17 Dirtiest Things Most People Forget to Clean

You keep your home fairly tidy and surprise company doesn’t throw you into a cleaning panic, but what if you’re missing something? Check out this list of the dirtiest things most people forget to clean.

Forgetting to clean something, NO, not you!?  You couldn’t possibly be forgetting anything. 

You have weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly cleaning schedules that you’ve created to ensure you get it all done on a regular basis.

You’ve been doing this for years, and you’re sure you haven’t missed a thing.  There isn’t a dirty spot in your home.  You would know.

What do I forget to clean in my house?

basket of cleaning supplies

Dirtiest Things People Forget to Clean

Here’s a list of the dirtiest things you should be cleaning, but might be forgetting.

1. Purse

Most women carry purses these days, but do they really ever clean them?

Besides throwing away old receipts and random pieces of gum, most women rarely ever pay attention to purses. Especially where they set them down.

The exterior surfaces are the dirties.  Think about how often you set your purse down on a counter, bench, table, etc.  Imagine all the germs you are picking up, then transferring to your car seat when you set your purse down.

Even worse, you probably set it on the kitchen counter or a side table when you get home.

Wipe the outside off with a soapy microfiber cloth or disinfectant wipe, and refrain from setting it down on just any surface in your home.  Place a hook in your drop zone to hang your purse on to keep it off the counters.

Your purse should probably be cleaned weekly if not more often.

Empty everything out and wipe the inside with a disinfectant wipe. Then wipe down the handle and entire exterior surface with another wipe and set it aside to air dry.

woman cleaning phone and tablet which most people forget to clean

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2. Remote Controls

Let me tell you how gross a remote control can get.

We had one that stopped working properly, and when I took it apart to fix it, I realized how disgustingly dirty it was.  There were smudges of dirt all over the face of the remote, and the reason it wasn’t working properly is there was so much gunk built up that the buttons were sticking.

I’m totally going to blame that on my husband, and you should too because people will believe you!

I had to take the entire thing apart and use a toothbrush and toothpicks dipped in a disinfectant cleaner to get all the gunk out.  Then I wiped down the surface, let it dry, and put it all back together.

It worked like new.  Now I wipe it with a disinfectant wipe every week during my weekly cleaning routine and clean out any noticeable debris with a toothpick.

A few times a year, I take it apart and clean around the buttons.

Related Article: How to declutter your living room


weekly cleaning checklist on a tablet

Join thousands of VIPs for cleaning, decluttering, and organizing tips sent straight to your inbox. As a welcome gift, we’ll send you this FREE printable Weekly Cleaning Checklist that lists exactly what to deep clean in every room of your home.

3. Phones & Personal Electronics

Between social media, texting, and constant access to the world wide web, most people are on their phones for a good part of their day.

Yet, how often do you see somebody clean their phone?

Can you remember the last time you cleaned yours? I’m not talking about wiping the screen off so you can see through the fingerprints, I mean really clean your phone.

Take the cover off and look at all the dirt and gunk. When you’re done grossing out, thoroughly wipe it down. Make sure you get into the inside corners and crevices of the case. Set it aside to dry.

Use a toothpick to gently remove any grime from the ports and around any buttons, then wipe the exterior down with a soapy microfiber cloth or disinfectant wipe.

I actually wash my cover with dish soap, rinse it, then let it air dry, and wipe my phone down with a soapy microfiber cloth.

You should be cleaning the exterior surfaces of your phone every day, then take the case off and clean the hidden stuff once a week.

4. Reusable Grocery Bags

Great for saving the environment, but one of the dirtiest and germiest things you use. Most people empty the bags and put them right back in the car for the next trip.

Just think of how many people and places those bags come in contact with.

You place them in the grocery cart, then on the check stand conveyor belt. The cashier and bagger touch the bags plus all of the things being placed inside. Then you put them all in the trunk of your car.

That’s a lot of germs to fold up and place right back in your car. You should clean your grocery bags after every use.

After emptying the groceries, wipe down the inside and outside with a disinfectant wipe and let dry. Don’t forget the handles.

Even better, toss them all in the washing machine, then let them air dry.

5. Computer Keyboard

In this digital era, computer keyboards get a lot of use. With that use comes all of the little particles that fall in between the keys and just sit there.

Depending on the frequency of use, you should spray out the keyboard with compressed air once a week to clear out any debris.  You can use a paintbrush or toothpick to remove anything stuck between the keys.

Then wipe down the keys and flat surfaces with a disinfectant wipe.

Clean your home keyboard once a week.  If you share a computer at work, wipe that nasty thing down daily. 

Want to take it a step further, pop the keys off and use a dry paintbrush to loosen all the grime up, then vacuum it out and wipe down what you can before reassembling the keys.

Related Article: Spring cleaning checklist

Woman with grossed out look on her face next to the words 'Dirtiest things you should be cleaning but arent'

6. Door Handles

Yep, door handles.  The minute you read that, you panicked.

You realized you can’t remember the last time you cleaned yours, if ever.  Then you thought about how many times a day everybody touches them.

Now you’re grossed out and feeling a little ashamed.  It’s okay, everybody has survived so far.  Grab some disinfectant and a microfiber cloth and give them a good cleaning.

Once you’re done, a quick once over with a disinfectant wipe at least once a week should keep them clean.

If somebody in your home is or has been sick, disinfect your door handles a couple of times a day to help prevent the illness from spreading.

7. Light Switches

Eewww right!  Light switches see dirty hands even more often than your door handles do.

Now you can’t unsee all of that gunk buildup and it’s not easy to get off.  Before you whip out all of the cleaning supplies, flip the breaker to interrupt the electricity to the switches.

Dirty light switch plate

Use a combination of a dry toothbrush, cotton swab, toothpick, and some cleaner to get all the gunk out.  For the initial cleaning, it’ll help to remove the switch plate and clean it in the sink.

Use a dry toothbrush or stiff paintbrush to clean off all the surface dust and dirt.  Then use a cotton swab soaked in disinfectant to clean off all the grime and gunk.

If you still have hard-to-reach spots, soak the tip of the toothpick in disinfectant and use it to get any remaining gunk.

When you’re done, add the switches to your weekly cleaning schedule for a wipe down with a disinfectant wipe on a regular basis.

Just like the door handles, if somebody’s sick, disinfect light switches a couple of times a day to prevent the spread.

8. Coffee Maker

If you drink a lot of coffee, your coffee maker and pot can get really dirty.  Dirty coffee makers don’t perform well and can affect the taste of your coffee.

Coffee spout one of the dirtiest things you should be cleaning

Hard water and mineral deposits build up in and around the water reservoir, and oils and bean debris tend to stick to the brewing mechanisms.

To clean your coffee maker, ensure that the filter is empty.  Then run a full pot of diluted vinegar through the brew cycle.  Once done brewing, dump out the mixture and wash the pot with soap and water.

Then wash all of the other surfaces down with soap and water.  Pay extra attention to the drip head.  You may need a toothbrush or toothpick to get this clean.

Run a couple of pots of plain water through the pot to get any lingering vinegar or soap and water out of the pot and mechanisms.

You might be surprised at the taste difference in your coffee, especially if it has been a while since you last cleaned the coffee maker.

You should clean your coffee maker at least once a month.


weekly cleaning checklist on a tablet

Join thousands of VIPs for cleaning, decluttering, and organizing tips sent straight to your inbox. As a welcome gift, we’ll send you this FREE printable Weekly Cleaning Checklist that lists exactly what to deep clean in every room of your home.

9. Kitchen Exhaust Fan

Let’s talk about kitchen exhaust fans.

Have you ever seen any of those restaurant rescue shows where the fan is so caked in grease that you know it’s dripping in the food every time the kitchen heats up?  I know, disgusting right!

Think that can’t happen at home too?  Think again.  That nasty build-up can make your entire house smelly.

If you forget to clean it, the grease builds up on the screens and starts to cause odors in your kitchen.

To clean the fan, shut off the breaker and remove the screens.  Wash them in the sink or throw them in the dishwasher.  Then wipe down any accessible surfaces with a mixture of vinegar, dish soap, and hot water.

You should clean the exhaust fan at least once a month.  If you use a lot of oil when you cook, clean your exhaust fan more frequently.

Related Article: How to declutter your kitchen

10. Toaster

You wipe the counter off every day, but can you remember the last time you actually cleaned out the toaster?

Besides emptying the crumbs that collect on the bottom slide-out panel, you should unplug your toaster and use a dry paintbrush to loosen any crumbs stuck to the inside of the toaster.

Turn the toaster upside down over the sink, and shake out any remaining crumbs.

Wash and dry the crumb tray, then wash the exterior with a paste of degreasing dish soap, baking soda, and a bit of water.

You should empty your crumb trays and wipe the exterior every time you use the toaster, then give it a good overall cleaning once a month depending on how often you use it.

11. Bathroom Exhaust Fans

Bathrooms are the moistest room in your home.

Fan Motor one of the dirtiest things you should be cleaning

 That moisture causes dust and lint to stick to the fan cover and motor during normal operation.  Once there’s enough of a build-up, it’ll start to affect the performance of the fan. Vacuum the cover and wash off any dirt or grime.  I soak mine in the sink before scrubbing it clean.  While the cover is soaking, switch off the breaker and vacuum the build-up out of the motor.  You might need a specialty vacuum nozzle or a paintbrush to get to any hard-to-reach debris.

If there is any grime build-up, use a disinfectant wipe to remove as much as you can.

My bathrooms are fairly small, but I find that if I vacuum the cover during my weekly cleaning, I only need to clean the motor about once a year.

Related Article: How to deep clean your oven

12. Shower Curtain

Most people don’t think to clean the shower curtain until they notice the disgusting mold build-up at the bottom but think of all that dirty water splashing off of bodies and onto the shower curtain.

Depending on the number of people using a specific bathroom, you should probably be cleaning your shower curtain fairly regularly.

Toss the shower curtain in the washer with a load of towels and add a cup of baking soda or some Oxy Clean for a little extra cleaning power.

13. Pet Dishes

Do you ever see a hazy film buildup on the inside of your pet’s food dishes?  If you do, you’re not cleaning them often enough.

Oils from the food build up on the dishes creating a hazy layer.  This buildup can start to stink and can even contain bacteria that can have a negative effect on your pet’s health.

Wash your pet food dishes at least once a week.  I allow my cats to free feed.  That means I leave a dish of dry food out at all times.

I have 2 sets of dishes for them.  I put out a full dish, then when it’s empty, I put out the new dish and run the other one through the dishwasher.

Keep your furbabies healthy by keeping their dishes clean.

Related Article: How to keep your house clean with cats

14. Dishwasher

It might seem a bit weird to have to clean the dishwasher, but it needs to be done.  Food particles can get stuck on the sides or in the drain and cause poor performance and odors.

As with any electrical appliance, please flip the breaker before cleaning any mechanical parts.

Remove and clean out the filter if your dishwasher has one.  Check the drain and spray holes for any remaining stuck-on food, then clean as needed.

Sprinkle the sprayer with baking soda and place a dishwasher-safe bowl of vinegar on the top rack  Run the hottest cycle your dishwasher has.  I use the sanitize cycle.

Once the cycle is done, wipe down the interior walls and door seal with a disinfectant.

Add your dishwasher to your monthly cleaning schedule.

Woman making grossed out face because of dirty house

15. Washing Machine

Your washing machine is one of the hardest working appliances in your home so give it a little love.

Today’s front-loading washers tend to collect moisture and gunk inside of the door seals.  That gunk turns sour and starts to make all of your laundry stinky too.

Much like dishwashers, some washing machines also have a filter that will need to be removed and cleaned.

Flip the electrical breaker and clean out the filter.  You may need to do a little research to figure out where the filter or drain trap is on your specific washing machine.

Use some disinfectant and a microfiber cloth to wipe down the outside of the machine.  Then wipe the interior of the washing drum and door.

Wipe down the outside surface of the door seal, then peel it back a little and wipe out the interior surfaces.  You might need to rinse the cloth and repeat a few times to get the gunk out.

Sprinkle vinegar and baking soda in the washer and run it on the sanitize cycle.

I clean my washer on a monthly schedule.

16. Vacuum Cleaner

Do you see a little bit of a theme yet?  You need to clean your cleaning machines.

Your vacuum collects all of the dirt and dust that enters your house.  In order to keep it in tip-top working condition, you’ll need to clean it regularly.

Start by emptying out any remains from your last house cleaning.  Flip the vacuum over and remove any built-up stuck on hair from the roller.  Use scissors or a seam ripper to get it all off.

Wipe down all exterior and interior surfaces.  Check filters to see if they need replacing, and wash all removable parts as needed.

Empty the canister and clean the roller after every use so it’s ready to go the next time.  Check and replace the filters as needed on a quarterly basis.  Once a year take the entire thing apart to soak and wash any removable pieces in the sink.

17. Bathroom Walls Around Toilet

Yuck right.  I saved the worst for last, but now it’s time.  The most disgusting surface you should be cleaning but probably don’t is the bathroom walls around your toilet.

Part of most weekly cleaning routines include disinfecting the toilet and scrubbing the floors, but you also need to scrub those surrounding walls with some really good disinfectant.

Did you know when you flush the toilet there is a plume of microscopic particles that spray into the air up to approximately six feet high?  I don’t think I need to tell you what’s in that plume.

Yeah, grossed me out too. Once you visualize something like that, you can’t EVER unsee it.

Grossed me out so badly, that I now scrub those particular walls with a good disinfectant each and every week.  It’s not great for the paint, but I can always add a fresh coat.

Want to prevent some of the gross-out factors and keep your bathroom a little cleaner?  Close the toilet lid before you flush, then you can keep the plume somewhat contained.

All the Things You Forget to Clean.

Well, there you have it, the dirtiest things you should be cleaning but probably aren’t.

Sorry if I grossed you out with these, but if I was missing something that nasty, I would want to know.

Speaking of missing a spot, are there any other dirty spots people forget to clean?  Let me know so I can add them to the list.

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  1. Love your site Tanya.

    1. Thanks Cindy! Happy you stopped by! Hope you find the information useful.

  2. Hi there,
    I love your site, and this list is a great compilation of tips and reminders for things we too often forget to clean regularly. I would add cell phones! They should probably be sanitized at least once a day 😉

    Here’s to making cleaning a little less of a chore!

    1. Thanks and that’s an awesome tip! I don’t clean mine nearly enough – going to do it right now though.

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