5 Things Around Your Home You Never Clean but Should

Your Computer Keyboard

When you’re not using your phone, you’re probably using a desktop or laptop computer, which means your fingers are constantly in contact with your keyboard. And considering many of us snack or take lunch at our desks, drink over our computers, or even spill beverages on them, you can imagine the gross, grimy world living just below those keys. And while there’s certainly no shortage of bombastic headlines trumpeting that your keyboard is dirtier than a toilet seat (a bit of a misconception, as toilet seats tend to be fairly clean compared to other bathroom surfaces), so-called high-touch surfaces like keyboards really can harbor and grow harmful bacteria if left uncleaned.



On the bright side, cleaning a keyboard isn’t too difficult to do, as this extremely thorough guide from tech site How-To Geek explains. You may be startled by what you find beneath those keys, if you go so far as to pull the key caps up and clean out the dirt, grime, hair and crumbs that likely lurk underneath. Even if you don’t, flipping the keyboard upside down and shaking the debris out, then using a small hand-held vacuum cleaner or can of compressed air will do the job as well. Then a quick wipe down with cleaning wipes, cotton swabs or a microfiber cloth moistened with that same 1:1 alcohol-to-water solution we mentioned earlier will take care of the parts you actually touch.

Your Remote Control

Be honest: Have you ever cleaned your remote control? Whether you use the one that came with your TV or something complicated that came from your cable company, odds are you pick it up every time you flop down on the couch to Netflix and chill. But you’ve never even so much as wiped the grime and dirt from the valleys between the buttons, have you?

That grime can add up, if you think about how many times you’ve likely snacked in front of the screen. Whether your preference is popcorn, chips or full-blown meals, your remote is likely filthy — and again, while it’s unlikely you’ll get sick from that crusty, grimy thing, it certainly isn’t doing anything for the life of the gadget you rely on to relax after a long day of work.


Dominic Lipinski/PA, via Associated Press

In reality though, remote controls, especially the ones in hotel rooms that are often used by a rotating crew of people without ever being cleaned, are pretty gross with bacteria. While we can make the case that you might use a disinfecting cleaning wipe on the one in your hotel the next time you travel, there’s no reason to wait until you leave home. Grab a wipe and give the one you use every day a good wipe down, and try to make it part of your cleaning routine. It probably won’t make you healthier, but it will prolong the life of your remote, and that’s enough for us.

Your Pillows

You may not know it, but most pillows are designed to be machine washable. You’ll have to fluff them when they come out of the washer (or the dryer, if the manufacturer suggests drying them), and you don’t want to wash them too often or they’ll lose their shape. And it’s a good thing too, considering pillows tend to be exactly where dead skin, dust, drool and in many cases, dust mites love to hang out. For most people, that’s not a huge deal, aside from the fact that they’re putting their face on a gross, dirty pillow at night to sleep. For people with compromised immune systems or who have allergies, they can be an irritant that makes for sleepless nights, skin irritation and sinus congestion.


Christopher Lee for The New York Times

Luckily for all of us, whether you have allergies or you just don’t like the idea of a gross pillow under your head while you sleep, the solution is easy: a trip through the washing machine on the delicate cycle, then tumble dry low or air dry. While you’re at it, consider cleaning your comforters if you haven’t recently, and some other household textiles mentioned in this list of home products you probably don’t clean as often as you should, from The Wirecutter, the New York Times’ product review site. Then you can breathe easy while you rest.

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