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How to Clean The 10 Dirtiest Places in Your Home

Your home harbors more bacteria than you'd care to know, and in some surprising places. But before you go crazy with the Clorox (or spend your tax refund on a full-time cleaning lady), read on to find out which spots are the biggest germ magnets.

Photo: Ellen Silverman / The Nest

1. Cabinet Handles and Doorknobs

When you think about the amount of times the cabinet handles and doorknobs in your house are touched in a given day, it's easy to see how they could be loaded with germs. To disinfect, simply walk around to every doorknob and cabinet handle in the house (or at least the ones you use regularly) and wipe them off with antibacterial wipes (like Clorox Disinfecting Wipes). See? No biggie.

2. The Toilet

No surprise this guy's on the list. And not shocking that it also happens to be the spot NO ONE wants to go near (well, when it's time to clean, that is). But here's a (semi) painless way to get the can spick-and-span: Buy a liquid cleaner (try Scrubbing Bubbles foaming bathroom cleaner), a standard toilet brush and plastic or rubber gloves. Spray the cleaner around the inside of the toilet bowl and let it stand a few minutes so it can work its magic. Then start scrubbing until clean. Flush several times to rinse the dirt and bubbles away -- and admire your handiwork. Then use Fantastik (or a similar all-purpose disinfectant spray) and a rag to wipe down the toilet’s exterior.

3. The Tub

Yes, another bathroom bacteria culprit. (Come on, where did you think all those germs you wash off in the shower go?) To get yours sparkling, start by running the shower for a few minutes to rinse out the tub. Then spray soap-scum-fighting bathroom cleaner all over it. Throw on some gloves, arm yourself with a scrub brush or sponge, and start scrubbing. Once you've worked your way around the entire tub (including the bottom), run the shower again to rinse off all of the suds. Repeat if needed.

4. Kitchen and Bathroom Floors

Considering that kitchen floors get a lot of foot traffic and bathroom floors get their fair share, too, it's important to sweep these surfaces regularly (read: a few times a week) and mop them at least once a week. The Lysol Clean-Flip Sweeper is a great mop for grabbing dirt, germs and crumbs off tile floors.

5. Ceiling Fans

You probably don't ever look closely at your ceiling fan, but if you did, you'd likely see that those blades are covered in dust. And when you turn on your fan, that dust gets spread into the air, making your eyes watery and your nose itchy. So it's important to give your fan a good dusting every once in a while. Luckily, that's easy to do and takes less than five minutes. Just wipe down the blades and base with a damp rag. Don't use a feather duster -- it actually just spreads around the dust. If you can't reach your fan with a chair, use Swiffer Dusters (there's one with an extendable handle).

6. Faucets

Faucets house tons of germs because people often turn them on with dirty hands. To disinfect, start with a sponge and a slightly abrasive cleaner that's gentle enough not to scratch the metal (Soft Scrub is great). Then, to get rid of hard water deposits, submerge the faucet (or at least the part where the water comes out) in a plastic bag filled with white vinegar. Tie the neck of the bag tightly around the faucet and leave it there overnight. In the morning, simply remove the bag and wipe off the faucet with a dry cloth.

7. Kitchen and Bathroom Sinks

Actually scrubbing your sinks -- as opposed to just rinsing them off -- is more important than you'd think. After all, your kitchen sink alone could be sporting rust stains, hard water deposits, food bacteria…you get the picture. So once a week, douse the sink with an all-purpose cleaner (or some dishwashing liquid). Then fill a bowl with hot water, dip a sponge into the water, and scrub down the sink. The bathroom sink can be cleaned in the same manner, but if it's made of porcelain, make sure to use a nonabrasive cleaner.

8. Carpeting

Regular vacuuming is key for eliminating dust mites and keeping your air clean. And unfortunately, your carpets trap a ton of dust, dirt and bacteria that you drag in on your shoes (or spill from your plates). Try to vacuum at least once a week (you can always alternate with your partner). To remove any odors that may be trapped in the carpet fibers, sprinkle some carpet odor powder all over the carpet or rug before you start vacuuming.

9. Blinds and Curtains

Blinds and curtains can trap dust and even mold spores (yuck!) if they aren't cleaned regularly. So just like you did with the fan, take a wet rag to the blinds to wash off any dirt. If you've never thought to clean your blinds, you may want to remove them and soak them in a tub filled with hot water and dish soap before scrubbing them clean with a sponge. As for the curtains, take them down at least once a month and wash them. If you have drapes that can't be thrown in the washer (and probably cost a bundle to dry-clean), try vacuuming them once a month and sending them out for an annual cleaning.

10. Kitchen and Bathroom Countertops

It's especially important to wipe down your countertops daily, since they tend to attract tons of bacteria (including the kind that can make you sick). Use a rag and any run-of-the-mill all-purpose cleanser or disinfectant wipes. Just be sure to wipe off any crumbs or other debris first.

-- Paula Kashtan

See More: Cleaning & Organizing