The Areas in Your House That Are Most Dirty (And How to Clean Them)

No one wants a dirty house, but not all bacteria, dust, and grime are immediately apparent or easily cleaned. Some frequently used spots or hidden corners can be surprisingly germy or dirty, even in otherwise well-maintained homes. Here’s a comprehensive guide to tackling the 18 dirtiest areas in your house, ensuring your living spaces stay sparklingly hygienic!

Kitchen Sink

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A lot goes on in the kitchen sink, and its moist environment is a breeding ground for bacteria, with food debris and grease adding to the problem. You can regularly disinfect it with a bleach solution, but Real Simple recommends using vinegar/lemon juice alongside a tough scrubbing brush, paying close attention to faucet handles, drain stoppers, and disposal areas.

Cutting Boards

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Raw meat, poultry, fish, and even vegetables can leave behind harmful bacteria on cutting boards. Clean them immediately after each use with hot, soapy water and a sponge. You can also sanitize with a vinegar solution, and you should consider having separate boards for different food items.

Dishcloths and Sponges

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Unsurprisingly, the tools we use to clean get very dirty. Constantly exposed to moisture and food particles, they often attract bacterial growth and need to be replaced weekly, if not daily. Or, you can sanitize them by microwaving them damp for 1–2 minutes or soaking them in a bleach solution for 10 minutes.

Refrigerator Door Handles and Drawers

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These areas are frequently touched by unwashed hands and often become fouled by food smears and crumbs. According to Digital Trends, refrigerators are one of the most unhygienic places in any house. To remove germs, wipe fridges down daily with a disinfectant wipe or a solution of soapy water and vinegar, and always clean up any spills immediately.

Oven Knobs and Stovetops

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Cooking can get messy, and food spills, grease splatters, and crumbs are common on knobs and stovetops. After each cooking session, wipe them down with a damp cloth and degreaser. For stubborn stains and baked-on food, create a paste of baking soda and water to act as a mild abrasive, and scrub the area until clean.

Light Switches and Doorknobs

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These ‘germ magnets’ are constantly touched by multiple unwashed hands throughout the day. Wipe them down daily with disinfectant wipes or a soapy water and vinegar solution without making them wet. Pay particular attention to edges and crevices where dirt can accumulate.

Remote Controls

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Even if your household doesn’t eat in the sitting room, remote controls get touched by everyone and are notorious for harboring bacteria and skin grease. Clean them weekly with disinfectant wipes or a solution of rubbing alcohol and water. Always remove the batteries before cleaning and avoid using harsh chemicals that can damage the buttons.

Throw Pillows

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Decorative soft furnishings like cushions trap dust, allergens, pet hair, and dander. If they’re machine washable, throw them in regularly with the appropriate wash. If they are too delicate or large to go in the machine, sprinkle them with baking soda, let them sit for 30 minutes, and then vacuum them thoroughly.

Bathroom Faucets and Handles

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Anywhere with high moisture levels is a friendly environment for bacteria and mold, so your bathroom is a prime location. Clean your faucets daily with disinfectant wipes or a solution of soapy water and vinegar. Don’t forget to regularly descale the faucet aerator with neat vinegar, lemon juice, or a commercial product to remove mineral buildup that interrupts water flow.

Toilet Seats and Bowls

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Considering their purpose and moisture levels, it’s not surprising that toilets harbor bacteria and require regular cleaning. NBC News recommends cleaning them at least once a week with a bleach solution (1 part bleach to 10 parts water) or a commercial disinfectant. Pay close attention to areas under the rim and around the base of the toilet.

Shower Curtains and Liners

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Shower curtains get wet daily and don’t always dry out between uses. To avoid mold, mildew, and other moisture-loving microbes, wash fabric shower curtains regularly in the washing machine according to their care instructions. For vinyl liners, wipe them down with a mold and mildew remover and consider replacing them every few months.

Bath Mats and Towels

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Damp bath mats and towels are perfect places for bacteria and mold to grow, particularly if they aren’t completely dried in the sun after each use. Ensure you wash bath mats weekly in hot water and allow them to dry completely before replacing them. Replace towels after 3–4 uses or sooner if they become especially wet or visibly soiled.

Vacuum Cleaner Attachments

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Like other cleaning tools, vacuum cleaner parts often harbor dirt, dust, and pet hair. This accumulation is not only unhygienic, but it also reduces their effectiveness as cleaning aids. Always empty the dustbin after each use, and regularly wash the attachments you use in warm, soapy water. Just make sure they’re bone dry before you attach them again.

Air Vents and Ceiling Fans

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Any surface with high airflow quickly becomes covered in dust and other allergens, impacting air quality while looking decidedly unpleasant. Dust vents monthly with a microfiber cloth or use a vacuum cleaner attachment. Use a damp cloth or a microfiber mop for ceiling fan blades to remove any buildup and keep them shiny and effective.

Laundry Baskets

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Unsurprisingly, our dirty clothes contain bacteria and unpleasant odors, especially underwear items and socks! Don’t leave your laundry basket to fester; empty it daily and wash clothes regularly. Consider soaking particularly dirty items separately before adding them to the wash, and choose well-ventilated baskets to prevent moisture buildup and mold growth.

Keyboards and Smartphones

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Like remote controls, keyboards and smartphones are constantly touched and often used while snacking. To remove fingerprints, dust, and germs, wipe them down daily with disinfectant wipes or a microfiber cloth dampened with diluted rubbing alcohol. Avoid using harsh chemicals or excessive moisture, which can damage delicate circuitry.

Pet Beds and Toys

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We love our dogs and cats, but they often track in outdoor dirt and generate fur, allergens, drool, and poop! Wash pet beds regularly according to the care instructions, and if your pet sheds, vacuum them frequently to remove pet hair. Clean and disinfect their toys regularly, especially if they are frequently mouthed or chewed on during play.

Trash Cans and Recycling Bins

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Liners are essential for containing spills and leaks, but even these don’t protect every surface of your bins from dirt and bacteria, especially in the kitchen and bathrooms. Empty them regularly, especially in warmer weather, to avoid pests and unpleasant odors. Regularly wash them with hot, soapy water and disinfectant, paying close attention to the lids, edges, and rims.

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