"Out of sight, out of mind" goes the old proverb. This can be a good thing- like avoiding your ex when you are healing from the end of a relationship, or skipping the cookie aisle at the grocery store when you are trying to lose weight. Or, it can be a bad thing, like when your stack of work papers for the big deadline are hidden under a pile of junk mail.
In the context of a healthy home, there are many integral pieces that must, for various reasons, remain out of sight, but don't let that keep you from cleaning them. Here's a handy checklist of the eight most important things that need periodic or seasonal cleaning, that you are probably forgetting about. Print it out and hang it on your fridge or schedule a seasonal cleaning day in your calendar to address these sneaky "out of sight" tasks.
1. Your heating and air conditioning filters. In the off seasons, these could probably get by with just a vacuuming. But before the extreme temperatures kick in, be sure to replace the filters so that you and your family can breathe easy!
2. Your refrigerator coil. It can get pretty dusty back there! You want to pull out your fridge twice a year to clean all the fallen crumbs and morsels that can attract pests. While you're back there, clean the coil with a damp cloth (unplug the fridge first.) letting dust and cobwebs build up back there could pose a fire hazard. Bonus points if you clean the top of the fridge while you're at it!
3. Your floor vents. Those floor vent covers let nice, warm air into your house in the winter, but they also let dirt, pet hair, and all kinds of grub in to your heating ducts. Vacuum these out at least four times a year. More if you have indoor pets. Your family's lungs will thank you!
4. Under the rugs. Another age old proverb! Even though you probably aren't "sweeping it under the rug", it can get dirty under there just from normal use. Twice a year (more if you have pets), roll up your area rugs and vacuum underneath.
5. Behind the toilet. If you're like most people, when you clean your toilet, you are probably only getting the bowl and the visible parts on the front and side of the column. The back of the toilet is nearly impossible to see, and kind of difficult to get to. But this is an area that should be cleaned regularly in order to prevent bacteria and odor buildup. Try doing it every second or third time you clean the bathroom, depending on how high-traffic the bathroom is.
6. The pantry. Two to three times a year, go through all of your pantry storage areas and throw out food that is past the expiration date. Then take everything out, dust the shelves or inside the cupboards, and reorganize the food. This is a good time to introduce airtight plastic containers for things like rice, pasta, oatmeal and other foodstuffs that attract pests. (Pro Tip: use square, stackable containers for more economical use of space.)
7. The oven and range. At least twice a year, pull your oven out and clean the floor and walls around it. Take your drip pans out and scrub them (or replace if needed.) Clean the grease and dust that has probably collected on the hood, especially the parts you can't normally see. Finally, clean the inside of the oven.
8. Your kitchen cabinets. Spiders love to make their homes here. And dust can be a problem, as well. Twice a year or so, take all of the dishes, glasses and cookware out of your cabinets and vacuum. Then clean the shelves with a vinegar-water solution if necessary.
Hope this checklist helps you to keep your home clean, green and healthy! (Even the parts you don't see.)