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Cleaning is an inevitable and important fact of life, and while most people don’t relish doing household chores, there are many benefits of cleaning. To name just a few, regularly cleaning your home promotes good health and hygiene, reduces stress and extends the lifespan of your belongings.
Our cleaning expert, Jolie Kerr, has more than a decade of experience in the field. If something is in need of cleaning, chances are she knows how to do it. To inform this collection of articles, she’s called upon her extensive knowledge and sought out other experts to help you choose the right cleaning agents and tools for the job, detailing the techniques to use and explaining the science behind the mess.
Do you need help with laundry and fabric care? Check out our coverage for guidance on everything from how to wash your gym clothes so they don’t come out smelling like last week’s spin class to how often to change your sheets. Is organizing your passion (or your curse)?? We’ve got help for that too, with expert tips and product recommendations for organizing every room in the house.
Switching from sponges, rags, paper towels, etc. to microfiber cloths will make regular kitchen chores like cleaning the stovetop faster, easier and more effective.
When it comes to the tools used for scrubbing — sponges, rags, paper towels, etc. — our expert strongly recommends using a Dobie Pad. These non-scratch scrubber sponges are the perfect thing for scouring surfaces without causing any damage to plastic or glass.
As an alternative to commercial dishwashing tablets, place a cup of white vinegar in the top rack of the dishwasher prior to running a normal cycle.
How to actually clean your oven and stovetop, according to experts
With the racks removed from the oven, mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with enough water to make a spreadable paste. Apply the paste to the interior of the oven, including the door. After 12 hours, wipe the baking soda paste using a damp cloth or sponge; a scrub brush will also be helpful for removing baked-on grime.
To clean the interior of the microwave, use a microfiber cloth or nonabrasive sponge to wipe all sides of the microwave. The steam created by heating a bowl of water should loosen stuck-on food such that it can simply be wiped away.
How to clean toasters and toaster ovens, according to experts
Use a pastry brush for brushing out crumbs.
If washing the inside of a coffee carafe with a traditional sponge causes discomfort, a long-handled coffee pot cleaning brush is a great solution to the problem of washing an awkwardly shaped item.
Our experts like perforated parchment paper liners, which they say make air fryer cleanup super easy — but proper use is crucial.
For stuck-on food, these pan scrapers can be a big help.
Felt and silicone pot and pan protectors are one way to ensure a nonstick pan doesn’t get damaged while not in use.
A brush can be useful for removing small food deposits, or for cleaning between the ribs on grills.
Our pick for the best grill brush features a durable, large stainless steel brush head that effectively and safely cleans your grill.
These are Amazon’s most popular dish cloths — and a favorite of ours too.
Foaming cleaners like Scrubbing Bubbles can perform a great many tasks in the bathroom.
Windex Multi-Surface Cleaner cleans both glass and chrome, so you can use it to polish mirrors and faucets. It also works as an all-purpose cleaner that can be safely used on countertop and flooring materials from corian and formica to granite and marble.
DampRid is a desiccant: It absorbs water from the air, helping to regulate humidity and moisture levels. Bathrooms that are prone to dampness because of environmental or design factors can be unpleasant, for one thing, and difficult to keep clean for another, as high moisture levels will encourage bacterial growth and contribute to lingering odors. DampRid addresses that problem, helping to keep moisture-borne odors like mold and mildew at bay.
How — and how often — to wash towels to keep them looking new, according to experts
In some cases, using cold water to wash your towels is the best way to go.
Using a flexible duster with an extended wand will allow you to quickly clean ceiling fans, and the ceiling itself, with ease.
How — and when — to clean your mattress, according to experts
The 2-product trick for wrinkle-free and fresh-smelling sheets
Slept-on bed linens will benefit from this sort of light misting. With just a few sprays of a spray bottle, pillowcases that have become deeply wrinkled while being slept on will look as if they were just ironed.
Use dryer balls to help fluff the pillows and redistribute filling while drying.
How — and how often — to wash sheets and comforters, according to experts
For sheets that are dark-colored, using this sort of detergent can reduce fading.
Bonus rooms and outdoor spaces
Cleaning wipes come in all kinds of forms, including the ubiquitous Clorox wipes, which one Peloton user realized were the perfect size to stash in a basket she keeps next to her bike to hold her shoes and other riding accessories.
Dampen a sponge or soft cleaning cloth in the soapy water and wipe down the furniture, scrubbing as necessary. Rinse the furniture by spraying with the garden hose.
Travel and transportation
20 products under $25 to keep your car clean and organized
Take the stress out of leather care with these convenient nourishing wipes.
The absolute best thing you can buy to keep your car clean is a handheld vacuum. It will make quick work of cleaning seats, floor mats and even the dashboard. This portable vacuum by VacLife has great reviews and a low price, a practically perfect combo
Dr. Bronner’s is a mild soap that is especially effective at eliminating odors, and will be a good choice for people whose helmets tend to take on a sour, unpleasant smell.
23 unique and wonderful cleaning products our cleaning expert wants you to know about
I recently purchased a walking pad, and I was reminded of Soilove while setting it up. A bit of the silicone lubricant used to keep the belt running smoothly got on my hands, which then got on a practically-brand-new sports bra! Curses! But I’m me, and I know that Soilove is the secret to getting tricky silicone lubricants out of fabric. Now you know too.
What — and how — to clean after someone in your household has been sick
Start by cleaning the surfaces to remove dirt, grime and any other matter, like food, then disinfect. A disinfectant spray can be used to disinfect soft surfaces and fabrics that cannot be laundered, or to disinfect between washing.
Start by cleaning the tub, using a washing machine cleaner like Affresh or 1 quart of liquid chlorine bleach. Run the washer’s cleaning cycle, followed by a rinse and spin cycle, to remove residue from the cleaner. Leave the washer door open to let the tub dry.
Important note: If using bleach, do not also use products containing ammonia or vinegar, as they cause a dangerous chemical reaction when mixed with chlorine bleach.
If the dryer vent is too long to efficiently use a vacuum to remove the lint, buy a dryer vent kit that contains flexible brushes that clean the vent’s interior walls. Feed the brush into the duct and move it back and forth while slightly rotating it until the vents are free of dust and lint.
How to clean your grout and tile floors, according to experts
One our experts offers a recipe for a DIY grout cleaner that can be applied with a toothbrush or grout brush: Make a paste of 3/4 cup of baking soda, 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide and 1 tablespoon of mild dish soap.
How to clean hardwood and laminate floors correctly, according to experts
A microfiber dust mop pre-treated with a dusting agent will pick up dust and dirt and prevent scratches.
How to actually clean your carpets and rugs, according to experts
One of our experts recommends ZEP’s enzyme-formula carpet cleaner for treating stains and odors. “It’s a professional-grade formula that penetrates carpet fibers to restore color and texture,” she says. Before using any carpet cleaning product, test it on an inconspicuous area of carpet to ensure it doesn’t cause color loss in the carpet.
Cleaning blinds, shutters and other slatted window treatments can be a tedious job. This blinds dusting tool has three microfiber “fingers” to pick up dirt, dust and hair.
Attachments are crucial to getting the most cleaning power out of your vacuum, but they are difficult to store, making them hard to find when you need them. This hanging storage bag solves that problem by providing multiple pockets in which to stash all kinds of vacuum attachments.
A wand-style attachment allows you to clean high-up spaces in your home where your eyes can’t spot dirt.
Just as with the items we use to clean our homes, the items we use to clean ourselves — loofahs, shower poufs, bath mitts, etc. — need to be washed regularly to remove dead skin and product buildup.
Hayley Saltzman, our head of social media, reaches for Rocco & Roxie’s pet stain eliminator when her senior dog has an unfortunate senior moment. “My 16-year-old dog now seems to think that my entire apartment is a bathroom,” Saltzman says, “so this product has been a life-saver. It has consistently removed even the most disgusting stains and odors.”
If you’re a pet parent, you’ve probably spent a small fortune on sticky rollers to pick pet hair up off of the furniture, the bed, the car, your clothes — everything! The ChomChom roller works similarly to sticky rollers, just without the sticky. The infinitely reusable fabric roller picks up hair and deposits it in an easy-to-empty lint trap chamber.
X-14 is a heavy-duty cleaner that eliminates mold, mildew and Serratia marcescens, that pinkish/orange shower scum that collects around drains, grout and caulk. Because X-14 is so powerful, very little scrubbing is required; simply spray the product on the moldy surface, allow 10 to 15 minutes to penetrate and eliminate the bacterial growth and rinse the area clean.
This is a great general natural cleaner, according to our experts, as it’s able to be used as window cleaner, leather cleaner, grease cutter and more.