Banish bacteria, dust, and grime on common household objects with these quick and clever tips.

By Katie Bandurski
Updated March 18, 2020

Certain areas of your home (such as the bathroom floor and kitchen countertops) make a good scrub-down obvious. Other household objects, however, are easier to forget during your regular clean-up routine, which means dirt, dust, and germs can build up without you noticing. Even if you diligently stick to a weekly cleaning schedule, your home isn't completely clean until you've wiped down and sanitized these items. To help safeguard your family's health and safety, start paying attention to these 11 commonly used items and areas you might be forgetting while cleaning your house. Get your favorite cleaning solution or disinfecting product ready: you're going to need it.

James Nathan Schroder

1. Kitchen Handles

Need a hand during dinner prep? You're likely using one to open the refrigerator door—even if you just finished handling raw meat. If left untreated, refrigerator, freezer, and oven handles become a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. Scrub kitchen cabinet and appliance handles down once a week (or immediately after touching them with messy hands) with a cloth and a disinfectant spray or a mix of 1 part hot water and 1 part vinegar.

2. Toothbrush Holder

Keep your pearly whites clean and your toothbrush holder cleaner. Throw the dirty bathroom accessory in the dishwasher once a week, or sterilize it by hand with hot water and soap. It's also a good idea to regularly clean toothbrushes, especially during flu season. Boil brushes in water for two to three minutes.

Kritsada Panichgul

3. Computer Accessories

Think of all the times you've coughed, sneezed, or blown your nose at your desk. Now try to remember the last time you cleaned your mouse and keyboard. To clean your desk and office items, use disinfecting wipes to banish bacteria and prevent germs from spreading in your office. Alternatively, you can detach your computer's keyboard and mouse, then dip a soft-bristled toothbrush in soapy water and gently scrub the surface.

Carson Downing

4. Place Mats

Place mats are great at protecting wood finishes from food stains, but they can get filthy fast. Rinse plastic or vinyl place mats with warm water and soap and let dry completely. Fabric mats can be thrown in the laundry machine with like-color linens, but be sure to hand-wash anything embroidered.

Jason Donnelly

5. Handrails and Doorknobs

Keep your balance without picking up any pathogens by regularly wiping down railings. To clean wood handrails, use a microfiber cloth dampened with a solution of hot water and vinegar or warm, soapy water. Wipe dry with a polishing cloth. Treat doorknobs to the same cleaning routine.

David Tsay

6. Light Switches

Grimy hands touch light switches every single day. Luckily, you probably already have what you need to clean them well. Clean the switch plate with a disinfectant spray or a slightly damp cloth soaked in hot water and vinegar. Wipe dry with a polishing cloth.

Blaine Moats

7. Reusable Shopping Bags

Reusable shopping bags hold heavy items and provide an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic. However, the bags can start to smell, collect stains, and become a breeding ground for bacteria and mold if not cleaned regularly. Wash fabric grocery bags in your laundry machine, or invest in plastic bags that can easily be wiped down.

Adam Albright Photography, Inc.

8. Ice Cube Trays

It's easy to refill ice cube trays for months without a thought, but trays are susceptible to food remnants or odors inside your freezer. It's smart to clean plastic ice cube trays on a regular basis. Each time they're empty, give the trays a thorough wash with hot water and dish soap. Many can also be placed in the top rack of your dishwasher.

Laura Moss Photography Corp

9. Water Bottles

Put down your reusable water bottle. Before you take another sip, draw a hot, soapy bath for it: That's the best, easiest way to clean a water bottle. Let soak for five to 10 minutes. Use a bottle brush to scrub the interior, and utilize a toothpick to get inside the mouthpiece if needed. Rinse thoroughly.

10. Faucet

Faucets might just be the dirtiest thing in your home. Scrub handles daily with hot water and dish soap, or sanitize them with a disinfecting spray. For stuck-on stains or watermarks, make a paste with baking soda and vinegar, apply it to the faucet, let sit, then rinse off with warm water.

Marty Baldwin

11. Kitchen Sponge and Scrub Brush

Your dishes and kitchen surfaces don't stand a chance at staying clean if you're not regularly disinfecting your sponge. Between uses, disinfect your kitchen sponge with one of our recommended cleaning methods. For a natural kitchen sponge cleaning solution, opt for boiling water or vinegar. For a deep clean, wash with bleach, or pop your sponge into the microwave or dishwasher.

Comments (7)

April 16, 2020
And what about behind and under the fridge? That gets pretty disgusting too
April 16, 2020
And what about behind and under the fridge? That gets pretty disgusting too
April 11, 2020
One important item you forgot to mention, can openers. Whether it’s a handheld or electric can opener, you need to wipe down the sharp edges with vinegar and hot water and dry thoroughly before you use it again.
April 11, 2020
You suggest disinfecting with a solution of vinegar and water even though in a recent story you and the CDC indicated that vinegar is not a disinfectant.
November 30, 2019
The head of toothbrushes should be covered when not in use and cleaned each night. Simply soak in a strong mouthwash (I use Listerine) or vinegar.
June 29, 2018
Hey! Great job including things that most people NEED to clean that go unnoticed. It seems super obvious that cup holders and ice trays need to be cleaned, but they're the type of everyday items that most don't think twice about. Great read!
June 18, 2018
Can someone tell me how to clean the parts on a fridge where the ice and water comes from on the fridge door?