You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty for Only Cleaning These Places Once Per Year (Or Less)

It seems like there are a million lists out there reminding you of all the places you’re forgetting to clean. It’s exhausting just thinking about the plethora of germs out there lurking, ready to pounce at any moment…

In a perfect world, we’d all have completely cleaned and sanitized houses every day of the week, preferably with the help of super efficient cleaning robots. But here in the real world, the demands of life take precedence over scrubbing the undersides of your windowsills. So if you have 20 spare minutes to clean and you want to make the most impact, where should you focus your efforts — and where should you skip?

Read on to discover the places that you don’t really need to clean all the time, along with the spots you shouldn’t ever skip.

1. The oven

stainless steel stove with oven

You don’t have to clean your oven very often. | dpproductions/iStock/Getty Images

It’s important to clean your oven. But you don’t have to do it all the time.

The easiest way to keep your oven sparkling between cleanings is to place everything you cook on baking sheets to catch any drips or splatters. Cook your pizza on a pizza stone instead of directly on the rack to reduce the chance of melted cheese getting everywhere.

Cleaning the kitchen? Focus on countertops where bacteria collects during food prep.

2. Windows

Cleaning window

You don’t have to clean your windows all that often. | ULTRA F/iStock/Getty Images

Streaky windows aren’t really that big of a deal.

In the hierarchy of cleaning, windows fall somewhere towards the bottom of the priority list. And while it’s a good idea to wash the windows inside and out twice per year, it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t happen.

The thing is that cleaning all the windows in the house takes a huge amount of time and energy, and that time is better spent on more impactful projects such as scrubbing toilets and sinks or wiping counters, which are among the germiest places in your home. So unless you have a few days to dedicate solely to cleaning, let the windows wait until next time.

3. The garage

Two wooden car garage

You don’t have to give the garage a deep clean every month. | Marcin Leszczuk/iStock/Getty Images

Can you fit your car in? Good. The garage is clean enough.

If you have enough time to mop your garage floor weekly, then by all means go for it. But technically this space is classified as more outdoor than indoor and really only needs a full-scale cleaning once per year (if that).

4. Curtains

Denim and white curtains

There’s no need to launder your curtains too frequently. | Saklakova/iStock/Getty Images

At least once per year it’s a good idea to get out the ladder and spend a full day taking down and laundering all your curtains. Beyond that, it’s really overkill.

Especially if you have pets or kids, curtains can function as a catch-all for dust, dander, and random debris. That’s why it’s important to remember to launder them occasionally. But compared to flat surfaces you actually touch daily, like couches, beds, and chairs, your curtains don’t really come into contact with that many germs. It’s perfectly acceptable to clean them infrequently.

5. Closets

Your closet doesn’t need a deep clean more than once per year. | iStock/Getty Images

Cleaning out your closet is important — but you don’t really have to do it more than once per year.

Once you make a commitment to buying fewer, better quality items, you’ll find that you don’t need to clean your closets and drawers as often. Again, this task takes a whole lot of time and doesn’t offer much in terms of tangible benefit (besides being able to see the floor again). The closet may be cluttered, but chances are the space isn’t that dirty or germy.

6. Washing machine

Separating laundry

The washing machine doesn’t need to be cleaned very often. | Martin Poole/iStock/Getty Images

You should really wash your washer. But not too frequently.

Many people believe washers are self-cleaning, which isn’t necessarily true. A few times per year it’s beneficial to add vinegar with baking soda and run the washer through a hot water cycle to get rid of dirt particles that build up over time.

But as long as you’re doing this semi-frequently, it’s not something you need to worry about for your weekly or even monthly cleaning schedule. One great tip for avoiding that musty smell in front load washers is to leave the door slightly ajar whenever you’re not using it, or at least for the first few hours following each use.

7. The fridge

cleaning white open empty refrigerator with pink rag

You don’t have to clean the refrigerator very frequently. | iStock.com/AndrewRafalsky

The inside of the fridge gets a lot of use. The top and bottom? Not so much.

You should make it a point to pull out the fridge, clean the coils, vacuum and mop behind it, and stand on a step stool to reach the top at least twice per year. But anything above and beyond that schedule is a waste of time.

Focus on wiping out the interior of your fridge, chucking old food, and wiping down the front and handles instead, which gets takes care of the highest concentration of germs.

Read more: 15 Germiest Places You Need to Clean in Your Home — but Don’t

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