once a week, right?).

But we bet if you spent a few minutes walking around your house and looking up, you might see some things you aren’t happy about: dust, mold, or even the occasional spider’s web.

Dirt and small pests like to hide in the places we ignore, no matter how high or hard to reach.

Quick note: if you’re planning on cleaning your ceiling this week, make it the first thing on your to-do list.

Everything that’s on your ceiling will fall onto your floors, counters, and furniture, and you don’t want to have to clean your house twice.


How to Clean Ceilings and Molding

Supplies: Step ladder, long-handled duster or broom, multi-surface cleaner, kitchen towels

Step 1: Grab a step ladder (if your ceilings are very tall or if you are very short 🙋) and long-handled duster or broom.

Step 2: Using your long-handled duster or broom, whisk away all the dirt and grime from your ceiling. Don’t forget to brush out the moldings if you have them.

Step 3: If grime is caked up in your ceiling corners after you’ve dusted, wet a kitchen towel with multi-surface cleaner and wipe down the corners. Do not use a sponge as the rough edges could scuff your paint.


How Often to Clean Your Ceilings and Moldings: Once a month


3) Light Fixtures and Ceiling Fans

Staying up high for a minute, let’s tackle your light fixtures and ceiling fans next.

Dust loves cracks and crevices, and we bet your lighting fixtures have plenty of those.

Your ceiling fans, on the other hand, are hiding dirt in the obvious place: on top of the blades. Contrary to everything our logical brains might tell us, dust doesn’t get flung off of ceiling blades every time we turn on the fan.

Those little mites are stubborn creatures.

Like with your ceiling, you should clean light fixtures and ceiling fans before cleaning the rest of your house.


How to Clean Light Fixtures and Ceiling Fans

Supplies: Step ladder, duster, disinfecting spray, kitchen towels

Step 1: Grab a step ladder if necessary and, using a clean duster, wipe down your light fixture or ceiling fan.

Step 2: If there is grime or dirt caked onto your fan or light fixture after you dust it, grab a kitchen towel and spray it with some disinfecting spray.

Next, gently wipe down your fan or light fixture. Light fixtures are surprisingly fragile, so be careful when you’re wiping them down.


How Often to Clean Your Light Fixtures and Ceiling Fans: Once a month


4) Cabinet Tops and Tall Furniture

We promise to travel a little closer to the ground after this one.

But first, cabinets.

Until the world accepts the fact that cabinets that extend all the way to the ceiling are the best cabinets, we’re all going to have to deal with cleaning our cabinet tops.

Because those babies aren’t just dust magnets, they also attract grease. That grease attracts toxins. Then those toxins then circulate in your home, getting your kids, pets, significant others, and self sick.

So even if you weren’t a fan of climbing on the jungle gym at recess, it’s time to embrace your inner Tarzan and get climbing.


How to Clean the Tops of Kitchen Cabinets and Tall Furniture

Supplies: Step ladder, microfiber cloth or duster, disinfecting spray or multi-surface cleaner, kitchen towels

Step 1: Grab a step ladder.

We do not recommend climbing on top of counters to clean your the tops of your kitchen cabinets.

Step 2: Using a microfiber cloth or other reusable duster, dust the tops of your cabinets.

Step 3: Next, grab a disinfecting spray or multi-surface cleaner, and apply to the tops of your cabinets. Then rub the cleaner into the tops of the cabinets.

Step 4: Using a clean towel, wipe the cleaner off your cabinets, then wipe with water and leave to dry.


How Often to Clean the Tops of Kitchen Cabinets and Tall Furniture: Bi-monthly


5) Window Blinds and Curtains

We don’t spend a lot of time looking at our blinds and curtains.

When they’re closed we’re sleeping, and the rest of the time - unless your living room window is facing someone else’s living room window - they’re open.

Who can be blamed for forgetting to clean them?

But while we’re spending all of that time not looking at our blinds and curtains, they’re collecting dust and other airborne allergens.

So in the name of not sneezing every time you walk into your house, go ahead and give your blinds and curtains a good clean (not just the ones in the living room that your houseguests see, okay?).


How to Clean Window Blinds

Supplies: Microfiber cloth or static duster

Step 1: Release your blinds as far down as they go, then close them. Blinds are a lot harder to clean when the panels are facing one another than when they’re closed.

Step 2: Using a microfiber cloth or static duster, dust your blinds.

Step 3: Reverse your blinds and repeat on the other side.


How to Clean Curtains

Supplies: Washing machine and detergent

Step 1: Remove your curtains from their rods.

Step 2: Run your curtains through your washing machine either on a delicate cycle with cold water, or, if your machine doesn’t have a delicate cycle, on a low-spin cycle with cold water.

Step 3: After your curtains are washed, don’t run them through the dryer. Instead, leave them to dry on a clothing line or draped across solid furniture, like a table.

Running your curtains through the dryer could shrink them or fray the material.


How Often to Clean Window Blinds and Curtains: Once every three months


6) Sliding Door, Shower, and Window Tracks

When was the last time you cleaned your window tracks?

Or, better question, did you know that your window has tracks?

Crazy, eh?

Sliding door, shower and tub, and window tracks attract and amazing amount of dust and dirt, but we rarely remember to clean them.

These tracks can get particularly grody, so it’s going to require a little DIY cleaning solution to fully clean them.

How to Clean Sliding Door, Shower, and Window Tracks

Supplies: Vacuum or duster, rubber gloves, cleaning bucket, dishwashing soap, hydrogen peroxide, wooden spoon, scrub brush

Step 1: Open the window or door as far as it will go.

Step 2: If possible and ONLY if yours are made to do so, remove the tracks and/or screens from the window, door, or shower.

Step 3: Vacuum or dust the tracks and the objects that slide on the tracks (window, door, screen, etc.)

Step 4: Put on a pair of rubber gloves.

Then, in a cleaning bucket (do not do this in a bowl you serve food from!), mix together two cups of warm water, one tablespoon dishwashing soap, and one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide. Using the handle of a wooden spoon - not the spoon part - mix the mixture.

Step 5: Dip the bristles of a scrub brush in the mixture and then scrub the tracks.

Step 6: Grab a kitchen towel and “rinse” the tracks with clean water.


How Often to Clean Sliding Door, Shower & Window Tracks: Twice a year


7) Under Furniture and Rugs

We’re all guilty of vacuuming around furniture and rugs.

But here’s the thing: just because you aren’t cleaning under your furniture and rugs, it doesn’t mean dust isn’t making it’s way under them.

People are often surprised to find lots of dust underneath their rugs. Dust has a funny way of getting in, on, or around rugs, and that dust creates a toxic home environment.

The same goes for the backs of our couches and seats of our armchairs.

If you find that you’re sneezing a lot and it isn’t allergy season, it could be because there’s sneaky dust hiding under your furniture and rugs.


How to Clean Under Furniture and Rugs

Supplies: Handheld vacuum, standing vacuum or broom, mop

Step 1: Move the couch or rug. Couch too heavy to move on your own? Enlist a friend. Cleaning under a rug? Roll it up, then carry it away.

Step 2: Remove any clothing items, knick knacks, or storage bins that were underneath the furniture.

Step 3: Vacuum or sweep the area thoroughly.

Step 4: Mop the area thoroughly and leave to dry.

Step 5: After the area is completely dry, put the rugs and or couches and or other furniture back.


How Often to Clean Under Furniture: Once a month


8) Refrigerator Coils

If we gave you a diagram of a refrigerator, could you point to the coils?

Before we researched it, we couldn’t.

Refrigerator coils are located either behind your refrigerator or underneath and are what cools your fridge. The more dust and debris that collect on them, the harder the coils have to work. Leading to higher utility costs.

Cleaning your coils a couple of times a year will help keep your utility costs down and help you use less electricity, helping the environment.


How to Clean Refrigerator Coils

Supplies: Vacuum or broom, mop

Step 1: Pull out the refrigerator as far from the wall as you can.

To do so, grasp it by both sides and wiggle it towards you. If you have any kind of back problems, enlist a friend to help you do this. As soon as you can, reach behind the fridge and pull the plug (your greek yogurt will survive a 20-minute cleaning session, promise). If you have an ice maker, shut off the water supply first.

Step 2: For coils located on the back of the machine, use your vacuum’s brush attachment and vacuum the dust away, then move your fridge.

Step 3: For coils located under your machine, unsnap the ventilated grill under your machine. Using a long-handled, stiff brush and the crevice tool of your vacuum to remove brush and debris.

Step 4: Plug your refrigerator back in, then wiggle it back into position.


How Often to Clean Refrigerator Coils: Twice a year


9) Garbage Disposals

Sometimes it’s hard to remember a world before garbage disposals.

Where did we put all those wasted food remains? How often did our drains get clogged with anything and everything? How smelly were our waste receptacles?

That’s a time gone by that we don’t miss.

With all of the breaking up of food and water traveling through, you would think in-sink garbage disposals wouldn’t need to be cleaned. We thought that, too, until we bent over our supposedly clean sink and took a whiff.

Your garbage disposal sees a lot, so you need to take care of it.


How to Clean In-Sink Garbage Disposals

Supplies: Small mixing bowl, baking soda

Step 1: This is less a step than a bit of advice: NEVER under any circumstances put your hand down the garbage disposal unless the electricity has been turned off.

And we don’t mean the switch, we mean on the electrical breaker. If your disposal malfunctions with your hand down it, you will regret not having taken the minute to walk down into your basement to switch off the breaker for the rest of your life.

In general, there should be no reason that you would ever need to stick your hand down the drain unless you’ve lost something.

Step 2: Grab a small bowl, fill it with ice cubes, then sprinkle the ice cubes with a tablespoon of baking soda and toss to coat.

Step 3: Turn your sink on full blast as cold as it will go, then turn on the disposal and leave to run for thirty seconds.

Step 4: With the water and disposal both still running, dump the bowl of ice cubes into the disposal and run until the disposal is done cutting up the ice, plus ten seconds at the end.


How Often to Clean the Garbage Disposal: Once a month


10) Dishwasher Filter

Taylor Swift recently did an interview on Ellen where she said she uses shaving cream to wash her legs and the world was shocked because, guess what, shaving cream is not soap.

There were some people, however, who had been living under the same assumption.

Those are probably the same people who believe that running their dishwasher - with dirty dishes in it - is enough to clean it.

Well, dirty legged friends and Swifties, we’re here to tell you that it is not.

Most dishwashers have a filter that collects food particles and prevents small food objects from being flushed away so that you don’t clog the pipes to your dishwasher.

When you don’t clean that filter, those pieces of food stay there, smelling up your dishwasher and dirtying your dishwasher.

Use soap on your legs.

Clean your dishwasher.

This has been a PSA.


How to Clean a Dishwasher Filter

Supplies: Dish soap, white distilled vinegar

Step 1: Empty the dishwasher and remove the bottom rack.

Step 2: If your filter can be removed, unscrew it and soak it in warm soapy water overnight.

Meanwhile, pour one to two cups of distilled white vinegar in the bottom of the empty washer and allow to sit overnight.

In the morning, rinse the filter and screw it back in place, replace the bottom rack and run a short cycle without any soap.

Step 2a: If your filter can only be lifted, not removed, remove the bottom rack of the machine and use a dry clean cloth and wipe out any food debris.

After all the debris is gone, pour one to two cups of distilled white vinegar in the bottom of the empty washer and allow to sit overnight.

In the morning, rinse the filter and screw it back in place, replace the bottom rack and run a short cycle without any soap.


How Often to Clean the Dishwasher Filter: Once a month


11) Behind the Oven

Your last kitchen task is to clean behind the oven.

Just like your couch, dust and dirt love to find their way under and around the back of your oven.

Unlike your couch, when you don’t clean, you run the risk of a fire hazard.


How to Clean Behind Your Oven

Supplies: Multi-surface cleaner, kitchen towels, mop

Step 1: Grab both sides of your oven and gently wiggle it away from the wall. If you have an electric stove, feel free to unplug it. If you have a gas stove, do NOT remove the gas from the stove or the wall.

Step 2: Using a multi-surface cleaner and a cloth, wipe down the back of your stove.

Step 3: Sweep/vacuum then mop the floor underneath and behind your stove.

Step 4: Plug your stove back in and shimmy it back into place.


How Often to Clean Behind the Oven: Twice a year


12) Heating and Air Register Covers & Filters

More often than not, our HVAC covers and filters look like they’re covered in felt, and not in a good way.

And unfortunately, when HVAC filters are covered in dust, the machines have to work harder, running up your electric bill. They also don’t filter the air as well, meaning they let airborne allergens stay in your home.

Regular HVAC cover and filter cleaning will keep your energy costs and down and help your family breathe easier.


How to Clean Heating and Air Register Covers & Filters

Supplies: Vacuum, garden hose or dish soap

Step 1: Remove the cover or filter.

Step 2: Using the hand attachment of your vacuum, clean the vents.

Step 3: If you have a yard and a hose, spray down the filters and covers.

Step 3a: If you do not have a yard and a hose, fill your tub with hot soapy water and let the filters soak in it.


How Often to Clean HVAC Covers & Filters: Once every other month



It’s easy to forget to clean those hard to reach places. Most of the time, they’re places we don’t see, so we willfully forget about them.

But cleaning those hard to reach places is the only way to have a truly happy, healthy, cleanly home.

Not sure how to remember to incorporate them into your regular cleaning routine? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Your Home for advice on how to develop your own cleaning strategy. Turn your water on full blast as cold as it will go, then turn on the disposal and leave to run for thirty seconds.