Each year I wash all my screens and storm windows assembly line–style. It can be a hassle getting each one back in the right window. To avoid mix-ups, I labeled each screen and storm with a permanent marker in an inconspicuous spot on an outside edge. Problem solved. — Linda Gum
Don't Forget the DoormatDoormats 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. Keep your hardwood floors clean with these tips.
Combine TasksKill 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. Here's how often you should be cleaning everything in your home.
Skip the BucketSometimes 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. Or get rid of the whole kit and caboodle for a steam mop.
Stock Up on ProductsNo, 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 BrushAccording 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 WayRapinchuk 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? Then check out a cleaning hack that will have you facepalming because you didn't think of it sooner.
Define 'Clean'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 CleanerObviously, 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 PlanWe 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." Apply the same principle when decluttering or trying to make your house attractive on the market.
Use Your DishwasherDishwashers 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
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 3 drops peppermint essential oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons rubbing alcohol
Clean the Toilet DailyIf 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 PolishOf 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. See just how crazy good microfiber cloths can clean.
Prioritize"[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."
Speed CleanMaybe 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 PaintbrushReichert 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. See how setting a vacuum at the right height can ensure a long-lasting carpet.
Pie Plate Dustpan
Garden Gloves to Dust Knickknacks
Scuff Mark Eraser
Use Sawdust to Soak Up Spills
Floor Swiffer for Walls
Baking Soda + Vinegar = Magic
Use Tongs to Clean Blinds
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 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
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
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 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.