Inside: Wondering if your house is free from harmful germs? I’ll bet it’s not. Here are 20 things to clean in your house that you’re more than likely forgetting about.

Pain shot up my arm and into my back forcing me to stop what I was doing. I had been scrubbing at the same spot on the counter for the past 10 minutes.

It’s a weekly – sometimes daily – occurrence.

I had gone grocery shopping and when I got home I set the bulk box of chicken breasts onto the counter to be divided up into smaller packages and then frozen.

See, when raw meat touches any surface in my house or on my body, I internally start to panic.

Salmonella (!!!)

E. Coli (!!!)

Listeria (!!!)

…the initial panic is followed by me rushing to grab my cleaning supplies and then proceeding to scrub at the victim – the surface – for at least 10 minutes to ensure I’ve removed every illness-causing bit of bacteria.

Being so paranoid (I like to call it diligent) about disinfecting these surfaces made me wonder what other surfaces in our house were harboring harmful bacteria and germs.


What I Learned Disgusted Me

It didn’t take much research to learn that there are dozens – hundreds – of surfaces and areas in a house that are crawling with bacteria, germs, and mildew.

If the thought of germs and bacteria multiplying in your house disgusts you as much as it does me, use the following list to start cleaning and disinfecting these 20 areas of your home daily to stop the spread of germs and illness.

Download: The Ultimate House Cleaning Cheat Sheet

A Clean Home is a Healthy Home

This is the exact reason why even though we may hate it, day after day and week after week we pick up the broom, wipe off the countertops, and get on our hands and knees to scrub behind the toilet again and again.

Not because it’s fun or we expect to get a reward from all our hard work.

If we’re lucky, someone will notice that we just spent 2 hours cleaning the house. But more often than not, before anyone has the chance to notice that we just gave away two hours of our life that we’ll never get back scrubbing pee dribbles from the toilet base and picking hair out of a shower drain, the house is back to having no evidence of our cleaning assignment at all.

But we do it anyway.

We do it to keep our homes clean and our families healthy.

But What If Our Hard Work Was Worthless?

Despite your exquisite attention to detail and tireless efforts to keep your house from becoming a pigsty, there are undoubtedly some areas of the house that are getting forgotten about. 

(Don’t worry, I never cleaned them either, until I learned about them.)

These forgotten areas of the home harbor enormous amounts of bacteria and germs, which then spread from the surface to your family members and is the exact reason why you’re here today… to stop the spread of germs, illness, and gunk among family members.

Related: 13 (more) Things You’re Forgetting to Clean in Your House

20 Things to Clean In Your House

(that you’re more than likely forgetting about)

These are by no means “house cleaning secrets”. These areas aren’t secret areas that you don’t know about because you weren’t invited to the “things you forget to clean” meetings. (Don’t worry, I’ve gone. They’re boring anyway.) 

They’re just areas that get overlooked more times than not.

Without further ado, here are 21 areas and things in your home that you’re forgetting to clean.

1. Cell Phone

State Food Safety states that a cell phone has 25,127 bacteria per square inch. 

And the fact that we don’t think twice about having it at the dinner table with us? Disgusting.

To put this in a better perspective, a toilet seat has 1,201 bacteria per square inch and a kitchen counter has 1,736 bacteria per square inch.

This tells us three things:

  1. yes, kitchen counters are dirtier than toilet seats,
  2. your cell phone has more than 20 times the amount of bacteria on it than a toilet seat, and
  3. it’s time to start cleaning that phone daily. Right now.

You can get disinfecting wipes that are specifically made to clean electronics without damaging them. These are the disinfecting wipes.

(Because when something has 20 times more bacteria than a toilet seat, this is a job for something much stronger than nice smelling hand soap and hot water.)

2. Landline

Much like the cell phone, your landline gets a healthy dose of germs and bacteria throughout the day. Do it (and yourself) a favor and give it a wipe down.

3. Remote Control

This is another object that sees many hands every day of the week and does a superb job of spreading the love germs. Using disinfectant wipes daily will help keep the germs at bay.

4. Doorknobs

Mashable did the work for us. 8,643 bacteria per square inch cling to doorknobs here there and everywhere.

If you have time, wiping doorknobs daily will diminish germs and bacteria. If not, adding them to your weekly cleaning schedule will help.

5. Light Switches

According to Healthline, light switches are one of the germiest places in the entire house.

Much like doorknobs, they get touched day in and day out (and the hands that touch them aren’t always squeaky clean, either), so your health will benefit from disinfecting them daily, or at the very least, weekly.

6. Faucet Handles

When you think of it, it makes sense. You go to the bathroom, you wash your hands. But, what do your unwashed hands touch before they get cleaned? The faucet handles.

(And then, not to mention, your clean hands then touch those same faucet handles again after washing them. Yuck.)

7. Sinks

I was wrong when I assumed that by washing my hands in the sink, I was also washing the sink. 

Here’s what has to say: 

“There’s more E. coli in a kitchen sink than in a toilet after you flush it.”

Bacteria thrive in places that are warm and moist which makes a kitchen sink one of the top contenders for thriving germs. 

Some folks use vinegar and lemon juice to wash their sinks, which does help kill off some bacteria, but certainly not all. You need a real sink disinfectant spray to eliminate the growth of bacteria.

The good news is you can make a homemade solution, here’s what you need:

Mix the ingredients together in your spray bottle and use it to disinfect all the sinks in your household.

8. Handles

Door handles, drawer handles, and cupboard handles see many hands many times in a day. Take this type of disinfectant wipe to all the handles in your house, focusing especially on the handles in the kitchen and bathrooms. 

You’ll also want to disinfect appliance handles such as refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves, and stoves.

9. Seat, Lid, Handle

I was going to start by stating the three different things on a toilet that should be disinfected daily:

  • The seat
  • The handle
  • The lid

…but then I decided, you may as well just do the whole thing. Dribbles collect on the base of the toilet and all sorts of dust, hair, and dirt collect behind the toilet lid. 

To easily clean the toilets daily, keep disposable disinfectant wipes near the toilet and work it into part of your before-bed routine.

10. Countertops

Both kitchen and bathroom countertops see the spread of bacteria daily. Ideally, these surfaces would be wiped down multiple times a day, but if you can’t make that a possibility, at least wipe them down every evening. 

11. Towels, Cloths, Sponges

Hand towels, dishcloths, and sponges encourage the growth and multiplication of bacteria because they are constantly moist and they wipe up a whole world of different germs.

When you wipe a surface with a sponge or dishcloth that has been used to clean dishes and wipe up spills for more than a day, all you’re really doing is spreading more germs all over the place. 

It may look like you’re cleaning up the mess, but what you don’t see is how unsanitary your kitchen counters really are because of this. 

Switch out hand towels, sponges, and dishcloths daily. 

Personally, I would recommend purchasing cheap sponges in bulk, like these and tossing the old ones every day or two. 

If, however, you want to reuse your sponges, you can kill most of the bacteria living on them by making them wet then microwaving them on high for at least 2 minutes.

12. Bathroom towels

Dr. Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, states that,

“After about two days, if you dry your face on a hand towel, you’re probably getting more E. coli on your face than if you stuck your head in a toilet and flushed it,” (source)

So, while this isn’t a daily cleaning task (thankfully), it is something you should be doing at least every 2 – 3 days.

13. Toothbrush

According to a study done at the University of Manchester, the average toothbrush can contain 10 million bacteria. (Source)

Which ultimately means, if you’re brushing your teeth with a toothbrush that has that many bacteria on it, your teeth aren’t going to come out as clean as you’re hoping.

You can disinfect your toothbrush by swishing the bristles around in a cup of antibacterial mouth wash for at least 30 seconds. The antibacterial properties will help kill off a majority of the bacteria. 

14. Toothbrush Holder

You can use the same cleaning solution that you used to clean your toothbrush to also clean the toothbrush holder (antibacterial mouthwash). First, remove the toothbrushes and wash the holder with warm water and soap. Then, fill the holder with the mouth wash and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. 

Rinse and reload toothbrushes.


You can also simply place the toothbrush holder in the dishwasher and run it through with a load of dishes. (First ensuring that the holder is dishwasher-safe.)

15. Garbage Cans

You don’t want to think about it (neither do I), but when ants and roaches start marching through your kitchen, you’re faced with the undeniable truth that your kitchen garbage can needs some serious attention paid to it.

To clean and disinfect it, remove the garbage bag and any trash in the can, bring it to the bathtub and rinse it out with hot water. Next, grab a good, germ-killing soap (I use this one) and an old rag and fill the tub with a couple inches of hot water (as hot as you can handle it). 

Then, scrub the garbage can inside and out. Once done, empty the tub and rinse thoroughly. 

Now comes the fun part…

Dump 2 cups warm water and 1 cup rubbing alcohol – it should be at least 70% (or vinegar, but rubbing alcohol does a much better job) into the can.

Use a new rag to swish the homemade disinfectant solution around the whole interior of the trash can, as well as wiping down the outside. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, then wipe the interior and exterior once more.

Dump and rinse.

To keep your kitchen garbage can cleaner for longer, you’ll want to use fitted can liners. They will help eliminate bacteria and other germs from coming into contact with the can.

16. Keyboard, Mouse & Mouse Pad

Unless you’re diligently washing scrubbing your hands before touching your keyboard, it’s infested with more germs and harmful bacteria than you ever want to know (sorry to be the bearer of bad news).

Which is why it’s definitely time to clean your keyboard, mouse, and mousepad, stat.

If you’re worried about water damage, use a moist disinfectant wipe and run it over the keyboard, mouse, mousepad, and any other surfaces near the computer that get touched often.

17. Broom

Next time before taking your broom out to give the kitchen floor a quick sweep, take 5 minutes to disinfect the handle and bristles.

Fill a bucket with hot, soapy water (Dr. Bronners soap works well) and fully submerge the head of the broom into the bucket, ensuring all the bristles are covered. While it soaks for 20 – 30 minutes, wipe the handle down with your disinfectant wipes.

18. Pet Dishes

Place empty pet dishes in a bucket full of two parts water to one part rubbing alcohol. Let them sit for 10 minutes, wash with soap, rinse, and let air dry.

19. Coffee Maker

If not cleaned regularly, coffee makers are an inviting place for mold, mildew, and bacteria since they’re warm and always moist.

You can easily clean coffee makers (not just the coffee pots) by running a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water through the coffee maker, then run one to two rounds of plain water through to rinse the tubes out. 

While the coffee maker is brewing its pots of cleaning solution, take a disinfectant wipe and wipe down the exterior of the machine.

20. Washing Machine

If you haven’t washed your washing machine within the last year, chances are it’s making your clothes dirtier rather than cleaner.

Here’s a thorough guide on how to deep clean your washing machine (plus why you should never use bleach to do the job).

Things to Clean In Your House

Keeping your house completely free of germs and harmful bacteria is next to impossible. But, it is possible to keep those pesky things at bay and – hopefully – from causing your family members to fall sick due to poor cleanliness.

Download Your Free Printable: Whole House Printable Deep Cleaning Checklist

Ready to start deep cleaning your house like an expert? Use this free printable deep cleaning checklist that has helped thousands of families deep clean their home in a day or less. Here’s how to get it for free:

  1. Download the deep cleaning checklist. As a bonus for joining my newsletter, you’ll get the free printable deep cleaning checklist. You can click here to download and subscribe.
  2. Print it off. Both color or black-and-white work for this list. It’s not the looks that matter, it’s using the checklist to keep yourself accountable and on track while you deep clean your house (even though I did go ahead and make the checklist super cute and fun). Don’t skip this step – you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals when you write them down.
  3. Use it. As you work your way through your house learning how to organize each room, keep the kit with you so that you can refer back to it often.

Things to Clean In Your House… Your Turn

Did you learn something new from this list of 20 interesting things to clean that often get forgotten about? Or, maybe something’s missing from the list – add your unusual things to clean in your house in a comment below.

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