9 filthy places we forget to clean

places we forget to clean
9 filthy things we rarely cleanAnna Puzatykh - Getty Images

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Most of us like to follow routine as we clean, often dealing with chores in a certain order. But in doing this, it’s all too easy to forget to clean less obvious items – items that can get pretty filthy over time.

There’s likely things you’ve never thought to clean before, or actively choose to avoid, and these will end up covered in bacteria and grime without your attention. Want to know what we’re talking about? We’ve found 9 things people forget to clean around the home, and how to make cleaning them a cinch.

1. Your phone

For most of us, our smart phones are in constant use, both in and out of the home. Because of this, germs and bacteria quickly accumulate on the surface. In fact, 25% of Brits take their phone into the toilet with them, and 63% fail to clean it afterwards, according to a survey by Dettol. The same survey found that 27% of us have never disinfected their phone.

That’s a lot of bacteria spreading to wherever you place your phone, which may well include the dinner table.

Cleaning your phone is quick and simple. For general guidance, switch off your phone and remove it from its case, then wipe the display and camera lens with a microfibre cloth in a circular motion. You can lightly dampen the cloth for stubborn marks. Use antibacterial wipes for a deep-clean, but avoid using these on the screen as it can damage it. Don’t forget to clean your case too. Always follow cleaning instructions from your manufacturer.

There are exceptions for what you can use on the display. For instance, Apple says it's fine to use 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes or 75% ethyl alcohol wipes or disinfectant wipes on some displays. Always check first so you don’t void the warranty.

places we forget to clean
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2. Cooker hood

It’s easy to forget about the state of our cooker hoods because they’re often concealed or out of view. But if you take a look, you will probably see just how much grease can collect on the surface. It’s important to keep your extractor fan clean to keep it working efficiently.

Metal filters can often go in the dishwasher’s upper rack for easy cleaning; refer to your manual to check this. For heavy grease, don’t wash other items alongside because it can easily transfer. Otherwise, hot soapy water should do the trick. Paper, carbon and sponge filters will need replacing regularly, so keep an eye on them. Unplug the extractor fan and clean the exterior with a cloth dipped in soapy water, then wipe away.

3. Light switches

We flick the light switches on and off multiple times a day, and yet we rarely clean them. It’s often only when the white plastic appears grubby that we know action is needed. Cleaning light switches can be unnerving for some because it’s attached to electrical components, but it’s a straightforward task.

First of all, do not spray cleaners directly onto the light switch for safety reasons. Instead, spray a disinfectant onto a microfibre cloth and then use that to clean the switch and plate, taking care not to saturate the surface. Dry and buff with a separate cloth. Give your door handles a once over while you’re here with the same solution.

places we forget to clean
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4. Remote control

The remote control sees daily use by multiple family members. In fact, Dettol’s survey revealed that each of us will handle the remote 5,475 times a year on average and seeing that three in 10 of us don’t ever clean ours, you can imagine what a breeding ground for bacteria it can become.

Cleaning your remote is another quick and simple chore. Get into the habit of regularly wiping it over with an antibacterial wipe, or alternatively spray a microfibre cloth with antibacterial spray and use that. A cotton bud can help you to reach between the buttons if needed.

5. Toilet brush and holder

It’s really gross, but it has to get a mention. Most of us are more than aware of how disgusting the toilet brush and holder can be, especially once water starts to puddle in there.

The good news is cleaning the toilet brush needn’t be a daunting task. And if you can keep up with it as part of your cleaning routine (at least once a week), it won’t be so gross to handle in the future.

Start by adding some hot, soapy water to the holder (with the brush in place). Swill that around, then empty down the toilet. Rinse the brush and holder with fresh water then empty, then fill with cold water and add a few drops of bleach. Leave to soak for 10 minutes, making sure the brush is fully coated. Then empty that down the toilet again, rinse both brush and holder and spray with disinfectant.

Try to let the brush dry after every use so it stops transferring moisture into the holder. You can trap the handle under the toilet seat and leave it to dry over the bowl to do this.

You could switch to a silicone toilet brush for better hygiene. These don’t absorb water so much with each use and are easier to clean - although it's worth noting that the scrubbing performance is not as effective compared to standard bristles in our experience.

places we forget to clean
Liudmila Chernetska - Getty Images

6. Around the toilet

While we’re on the subject, don’t forget to clean all around the toilet (including under it if it's attached to the wall). Residual urine can easily collect here, particularly if you’ve got young children in the house.

Use a suitable floor cleaner all around and under (if applicable), then a multipurpose cleaner for any tiled walls or nearby items, including the toilet roll holder. Don’t forget to regularly wash your toilet mat if you have one, on the highest temperature allowed by the care label.

7. Hairbrush

Most of us brush our hair at least once a day. On top of rogue strands of hair building up around the bristles, grease can accumulate here, not to mention hair product if you brush after application. You don’t want this brushed back into your hair, so it’s good practice to clean your hairbrush regularly.

Believe it or not, some hairbrushes can go in the dishwasher. Plastic hairbrushes or combs can sometimes be washed in the upper rack, but be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions first to confirm.

Otherwise, washing the brush in a solution of non-medicated shampoo and water can help to remove residual grease and product. Rinse and leave to dry afterwards. Plastic brushes can be soaked in the solution, if needed, but don’t do this with wooden or paddle brushes. Always follow your manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning; some may require specialist care.

places we forget to clean
Doucefleur - Getty Images

8. Toothbrush and holder

Few of us take the time to deep-clean our toothbrush, which is surprising when you consider that we put them in our mouths daily. All sorts of airborne pollutants could land on your toothbrush, such as hairspray, perfume and deodorant, to name a few. And although it’s not a nice thought, every time you flush the toilet with the lid open, there’s a chance of airborne bacteria coming from there too.

After each use, rinse the bristles and handle of your toothbrush thoroughly under hot water to remove any toothpaste. Then dry the hard plastic with a hand towel and lightly tap the brush head on your sink to flick off the excess moisture. If you’ve got an electric toothbrush, pull the head free and rinse both inside the head and the attachment on the handle, then leave to dry separately; this deters mould growth. Wipe dried-on residue away with a damp microfibre cloth if it’s built-up on the handle.

For a thorough clean, let the brush head soak in mouthwash for 15 minutes to sanitise it.

If you use a toothbrush holder, remember to clean this regularly to prevent residue building up in the base. Warm soapy water should be sufficient, and some are dishwasher safe too.

9. Mattress

While it might look clean to the naked eye, your mattress is likely covered in dust, dust mites and bacteria. Because of this, it's good to get into the habit of cleaning your mattress at least once a month.

Use the upholstery attachment and a low suction setting on your vacuum cleaner to do this. Vacuum both the surface and sides to give it a thorough sweep. Alternatively, a mattress vacuum can get the job done; some have a UV light built-in which claim to kill bacteria. Check the care instructions for your mattress beforehand, in case vacuuming is not recommended.

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