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10 Tasks You Probably Forgot to Put on Your Spring Cleaning List

Dirt lurks in some surprising places. Make your spring cleaning extra-thorough with our checklist.

By Nicole Doster, Digital Associate Editor

family sitting around the dinner table, passing food around the table and laughing

Shutterstock / sebra


'Tis the season for spring cleaning—that wonderful time of the year to unleash my inner neat-freak on the long-neglected corners of my apartment.

I'm going to assume you're planning to dust, vacuum, and maybe even mop. But it's worth taking a closer look around. Dirt hides out in some surprising places. Read on for some of the most-neglected cleaning tasks.


Turn (and Vacuum) Mattresses

We'll start with an easy one! Next time you clean your sheets, flip your mattress over. You should do this about every six months to keep the mattress from wearing down in one area. Got a pillow top mattress (or another type of bed only meant for sleeping on one side)? Rotate it instead (spin it head-to-toe).

While you're at it, give your mattress a good vacuuming. When's the last time you did that?


Clean Out Trash Cans

Even when they're lined, garbage cans get gross. Crumbs, scraps and icky things slip down the sides. The tops get crusted with weird goo. I know it's tempting to quickly throw a clean bag over it and pretend the yuck never happened, but once a year, do yourself a favor and clean it out.

Scrub down the interior with a mix of soap and bleach (for extra sterilization). Wear gloves and remember bleach can take out the dye in your clothes too. Let the can dry thoroughly before you re-line it.

For good measure, sprinkle a bit of baking soda at the bottom before you add a bag. It'll help absorb any unpleasant odors that may lurk about.


Wipe Down Utensil Holders and Organizers

Got a canister for utensils? How about an organizer for forks and knives? A knife block? A pot rack? These organizers are inconspicuous carriers of dust and grime, especially if they're located near the stove—grease that gets airborne can accumulate on any surface.

Take the time to clean 'em. Unload, dust and scrub down any storage space. Be sure to let it dry before putting everything back.


Dust and Clean Window Hangings

Window treatments like valences, curtains and drapes can be cleaned with a vacuum. If they look like they need some extra care, check the cleaning instruction tag. Many fabrics can withstand the delicate cycle of your wash. Others may be dry clean only. You can also hang drapes outside for a few hours to air them out. Hang them out of the sun, and obviously pick a dry day.

Clean blinds thoroughly, too. Dust 'm first, whatever they are made of. Vinyl or metal get wiped down with vinegar and water. If they are really greasy, give them a bath! Take the whole thing down and soak it in your tub with a little laundry or dish soap added to the water. Wipe off the grime, rinse (the shower works great), and hang to dry. Your slats will be squeaky clean. It takes time, but the difference between dingy blinds and clean blinds is huge.


Clean Throw Pillows and Blankets

Strip the covers off decorative pillows, grab your duvet cover, and round up your throw blankets. While most of us keep our sheets and towels clean as part of our routine, somehow we don't think twice about lounging on a dusty old sofa. Most of these items can go right in the washing machine on the delicate cycle, but check the care tags to be sure. Warm up your iron to press wrinkles out of pillow covers and duvets. If nothing else, take them outside, beat the dust out of them, and let them air out for a few hours. They'll smell a whole lot fresher.


Degrunge Light Fixtures and Fans

You probably remember to dust your bedside lamps, but what about those lights overhead? Ceiling fixtures are notorious for collecting dust and (ew!) bugs.

Turn off the lights and remove the fixtures. Give them a gentle rinse in soapy water and dry with a soft cloth. If you have recessed lights, you can get rid of dust and webs with a damp towel.

Got fans? Most fans are easy to clean with a long dusting wand. If you have a fan in the kitchen, it might be more gnarly (dust and cooking grease is a bad combo). Ideally, use a ladder to (carefully) climb up. With a soapy sponge, wipe down the fan blades. You might want to do this bi-monthly, just to prevent dust and grime build-up.


Sanitize TV Remotes and Other Buttons

We're all guilty of chowing down on some sweet and savory snacks during a weekend movie marathon. And though we're mostly careful to tidy up our mess, there's one thing that often gets overlooked: the remote. Wipe down that clicker with a damp cloth dipped in equal parts water and rubbing alcohol. Maybe use a cotton swab for those hard-to-get grooves.

With cold and flu season coming to a close, it's also a good idea to wipe down your light switches, doorknobs, cabinet handles, and other places that get a lot of finger traffic and not much wiping.


Vacuum the Couch

Removing your couch cushions can unearth a treasure trove of lost items. That extra change is useful, but the candy wrappers? Not so much. Clean up any lingering items and pass your vacuum over the entire the couch. If the cushions have removable cases, take 'em off and clean them.


Discard Unwanted Items

It's all too easy to keep unwanted stuff around the house. But all that clutter is taking up space! Rather than spending a whole weekend clearing it out, tackle small projects to start weeding out junk.

Next time you wipe down the shelves in your fridge and pantry, do a quick check for expired foods. If you have unexpired and unopened food you just don't like, consider donating it to food pantries.

Empty your dresser drawers, remove unwanted clothes, and refold your remaining items and put them away in organized piles. Your drawers will look way more spacious and tidy.

Set up a space in your house to stash items to donate and regularly clear it out. If you're feeling ambitious, do a sweep of your basement to get rid of things you have no use for. Whenever possible, donate or give away. (Dozens of empty cardboard boxes from my last move were picked up within hours of my free craigslist posting.)


Clean Your Cleaning Tools

Yep, I'm going meta on you. When you're done cleaning, give your broom, dustpan and other tools a good scrub.

Vacuum the broom's bristles, then let it soak in a soapy bucket for about an hour to remove any gunk or dirt. Let dry completely before you store it.

Wipe down your vacuum's exterior, clean the hairs and dust trapped in the brushes and wind the cord neatly.

Throw rags into the washing machine. Sanitize your sponge by blasting it in the microwave (make sure it's wet) for about two minutes.


Done spring cleaning for the year? You deserve an easy treat.