Most people like to dig into the closets, straighten out their crawlspaces, and polish their kitchen appliances during spring cleaning.
But the dirty truth is that your house needs a thorough cleaning pretty often to keep your family from getting sick.
And the grungiest parts of your home are your appliances, those handy devices you use every day but only clean once in a blue moon.
You may be surprised to learn just how often experts recommend cleaning your appliances.
We hate to break it to you, but all those dried food stains you've been meaning to wipe off are crawling with germs.
After every use, you should be wiping down your stove with an all-purpose cleaner and a cloth. A plastic spatula is useful for gently scraping off dried food.
Along with the daily care, you should scrape out the inside of your oven four times a year (usually after a major holiday), or sooner if there's smoking food residue inside.
Even if your machine is self-cleaning, you need to remove the racks and clean them according to your oven's instructions.
Here's a general rule for water-filled appliances: drain them after every use and refill them before each use.
Warm, standing water inside the machine is a breeding ground for dangerous germs, including Legionella - which can survive for years.
Along with proper filling habits, you can give the machine a thorough cleaning once a week (if you use it that often).
Pour a cup of white vinegar into an empty machine, scrub any nasty spots, and flush with water.
It's not just lint that builds up in your washer.
Once a week, you should remove any parts that separate from the machine and give them and the inside drum a scrub.
You can run an empty load with a cup of bleach or white vinegar to remove any lingering germs. If you have a newer machine, it might even be self-cleaning.
This little kitchen gadget is so, so handy. But if you don't look after it you can make your family sick.
After every use, give the slow cooker a quick cleaning with soap and water.
For a thorough scrubbing, combine water, vinegar, and baking soda, then rub the mixture in with a soft brush.
Be careful not to scratch the inside of the machine, because bacteria will grow inside these scratches.
Using a liner while you cook will help keep your machine neat and tidy for between scrubs.
Here's the one-second test to tell if your blender is clean: give it a whiff. If your blender has any scent, what you're really smelling is bacteria.
Of course, you need to rinse and wash your blender after very use.
But every three or four uses, you should give it a deep cleaning. Pour in white vinegar and scrub the moving parts with a soft brush.
A paste of water and baking soda will help remove any hard stains or lingering smells.
I hate to break it to you, but you should be turning your fridge inside out once a week for a thorough cleaning.
Your fridge is humid and full of messy ingredients, and the stains they leave behind will grow bacteria that could make your family sick.
Set aside time each week to pull everything off the shelves and spay them down with a bleach solution.
Don't forget to clean the door handle too, because we end up leaving all sorts of germs there while we're cooking.
A fresh box of baking soda on the inside shelves will keep any smells under control.
The dishwasher is self-cleaning, isn't it? Not exactly.
Germs and mold will crop up in places like the seal of your dishwasher, and the outside handle. You should wipe those down with a diluted bleach solution as often as you clean your cabinets.
A few times each year, you should also clean or replace the dishwasher's filter. Running the machine on a hot cycle with just a cup of vinegar inside will rinse out the filters.
Keep on top of your dishwasher's cleaning schedule, or else you'll wind up with little spots on your plates.
Like the humidifier, you should get in the habit of emptying out your coffee maker's tank after using it.
Once a month, give the tank a rinse and wash with vinegar and warm water.
Check the manual for your model to see if there's a procedure for cleaning the hose, spout, or any other places where standing water collects.
Trust me, you don't want to see how bad these machines can get.
Your dryer is a tricky little machine, and keeping it clean can make a big difference for your laundry.
Even though they heat up, your dryer does not get hot enough to kill germs, so scrub any dingy spots with water and baking soda.
Learn how to identify your dryer's moisture sensor. Wiping this surfaces clean with isopropyl alcohol once a month will keep your dryer working like new.
Crummy toasters are no joke, they're a safety hazard that can catch fire.
Hopefully, yours has a slide-out drawer that makes it easy to pull out the crumbs and dump them in the trash every day.
Either way, flip the machine over the trash and really shake out once a week (or month, if you don't use it that often).
Any time you see smoke coming from your toaster, it's time for a deep cleaning.
Change the filter in this machine regularly. It's the only thing pulling the dust and allergens out of the air in your home.
To make them last even longer between changes, you can clean the filter with an antibacterial wipe.
Check your unit regularly to see if water is collecting in any part. Clean out this section regularly, or else mold will grow in the machine and spread throughout your home.
Obviously, you should give the bowl and attachments a thorough wash after every use.
But the motorhead gets just as dirty as the attachments, so be sure to wipe it down too.
Most importantly, give the parts time to dry before you reattach them or pack them away. Wet stand mixer accessories breed bacteria.
What's the germiest part of this machine? Scientists tell us it's the door handle, so don't negelct it when you're cleaning.
You know to wipe down the inside of the machine when there's a spill or splat, but you need to give it a thorough cleaning every few days whether you notice stains or not.
Thankfully, it's really easy to clean: heat four cups of water in a microwave-safe bowl and the steam will make the inside easy to clean.
Your turntable may even be dishwasher-safe, but check before you put it in.
Are you cleaning your appliances wrong?