By Debra Hasbrouck

Sure it’s a pain…keeping up with all those annoying little tasks that are not on your regular to-do list. You don’t think about them until they have a direct impact on what you’re doing – after which you easily forget about them again.

The interior of your light fixtures: This is something you often don’t notice until company visits. On your way to answer the door you turn on the hall light, illuminating the dead bug lying in the bottom of the light fixture. You hope no one looks up and you make a solemn oath that you will clean it the next morning. No matter how agile you think you are, this is a two-person job. They say ladders are one of the more dangerous pieces of household equipment. Plus it’s better to hand the breakable fixture to someone, instead of juggling it as you climb up and down. A long handled duster works great to carefully swab out bugs and dust.

Kitchen Disposal: Lemon ice cubes work great to freshen up the disposal. I make them to put in glasses of drinking water, but they are good for many cleaning chores. Mix one part bottled lemon juice (you can get large containers at a reasonable price) with two parts water, pour into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, put in plastic bags and store in freezer. They do an amazing job when run through the disposal. Never put your hands or fingers in the disposal. Before dropping the lemon cube in the disposal, rub it on any stains on plastic food containers or lids.  Put the item in the sun to dry, and then wash them normally.

Microwave: Put one of those lemon cubes in a microwave-safe bowl with one cup of water and heat for three to four minutes (depending on your microwave.) Then wipe the interior with a cloth. Any liquid left can be poured down the disposal.

Toaster tray: This typically happens in the morning when you are in a hurry. You smell something burning as you try to toast a simple piece of bread. The culprit is a charred blueberry from the bagel you made last weekend. Before cleaning, check your manual. Always unplug first, then pull out tray, empty and wipe clean.

Hairbrushes: If you think about it, this should be done on a very regular basis.  First run a comb through the bristles to remove trapped hair. Wet brush then rub shampoo into it. Any shampoo will do, but clarifying shampoo works best. Rinse well, shake excess water and set on a paper towel, bristles down, until dry.

Toothbrushes: Obviously you should rinse your toothbrush before and after each use, then let it air dry in an upright position. But don’t forget to clean your toothbrush holder once a week. If you want to go a step further, soak your toothbrush in some antiseptic mouthwash (for a natural method, try white vinegar) for about ten minutes, once a week – or more often when you are sick. Allow to air dry afterwards. The American Dental Association (ADA) “recommends that consumers replace toothbrushes approximately every 3 – 4 months,” however, many people don’t do this and even if they do, new toothbrushes don’t come in a sterile package, so you may want to give them a soak too. I’ve heard that bacterial particles are released into the air when the toilet is flushed, which means you might want to store your toothbrush three feet or more from the toilet – and close the lid when flushing.

Vacuum cleaner beater bar: It’s astonishing what gets wrapped around that roller on the bottom of your vacuum. Keeping it free of build up will help it work more efficiently and can prevent the belt from burning out. First, check your instruction manual for any tips (you may need to remove the roller bar.) Always unplug your vacuum before cleaning. I use a seam ripper to cut the threads and hair, and then gently pull the debris out.

Dryer lint screen: After hearing about a small fire starting from a clogged dryer vent I became concerned enough to do this all the time. It only takes a few seconds to slide the screen out after every load and clean off the lint. Plus your dryer works better.

Pet bowls: I know, they are happy to eat morsels dropped on the floor and clean unpleasant places with their tongue. However, their food and water dishes can be a breeding ground for bacteria or mold. Wash with hot water and dishwashing liquid. Rinse well. (Soap residue can cause diarrhea.)

Your car’s windshield – inside and out: Usually you notice this when the sun hits the glass, blocking your vision with an opaque film. As you fight panic and pray that nothing is in your path, you swear that you will clean it as soon as possible. It’s not a big deal to clean, especially considering how important it is. When cleaning the interior glass don’t spray the cleaner directly, since overspray can spot your dash. Apply the cleaner to a rag or paper towel, then wipe and repeat until it is really clean. You need to see where you’re driving!