27 Amazing Cleaning Tips You'll Wish You Knew Sooner
These genius cleaning tips will have your home spotless in seconds.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend nearly 40 minutes a day cleaning their homes. But with the exception of those who truly find dusting their baseboards and scrubbing their ovens akin to bliss, most of us would rather be using that time for more enjoyable activities. Fortunately, you can reclaim those precious minutes with these genius cleaning tips that only the pros know. Get ready to have your home looking twice as spotless in half the time!
Eliminate upholstery stains with shaving cream.
There's no need to hire an expensive professional to get those stains out of your upholstery. Instead, rub a little bit of shaving cream (anything but the gel kind) into the stain, let it sit for 30 minutes or overnight, and then blot it dry. Just make sure that you test this method out on a hidden area of your couch before actually putting it to use, as there is always the small chance of damaging the fabric.
Sweep your baseboards with a dryer sheet.
Getting on your hands and knees to clean your baseboards is anything but enjoyable. The good news? You can keep them clean and keep your house smelling fresh with one clever trick. Just attach a dryer sheet to your Swiffer in place of a microfiber cloth and you'll pick up all that unwanted dust while simultaneously lending a sweet scent to your home.
And use dryer sheets to clean your pans, as well.
That grime stuck to your cookie sheets and frying pans is no match for your dryer sheets. Simply put your dirty pan or sheet in the sink with a little dish soap, warm water, and a dryer sheet, and let the combo sit for an hour or two. When you're ready to pour out the water, the mess will easily wipe away.
Scrub the bathtub clean with grapefruit and salt.
The next time you're at the supermarket, make sure to throw an extra grapefruit into your cart—not for eating, but for cleaning. According to the money-saving DIY experts at The Krazy Coupon Lady, this citrus fruit is the perfect solution for a dirty tub. Just cut the fruit open and cover it in salt. "The salt creates an abrasive texture while the citric acid in the grapefruit will help break down stains," they explain.
Get a mop you can throw in the laundry.
You might have heard that cleaning with a wet mop is akin to washing your floors with dirty water. And it turns out, it kind of is. Research suggests that when stored wet, mops support so much bacterial growth that they can't even be cleaned through chemical disinfection.
However, when laundered and dried, mops are perfectly sanitary. That's why you'll want to ditch your traditional mop in favor of a mop that is machine washable.
Disinfect your sponges in the microwave.
The solution? Slightly dampen your sponge, pop it in the microwave for 90 seconds on full power, and you'll reduce the amount of bacterial contamination on it by up to 99 percent, according to research published in 2006 in the Journal of Environmental Health. Just make sure your sponge doesn't have any metal scrubbers or you'll be adding "buy a new microwave" to your list of things to do.
Un-scratch your plates with baking soda.
A slip of the knife here, an overzealous fork there, and suddenly you've got a stack of unsightly scratched plates in your kitchen. Fortunately, it's easy to make your plates look brand new again with some baking soda. Simply make a paste of baking soda and water, buff it into the scratches, and in no time, your dishes will look good as new.
And freshen up your mattress with baking soda, too.
With any luck, by the time you reach adulthood, you're washing your pillows and pillowcases on a semi-regular basis. However, most of us—even in our 30s and 40s—don't do much in the way of cleaning our mattresses. But there's an easy way to limit the bacterial contamination and allergy-provoking dust on your bed. At least once a month, just vacuum your mattress and apply an ample sprinkling of baking soda to it. Let the baking soda sit for a few hours to absorb any odors, vacuum again, and voila! A cleaner, less gross place to sleep.
Freshen up your garbage disposal with some lemons.
With all the junk we throw into our garbage disposals, it's no wonder they're a veritable petri dish—with the nasty odors to prove it. Thankfully, making them a whole lot cleaner is easy: Simply drop some cut lemons down your drain, and as your disposal gobbles up those rinds, it will start to smell fresh and fabulous.
And clean your cutting boards with lemon, as well.
While most plastic cutting boards can be popped into the dishwasher, wooden ones are a different animal entirely. Luckily, you can get out those difficult stains in your wooden boards by rubbing them with some lemon and salt.
All you have to do is sprinkle some kosher salt on your cutting board, use half a lemon to rub it in, and let the mixture sit for a few minutes. Then, give the board a rinse with clean water, and it should be virtually spotless.
Get a streak-free shine with newspaper.
If you're using paper towels to wipe your mirrors and windows, you're doing yourself a disservice. The easier (and cheaper) way to clean your glass surfaces is with soy ink newspaper, which won't streak or leave your surfaces covered with lint.
Clean your blinds with your vacuum.
Cleaning blinds is a thankless task that tends to take longer than anticipated. So, to make the endeavor both easier and quicker, use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum.
Alternately, you can place a dryer sheet in a pair of tongs and wipe off your blinds, thus eliminating dirt and giving your home a clean scent.
Steam clean your microwave.
That stuck-on mess from the time you tried to heat up your leftover spaghetti is going to take a lot of elbow grease to remove. Luckily, a little steam can make the job a whole lot easier. Simply fill a microwave-safe bowl with a few tablespoons of white vinegar and a cup of water and nuke the mixture on high for a few minutes. Your microwave will quickly steam up, making those caked-on messes a breeze to clean off afterward.
Dust your surfaces with a lint roller.
Dusting is an imperfect art. However, when you need to pick up that handful of craft glitter your kids spilled, get pet hair off a lampshade, or just grab some dust, a sticky lint roller does the trick with almost 100 percent certainty.
Soak your stove burners in ammonia.
Research suggests that a shocking 41 percent of all home fires start in the kitchen, often stemming from the stove. Fortunately, eliminating some of the flammable grease and grime on your burners can help you stay safer in the long run—and it's relatively easy to do.
First, try washing the removable burner parts with soap and water. If that doesn't work, put them in a large sandwich bag with a quarter-cup of ammonia, and close up the bags. Leave them to soak overnight, and by morning, you can simply wipe off that gunk with ease, according to Bob Vila.
Clean out your coffee maker with some vinegar.
Even those of us who use our coffee makers on a daily basis probably aren't cleaning them as often as we should be. Research published in 2015 in Scientific Reports suggests that our coffee makers are a veritable hotbed of bacterial activity, which means that we might just be ingesting some of that icky stuff along with our dark roast.
So, how should you combat all that bacteria? A monthly vinegar rinse should do it. Simply fill your coffee maker's reservoir with a few tablespoons of white vinegar mixed with water, run it, and then run it once more with only water to eliminate any lingering vinegar smell.
And get rid of water stains with vinegar, too.
If water stains on your glasses are the problem, then vinegar—once again—is the solution. According to cleaning service Maid Right, all you have to do is create a mixture of 50 percent vinegar/50 percent water, apply it to the water stains, and let it sit for 15 minutes or so. Once the vinegar solution has had time to break down the debris, use a toothbrush or another bristly tool to scrub the scum away and wipe the surface clean.
You can also clean your showerhead with vinegar.
That spotty showerhead in your bathroom is just as gross as it looks. In fact, one 2009 study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America found that 20 percent of showerheads tested were contaminated with Mycobacterium avium, which can cause serious respiratory health issues.
Luckily, keeping the outside of your showerhead clean isn't difficult. Simply fill a sandwich bag with white vinegar and affix it to your showerhead with rubber bands, leaving it to soak overnight. Research from the American Society for Microbiology suggests that the acetic acid in vinegar significantly diminishes bacterial counts, even when it comes to hard-to-beat germs like tuberculosis.
Make your sink fixtures gleam with wax paper.
Though they're where we clean dishes and silverware, sinks are among the dirtiest places in the home. In fact, a 2017 study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology reveals that many sinks—even those in hospitals—are crawling with drug-resistant bacteria. Not to mention that the constant wear-and-tear we put on our sinks often means they look less-than-clean, even after they've been disinfected.
So, what's the solution? After sanitizing your sink with an antibacterial cleanser, polish your faucets and tap handles with some wax paper. Not only will this remove water spots, but the wax will also help prevent future stains.
Clean your vents with Turtle Wax.
Though they often go ignored during the cleaning process, your vents accumulate a surprising amount of dust and debris, especially during the summer and winter when they're most in use. But all you need to get them looking good as new is a little bit of Turtle Wax.
According to Stephanie Dulgarian, the blogger behind Somewhat Simple, this wax "works great and makes the vents easy to clean because the dust just wipes right off."
Make your blender clean itself.
Cleaning a blender is a perilous activity at best. The tedious task essentially involves sticking your hand into a bowl full of knives and hoping for the best every time you try to remove the remnants of kale smoothie from your blades.
But it's actually easy to remove that stuck-on gunk by pouring some warm water, a little baking soda, and a little dish soap in your blender, and pulsing it for a few seconds. Afterward, just give it a good rinse or pop it in the dishwasher to get it looking like brand new again.
Clean your TV screen with a dry cloth.
Never, ever spray chemicals like Windex or even water directly onto your sensitive TV screen. Instead, "gently wipe the screen with a dry cloth to remove dust and other debris, but don't press too hard," suggests John Walsh, a photographer with Consumer Reports who cleans 250-plus televisions a year. For those tougher stains, you can use a slightly dampened cloth—but again, do not apply water directly to the screen unless you want to damage the television.
Keep your washer smelling fresh with bleach.
While many of us think of our washing machines as self-cleaning, that's far from the case. One study published in 2007 in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology found that running a typical wash and rinse with detergent was not enough to remove a number of infectious viruses. The key ingredient they found that was needed to do so? Bleach. To clean things for good, run your machine on the sanitize setting with a combination of hot water and a quart of bleach. So long, funky-smelling clothes!
Never overload your dishwasher.
Nobody wants to load and unload two rounds of dishes in the dishwasher when they could just shove all of their dirty plates and silverware into one. However, cramming everything into one load will result in dirtier dishes in the long run. That's according to a 2015 study published in the Chemical Engineering Journal, which found that overloaded dishwashers resulted in less effective cleanings. Better to save yourself the frustration of unloading unclean dishes and do things right the first time.
Remove carpet stains with vinegar and a steam iron.
Carpet stains are all too common, especially in households with lots of little ones. Luckily, all you need is some vinegar, some water, and a steam iron in order to eliminate any unsightly spots. Just mix vinegar and water in a 1:3 ratio, apply it to the stain, and then cover the stain with a wet cloth before steaming it for 30 seconds or so. This should have your carpet looking good as new in mere minutes!
And clean up your keyboard with a toothbrush and some vinegar.
You'd be amazed by how much bacteria lives on your computer keyboard. One 2018 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health tested various keyboards both before and after cleaning them and found that prior to the disinfecting process, they contained strains of everything from Bacillus (which can cause a host of diseases) to Staphylococcus aureus (which can cause an upper respiratory tract infection).
Though adding your keyboard to your list of things to clean might be the last thing you want to do, the good news is that it's relatively easy to cross this task off your to-do list. All you have to do is dip a toothbrush in a half vinegar/half water solution and scrub-a-dub-dub both on and between those keyboard keys to eliminate any germs.
Scrub a cast-iron skillet with a potato.
Cast-iron pans can be a pain to scrub thanks to their seasoned coating that can flake off or rust if cleaned improperly. Luckily, all you need is a little salt and a potato—yes, a potato—to get off those messes safely. Simply pour some coarse salt into your cast-iron pan and use half a potato to rub it in until that mess has broken up and can be rinsed away.