Disgusting Parts of Your Home You Aren't Cleaning, but Should Be


It's entirely possible that your home is a festering cesspool of germs -- actually, it's more than possible, it's pretty much a sure thing.

Even if you're not doing it, you probably know you should clean things like the shower and change your bedsheets with some semblance of regularity. But what of the oft-forgotten and terribly filthy things in your home that you should be cleaning more? Well, here's what.


Dish towels

Kitchen rags are used for so many daily tasks -- wiping your hands, drying dishes, cleaning a countertop, etc. -- and most people aren't laundering them nearly often enough. If you cook on the regular, you should be swapping the dish towels out every day or every other day to ensure you're not drying the mixing bowls with a combination of foodborne bacteria, mildew, and ambient kitchen grease.

Bath towels

Here's a not-uncommon line of thinking vis-a-vis bath towels: "I only use it when I'm clean, so it can't be dirty." Alas, that is not so. Sure, you're toweling off after you've washed yourself in the shower or bath, but drying off transfers dead skin, body oil, residue from the products you used, and, of course, water to the towel. The combination of human matter and moisture will aid the development of mildew, leading to that gross smell and resulting in you drying yourself off with bacteria.

Would a towel-washing guideline be helpful? Sure thing, aim to use a bath towel no more than three times in a row before laundering.


The bath mat

You, and everyone else in your household, step on that thing almost every day -- if you're not washing the bath mat regularly, you're stepping on all the dirt, dead skin, and product run-off left behind after showering. Terry-cloth bath mats, even the rubber-backed kind, can be machine washed and dried. Wooden or bamboo bath mats can be sprayed with an all-purpose cleaner and wiped off with a rag or paper towels.

That ratty bathrobe

You know the one. Have you ever washed it? Thought so! Well, a beloved bathrobe should be washed for many of the same reasons as your bath towels, and for a few others. Such as that smear of Cheetos dust down the left sleeve, or the fact that you spent an entire weekend wearing it and nothing else? Sound familiar? Sure it does. Show your robe some love and give it a spin through the washer, and show yourself some love by upping the fluff factor by using a liquid fabric softener like Downy in the wash and a set of dryer balls in the dryer.

Valery Sidelnykov/Shutterstock

Your pillows

Oh yes, you can most certainly clean a pillow -- check the care tag for specifics. Most pillows are machine washable, but some require specialty cleaning in the form of a trip to the dry cleaner. Pillows take a ton of abuse, and harbor loads of dust mites. Plus, you know those brown mystery stains? That's drool.

The mattress

Naturally, you can't chuck a mattress in the wash, but you should vacuum it from time to time (twice a year is ideal) to remove dust mites, dead skin, and other microscopic gunk from the place where you spend half your life. If the mattress has taken on a stale odor, sprinkle it with baking soda and allow it to sit for 30-60 minutes before vacuuming. Stains can be treated with a spray treatment like Zout; use the product sparingly so as not to saturate the mattress, blot with a damp towel to coax out the stain, then wipe clean.

Michal Ludwiczak/Shutterstock

Cabinet tops

The tops of cabinets are probably the biggest out-of-sight, out-of-mind offender in most homes -- in fact, take a moment right now to check yours out. (I'll wait.) Do they look like they're wearing a sweater made of dust? Yup, they probably do. That dust, even if you don't see it, can affect the air quality in your home, so take the time to relieve them of their dust sweater. Use a vacuum fitted with the hose attachment to eliminate as much dust as you can, and then follow with a degreaser like ammonia or Zep Heavy-Duty Citrus Degreaser (be sure to wear protective gloves and work in a well-ventilated area).

The coffee maker and/or juicer

You've probably heard some horror stories about scary-filthy commercial soda, soft-serve, or frozen-beverage dispensers -- consider small appliances like coffee makers and juicers to be the at-home versions. Without regular cleaning, build-up will occur, leading to the development of all manner of bacteria. Plus, your morning cup of coffee will taste like shit if it's brewed in a dirty machine.

Flickr/Timothy Neesam

The couch

The couch is sort of like your pillows or mattress -- you spend so much time on it, and have probably never cleaned it. A vacuum should be used regularly to remove dust, dirt, hair, and dander, and an upholstery cleaner like Resolve can help with spot-treating stains from spilled food or drink, or for cleaning off general grime.

The dish rack and dishwasher

For slightly different reasons, the place where your dishes go after you've used them should get a bit more of your cleaning attention. Drying racks will absolutely develop mold and mildew because of their constant exposure to water. That means you're ostensibly clean plates, bowls, cutlery, and drinkware are going back in the cabinets with bacteria on them that you probably don't want in your mouth.

The dishwasher, in contrast, is likely to suffer from food particle build-up, as well as from mold or mildew. Both things can be treated with either white vinegar or bleach, easy peasy.Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert who spends way too much time thinking about how dirty things are. Follow her on Twitter: @joliekerr.