100 Essential Cleaning Hacks for Your Home
Speed up home cleaning by putting into practice some of these 100 essential cleaning hacks for your home. You won't believe what a dryer sheet can do.
Don’t Forget the Doormat
Doormats are your best friend when it comes to trapping dirt, so make sure you have two—one outside the house and one inside. This cleaning hack is especially helpful in the winter when you have salty and snowy boots going in and out of the house. Just be sure to clean the mats regularly as dirty mats contribute to the mess.
Kill two birds with one stone by doing similar cleaning tasks at the same time. “Clean your baseboards when you are vacuuming or washing floors, clean blinds when you are cleaning windows, etc.,” suggests Becky Rapinchuk, owner of CleanMama.net.
Skip the Bucket
Sometimes moving around the mop bucket only makes more of a mess thanks to the dirty water splashing around. Leslie Reichert, founder of The Green Cleaning Coach and author of The Joy Of Green Cleaning, has a bucket-less mopping technique that works wonders: a spray bottle filled with diluted cleaning solution and a microfiber mop.
Stock Up on Products
No, a bathroom tile cleaner shouldn’t be used to wipe down your mirrors. “The right products that actually clean go a long way to getting the job done more effectively and efficiently for you,” says McGee. Scared to clean your house because of all the chemicals in cleaning products? Try these 15 alternative cleaning hacks to keep your home chemical-free.
Buy a Soap Dispenser Dish Brush
According to Dana White, founder of A Slob Comes Clean, you can use a soap dispenser dish brush in your shower. “Mark it for the bathroom only with a permanent marker, and fill it with your favorite dish soap,” she says. “Hang it in the shower, and you can scrub the shower while you’re in it anyway. Dish soap does a great job cleaning the bathroom!” Be sure to read up on the ways you might be cleaning your bathroom wrong, too.
Vacuum the Right Way
Rapinchuk recommends first vacuuming a room horizontally and then vertically to get all of the trapped dirt. Most cleaning experts agree that vacuuming slowly is also important to ensure that vacuum picks up all the dirt particles. Need an extra-long extension for your vacuum?
Everyone has a different idea of what “clean” actually means. Some think a sparkling floor is clean, while others are happy with just doing a load of laundry. Beth McGee, author of Get Your House Clean Now: The Home Cleaning Method Anyone Can Master, suggests asking yourself questions like, how much stuff do I have and what type of home do I have to determine what clean and organized really means to you.
Ignore the off-putting name but Swedish Death Cleaning can change your life.
A Pillowcase Can Be a Cleaner
Obviously, you don’t want to use the pillowcase you sleep on every night, but using a pillowcase to clean your ceiling fans is a hack that you need to try ASAP. “The pillowcase holds the dust so it doesn’t fall on a table or bed,” says Reichert. “A very clean way to dust a fan.” Learn the the cleaning hack you wish you knew earlier to keep pillowcases smelling fresh.
Create a Cleaning Plan
We all have those random cleaning bursts, but having a plan beforehand will make your cleaning hacks process smoother. “Cleaning is really like a dance. You start high, work down and around, and carefully observe anything that needs attention,” says McGee. “As you move around, wipe light switches, door frames, baseboards, walls, working in a circle around a room and not back and forth from one thing across the room to another. Don’t get distracted, keep a smooth motion around your home.”
Use Your Dishwasher
Dishwashers are for so much more than just washing dishes. Reichert recommends using yours to dust off knickknacks like mason jars and glass candle globes. Pretty much anything glass or ceramic should be fine going in the dishwasher, but you do want to stay away from putting meltable plastics. If your dishwasher has developed a nasty smell, see how to get rid of dishwasher smells in one step with this cleaning hack.
DIY Cleaning Solutions
Want to know the secret to streak-free mirrors and windows? Well, it’s an easy at-home solution you can make yourself. According to Rapinchuk, all you need is:
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 3 drops peppermint essential oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons rubbing alcohol
Washing windows and mirrors is probably the least favorite cleaning tasks. Clean windows like a pro with 10 cleaning hacks.
Clean the Toilet Daily
If you swish your toilet every day with your cleaning hacks brush, you’ll keep it relatively clean without a ton of hard labor. Use the water already in the toilet to swish the entire toilet bowl. Your bathroom probably gets dirtiest the fastest and is the hardest to clean. You probably don’t clean the toilet every day but there are several things you need to clean more often. Find out the cleaning hacks.
Skip the Polish
Of course, you need to polish your wooden furniture and hardwood floors every once in a while (once or twice a year, or when they begin to look foggy), but all you really need to keep them shiny is a dry microfiber cloth. “Your furniture will actually get less dusty without using furniture polish,” says Reichert.
“[Start] with scrubbing areas such as kitchens and baths, then moving on to de-cluttering, dusting, bedding, and finally floors,” McGee advises. “Look at your home carefully to determine what needs most attention to bring it to your idea of clean.”
Maybe you just found out your in-laws are coming over and you need to quickly tidy up the place—knowing how to speed clean will be your savior. Make sure you hit the places that are most visible first like kitchen countertops and the bathroom. You can skimp on things like the top of the fridge and behind the coffee maker. Here’s how to clean your kitchen in basically five minutes.
Purchase a Paintbrush
Reichert uses a stiff paintbrush around her furniture to pull the dirt out without having to move all the furniture around. “You are brushing it out away from the furniture so the vacuum can suck it up,” she says.
Pie Plate Dustpan
Garden Gloves to Dust Knickknacks
Scuff Mark Eraser
Use Sawdust to Soak Up Spills
Floor Swiffer for Walls
Remove Hard-Water Buildup with a Lemon
Move Heavy Furniture Yourself
Remove Pet Hair with Duct Tape
Paint Stick to Clean Lint Buildup
Coffee Filters for Dusting
Clean the Exhaust Fan
Dust with Your Dryer
Synthetic Soap Simplifies Bathroom Cleaning
Buff Off Heavy Grime
Duster for the Vertically Challenged
Clean Grout with a Bleach Pen
Clean with Microfiber Products
Make Your Own Greener Cleaning Solution
Clean a Sluggish Toilet
Easier Bottle Cleaning
Vacuum First, Then Scrub
Protect Your Shower Doors from Mineral Buildup
Trash Can Cleanup
Clean Your Bagless Vacuum Filter
Citrus Peels and Ice Cubes for a Stinky Disposer
- With the water running at about half throttle, drop in orange or lemon peels. Run the disposer for five seconds. Citric acid from the peels softens crusty waste and attacks smelly bacteria. Give the acid about 15 minutes to do its work.
- Turn on the water and the disposer and drop in a few ice cubes. Flying shards of ice work like a sandblaster inside the disposer.
- Run the water until the bowl is about half full. Then pull the stopper and turn on the disposer to flush it out.
Garbage Bag Holder-Upper
Flashlight Glass Finder
Beat the Dust out of Cushions
Renew Wood with Mineral Spirits
Beat and Shake Area Rugs
Do Air Cleaners Reduce Dusting?
Rotate Bedding Weekly
Clean the Air While You Clean the House
Countertop Gap Filler
Remove Tough Grime with Less Scrubbing
Capture Dust - Don't Just Spread It Around
Ban Shoes Inside (But Offer Slippers)
Bleach Away Stains
Polish with a Microfiber Cloth
Keep Closets Clear for Easy Cleaning
- Box or bag items on closet shelves. Clear plastic containers are best—they lock fibers in and dust out and let you see what's inside. When you dust, they're easy to pull off the shelves and wipe clean.
- Enclose the clothes you rarely wear. Those coats you wear only in winter shed fibers year-round. Slip garment bags or large garbage bags over them. They help to contain fibers and keep the clothes themselves from becoming coated with dust.
- Keep closet floors clear. If the floor is cluttered, chances are you'll just bypass it while vacuuming. But a wide-open floor adds only a few seconds to the vacuuming chore. And a wire shelf lets you clear all those shoes off the floor without losing storage space.
Microfiber Products Clean Faster, Easier and Better
Microfibers are tiny strands (usually less than one-tenth the thickness of a human hair) that are sliced into even smaller strands and then woven into fabric. Those tiny strands reach into crevices and provide millions of little pockets within the fabric to hold dirt particles. The strands also have sharp scouring edges, so microfiber cloths often clean effectively without chemicals or even water (you can use cleansers or water if you choose). Learn more about the science behind cleaning with microfiber cloths.
Make Cleaning Easier
Remove Tree Sap from Vinyl Siding
A Scrub and a Wax
Make the Most of Your Vacuuming
- Vacuum high-traffic areas twice a week and the rest of the carpeting and large area rugs at least weekly.
- Make numerous slow passes over the same area in all directions (fast passes stir up more dust than is being sucked up).
- Use certified True High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters to remove invisible particles and allergens. Look for the word 'True" on the label.
- If you have allergies, upgrade to a sealed-body bagged vacuum with an airtight 'sealed filtration' system that works together with a True HEPA filter. This means all of the exhaust will exit through the HEPA filter instead of leaking dust back into your house through the machine's housing. Sealed-body vacuums have rubber seals or gaskets around the lid and filter and will last 10 to 20 years. Brands include Riccar, Miele and Sanitaire.
- Buy high-quality vacuum bags. Inexpensive 2- or 3-ply paper bags leak more dust. Higher-quality cotton-lined paper bags are better, and top-quality synthetic cotton HEPA bags are the best. Bag capacity matters too. Higher-capacity bags capture more, smaller particles that would have otherwise clogged the filter.
- Clean all your bagless vacuum filters regularly and replace them every three months.
- Turn off the agitator brush on hard flooring so you're not blowing dust into the air.
- Maintain your vacuum: Empty the canister frequently (always outside) and change bags and belts when needed. Keep the agitator brush free of hair and other material, and check the vacuum for cracks and loose hinges and get it serviced every so often to keep it running smoothly.
Install a Detachable Toilet Seat
It seems like no matter how hard you try, you can never get the hinges on the toilet seat clean. There's always a bit of cleaning solution that seeps underneath and creeps out later. Installing a detachable toilet seat solves the problem. This Bemis brand seat is easy to remove by just twisting two hinge caps about a quarter of a turn. Then you have easy access to clean under the hinges. Detachable seats cost about $20. Installation is straightforward and only requires a wrench. Are your bolts rusted and stuck? Learn how to remove rusted toilet seat bolts here.
Remove Stubborn Rust Stains with Acid Magic
Remove Tough Stains from Vinyl Flooring
Upgrade Your Furnace Filter
Purify the Air
- Place air purifiers in your most-used rooms to help suck up dust before it settles. Choose air purifier units with True HEPA filters rather than ionic cleaners, which release ozone, a respiratory irritant.
- Add a plant to every room. Plants naturally absorb common indoor pollutants like benzene and formaldehyde. NASA studies have shown that many plants, including aloes, palms and ferns, can absorb as much as 80 percent of the formaldehyde in a room in 24 hours.
- Keep the humidity in your house between 40 and 50 percent to help lower static electricity, which can cause dust to stick to surfaces and make them harder to clean. A humidifier (cleaned regularly) and leafy indoor plants will both increase humidity levels. Just don't increase the level to more than 50 percent. This will promote the growth of mold, a far more dangerous condition than dust. You can monitor humidity levels with a cheap hydrometer from a gardening store.
- Keep your windows closed on windy days. Dust enters through doors and windows in the form of pollen, mold spores and airborne pollutants.
Easier Grout Haze Cleanup
The thousands of microscopic fabric hooks on a microfiber cloth (available at discount stores) make it perfect to cut through the dried grout haze left after a tiling project. You'll still have to rinse and repeat, but the haze will clean up faster than it would with an ordinary rag.
First spread a plastic tarp on the floor under the chandelier to catch the drips. Then turn off the light and spray the solution on the chandelier until liquid beads start to run (you'll use a lot of spray, but it beats wiping). The spray rinses off the dust. The solution that's left evaporates quickly and doesn't leave water spots. The spray works well on hanging crystals, but don't expect it to remove dust from crevices. Buy it from nancysilver.com or chandelierparts.com. If you're tired of cleaning you chandelier and would like to replace it, here's how you can do it yourself.
Cut Grease With a Hot Rag
Grease and dirt build up on kitchen cabinets over time. To clean your cabinets, first heat a slightly damp sponge or cloth in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds until it's hot. Put on a pair of rubber gloves, spray the cabinets with an all-purpose cleaner containing orange oil, then wipe off the cleaner with the hot sponge. For stubborn spots, let the cleaner sit for five minutes first. Wipe in the direction of the wood grain. Rinse and reheat the sponge as it becomes saturated. Then wipe the cabinets with a cool, damp cloth. The orange oil leaves a shiny coating. This works for any wood or metal surface.
Clean Hard Floors Faster
Blow Out the Garage
Forget the broom—clean out the garage with a leaf blower. It's fast (about five minutes), you don't have to move heavy stuff, and you can clean work surfaces and shelves along with the floor. First put away papers or anything else that you don't want blown away. Open the overhead door. Put on a dust mask, earplugs and safety glasses, then turn on the leaf blower and blow out the dust and debris. Use the leaf blower to get under workbenches and to clean off the benches themselves. If you don't own a leaf blower, you may be able to use your shop vacuum by connecting the hose to the exhaust port. This cleaning method works great for screen porches, too. No leaf blower? Our buyer's guide can help you decide which one is best for you.
The Right Stuff for Rust
Remove Bathroom Soap Scum
Scum-Proof Your Shower Doors
Spot-Clean Food and Drink Spills
Get Tough on Glass Stains
If your usual glass cleaner won't remove tough stains, apply a mild abrasive cleaner such as Soft Scrub, Bar Keepers Friend or Bon Ami and scrub with a soft cloth. (Here's a tip for washing windows.) These abrasives usually won't scratch glass, but test a small area first just to make sure. If elbow grease alone won't do the job or if you have large areas to cover, use a drill and a small buffing wheel (find one at home centers).
Speed-Clean with a Pressure Washer
Once you get your hands on a pressure washer, you'll find endless uses for it: Blast that dingy coat of dirt off your siding and trim, deep-clean embedded grime from your driveway or patio, wash down a deck or fence. While you're at it, don't forget the car, mower, bikes and patio furniture. You may discover so many jobs for a pressure washer that you want to own one. Electric versions usually cost less, but you may want to spend more for a more powerful gas model. Renting first is a good way to find out how much pressure and which features you really need. You can rent a pressure washer and do a week's worth of cleaning in one day. Before you rent, gather some tarps to protect plants and make sure your garden hose will reach all the areas you plan to clean. Good preparation lets you get more cleaning done during the rental period.
Stop Countertop Stains
How to Remove Stains From Plastic Laminate Countertops
Clean Range Hood Grease Filters With a Degreaser
Scour Off Grime with an Electric Toothbrush
Clean Out Disposer Crud
Your disposer will smell better if you clean the splash guard. Lift the flaps and scrub them (especially the under side) with a toothbrush and grease-cutting cleaner.
How to Clean Oven Door Glass
It's a mystery how baking slop gets deposited between oven door glass panels. But it's clear that you can't remove it without disassembling the door. Get the instructions for removing the door and clean that grungy glass in less than an hour.
Clean a Stinky Fridge
You don't have to live with a stinky fridge. Follow these instructions for using newspaper and charcoal and the odors will be gone within several days.
Enzymes Eliminate Pet Stains and Odors
Quick Cleanup Cat Litter
Cut your litter cleanup time in half with this nifty trick. Line your litter pan with a plastic kitchen garbage bag before adding the litter. Get the best household cleaning supplies and products here.
Pet Repellent for Furniture
To train your pets to stay off furniture, place plastic carpet protectors—prickly side up—on their favorite perch. Available in office supply stores and the carpet/flooring department of home centers, the protectors can be cut to the size you need with a scissors or a utility knife. The plastic teeth will train your pet to associate the couch with 'uncomfortable.' Soon they will seek cozier spots to relax on and leave the easy chair to you. Just remember to remove the protector before you sit down.
A Fast Way to Remove Pet Hair
Don't Brush the Dog — Use a Vacuum Instead!
No-Mess Litter Box
It's not fancy, but it's a cheap way to keep litter in the litter box where it belongs. Trace an opening on one end of a plastic storage container, then push a sharp razor knife into the plastic and cut out the opening. Pour in the litter and your cat will figure out the rest.
Neat and Tidy Pet Food Dispenser
Ditch Your Carpeting
Up next, check out these money saving vinegar cleaning hacks.