Eight neglected cleaning chores to do that make a big difference

Cleaning the house is a must before guests arrive. Yet while we’ll bet your countertops sparkle and your floors gleam, there are a few cleaning tasks that probably fell off your to-do list —and trust us, they make a huge difference!

So before you hang up your mop and duster, check this list twice to see if you’ve overlooked some of these chores. Give them some elbow grease, and they can ensure that your home looks, smells, and otherwise comes across as fantastic to all who set foot inside.


1. Range hood

Consider the purpose of the hood fan in the first place — to collect grease. Oh, right. Gross. That’s why the hood above your stove needs to be cleaned at least twice a year, says Meg Roberts, president of the housecleaning service Molly Maid.

Clean it fast: Pull the wire-mesh grate filter out from beneath the hood; soak it in warm, soapy water; rinse and re-insert, Roberts recommends. Then use a gentle cleaner on the outside of the hood to clean any splatters.


2. Tea kettle

Who’s looking at your kettle? Why, only everyone who enters your kitchen. Take a gander at your gleaming stove and counters, and you’re bound to notice how unsightly your dingy kettle looks, caked in grease after years of neglect.

Clean it fast: Shine the outside with a paste of baking soda and just enough white vinegar to create a thick consistency. Using a sponge, scrub until the stains disappear.

While you’re at it, consider cleaning up the inside of the kettle, too, suggests Derek Hales of the house-cleaning site Modern Castle. “If you have hard water, you may be shocked at what’s inside your kettle,” he says, describing a probable build-up of sediment that’s eventually going to float around in your water. Remove it by boiling one part water with one part white vinegar and giving your closed kettle a good swish. Rinse with cool water, and let air-dry for a kettle that sparkles inside and out.


3. Sliding door and window tracks

You’ve squeegeed those windows and doors and maybe even washed the screens. But a sparkling clean window or door looks out of place if the track is full of grease and grime, notes Roberts.

Clean it fast: First, vacuum loose dust and debris with the brush attachment, and then sprinkle baking soda on the track, she advises. Pour vinegar over the track to cause foaming and bubbling (you remember the volcano science experiment?). Let it sit for 10 minutes, then scrub loosened gunk with an old toothbrush. If any debris remains, wrap a damp rag around a butter knife to guide it into the small areas.


4. Light fixtures

Is your lighting better for setting a mood than actually illuminating anything?  You’ll be surprised at how bright your lights will shine once you’ve cleaned them, says Elizabeth Dodson, co-founder of HomeZada.

“Think of cleaning your lights like cleaning your windows,” she explains. “When your windows are superclean, all the sunlight streams in; just like there will be more light in your home from the bulbs when the fixtures are clean.”

Clean it fast: Even gently wiping the dust off your light bulbs will create more light, but a thorough cleaning is best. If your light casings are hard to remove, wiping them with a glass cleaner should be enough to allow your light bulbs to shine through, she says. But if you can remove your fixtures, it’s even better to wash them in your sink with soap and water. The dishwasher is an option, but proceed with caution if you have silver- or gold-plated fixtures, since the dishwasher can mar the finish. If you do choose to put plain fixtures in the dishwasher, run them through solo on the gentle cycle.


5. Ceiling fans

If you haven’t cleaned your ceiling fans lately, then dust is probably flying around your house with each revolution.

Clean it fast: Slide a pillow case around each blade, and then wipe; the dust will be trapped inside the case. Repeat for each blade, then empty the pillow case outside and wash, suggests Roberts.


6. Floor-tile grout

The grout on your tiled kitchen counter or shower is likely to be scrubbed pretty regularly, but what about your poor floors? You probably haven’t given them much attention, other than a surface sweep and mop. To check if your grout has gotten a little grody, take a look at a section of the floor that gets minimal foot traffic. If it’s a different shade, you have some work to do, says Hales.

Clean it fast: Start by applying a paste made of three parts baking soda and one part water, then spray a solution of one part water and one part white vinegar onto the baking soda. Let it sit for a few minutes and then use a brush to scrub the grout lines clean. (Note: If you have natural stone, consult the manufacturer, as vinegar can damage it.)


7. Garbage cans

You don’t even want to think about the germs that might be festering on your kitchen and bathroom garbage cans. It’s smart to use a general surface cleaner and disinfectant from time to time while cleaning the house, but you’ll want to occasionally do a more thorough job, suggests Caitlin Hoff, health and safety investigator for ConsumerSafety.org.

Clean it fast: If it isn’t too cold out, take the cans outside, squirt in some cleaner, and give them a good spray with your garden hose. “That gets both the inside and outside germ-free without soaking your kitchen or bathroom in the process,” says Hoff, who often cleans hers while washing the car. But if it is too cold out, stick to your bathtub.


8. Cleaning tools

When was the last time you washed your broom? Many people neglect to clean their cleaning supplies and end up spreading more dirt and germs with each use, says Hoff.

Clean it fast: To clean your broom, first gently hit the bristles of the broom against a tree, driveway, or porch railing to dislodge loose debris, then soak the broom head in a bucket of water with a bit of dish soap for about an hour before rinsing and letting it air dry, Hoff recommends. For your mop, see if there are cleaning instructions; some can be laundered in the washing machine. Otherwise, soak your mop head in a bucket of warm water with either a cup of bleach or vinegar, and then rinse and dry thoroughly before use.

— realtor.com