18 cleaning hacks to make your life easier
For many people, cleaning seems like a chore that’s equal parts daunting and incredibly unpleasant. Unfortunately, it’s not one that can (or should) be ignored for long. Fortunately, however, it’s often not as excruciating as you may perceive it to be.
“One of the biggest mistakes people make is waiting too long to clean,” says Donna Smallin Kuper, a certified housecleaning technician. “It may seem strange, but if you clean more, you’ll actually be cleaning less.”
Case in point: if a dollop of toothpaste falls into the sink while you’re brushing your teeth, it’s a lot easier and quicker to rinse it away immediately rather than letting it sit for a week and having to scrub it off with a cleaner.
“It’s easier to keep up than catch up,” Kuper says.
We spoke to the experts to get some top cleaning hacks that will make your life a lot easier, while also creating the spic-and-span home you thought only existed on lifestyle blogs.
Stock up on microfibre cloths
We mean, bulk buy them.
Microfibre cloths eliminate 99.9 per cent of germs without the need for soap or disinfectant. In fact, they often do the trick with just a little bit of water. They’re machine-washable, so you can reuse them, and they’re great for both picking up dirt and dust as well as leaving a streak-free shine.
“One trick is to only wash them with other microfibre cloths, otherwise they’ll pick up lint from other items in the load and they won’t be as effective,” Kuper says. “Wash them in hot water with a little bit of detergent, but never use fabric softener because it will counteract their cleaning properties. Then hang them to dry or put them in a delicate cycle.”
They can be washed up to 50 times each.
Whittle down your supplies and organize them
Although the supermarket shelves are stocked with a cleaner for every surface of your house and every appliance, you really don’t need that many.
“A lot of people make things too complicated,” says Jennifer Lifford, author of Clean & Scentsible. “You just need a few basic multipurpose cleaning supplies that can be diversified for all your needs.”
Lifford places an emphasis on green cleaning products, so she’s always stocked with baking soda and essential oils. She’ll make sachets of a baking soda and citrus oil mixture and put them at the bottom of her trash bins to absorb any smells. In addition, it can be sprinkled on fabric surfaces to eliminate odours.
Other natural multipurpose cleaning agents include vinegar, Castile soap, salt (for scrubbing) and lemons.
She advises keeping everything in one spot so you know where it is when you need it, which can eliminate the added chore of culling all your products before embarking on a cleaning journey. And keeping some key products in key areas also helps.
“If you have three bathrooms, keep some product in each one so that you can do a quick cleanup as needed,” she says.
Also, bear in mind that more is not necessarily better when it comes to cleaning. A little bit of product will go a long way, and in fact, using too much may only serve to make your task more difficult, as you’ll spend more time trying to rinse away detergent residue.
In the bathroom
Pour some cleaner into the base of the toilet brush holder
“It’s always easier to have everything integrated into one tool,” Lifford says. “This way, every time you give the bowl a quick wipe, you’re actually washing away grime and mineral buildup.” Which, in turn, will make it easier to get a gleaming bowl every time.
Just use a microfibre cloth and water to shine surfaces
There are microfibre cloths specifically for cleaning glass that have a finer weave. A quick spritz of water on the bathroom mirror or the faucets will result in a gleaming, streak-free shine.
Use a steel wool soap pad to clean glass shower doors
“This is one of my least favourite chores, so I was thrilled to discover that a steel wool soap pad is all you need to do it,” Kuper says.
The steel wool is specially designed for glass surfaces, so it won’t scratch the doors but it will scrub away any soap buildup. A quick rinse and you’re left with a clean and shiny shower.
In the kitchen
Use a bowl of water to clean your microwave
Place a bowl of water in your microwave and set it on high for five to 10 minutes — you can also add vinegar or some lemon slices to help with deodorizing. Let it cool, then open the door and wipe down the microwave with a sponge or paper towel.
“You’re creating steam inside the microwave and softening the gunk, allowing you to wipe it down,” Kuper says.
Clean stainless steel with baby oil
Add a dollop of baby oil to a microfibre cloth or a paper towel and wipe in the direction of the grain of the stainless steel to keep it cleaner longer. The oil repels water spots and smudges, and makes it easier to clean the next time around.
Use a steam cleaner to clean your oven
“This will tackle even really crusted-on grime, and it doesn’t require any chemicals,” Lifford says.
It can also be used on countertops and to clean the refrigerator.
Run the hot water to boost your dishwasher’s cleaning power
Your dishwasher is hooked up to the same water supply that comes out of your kitchen faucet, so when you first turn it on and it starts to fill with water, that water probably won’t be very hot. As a result, it won’t clean your dishes as effectively. If you run your faucet until the water gets very hot, however, the dishwasher water will also heat up and you’ll get cleaner dishes.
Polish plates with cream of tartar
You know those greyish scuff marks you get on your white or light-coloured china from utensils? Well, they don’t require you shelling out for an entire new set anymore. Cream of tartar, or potassium bitartrate as it’s scientifically known, works to polish those scuff marks right out. Simply make a paste with a little bit of water, rub into the dish, rinse and wipe dry.
Around the house
Just use water for hardwood floors
“The key to shiny hardwood floors is to use a microfibre mop that’s just damp, never soaking wet,” Kuper says.
READ MORE: Are these household hacks fact or fiction?
And because of microfibre’s effective germ-killing properties, you’ll never need to use soap which only serves to leave a film on hardwood floors.
Keep your furnace filters clean to minimize dust
The cleaner your furnace filters are, the less dust you’ll have floating around your house and accumulating on your furniture, Kuper points out.
She also says to use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, which stands for high-efficiency particulate air, and traps small particles of dust that other vacuum cleaners would otherwise recirculate in the air.
Use a lint roller to trap dust
“A lint roller is great for getting dust particles that accumulate on things like faux plants, lamp shades or even for spot cleaning an area on your curtains that attracts more dust,” Lifford says.
Speed up your clothes dryer with a towel
Adding a dry towel to your wet load will help soak up some of the excess moisture and get your laundry dry in less time.
Clean your ceiling fans with a pillowcase
It may sound weird, but it’s incredibly fast and effective. Slip a pillowcase over a fan blade, and gently pull to trap all the dust and debris in the case. For more cleaning power, you can first spray the inside of the pillowcase with a water and vinegar solution.
Use a rubber glove to wipe up pet hair
Even the best vacuum cleaners aren’t always effective at getting pet hair out of rugs and off fabric upholstery. So, slip on a rubber glove, drag it across the fabric surface and you’ll easily pick up anything the vacuum cleaner has left behind.
Remove water stains with mayonnaise
Yes, we said mayonnaise. This works better the sooner you do it. Mop up any excess water, cover the water stain with mayonnaise and leave on for at least an hour. Wipe and the water stain will be gone. Why? Because the fat in the mayo was reabsorbed into the stain.
Used dryer sheets will repel dust
Areas like baseboards and blinds can be time-consuming to clean. You can cut down the frequency of cleaning these spots by wiping them down with used dryer sheets. Their anti-static cling properties will repel dust and dirt.
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