Every home has them: Those areas you know you *should* be cleaning but never feel up to the task. (We don’t even want to talk about the last time we changed the air filters.) But when it comes to appliances, regular maintenance is actually necessary for making sure the machines operate as they should (for as long as they should) and keeping you healthy in your home. Plus ignoring the items on your chore list can spell disaster later on down the road. The best strategy is to put good appliance hygiene habits in place so that you’re never faced with having to do a Herculean deep-clean. Not sure where to start? The experts at the Whirlpool Corp. Institute of Home Science have rounded up the most-neglected spots in every home *and* explained how to tackle them right. Scroll on for all the need-to-know cleaning tips.

1. Dishwasher: Many dishwashers have a filter that can be removed and cleaned, which doesn’t take long at all. To make sure yours is always operating at peak performance, use Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner ($6 for 6 tablets) and run a cleaning cycle to remove limescale and mineral build-up.

2. Dryer: Bet you don’t own a dryer vent brush, but it’s well worth the investment. Pick one up at your local hardware store, and use it periodically to check for blockages and buildup. (Some dryers even have a special “check vent” light that can help remind you.)

3. Refrigerator: If you have pets, you’re probably well aware that pet hair collects any place it can find. Check your refrigerator condenser coils for dirt, dust, grease, and pet hair, and clean them safely by first unplugging your fridge and removing the base grill. A soft brush attachment on your vacuum is the perfect tool for removing debris from the front surface area and open areas behind the grill. Now is also probably a good time to toss out the ice that’s been in your freezer bin for months. Rinse down the bin with mild detergent before you make a new batch and you’ll notice it tastes much better.

4. Stove Burner Grates and Caps: Gas stoves have tons of nooks and crannies where stray pasta, drips of sauce, and oil splatters can sit. When the stove is cool, remove the caps and grates. Some grates can be loaded in the dishwasher, which makes the cleanup simple (but be sure to check your use and care guide before loading). Anything that’s really burned on will probably benefit from a soak first. For the caps, use a nonabrasive plastic scrubbing pad and a mildly abrasive cleaner to scrub, DIY-style (do NOT put them in the dishwasher).

5. Hood Vents and Filters: Do you have an over-the-range microwave or a vent hood? Grease loves to accumulate there. If yours has a removable filter, clean it with warm water and a mild detergent. Non-vented filters aren’t designed to be washed and should be replaced every six months.

What home cleaning task is stumping you? Let us know @BritandCo!

Brit + Co may at times use affiliate links to promote products sold by others, but always offers genuine editorial recommendations.

Images via Whirlpool