Whether we clean every day, once a week, once a month, or only every once in a while, we are always on the lookout for ways to make cleaning less time-consuming, less labor-intensive, and less costly. There are plenty of tricks for various cleaning jobs that are floating around the web, and some work better than others.
However, we’ve gathered over three dozen tips, tricks, and recipes that work, and work better than the traditional methods and expensive name brand cleaner sitting in your cabinet. Read on to find out how you can save time, money, and elbow-grease on 40 household items you need to clean.
This ingenious invention will help keep your fridge free from spills, leaks, and general grime. Instead of having to take out the shelves and awkwardly try to clean the over-sized fridge parts in your sink, you can just remove the coasters for cleaning, then put them back after washing for a clean fridge. The coasters completely cover the shelves. Plus, they are surprisingly inexpensive for all the time and elbow-grease you will save.
Have kids who like to play with markers (or you may like to yourself!). Inevitably, some marker will end up on the desk or table top, or if you have small kids, possibly all over the walls or floor. When the marker is the permanent variety, this can be tough to deal with. However, there is a remarkably simple solution: Toothpaste. Check this out for more information!
Gas burners, unlike electric burners, are just a metal grate over a flame. Unfortunately, that flame really cooks on anything that happens to spill on the burners. This cooked on mess may seem impossible to get off those burners completely, but soaking those burners in ammonia is a sure-fire way to get rid of that gunk without needing to break your arm scrubbing. Check it out here.
Stove Top Stains
Stains like to hide under your drip pans on your stove and are so easy to clean. So, even if you wipe down your stove after every time you cook and it looks perfectly clean, the minute you take those drip pans off, suddenly your stove is all grimy again. And since you haven’t been cleaning underneath the drip pans, that gunk is really stuck on. Luckily, there is a relatively easy way to get it off: hydrogen peroxide and baking powder. Check here to see how.
Wood Floor Cleaner
Wood floors need special cleaners, that is true, but the commercial cleaners available are harmful to the environment and our health. Pine Sol, the most popular brand of wood floor cleaner, gets a D on a safety/toxic chemical score from the Environmental Working Group. Luckily, you can make your own floor cleaner with safe, natural ingredients using this recipe.
Hard Water Stains
Hard water stains crop up on anything that gets water on it. But they are especially bad in showers and bathroom fixtures. They can also be a pain to scrub away with traditional cleaners. However, there is a much better way to deal with these types of stains. And its ultra simple! All you need is a lemon half. Just rub it over the offending fixture and watch those water stains disappear.
By now, we all know lining cookie sheets and baking pans with foil will help reduce baked on messes, but sometimes they happen anyway. Then what do you do? When you have gunk that now is part of the original cookie sheet, how can you possibly get it all off? The answer is surprisingly simple: Dr. Bonner’s all-natural soap. Check out the details here.
If you have a dog, you know that if they pee in your house once, they generally go in the same spot again and again, even if you immediately clean the spot thoroughly. Since a dog’s sense of smell is better than ours, even if we don’t smell the urine anymore, they can still smell it. So to them, that area is clearly the bathroom, because it smells like it is. Check out this post on urine smell to see how to fix that perception.
Bedroom Pillows and Fan Blades
Although you might wash your pillows from time to time, you never thought about your fan blades in your bedroom. All you need is a pillowcase (and a step ladder unless you are very tall) to clean those fan blades. You’ll want to slip the pillowcase over a fan blade before dusting. This will catch the majority of dust from the blade in the pillowcase itself. It also helps you reach the top of the blade (where it is dustiest). Simple and effective! Check it out here.
Carpet Stain Remover
This no-scrub method will get those carpet stains up in no time. Ammonia will act to help remove the stain, and you’ll want to keep a towel between the carpet and the iron, but the heat will help bring the stain up as well. Even stains that have been on the carpet for ages can be removed with this method, but you’ll want to follow the instructions closely. Here’s a cleaning solution for your carpet and here the tutorial.
Air Conditioner Unit
You may have never considered it, and it may surprise you, but an air conditioning unit needs to be cleaned periodically just like anything else in or around your house. Cleaning it regularly will help cut down on maintenance costs and increase the overall efficiency of your unit. It’s not difficult to clean yourself. Check out how to do it here.
Stuffed animals need to be cleaned just like clothes to keep them germ and stain free. The good news is, for most stuffed toys, you can just toss them in the washing machine. Make sure to use only the gentle cycle and protect the toys by placing them in a mesh bag and removing any clothing or accessories. Care tags will tell you whether an item is safe to wash.
If you’ve let your microwave go for a bit between cleanings, there is probably stuck on gunk that is an utter pain to get off the walls or tray. Luckily, there are easier ways to clean the inside of a microwave than just scrubbing it down. Microwave a bowl of vinegar to steam clean, and all those stubborn stains will come off easily. Find out exactly how to do it right here.
Although garbage disposals seem to basically take care of themselves, they really don’t. They need to be cleaned regularly and their blades need to be sharpened to keep them in good working order and keep them from stinking up your kitchen. Lucky, it is fairly easy to keep them smelling fresh and sharpen their blades. You just need some lemons and ice. This tutorial will tell you how.
Leaving a wet sponge laying on the sink is a surefire way to create a smelly sponge and can encourage bacteria and mildew to grow on the sponge itself. To allow the sponge to air dry, and keep it free of bacteria and unpleasant smells, just use a binder clip to keep it upright. A large binder clip will work best, and you can get them for pennies at your local grocery store if you don’t have one handy now.
Even if you clean your floors regularly, you probably don’t take the time to really clean the grout, which never gets quite as clean with just a regular mopping as the rest of the floor. Overtime, the grout just gets dingier and dingier until one day it’s a completely different color and no matter how much you clean your floors, they still look kinda dirty. Luckily, getting that grout white again is actually fairly simple. Check it out.
It is relatively easy to clean the inside and the outside glass on your oven. Unfortunately, those are two different panes of glass, and you can’t easily get to the other side of either pane since they are inside the oven door. Equally unfortunately, being inside the oven door doesn’t prevent those sides from getting dirty. This tutorial on oven glass cleaning, however, will show you how to easily get those tricky panes clean.
Vinegar and baking soda are the magic ingredients for natural household cleaning. They get even the toughest jobs done, and the toilet bowl is no exception. If you have stubborn hard water stains on your toilets, your commercial cleaner may fail you in getting them out. Don’t worry! Vinegar and baking soda can do the job brilliantly! Check out this tutorial to find out how.
Cleaning Kitchen Sink and Countertops
If your porcelain sink or a granite kitchen countertop are on the dingy side even after you clean it with soap and water, you may need to bring out the bigger guns to get that porcelain truly clean. This tutorial walks you through a process for getting a grungy sink clean. Depending on how bad your sink looks, you may need all four steps or only one or two, but you’ll definitely benefit from this cleaning method no matter how your sink looks.
It’s important to clean your tub regularly since it generally spends a lot of time wet and in a humid room, which is a breeding ground for mildew and mold. Chemical, commercial cleaners can be worrisome to use since you are scrubbing them all over something that touches your naked skin. Of course you rinse it off, but what if you missed a spot when rinsing? Using natural cleaners on your tub is much safer, and this recipe works great.
If you have white clothing prone to armpit stains, there is actually a simple trick to help prevent them from ever occurring. All you need to do is sprinkle baby powder over the areas where you get the stains and iron over the baby powder to lock it in the fabric. If it is already to late and you see the armpit stain on your favourite shirt, here is how to remove deodorant stains the natural way. That way, the powder can absorb the staining moisture, keeping your clothes stain free.
Tupperware is a wonderful invention. It makes storing leftovers and packing lunches ultra convenient and helps cut down on landfill waste. Plus, it’s usually dishwasher safe. However, since so many different foods go into the containers, it’s hard to keep those containers from becoming stained or smelly. The easiest way to prevent both is to add some newspaper (to sop up any liquids that might stain) and cut lemon (to help eliminate the smell) to the empty container.
If you search for the best silver polish, you’ll come up with some expensive brand name products. These products work well, but take a lot of time and elbow-grease for results and are extremely expensive for what you get. However, if you have tarnished silver, you can place it on a foil lined pot and cover it with a quart of boiling water, a quarter cup baking soda, and three teaspoons of salt. Cover the pot, and the chemical reaction will remove the tarnish in no time.
Chances are even if you get rid of the built up hair in your hair brush, you don’t clean it is well as you should. After loosening and removing the excess hair (you should be using the end of a comb and some scissors to do this. It actually makes it easier!), you want to wash it with soap and a toothbrush, rinse it well, and let it dry. Check out this how-to for full details.
Clean a Microfiber Couch
Microfiber furniture looks and feels great until, that is, it gets a stain. A microfiber couch, sofa, and other furniture are notoriously hard to clean. Water will just leave water stains and ruin the material, but alcohol evaporates fast enough to not cause that problem and is a great tool to get out stains. You’ll also need a scrub brush and a sponge. Check out how to do it here.
Hard water is the bane of metal fixtures everywhere. No matter how much you clean, if you have hard water, your fixtures will eventually develop a scaly build-up. This build-up not only looks bad, but it can also affect the functionality of your faucet or shower head. To combat the build-up, you could buy expensive commercial cleaners, or you could follow these directions.
There is one small, unlikely, item that can help you clean your bathroom quickly and easily: a dryer sheet. Dryer sheets are shockingly good at removing soap scum without any hassle, and they shine up any metal fixtures or mirrors to a surprising degree. Plus, they leave your bathroom smelling really good! Check out all their bathroom cleaning uses right here.
You may have seen (or even bought) those handy stain-removing commercial gel pens. But did you know you could make your bleach gel for a fraction of the price? You only need some bleach and cornstarch, plus a little water and a container to hold it in. An old Elmer’s glue bottle is perfect for the job (just wash it well first). Check out the how-to here.
Stainless steel is hard to keep clean, shiny and streak-free. Even some specialty cleaners won’t get the job done well. However, there is an ultra simple way to keep those stainless steel appliances shiny and looking new. After you clean with standard cleaner, get rid of the streaks that were created by buffing with olive oil! It will keep your stainless steel shiny and streak-free.
Citrus Vinegar Cleaner
Some people swear by commercial cleaners, but the problem with commercial cleaners is they are expensive and often contain harmful or caustic chemicals, which makes them potentially dangerous to use. Natural cleaners are far safer, less expensive, and less harmful to the environment. This recipe for a citrus vinegar cleaner will replace most of the commercial cleaners and smell better too.
If you are like many people, you don’t really relish the idea of cleaning the floor your pets and family will walk over in their bare feet with a bunch of harmful chemicals. Instead, you can use a homemade recipe that does not use toxic ingredients. In fact, most of the ingredients you probably already have in your cupboards at home. Check out this recipe for details.
Lint rollers are great for quick cleaning of all sorts of odd-shaped objects. But did you ever think of using one to keep your car tidy? They are small enough to be kept in your car, so you’ll have one on hand whenever you need one, and they are great at getting between seats and awkward spaces. There are even lint rollers specially designed for cars!
You can buy expensive glass cleaners at the store. Most people do. And then they worry over the streaks the cleaner leaves behind or the spots that stubbornly appear right after washing. But better than commercial glass cleaners for cleaning glass and mirrors is a simple bottle of hydrogen peroxide. Just put it in a spray bottle or add a spray cap and you have a better cleaner for less cost.
To get your windows truly clean (including the window tracks), you’ll need to do more than a quick wipe down. This tutorial will show you exactly how to get those windows thoroughly clean using dish soap and vinegar. You’ll need some equipment as well, most notably a squeegee and some Q-tips. Keep some rags and paper towels handy as well.
In addition, make sure you check out these homemade window cleaner recipes to keep your glass streak-free.
Stainless Steel Sink
Stainless steel can look pretty dingy when it isn’t regularly shined up, and finding something to shine your sink effectively can be a pain (and costly), but there is actually a very simple way to keep that kitchen sink as shiny as when it was brand new. Best of all, all you need is some lemon juice and Borax, both safe and natural for household cleaners. Check out how here.
Dishwashers are subject to the same grime build up and hard water problems as your sink and need to be cleaned regularly. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a dishwasher is much easier to clean than a sink. Just place a cup of vinegar on the top rack of the dishwasher and run the machine. Don’t place the vinegar in the detergent dispenser though as that could damage the machine. More details here.
Toasters may get wiped down when the kitchen gets clean, but it’s rare they get a really good cleaning. After a while toasters become dingy and discolored, and it may seem impossible to get them really shiny and stain free again. However, it really isn’t as hard as you think. This tutorial will show you exactly how to pull it off. The key is cream of tartar.
Before you go out to buy an expensive specialty cleaner for your chrome fixtures (or car’s wheels), just try some baby oil instead. At a fraction of the price, you won’t be wasting money giving it a shot. And baby oil is completely safe for you, your family, and the environment, unlike what is in your commercial chrome polish of choice.
Baking soda comes to the rescue again. To keep those sneakers from becoming smelly after you wear them for a while, all you need to do is sprinkle some baking powder inside them and let them sit overnight. The baking soda is great at absorbing unwanted odors and will leave your shoes smelling fresh for their next wear. For more about this and other shoe-cleaning tricks, check here.
Nail Polish Stains
Nail polish is the bane of cleaners everywhere, and if you have ever painted your nails, you undoubtedly dropped some nail polish sometime, somewhere. It may seem that once it dries it’s utterly impossible to get off anything, but this article will tell you the different ways to get nail polish off anything you can think of, from carpets to clothes to wood.