In The Bathroom
MIRRORS: Skip window cleaners and instead use warm water and soft, lint-free cloths. Use one damp cloth to wipe down and dry immediately with another cloth.
TOILETS: This is one area where you should use an abrasive cleaner like Comet and Ajax.
SHOWERHEADS: Clean regularly with a sponge and cleanser. To unclog scaly deposits, simmer a metal head for 15 minutes in one part vinegar, eight parts water.
SHOWER WALLS: Wipe weekly with warm soapy water. If soap scum remains, spray with a bathroom cleaner, let stand for 5 minutes, then rinse. Attack dirty grout with a bleach-and-water dipped toothbrush.
BATHTUBS & SINKS: Tackle porcelain stains with a mix of one cup bleach and one quart of water, leave for 15 seconds, then rinse. Use warm water and vinegar on mineral deposits.
BATH & SHOWER MATS: Machine wash in hot water regularly. Scrub rubber mats with warm water and dishwashing liquid. To remove mildew, soak in a bleach solution and rinse dry.
In the Kitchen
REFRIGERATORS: Clean from the top down. Empty all contents and wash surfaces with warm water and liquid detergent. Use a toothbrush or cotton swab to clean rubber gaskets, then clean the coils under and behind the fridge at least once a year with a coil-cleaning brush and vacuum.
OVENS: Remove crumbs and debris after each time you cook and wipe down so grime doesn’t build up. For stubborn grime, soak the window with hot soapy water and dry thoroughly.
MICROWAVE OVENS: Wipe down with a hot, damp cloth. Scrape off baked-on foods with a credit card. To mask odors, run the oven for one minute with a bowl of lemon juice and warm water inside.
SINKS: Wipe down acrylic, fiberglass or stainless-steel sinks with a sponge with hot water and liquid detergent. It is safe to use scouring powder and warm water on porcelain, enamel or glass.
DISHWASHERS: Use a toothbrush dipped in warm soapy water and work your way around the edges. Check the filter if it’s removable and the floor periodically to remove debris. Restore shine to stainless-steel interiors by wiping down with white vinegar.
In Living Areas
UPHOLSTERY: Vacuum sofas and chair cushions regularly using the upholstery, dusting and crevice attachments. If possible, remove the covers to wash or dry-clean. Once a year, air out and clean the cushion inserts, too. Dry clean feather- and down-filled cushions; machine wash polyester-filled cushions.
CARPETS: Vacuum at least once a week, but do it more often where there’s heavy foot traffic to prevent dirt from unevenly wearing down carpets. Move furniture and vacuum underneath every six months, if possible. Also vacuum the backs of rugs occasionally. To remove ground-in dirt, shampoo or deep clean carpets every year or two. If your carpet has a significant amount of ground-in dirt and stains, you might want to hire a pro.