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Things You’ve Probably Never Cleaned (But Really Should)

Nobody likes cleaning, so there's often a focus on stuff you can see (or see through) – windows, floors, counters, etc. But lots of unseen things in your home also need regular cleaning to prevent more issues down the road. See what you're missing and learn how to really give your home a deep clean!

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Young woman cleaning refrigerator with sponge and spray at home; Shutterstock ID 338967302Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock

Refrigerator

Spend 30 minutes on simple refrigerator maintenance to keep it running in tip top shape. It’s hard to believe, but six simple maintenance steps will prevent almost 100 percent of refrigerator breakdowns and eliminate those service calls. A little cleaning goes a long way. Take these steps and you can forget about spoiled food, lost time waiting for repair people and shelling out for labor plus parts for the repair itself.

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dirty dryer ventFamily Handyman

Inside of Dryer and Dryer Vent

Built-up lint inside dryer cabinets causes more than 15,000 fires every year. Lint escapes through tiny gaps around the edges of the dryer drum and falls into the cabinet, especially when the exhaust vent or vent cap is clogged and airflow is restricted. The lint can get ignited by electric heating elements, gas burners or even a spark from the motor, and the flames then travel through the lint-lined exhaust vent. Small jobs can be cleaned by hand, but larger issues might require a dryer vent cleaner kit.

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Inside of ovenGoodLifeStudio/Getty Images

Oven

Built-up spills and remnants of old food and liquids inside ovens can cause smoke and smell issues. It’s important to clean up big spills as they happen, and make it a habit to put your oven through its cleaning cycle regularly. Make sure you’re using the right cleaning equipment to get the job done right.

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Deck

Exposed to the elements year-round, your deck does take a beating. Learn how to clean your deck properly and even give it a proper update (in less than eight hours). Tools like pressure washers can tackle gross build-up in a hurry, and make for fun time lapse videos.

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Air conditionerThelma Lanteigne / EyeEm/Getty Images

Air Conditioner

Air conditioners need annual cleaning and maintenance — spring is the perfect time to make sure your air conditioner is in good working condition. There are a few easy-to-clean items both inside the house and out at the condenser unit. Neglecting your air conditioner can cause much more hassle in time and money spent on repairs.

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dishwasher filterFamily Handyman

Dishwasher

You’d think your dishwasher, post dishwashing, would already be clean. But you’d be wrong. Food bits find their way into all the nooks and crannies of your dishwasher, leading to bad smells and eventually, your dishes not getting clean. Either tackle it by hand, or try a dishwasher freshener to get the job done.

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FHNOV13_ clean garbage disposalFamily Handyman

Garbage Disposal

Does your kitchen sink smell bad? Is it coming from your garbage disposal? If you haven’t lately, or ever, cleaning your garbage disposal may get rid of those disgusting odors. The key is cleaning under the splash guard.

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FH07MAY_AIRFIL_04Family Handyman

Car Cabin Filter

The air filter in your car cabin collects all kinds of debris. A clogged air filter can cause all kinds of problems, from issues defogging windows to reduced gas mileage. Most manufacturers recommend changing it every 15,000 miles or so.

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Chimney sweep man in work uniform cleaning chimney on building roofCouperfield/Shutterstock

Chimney

The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends having your chimney and fireplace inspected at least once a year. And this will help ensure there are no cracks, built-up creosote and the fireplace and chimney are free of debris that could become a fire hazard. This fall cleaning task will ensure your chimney and fireplace can keep you warm during the winter. A chimney cleaning kit may be a good option for small cleaning tasks.

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Faucet Aerators

Aerators are found on almost every kitchen and bath faucet, and if water flow slows or becomes uneven, clogs inside the aerator are usually the cause. Fortunately it’s an easy problem to fix.

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Vinyl Siding

Though vinyl siding tends to stay fairly clean, occasionally you’ll develop harder to clean stains that need more than just a quick spray from your hose or pressure washer. Give your siding a deep clean and really make your house shine.

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Soffit Vents

Blow out debris from your soffit vents to maintain good attic ventilation. It’ll save on air conditioning costs in summer and protect your roof from condensation in winter.

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Clean Weep HolesFamily Handyman

Window Weep Holes

Many sliding windows and vinyl replacement windows have weep holes on the exterior bottom of the frame. These holes are designed to drain away rainwater that can collect in the frame’s bottom channel. Weep holes can get plugged with bugs and debris, and if that happens, water could fill up the channel and spill over into your house.

To see if your weep system is working, simply pour a glass of water into the track or spray the outside of the window with a garden hose. If you don’t see a steady stream of clean water exiting the weep hole, poke a wire hanger into the hole, or spray it out with compressed air, and wet it down again. If the little flapper (designed to keep out driving wind) is stuck shut, it can be removed with a putty knife and replaced.

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Mattress

Despite being covered with sheets and a mattress cover, your mattress still gets dirty. It’s a good idea to periodically vacuum it and spot clean any stains that may appear. Airing it out outdoors in the sunshine for a few hours can also do wonders for removing any lingering musty smells.

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Door Knobs

We all have them, and we all touch them. But when was the last time you cleaned your door knobs? It only takes a few minutes to kill any lingering germs (use a bleach-based cleaner) — just be careful not to get any on wood doors or trim, because it could affect the finish.

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HVAC Condensate LineFamily Handyman

HVAC Condensate Line

When you see water puddling around the furnace with the A/C running, you have a clogged condensate drain tube. Condensation from air conditioning coils contains bacteria that can form slime and clog the condensate pan drain tube.

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cleaning bath vent fan

Bath Fan Grill

Household dust, moisture and humidity combine to cake bathroom exhaust fans with debris. Often located on the ceiling, you may not notice it’s even dirty. Luckily, bath fan grills are easy to clean. Grab the edge of the cover and pull down. Squeeze the springs to release them from the slots and remove the cover.

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Water Heater

Extend the life of your water heater tank and maintain your water heater’s efficiency and safety with a few minutes of basic maintenance once a year.

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Outdoor Lights

Like anything that lives outdoors, your outdoor light fixtures get dirty. Get in the habit of cleaning and inspecting your outdoor lights once a year, especially checking for any pest nests. The heat provided by outdoor lights makes an ideal environment for mice and other rodents.

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Mon and daughter organizing a closet JackF/Getty Images

Closets

Because floors are often covered with stored items, and clothes block access to the walls, closet cleaning is often neglected. But who wants to put clean clothes in a dirty closet? Once a year (or once a season) make it a point to wipe down/dust walls, trim and shelves in your closet and give it a good vacuum.

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scrubbing garage floor

Garage Floor

Your garage floor is bound to get dirty, but if you haven’t swept or washed it in years, it’s time to clean it. Not only will your garage feel cleaner, you’ll remove all kinds of nasty stuff (rocks, salt, dirt and more) that you might otherwise end up tracking into your house.

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