Cleaning 11 Hard-to-Reach Places

Keeping a home clean can be a challenge, especially when it comes to those hard-to-reach spots that accumulate dust and grime over time. With some clever tools and techniques, cleaning even the trickiest areas is possible. Here are 11 hard-to-reach places in your home and how to get them looking spick and span.

Ceiling Fans and Light Fixtures

Over time, ceiling fans and light fixtures can collect a startling amount of dust. All that dust buildup can make fixtures look dingy and dated. Give them a deep clean by following these steps:

  • Turn off power to the ceiling fan or light at the breaker box. Safety first!
  • Use a dry microfiber cloth secured to a lightweight extendable duster to wipe down the exterior of the fixture. This will remove surface dust and cobwebs.
  • For light fixtures with glass covers or globes, carefully remove them and give them a wash with warm soapy water. Dry thoroughly before replacing.
  • Use a small vacuum crevice tool to vacuum out dust from inside globe light fixtures and ceiling fan housings.
  • Dampen a microfiber cloth with diluted all-purpose cleaner and wipe down the fixture, including the blades (if cleaning a ceiling fan).
  • Buff surfaces dry with a clean lint-free cloth.
  • Restore power when fully dry. Your fixtures will look like new!

Follow this routine every few months to prevent major buildup.

Inside Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets tend to collect splatters and spills no matter how careful you are. Get them gleaming inside and out by:

  • Remove everything from cabinets and drawers. Put food items in a cooler to keep chilled.
  • Vacuum inside cabinets with a crevice tool. Vacuum vent holes too.
  • Fill a spray bottle with a solution of mild dish soap and warm water. Spray down interior surfaces.
  • Use a microfiber cloth to wipe away grease and food residue.
  • For stubborn grime, let solution sit for 5 minutes before wiping.
  • Wipe with clean wet cloth and dry thoroughly.
  • Replace items, wiping jars and containers before putting them back.
  • Buff exterior cabinet surfaces with polish or all-purpose cleaner.

Repeat these steps twice a year for fresh and clean cabinets.

The Space Behind the Toilet

Hidden spaces like the area behind a toilet tend to get very dusty and dirty. Give it a good periodic cleaning with these steps:

  • Flush toilet and turn off water supply valve.
  • Use an old towel to mop up any remaining water in the tank and bowl.
  • Remove toilet tank lid and set aside.
  • Lift toilet seat and prop up out of the way.
  • Wearing gloves, scrub inside toilet tank and bowl with toilet brush and disinfecting cleaner. Rinse thoroughly.
  • Clean all exterior toilet surfaces with disinfecting cleaner and microfiber cloth.
  • Reach area behind and around base of toilet with extendable duster and vacuum crevice tool.
  • Replace toilet lid and seat, reconnect water supply line and test flush.
  • Mop bathroom floor around toilet with disinfecting cleaner.

Be sure to give behind the toilet a thorough scrub each time you deep clean the bathroom. A fresh smelling space will be your reward!

Ceiling Corners and Edges

Cobwebs and dust clung to corners and edges on ceilings are unsightly. Banish them for good using:

  • A ceiling fan duster tool secured to an extendable lightweight duster handle.
  • A vacuum cleaner crevice tool attachment.
  • A step stool or small ladder. Use properly to avoid falls.
  • Eye protection. Falling debris can be irritating.

With these supplies in hand:

  • Run the duster tool along corners and edges to loosen dust and debris.
  • Vacuum up all the fallen dirt with the crevice tool. Work top to bottom.
  • Pay close attention to edges where walls meet ceiling for cobwebs.
  • Clean around ceiling fan brackets, light fixtures, vents and other protrusions.
  • Spot clean any remaining dust or debris with duster tool.

Get into the habit of quick regular ceiling dusting sessions to prevent heavy buildup.

Sliding Door Tracks

Sliding door tracks easily become jammed with dirt and dust. Keep them functioning smoothly by:

  • Vacuuming out track using hose attachment.
  • Spraying track with all-purpose cleaner solution. Avoid oil-based lubricants which can become gummy.
  • Using an old toothbrush, scrub track groove to dislodge debris.
  • Wipe clean with microfiber cloth.
  • Place a few drops of silicone spray along track and wipe again.
  • Ensure door slides easily along track. Remove more debris if needed.
  • Check exterior sliding door tracks too and clear out leaves, dirt and grime.

Repeat cleaning every few months for easy gliding doors.

Under Appliances

To reveal hidden dust and dirt under appliances like refrigerators, stoves, and dishwashers:

  • Pull appliance away from wall if possible, or if built-in, use flashlight to see behind.
  • Vacuum under and around appliance with crevice tool, accessing all corners and vents.
  • Attach an extendable duster to reach tight areas.
  • Sweep debris from underside using broom.
  • Use all-purpose cleaner and toothbrush as needed for stuck-on grime.
  • Replace appliance.
  • For refrigerators, lay a towel to catch debris and vacuum condenser coils underneath.

Give under appliances a good cleaning every season to keep hidden areas dirt-free.

Window Wells

Window wells let light into basement spaces but also can collect leaves, dirt and moisture over time. Make cleaning them more manageable by:

  • Donning rubber gloves for protection.
  • Removing debris with small trowel or shovel.
  • Spraying down surfaces with hose or pressure washer.
  • Filling a bucket with hot water and all-purpose cleaner.
  • Scrubbing wells and windows with brush and cleaner solution.
  • Rinsing away grime and drying with a towel.

Check window wells in fall and spring to prevent heavy debris and moisture buildup.

Wall Air Vents

Vents allow air circulation but their grates also catch dust, dirt, pet hair and lint over time. Clean them out using:

  • Small vacuum crevice and brush tools.
  • Unscented baby wipes or microfiber cloths.
  • All-purpose cleaner solution.
  • Toothbrush for scrubbing.
  • Small paintbrush for dusting grates.

Work top to bottom to:

  • Loosen and vacuum up debris.
  • Remove vent grates if possible and give extra attention to inner openings.
  • Clean grates by wiping or brushing with mild detergent solution.

For a quick fix between deep cleans, attach pantyhose over the end of a vacuum hose to pull out lint and pet hair.

Crown Molding Corners

The tapering, corners where crown moldings meet rarely get cleaned. Dust and cobwebs can quietly accumulate there over time. Banish them by:

  • Using a dry microfiber duster or paintbrush to dislodge debris gently.
  • Vacuuming up fallen dust with crevice tool.
  • Spot cleaning corners with all-purpose cleaner and small brush.
  • Taking time with a flashlight to spot hidden cobwebs.

Add this area to your dusting routine to prevent heavy buildup.

Oven Hoods and Vents

Kitchen oven hoods and vents filter out cooking grease and odors. But they also can collect a grimy film over time. Give them a deep clean by:

  • Removing metal grease filters and washing in hot soapy water or dishwasher.
  • Spraying vent interior and fan with degreasing cleaner. Allow to soak.
  • Scrubbing surfaces with small brush and wiping clean.
  • Vacuuming fan blades and surrounding areas to remove lint.
  • Rinsing surfaces and drying well.
  • Replacing clean filters once fully dry.

Repeat this thorough cleaning every 3-4 months for best results.

Radiators and Heating Vents

Radiators and heating vents tend to attract layers of dust during winter months when they’re in use. Keep them clean by:

  • Turning off and allowing to fully cool before cleaning.
  • Detaching grates if possible to clean separately.
  • Using vacuum crevice tool to remove loose debris.
  • Wetting microfiber cloth with warm water and mild detergent.
  • Wiping down radiator fins and vents.
  • Rinsing and drying with lint free cloth.
  • Replacing grates when fully dry.

Give radiators and vents a clean before first use each winter for optimal heating power.

Fireplace Interiors

Neglected fireplaces can gather heaps of ash, soot and creosote. For safe and effective cleaning:

  • Check that damper is open and ventilation is good. Wear a mask.
  • Scoop out cooled ashes with small shovel into metal container.
  • Use small whisk broom to sweep interior surfaces. Vacuum loose debris.
  • Inspect interior surfaces with flashlight. Remove built up creosote carefully to avoid sparks.
  • Scrub cool surfaces with brush and non-flammable cleaner. Small amounts of water are ok.
  • Rinse and wipe clean using lint-free rags. Allow to fully dry.
  • Dispose of ashes and debris when finished in closed metal container.

Thorough annual fireplace cleaning reduces risks and discourages chimney fires.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cleaning Hard to Reach Places

Cleaning hard-to-reach areas in your home can seem like an impossible chore. Hopefully the specific tips provided above give you a blueprint for success. Here are answers to some common questions on managing this cleaning challenge:

How often should I clean hard-to-reach spots in my home?

Most of these areas only need cleaning a few times per year, seasonally or biannually. Ceiling fans, light fixtures, radiators and oven hoods benefit from more frequent attention every 1-3 months however.

What cleaning tools help access hard-to-clean areas?

Essential tools include extendable lightweight dusters, vacuum hoses and crevice tools, small stiff brushes, old toothbrushes, microfiber cloths and small shovels or trowels. Sturdy step stools or ladders also help provide safe access.

What cleaning solutions work best?

For most situations, mild detergent or all-purpose cleaners diluted in warm water will cut through dirt and grease. Degreasers help dissolve oil buildup. Disinfecting cleaners provide extra cleaning power for bathroom areas. Avoid abrasives.

How can I clean tight spaces without making a mess?

Working slowly and carefully is key. Have towels handy to catch drips and debris. Vacuum up dust before it scatters. Wipe up spills immediately. Start from the top and move downward. Proper preparation is essential.

What safety tips should I keep in mind?

Never stand on unstable surfaces. Use ladders safely. Turn off electricity to fixtures. Allow appliances and heaters to cool fully before cleaning. Check for mold or nests before cleaning enclosed areas. Work in ventilated spaces and wear gloves and masks as needed.

What are signs I should call professional help?

If grime buildup is excessive, mold or nests are present, creosote has accumulated heavily or you simply can’t access the space safely yourself, hire a professional cleaning service. They have specialized tools and expertise.


While cleaning hard-to-reach spots at home can seem intimidating, approaching the project methodically and with the right tools will help you tackle even the grimiest areas. By following the specific tips outlined above for each trouble area, you can restore order and cleanliness throughout your entire home. Just break the process down into manageable pieces. Remember to always put safety first and call in reinforcements if a deep clean is beyond your DIY capacities. With some determination and elbow grease, you can get every corner of your home looking spick and span. Good luck!