Vacuum, mop, dust—cleaning your home tends to be a checklist of the same tasks on repeat. But while you’re busy wiping down that same table for the fiftieth time, items you never thought to wash are under full assault by germs and dust mites. “I think that a lot of people have a regular rotation of things they clean in their house, but you tend to get in a rut,” says Joss & Main style director Donna Garlough. We grilled her on the most neglected household items:
“It may not seem like they get terribly dirty, but they get a lot of household dust, pollen, and dander,” says Donna. “And if you have a wood-burning fireplace, that can cause a lot of buildup.”
How to clean them: If your curtains are made of linen or silk with complicated detailing, head to the dry cleaner. But simple cotton ones with grommets can go straight in the washing machine. “I like to hang dry,” says Donna. “I think they get less wrinkled.”
You know those throw pillows you rest your head on while binging on Netflix? They’re veritable dust bombs. But it’s not just the cover that needs cleaning; the insert is where dust mites accumulate.
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How to clean them: Vacuuming throw pillows can loosen up all that dust, but the inserts themselves can benefit from a toss in the wash. Unexpectedly, inserts made of feathers are much more tolerable of washing than synthetics. Afterward, put them in the dryer on a low heat cycle so you don’t damage the fabric.
Frequent weather exposure means more maintenance, particularly if the pieces are wood. In addition to the usual dust and spider webs, they can splinter and gather pollen after going unused for a couple months.
How to clean them: Use a homemade solution of vinegar and water to scrub wooden pieces before you oil them. If you have upholstered furniture, wipe it down with a wet rag at the beginning and end of the season.
Most people fluff their pillows and call it a day. But that blanket you drape over the couch for cozy evenings? It’s probably filthy—particularly if you have pets, says Donna.
How to clean them: Toss them in the wash. If they have tassels, use cold water on a delicate cycle.
The feet and shoes of every person that walks into your bathroom come in contact with your bath mat, yet usually they’re left in the unwashed abyss.
How to clean them: Throw the mats in the washing machine every couple of weeks, or at least once a month, Donna suggests. If it has a rubber backing to avoid slipping, avoid the dryer and just drape it over a railing or clothesline.