Now more than ever we need our homes to be a sanctuary, a place where we can feel safe and find joy. My 4-week series, How to Create a Happy and Healthy Home Inside and Out, will help you do just that! And most importantly, you will learn what steps you can take to improve your home’s health, functionality, and freshness. You’ll find some easy and simple ideas that don’t cost much but could have a big impact.
In this final week, you’ll get tips on “housekeeping” tasks that will help you wipe out grime and smells in your home in some places you may be overlooking. You’ll wonder why you don’t put these easy tasks on your to-do list more often!
Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back if you are on top of your home’s maintenance. You make sure you’re checking off a wide range of to-do’s from your list regularly, whether it’s cleaning your gutters, having your HVAC system serviced each season, or upgrading your smoke alarms.
It’s great to focus on these important maintenance tasks as a homeowner since they can turn costly if you don’t. But have you given much thought to some smaller cleaning tasks you could be skipping and not even thinking about?
In fact, there are some simple ways you can make your home smell fresh and clean in some overlooked places. If you do have a cleaning service, these might not be on their list at all.
And don’t wait for a whirlwind weekend of spring cleaning to focus on these, put them on your year-round list and make them a routine — you’ll be happy you did!
WARNING: If you plan to make your own cleaning solutions with items in your pantry, keep in mind to never mix bleach with vinegar; or bleach with hydrogen peroxide; or bleach with ammonia. These mixes can be toxic. And when using chlorine bleach, keep the windows open or a fan blowing, and wear gloves.
Let’s get started!
Tackle Kitchen Smells
Garbage Disposal — Does your kitchen sink sometimes stink? It could be leftover bits of food scraps and slime stuck in your disposal’s splash guard and grinding chamber. All of which means bacteria can grow and so do the smells! It’s quite simple to clean with baking soda, vinegar, ice, table salt, and lemon peels.
- To clean: Make sure the garbage disposal is turned off. Pull out the splash guard, which could have food particles in its grooves and crevices. Soak it in a bowl with dish detergent, then use an old toothbrush and scrub to remove the debris.
- Pour about a half cup of baking soda into the disposal and let it sit for half an hour. Then pour one cup of white vinegar into the disposal and watch it fizz and bubble for a few minutes. Rise with boiling water.
- Reinstall the splash guard and pour two cups of ice into the disposal, a cup of salt, run cold water, and then turn on the disposal until the ice has been completely ground up. This will help scrub the blades.
- To freshen your now clean disposal, put a lemon peel in the disposal, run cold water, and turn on power to grind. A nice citrus scent!
Trash Can — Last night’s dinner could be stinking up your trash, but don’t forget to double check the actual trash container. Crumbs seems to fall in there and liquid can seep in somehow…making a yucky sticky mess inside (and even outside).
- To clean: Hose the trash container down completely; use a disinfectant cleaner or even a vinegar and water mix; let sit for a bit and then scrub; rinse thoroughly, and finish up with a towel dry or air outside in the sun.
- Don’t forget to vacuum and wipe down the inside of any pull-out cabinetry that your container sits in — it can get grimy too!
Dishwasher — Do you find yourself constantly wiping away smudges and fingerprints on your stainless steel dishwasher door? But what about cleaning the inside of your washer? Don’t think it’s cleaning itself! Your dishwasher needs a good rinse once a month to keep it running properly. This can help mildew from forming on the interior rubber gasket, and even stains on the plastic interior.
- To clean: First empty the dishwasher and then get rid of any food particles stuck near the bottom of washer. If you don’t stay on top of this, it can lead to clogging and smells from your dishwasher. You may need to remove bottom rack to reach properly.
- Fill a dishwasher safe bowl with a cup of vinegar and place on the upper rack. Run the hot-water cycle.
- Sprinkle 3/4 cup of baking powder around the bottom. Run another hot-water cycle.
- If you have mildew in the interior or the gasket, you can use a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water, and wipe with sponge wearing gloves. Run a rinse cycle afterward to remove any leftover cleaner.
Good-Bye to Bathroom Grime & Germs
Shower Curtain Liner — Don’t forgot about your shower curtain and water-repellant liner when cleaning your bathroom. Soap scum, mold and mildew can build up on your liner. Not a pretty sight when you’re taking a shower!
- To clean: Clean a synthetic or nylon liner regularly by spritzing it with bathroom cleaner then wiping and rinsing with a sponge, especially the bottom part.
- You can also put the liner in the washing machine with diluted beach on a gentle cycle or take it down and wash by hand every couple of months.
- Follow washing instructions on the label for the decorative fabric curtain.
- To cut down on mold and mildew, shake out after each use, leave open and don’t fold back so it can dry completely.
Shower Head — Have you looked carefully at your shower head to see if it’s clogged with mineral deposits? It might explain why you’re not getting that full blast of water when showering.
- To clean: Fill a plastic bag with white vinegar and place it over the head so it completely covers it; secure it with a rubber band wrapped around; and let it soak overnight.
- The next day, use a toothbrush to scrub away the residue.
Toilet Bowl Brush and Holder— It’s a bit gross to think about, but these items can harbor bacteria and more if you don’t clean them regularly. Remember you use them to clean the toilet so it doesn’t help if they are germy too!
- To clean: After cleaning your toilet, you should flush the toilet and rinse the brush in the clean bowl water. Hold the brush over the bowl and spray with a disinfectant spray or 3% hydrogen peroxide. (Or, you can soak the brush in a solution of chlorine bleach and water in a bucket and then rinse to disinfect.)
- Wipe down the handle with your cleaner, then air dry the brush by putting the handle between the clean toilet bowl rim and the lowered seat. Make sure it’s completely dry before you return it to the holder.
- Don’t forget to disinfect and wipe the toilet brush holder inside and outside.
- Both the brush and holder should be cleaned after each use and disinfected regularly. And most brushes should be replaced every 12 months.
Take Action in the Laundry Room
Washing Machine — Have you ever thought that you’re cleaning your clothes in something that might not be clean itself? That could happen if you have a front-loading washing machine since its rubber gasket around the door opening can be a breeding ground for mold and mildew — which could be coming in contact with your clothes.
You’ll see these black spots start to pop up on this rubber seal (even underneath and in crevices). Another tell-tale sign is that you’ll get a yucky smell coming from your washer when in use.
- To clean: Try to deep clean the rubber gasket once a month with the steps below to prevent mold and mildew from growing. But also run the washer’s “tub clean cycle” with hot water once a week, especially if you tend to wash more in cold water.
- You can use a 3/4 cup of bleach and 1 gallon of water solution (use gloves, open window, wear mask) as a cleaner, then apply to the gasket’s surface and underneath with a cloth or sponge, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then use toothbrush/sponge to scrub, rinse with clean water, and dry completely, leaving door ajar.
- If you prefer not to use bleach, you can sprinkle baking soda in the gasket’s crevice and then use a spray bottle with white vinegar and spray the surface. Let sit for 10 minutes and then scrub with toothbrush or sponge. Run an empty rinse cycle with hot water afterward, wipe dry, and leave door ajar.
- Don’t forget to clean out and rinse the soap dispenser. Detergent soap and other grime can start to build up and make its way down to your washer drum.
Spruce Up Your Entrance
Doormat — If you spend time and money power washing your home to get rid of dirt and grime, then take a moment to consider cleaning your doormat too. It’s filled with dirt, pollen, and dust, and who wants that tracked into your home by feet and paws! Plus, depending on weather conditions, you could see mold and mildew growing on the top and bottom of your mat.
- To clean: Remember to check any manufacturer’s instructions since it could vary depending on the material.
- You should shake out dirt and then vacuum your mat regularly to remove loose debris and prevent stains.
- To remove any odors, you can let baking soda sit on your mat for 10 minutes before vacuuming.
- At least every season or more depending on use, you should hose down your mat with water after vacuuming. You could use some mild dish detergent for any stains and scrub with water, and then rinse.
- Also vacuum your inside entry way rugs regularly to cut down on any outside dirt that makes its way inside.
As you can see, these tasks are easily overlooked on a daily basis and also might not be on your spring cleaning or fall maintenance lists. Take the time to make them part of your regular cleaning routine so that you can get the most out of these products so that they work properly, avoid repairs, and you don’t have to replace sooner than you’d like.
Plus, you’ll find yourself smiling and feeling a sense of accomplishment in your fresh clean home!
I'm Beth Little and I love helping first time home buyers make their first home more affordable and I love helping sellers looking to move up to their forever home. Let me know how I can help you make your real estate dreams come true.
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Northville, MI 48167
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