When it comes to housework, how do you assess whether the job’s a good’un?

[Read more: How to clean with bicarbonate of soda]

For most of us it’s a case of thinking, well, does it look clean? And what about those hard-to-reach areas, like between cushions and under the sofa? If nobody’s really going to see those bits, is it really worth the elbow grease?

Research by Bosch Floorcare has found that 27% of homeowners only bother cleaning those difficult zones which involve moving chairs and furniture once a year. What’s more, using the ‘clean looking’ approach to cleaning our homes could mean rooms are harbouring far more bacteria than we may realise.

You might think what you can’t see can’t harm you, but that’s not necessarily the case…

Under the watchful eye of hygiene expert Dr Lisa Ackerley, researchers collected samples from family homes, using an aseptic filter attached to the nozzle of their Bosch Athlet vacuum cleaner.

The lab results found these carpet ‘black spots’ can harbour far more than an odd crumb or the occasional dust mite, as harmful bacteria, yeasts and moulds were all found hiding in these neglected areas. Not only could these worsen respiratory illnesses, like asthma, but some of the bacteria found could potentially lead to a string of unwanted side-effects, from skin infections to pneumonia. 

Has that left you wanting to reach for the vac and move the sofa?

So where else might be ‘clean looking’, but is actually anything but? Yvonne Manomano, cleaning operations manager at Handy highlights three other ‘invisible’ nasties problem areas…

Computer keyboards

“A study by the consumer group Which? carried out in London offices suggests keyboards have more harmful bacteria than a toilet seat. A quick way to get rid of bacteria is to use sanitising wipes to clean the surface. For a thorough clean, dip a toothbrush or cotton buds in some sanitizer to clean between the letters.” 

Mattresses

“Your mattress needs a regular clean, as it harbours lots of dead cells and dust, which can irritate your sleep. Make sure you give it a good vacuum with an upholstery attachment and give it a good whack whilst it is propped upwards against the wall.

"Lie it back down and sprinkle with baking soda. I would suggest leaving the baking soda on for two hours then vacuuming it off, this should successfully remove odours.”

[Read more: Spring clean your mattress to banish bed bugs and get a good night's sleep]

Kitchen sponges

“Make sure to maintain your sponges, as they can hold all the bacteria you cleared from other surfaces, especially if they are damp. You can microwave wet sponges for two minutes, or toss them in the dishwater to kill the germs, and make sure they dry quickly. Alternatively, when you stock up on sponges, make sure to buy in bulk, so you can change them regularly.”

How thorough are you with the housework – or do you stick to a ‘looks OK’ approach? Tell us in the Comments section below.