Housecleaners generally have a dirty job, but some of their individual tasks are way filthier than others. While housecleaners might not flinch at scouring toilets or handling dirty laundry, a handful of far more surprising areas in a home make them cringe and silently beg, “Nooooo! Not again.”
Odds are good that you’ve tackled these challenges yourself and thrown up your hands in defeat. But take heart! The housecleaners we interviewed prove you have plenty of company—and they even gave us some insider tips on how to make these tasks less of a chore.
1. Oven vents
Oven vents work hard to remove food odors and steam—but in doing so, they can eventually turn into the dirtiest thing in your kitchen.
“Over time they accumulate lots of grease,” says Lauren Haynes, a cleaning and home maintenance expert at Star Domestic Cleaners. And this grease can get stinky, tainting the very air it’s trying to keep fresh.
How to hate cleaning it a little less: Fill your sink or a bucket with boiling water, add a quarter-cup of baking soda and some liquid dish soap. Then detach your vent filters and submerge them for five minutes. Rinse them thoroughly afterward.
2. Showers and tubs
Liz Lamar, general manager of the Two Maids and a Mop, confesses that she is no fan of cleaning showers and tubs.
“It’s a challenge to eradicate all the hard-water and soap scum spots,” she explains.
How to hate cleaning it a little less: “Saturate the tub or shower with any household cleaning fluid, and let it sit for five minutes before you grab a trusty Magic Eraser and put some elbow grease into it,” Lamar advises.
Scrub brushes and industrial toothbrushes can get hard-to-reach places like the track on your shower doors.
3. Shower curtains
For the first decade of Jim Ireland‘s cleaning career, scummed-up shower curtains, usually sporting black mildew, were the bane of his existence.
“Spray cleaners aren’t strong enough, scouring cleansers are difficult to rinse, and it’s impossible to use enough elbow grease without tearing the liner from the curtain rod,” says Ireland, owner of the New York City cleaning agency White Glove Elite.
How to hate cleaning it a little less: Your secret weapons, says Ireland, are white socks or rags.
“Remove the shower liners, gather cleaning rags and white socks, and launder them in hot water using half your normal amount of detergent and one cup of bleach,” he advises. “If your shower curtain or liner doesn’t come out looking like new, then you didn’t have enough rags/socks in the load.”
It’s such a miracle fix, adds Ireland, that “it’s now my favorite chore around the house.”
4. Tile grout
Cleaning grout can be “one of the most difficult and time-consuming tasks ever,” says Tonya Bruin, CEO of To Do Done Handyman Services.
How to hate cleaning it a little less: “Use a stiff-bristled brush to gently scrub warm water on the grout lines in a circular motion,” Bruin advises. “Be sure not to push too hard, as you don’t want to erode the grout.”
Struggling with particularly dark or stubborn stains? Add vinegar or baking soda for extra cleaning power.
5. Bathroom floors
Whether you realize it or not, your bathroom floor “is the dirtiest spot in the bathroom—maybe the whole house,” says Debra Johnson, Merry Maids‘ resident cleaning expert. Think about it: It’s damp, germy, and a potential land mine of dirty clothes.
How to hate cleaning it a little less: “Organization is always the first step in cleaning,” Johnson points out.
Keep a clothes hamper in the bathroom so you don’t drop clothes onto the floor. To prevent moisture buildup, “dry off in the shower and immediately hang wet towels on the towel rack or hook,” she advises.
Also, close the toilet lid before flushing to avoid spreading germs in the bathroom. While you’re at it, vacuum and steam your bathroom floor at least once a week to keep dirt at bay and make cleanup less challenging each time, Johnson adds.
6. The oven
Just because ovens reach high temperatures doesn’t mean spills magically burn off and disappear, says Johnson. Use your oven multiple times per week? “It should be cleaned every three months,” she says. Let it go longer, and your cleaning crew will face a tedious task.
How to hate cleaning it a little less: For a deep clean, Johnson suggests taking out the racks, putting them into plastic garbage bags, and spraying each generously with an oven cleaner. Then, make a spreadable paste by mixing a half-cup of baking soda with nearly a tablespoon of water. Coat the inside of the oven, avoiding heating components, and let sit overnight. Wipe it all down in the morning, followed by a spray solution of equal parts water and vinegar. Once you’ve rinsed and dried the oven racks, pop them back in. There’s your sparkling-clean oven!