Things You Forget to Clean and Sanitize

Now more than ever, people are thinking about cleaning and sanitizing everything in their homes and cars. There may be a few things you forget to clean and sanitize, so here’s a list to help you remember.

Coffee Maker

Clean the carafe and the filter holder daily with warm, soapy water. If the carafe has a lot of buildup, add some rice as an abrasive and swirl it around to scrape off the residue. Finish with a scrubbing sponge, and then rinse and dry. Some coffeemaker carafes are dishwasher-safe—check with the manufacturer. If you didn’t save the manual, you can probably find it online. 

Next, fill the reservoir with a solution of half distilled white vinegar and half water. Start brewing without a filter. Shut off the coffeemaker halfway through the brew cycle and let it sit and steam for half an hour; then, turn it on again and finish the job. When it’s done, run two more batches of clean water (no vinegar) through the brew cycle, using a fresh filter each time. Wipe the outside of your coffeemaker with a damp cloth, and remember never to get any of the electric elements wet.

Shower Curtain

After every shower, clean the shower curtain liner with a spritz of nontoxic bathroom cleaner and a sponge. Always pull your shower curtain shut to encourage maximum air circulation and to prevent mold and mildew buildup. Some fabric shower curtain liners are machine-washable. If yours is, take it off the rod and throw it in the washer with the towels and dishcloths. 

Remotes and Keyboards

Your remote controls probably get more hands on them than almost any other item in the house. Wipe them frequently with disinfecting wipes, but don’t get them soaking wet—you don’t want moisture to get in and corrode the batteries. Make sure to clean in between the buttons. Ditto for computer keyboards and phones. 

Toothbrush Holder

The tip of the handle of your toothbrush handle collects that gooey, primordial sludge at the bottom of the toothbrush holder and distributes it to your hands—along with the bacteria the sludge probably harbors. Remove your toothbrushes and put them in a clean, safe place while you scrub the holder with hot, soapy water; rinse it; and fill it with germ-killing mouthwash. Let it sit for several minutes, and then empty it and let it air-dry before you replace your toothbrushes.


If you or your parents use a walking cane, try to remember the last time you cleaned the cane handle or the cane shaft. Whatever has gotten onto the user’s hands has also gotten on the cane. For elders, it’s particularly important to add cane-cleaning to the augmented handwashing routines we’re all following now (and for the foreseeable future).

Light Switches

These probably get as much or more use than door handles (which you clean regularly, right?), so cleaning your light switches should be on your to-do list as well. Use a disinfecting wipe and let the switches air-dry, being careful not to soak them or to let moisture dribble behind the switch plate. Add light switches to your routine when you clean your doorknobs and countertops.

There are plenty of other things you may forget to clean, such as baseboards, the tops of doors, and dusty bookshelves. During this time of social distancing, you’ll finally have some time to take care of many of these forgotten cleaning tasks.