5 Of the Dirtiest Surfaces in Your Home! (And How to Clean Them)

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When deciding what to clean so much of that decision comes down to the dirt and stains that we can actually see—these tend to stand out and grab our attention. It’s important to remember, however, that there are things that you can’t see which rank among the dirtiest spots in your home. So, let’s take a quick look at five of these areas and how to clean them.

throw pillows

Throw Pillows

While throw pillows look cute, they’re not so cute from a cleaning standpoint. You lie on them, your dog or cat sits on them, the kids drool all over them—these things get pretty gross! Cleaning them is pretty straightforward, but of course, be mindful about the fabric care label, and in this case, we’re dealing with two, not just one. First, the cover. Hopefully, the cover is machine washable. If it’s something that’s delicate, you might want to put it into a delicates bag before you launder it. I would recommend using cold water and gentle detergent if you’re concerned about the durability of the pillow cover itself. Otherwise, the hotter the better. Now, if your fabric care label says that it’s not washable, you’ll want to take it to the dry cleaner.

When it comes to the pillow itself they may also be machine washable. Again, check the fabric care label for specific instructions. If it’s not machine washable, something that you can do to help kill odors is to take it outside on a sunny day and just hang it up and let the sun do its thing. The UV rays will help freshen it up and kill any odor-causing bacteria.

living room couch

Upholstery

For upholstered items like couches, sofas, ottomans, and chairs, you obviously can’t machine wash them. In this case, you’re going to look for one of four codes which will tell you what type of cleaner you can use on that particular upholstered piece.

The first one is W and that stands for Water. This means that you can use a water-based cleaner on that particular piece of furniture (this is not the same as being machine washable!). Use these cleaners by spot cleaning—apply a little to the surface, agitate it with a cloth or a brush and remove any residual product with clean water.

The next one is S, which stands for Solvent. These are products that do not contain water, typically this is what we refer to as dry cleaning solution. If you’re not comfortable with using these, this would be a good time to bring the item to a professional upholstery cleaner or to bring someone in to do the job for you.

Next up, we’ve got W/S. You’ve got the one-two punch right here. You can use either water-based cleaners or solvent-based cleaners.

Finally, we have X. This means you can’t use any cleaner on it whatsoever. These are the type of upholstered materials that you’re going to be vacuuming or brushing only.

red wine stains

Carpets

We have hardwood floors on the main floor in this house, and carpet on the entire lower level. Let me tell you, these carpets get stained quite a bit. We’ve got soft drink stains, hard drink stains (wine etc.), cat stains… the list goes on. When it comes to these stains I often use Carbona’s Oxy Powered Carpet Cleaner, which features an oxy powered formula and a built-in brush applicator that gets right in, to get stains right out! To use it, I just work the brush and the bristles into the stained area and remember the right amount of product is really important here. A couple of tips for success—remember that dwell time is so important when it comes to removing carpet stains. You have to apply the product and let it do its magic by letting it sit. You also want to make sure that you’re testing the product in a hidden area first—any time you’re cleaning a carpet you always want to make sure that the carpet is not going to be damaged in the process.

bedroom duvet

Duvet

If you’ve ever walked into someone’s bedroom or a hotel room and the first thing that hits you is a stuffy, stinky, or musty smell, chances are it’s coming from the bedding. The main culprits include the mattress, pillows, sheets and of course, the duvet. First, the duvet cover. As always the fabric care label will tell you all you need to know; machine wash or dry clean only. For any stains, simply pre-treat them before you launder. When it comes to bedding, I always recommend using the hottest possible cycle that the material can tolerate. The heat will help kill allergens, bacteria, dust, dust mites, body oils, dead skin cells, and anything else that is hanging out in there.

Next up, the duvet itself. Some duvets aren’t machine washable so you may have to take it to a dry cleaner. If you can machine wash it, again, I’m going to recommend using the hottest cycle that your duvet can tolerate. When it comes to drying, you’re going to air dry it, and once it’s fully dry put it in your dryer on a fluff cycle with a bunch of dryer balls to help fluff it back up.

curtains

Drapes

If you can’t spot clean or machine wash your drapes, no problem. Your local dry cleaner will be more than happy to do that for you. I think they charge a premium for it, but they at least know what they’re doing. If you want to get rid of odors, or if you notice that your window coverings don’t look as good as they used to, you can use a steam cleaner to freshen them up. The steam won’t get rid of dust, but it will help to kill some of that odor-causing bacteria and get rid of any wrinkles.

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.

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