How to clean the 10 filthiest areas in your home

As much as we may try to keep on top of cleaning in the home, there are certain areas that probably don’t get as much love as they should.

For example, when was the last time you cleaned your shower curtain? Or your mattress? To find out which areas of the house get cleaned the least, we polled people all over the nation.

Four out of five people (81%) confessed to never cleaning their bottle openers in our survey, whilst two thirds (67%) of us don’t clean our TV remotes. And when you think about how often people touch their remotes, the fact that we rarely clean them seems silly!

Whilst bottle openers were the least regularly cleaned items on the list, there are plenty of other areas that don’t get as much TLC as they should, including mattresses, walls and dining chairs. If this has given you the sudden desire to get the marigolds out, then fear not as we have put together a guide on how best to clean all of those neglected spots.

Here are the 10 areas that people clean the least and tips on how to help you keep them spick and span.

Bottle Opener

Bottle openers can get filthy after being used to open so many different drinks, but are very rarely cleaned according to our survey. They can be soaked in white distilled vinegar for a few minutes (or hours, depending on how dirty it is). After a while, bubbles should start coming off and bits of gunk may float to the surface. Then use an old toothbrush to scrub the bottle opener, first with the vinegar then finishing off with washing up liquid before rinsing.

Drying rack

Dish drying racks collect water in the trays and need frequent cleaning to avoid mildew from developing. Clean yours using washing up liquid in a sink using a scrub brush and a clean towel for drying. Take the rack apart as much as possible, and scrub deeply to get into all the grooves. Rinse the dish rack and then soak in enough water to fully submerge the rack and 240ml of white vinegar. Finally rinse off with clean water and dry using a clean towel.

Fan

Fans very easily accumulate dust and often aren't able to be taken apart, so are tricky to clean. One method is to use a vacuum cleaner nozzle to direct the flow of air to specific areas of the fan such as the blades themselves. To prevent further dust and dirt accumulation, cover the fan after use with a plastic bag when not in use - ideally the one it was purchased with.

Top of wardrobe

This is often the most neglected area of the bedroom. Dust particles and dirt from the air can settle and build up. The most difficult aspect is often the height of the wardrobe, so using a stable platform or step ladder, carefully position yourself so that you can see the top of the wardrobe. Then, using an all purpose cleaner or 120ml of white vinegar in a bucket of warm water, wipe all the surfaces thoroughly and dry with a clean cloth.

TV remote

TV and other remote controls can be tricky to clean due to their electrical components. They should be cleaned monthly using a cotton cloth, rubbing alcohol, cotton buds and a lint-free cloth. First, remove the batteries from the back of the remote. Then dip the cotton cloth in rubbing alcohol, but be careful not to get it too damp, and wipe down the entire surface of the controller. Then dip the cotton buds in the rubbing alcohol and clean around the buttons, if there's grime inside the buttons use a toothpick to remove it. Finally, dry with a lint-free cloth.

Shower curtain

These can often build up mildew and dirt due to the water that gets splashed on them in the bathroom. If the curtain is plastic and can be removed from the rail, wash it in the washing machine on a gentle setting with a low spin at 30 degrees. Avoid using fabric softener and instead add around 65g of baking soda to the detergent during the wash cycle and then 120ml of white vinegar during the rinse cycle. Finally let it drip-dry. If the curtains are unable to be machine washed, soak them in a bathtub filled with biological washing powder for 1-2 hours and scrub any tough stains using a clean toothbrush.

Mattress

Mattresses can get very dirty and build up dust mites, dust, hair and other biological debris, and potentially even dangerous bacteria and viruses, so make sure you keep on top of cleaning yours. Firstly, gently vacuum the surface all sides of the mattress on all sides, using the upholstery attachment of the vacuum cleaner. Next, air the mattress for a few hours with the bedroom window open to allow fresh air to circulate through it. To tackle any spills or stains on the mattress, first check the label before applying cleaning products and test a small part of the stain first to ensure it won't damage it.

To remove bodily fluids, dilute some washing-up liquid in water and gently dab the stain with a cloth or sponge. Mattresses aren't waterproof so clean delicately and avoid using too much water. For food and drink stains, mix a little baking soda in cold water and dab the stain with a clean cloth or sponge. Wait 30 minutes and then dab with clean water and leave it to dry. If the stains are still present after drying try using the washing up liquid method above.

Walls

Walls can often get stains, smudges and marks on them that may be tricky to clean depending on the kind of paint/wallpaper they have. To prevent dirty walls, vacuum painted or wallpapered walls with a soft brush attachment, then wipe them down with a cloth-covered broom or mop that has been sprayed with a dusting agent, or alternatively an electrostatic dusting wipe.

For flat, satin and eggshell finishes; do not use harsh chemicals and degreasers and avoid scrubbing too hard with a sponge or cloth, ensuring they are fully wrung out before re-applying to the wall. For glosses or semi gloss finishes; it's ok to use a mild degreaser to gently scrub the walls with a soft sponge so that they do not get scratched. To clean walls with latex paint, dip a clean sponge in warm water and non-abrasive all-purpose cleaner (one teaspoon of washing up liquid, a quarter teaspoon of white vinegar), wring it dry and gently rub the wall paying special attention to commonly touched areas such as around light switches. Oil-based painted walls can be cleaned in a similar manner substituting the all-purpose cleaner for a weaker white vinegar mixture.

Dining chairs

Dining chairs predominantly come in two forms; upholstered or wooden, and dirt and grime can easily build up on both. For wooden chairs, wipe down with a dry or slightly damp microfibre cloth to remove grime and dust. Add a drop of washing up liquid and more water to the cloth if the chairs have sticky residue, but be sure to test it on a small inconspicuous section first to make sure it doesn’t remove the wood finish. Make sure to dry off with a microfibre cloth once the sticky spots are clean, to avoid soaking the wood.

When cleaning upholstered chairs, vacuum using an upholstery attachment and avoid keeping them in direct sunlight to stop the fabric from fading. When cleaning spills or stains, check the manufacturers guidelines for suitable cleaning products. A general solution is to add a couple of drops of washing up liquid to a large bowl of hot water, wet a microfibre cloth and moisten the entire area that needs to be cleaned giving it a quick scrub. Next, spray any heavily stained areas with hydrogen peroxide and leave it on for 10 minutes before wiping off.

Curtains

If not properly maintained the fibres in curtains can rot so they must be regularly vacuumed, and thoroughly washed once every few years. To wash, firstly, remove any hooks, weights and non fabric items from the curtains, and let down the hem if the fabric is likely to shrink slightly. Soak them in cold water and wash carefully with detergent diluted with warm water. Next, rinse and squeeze out as much water as possible. While still damp, iron the curtains, working lengthways on the back side stretching the fabric gently to stop the seam puckering. Finally, hang the curtains back on the rail while only very slightly damp to let them dry.