8 Household Items You Forgot to Spring Clean

woman with cleaner bottle and gloves
Photo by PR Image Factory / Shutterstock.com

Spring cleaning 2020 feels different. Due to coronavirus concerns, we all got a head start on cleaning — or rather, disinfecting — our homes this year.

You may be thinking about cleaning more often, cleaning more thoroughly and cleaning items you may have forgotten about last year (ahem … and the year before).

In preparation for summer staycations and healthy social distancing, let’s give this springtime ritual a second look. Following are household items we typically forget to hit when we do a spring cleaning, along with easy ways to clean them.

1. Showerhead

You probably clean the surface of your showerhead on a regular basis. But the interior needs love too. Over time, mineral deposits can clog those tiny nozzles and turn your once-powerful showerhead into a dribbling disappointment.

According to Good Housekeeping, here’s the best way to deep-clean your showerhead without removing it:

  1. Mix one-half cup white vinegar with one-half cup water and pour the solution into a small plastic bag.
  2. Immerse the showerhead in the bag and secure the bag onto the showerhead with a twist tie.
  3. Remove the bag after an hour’s soak.
  4. Run the shower for a minute or two to flush out any remaining deposits.

And speaking of vinegar, did you know it’s one of the most versatile and inexpensive products on earth? Seriously, you can use vinegar in every room of your home.

2. Iron

If the bottom of your clothes iron looks like the bottom of an old skillet, don’t get steamed.

Over time, the bottom (or plate) of an iron tends to develop a tacky film, the accumulation of burnt fabric softener, melted starch and scorched clothing fibers.

To keep your trusty iron in good working order (and protect your clothing from accidental staining), Good Housekeeping recommends this simple cleaning formula: Dampen a microfiber cloth, dip it in baking soda and gently scour the plate’s surface. Once the sticky deposit loosens, wipe clean with a damp cloth.

Baking soda is just one of the many common household items that can help you save money on cleaning, as you’ll learn from reading “Never Buy These 7 Overpriced Cleaning Products Again.”

3. Shower curtain and liner

It’s hard to feel shower fresh when your shower liner is covered in soap scum and mildew. Thankfully, cleaning this part of the bathroom is a snap.

According to Today.com, the best way to clean a shower curtain and liner is to toss both in the washing machine. Wash them in warm water with detergent and one-half cup of baking soda.

For extra “scrubbing” action, add two large bath towels to the load. At the rinse cycle, pour in one-half cup of distilled white vinegar to fight mildew and hard water stains.

Remove plastic shower liners before the spin cycle begins and hang to dry.

We’ve got more bathroom cleaning hacks in “7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom in Minutes.”

4. Vacuum

To work properly, bagless vacuums need unrestricted airflow. Keep things sucking as they should by regularly cleaning your vacuum’s canister and filter.

According to Merry Maids’ handy guide on how to clean a vacuum, canisters can be washed in the sink using warm soapy water. First, unplug the appliance and disconnect the canister from the vacuum cleaner, wiping it inside and out with a dry microfiber cloth. After washing in the sink, rinse away all suds and let the canister dry completely before reattaching it.

Maintaining the filter is a bit more complicated. Refer to the manufacturer’s guide to determine whether the filter on your vacuum is disposable or washable. If you’ve got a washable filter, remove dust and debris from it by tapping it against a hard surface over a trash can. Rinse it thoroughly with water (soap typically isn’t recommended) and let it air dry completely overnight.

5. Washing machine

It’s true, the appliance that keeps your lucky socks clean needs some cleaning itself from time to time.

Washing machine cleaning methods depend on the type of machine you have. The Spruce says a standard top-load washer should be cleaned twice a year, more often if you live in a hard-water area. For other types, it says:

High-efficiency top-load washers and front-load washers use much less water than standard machines and need to be cleaned more often — usually every month.”

To clean a standard top-loading washer, The Spruce advises filling it with hot water. Add 1 quart of chlorine bleach. Use no detergent. To thoroughly remove the bleach, run the machine through the longest complete wash and rinse cycle and let it rinse and drain to remove all the bleach. Fill the drum with hot water again, this time adding a quart of distilled white vinegar. Again, use the longest wash and spin cycle and let the machine rinse and drain. After the second cycle is complete, wipe all rubber gaskets, door openings and glass with a soft cloth.

6. Trash cans and recycling bins

Trash can liners leak and recycling bins accumulate all sorts of gunk. Do your family and your garbage collector a favor by giving every waste receptacle a good spring cleaning.

If your trash can doesn’t have an electronic sensor lid, take it outside and hose it down. Then, scrub with soap and warm water and let it air-dry. Disinfect with an all-purpose cleaning product like Lysol or Pine-Sol.

7. Patio furniture

Have months of bird droppings turned your patio table into a Jackson Pollock painting? Time to get to work.

Because of their proximity to grass and other vegetation, wash patio furniture using only eco-friendly products. Tom’s of Maine offers some practical non-toxic outdoor cleaning tips to keep your patio — and yard — looking great. To clean metal and plastic furniture, mix 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of Castile soap with 2 gallons of hot water. Scrub everything down, rinse and let dry in the sun.

8. Pillows

On the job for eight hours every night, pillows collect sweat, saliva, oils and dirt from our skin. To keep your sweet dreams sweet, wash your pillows at least twice a year.

Consumer Reports offers effective cleaning methods for all types of pillows. Polyester-fill pillows can be machine-washed (toss in two together to balance the load). Go light on the detergent: 1 tablespoon of liquid laundry soap will do the trick. Tumble-dry on moderate heat.

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