Cleaning Tips

Readers’ Best Cleaning Tips and Tricks

Your tried-and-true solutions for quickly and efficiently doing away with the dirt.

Feather dusterJames Worrell


“Don’t wipe any surfaces taller than your tallest friend.”

Loren Boiarsky, Commack, New York

Cat standing next to a litter boxFormula Z/S

Eliminating Pet Hair

“To pick up cat hair, put on a wet rubber dishwashing glove and wipe your hand over surfaces. The hair will stick right to it.”

Theresa Demonte, Long Beach, California

Blue egg timerMichele Gastl

Staying Focused

“I get very distracted while I’m cleaning, so I set a timer for 30 minutes. It helps me to stay focused, and I get more done in a short amount of time.”

Brooke Dorr, Centralia, Missouri

Shoe organizer holding suppliesFormula Z/S

Storing Supplies

“I keep cleaning products in a shoe holder over the back of my laundry room door. They’re easy to see and access, and it saves space.”

Heather Pelham, Delray Beach, Florida

SangriaDana Gallagher

Zapping Red-Wine Stains

“A dab of foaming shaving cream can help remove many red-wine spills from carpets.”

Kathy Purves, Winnipeg, Manitoba

ShowerheadJoe Scafuro

Washing the Tub

‘When it’s time to clean my shower, I strip naked, hop in, and scrub, using any harsh cleansers with caution. When I’m finished, I step out and rinse it down, then take a shower myself to admire my handiwork.”

Keli Honsberger, San Rafael, California

Woman and child organizing their homeMeredith Heuer

Recruiting Help

“My sister and I help clean each other’s houses. It’s great to share the workload with someone who uses the same cleaning techniques, and it cuts the job in half.”

Bryn Scougale, Issaquah, Washington

Toy truckAndrew McCaul

Picking Up

“I leave a basket at the foot of the stairs and toss in any toys or miscellaneous items that were brought downstairs during the day. Whenever I go upstairs, I take the basket with me and unload. It beats running up and down the stairs all day.”

Lisa Lutz, Sarasota, Florida

Laundry bagsMichele Gastl

Using Outside Services

“If you have an insurmountable pile of laundry that you can’t bear to do yourself, find a Laundromat with wash-and-fold service. I pay by the pound, so it costs only a few dollars per load. And I can pick up my clothes the next day.”

Lamia Khorshid, Miami, Florida

Bathroom sinkMikkel Vang

Cleaning for Guests

“If you can clean only one room before company arrives, tackle the bathroom. This is the only room where people spend time solo and may have the time and tendency to notice a mess.”

Carol Baxter, San Jose, California

TupperwareAndrew McCaul

Removing Food Odors

“When my plastic storage containers start to smell like the food that was in them, I wash them with hot water and two tablespoons of baking soda.”

Jennifer Nocero-Gurule, Warrington, Pennsylvania

Stereo systemJames Baigrie

Speeding Through Chores

“I follow two good tips: Time will fly if you listen to great music, and enlist your family’s help.”

Laura Stierman, Mahtomedi, Minnesota

Lamp and lint rollerFrances Janisch

Dusting Lamp Shades

“My vacuum attachment doesn’t work on cloth lamp shades, so I dust the shades with a lint roller.”

Cynthia Studer, Grant City, Missouri


Repurposing Old Clothes

“I wear an old, unmatched sock on my hand when I have to dust the house. I run my hand along chair rails, crown moldings, and doors until the sock is dusty enough to discard or wash and reuse.”

Lisa Taillefer, Mobile, Alabama

Huggies Natural Care Baby Wipes Huggies

Wiping Up

“Baby wipes are useful for quick surface cleanups in kitchens and bathrooms. They also are great for cleaning up after craft projects.”

Laura Fenton, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Children sitting on a bedPaul Whicheloe


“My priority is to be a good mom, not to have the perfect house. I picked up a friend’s motto: ‘If you want to see me, come on over. If you want to see my house, call ahead.'”

Melissa Taylor, Denver, Colorado

Rubbing alcoholBeatriz da Costa

Removing Stickers

“To remove stubborn price tags from items like dishes and glassware, I use a cotton pad or Q-tip soaked with rubbing alcohol. The alcohol dissolves the sticky glue and doesn’t mess up my manicure.”

Kathe Palmucci, Riverside, California

Two garbage bags next to a garbage canJoe Scafuro

Keeping the House Clutter-Free

“When in doubt, dump it. You’ll revel in your decluttered existence and have fewer items to dust.”

Johanna Steele, Arlington, Virginia

Hand-held vacuumDasha Wright

Using One Tool for Many Tasks

“I use a cordless, bagless, handheld vacuum cleaner for everything from kitchen crumbs to dust bunnies. Then I just empty the canister into the trash.”

Julie Tresp, Rockville, Maryland

Surprised womanRubberball Productions

Asking for Help

“The best household cleaning tip I can give is find someone else to do it.”

Chantell Trumbull, Folsom, California

Iron, ironing board, and clothingChristopher Coppola

Eliminating Wax Spills

“To remove hardened wax from fabric, place a paper towel or a brown paper bag on top of the wax and press with an iron on low heat. The paper absorbs the wax, and your iron stays clean.”

Elizabeth Wright, Carrboro, North Carolina

Spray bottle and cloths at a windowPeter Margonelli

Cleaning Glass

“Use old newspapers instead of paper towels to clean mirrors and windows. They work great, and you’re recycling.”

Chrissy Stone, St. Louis Park, Minnesota

Woman cleaning living roomTim Evan Cook

Maintaining Tidy Rooms

“During the week, the rooms that matter most to you are the ones to keep neat. If you worry about all the rooms all the time, you’ll spread yourself thin.”

Susan Veenema, Newark, Delaware

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda with a spongeMark Weiss

Washing China

“I make a paste of baking soda and water to clean discolored teacups and teapots. It’s gentle enough for most fine china, and it’s easy on the hands and the wallet.”

Wendy Wiebe, Vancouver, British Columbia

Wine glassesHector Sanchez

Cleaning Glassware

“When you’re washing narrow-necked glass vases and decanters, add a little uncooked rice to the water. Your glassware will sparkle.”

Mona Lynch, Cork City, Ireland

Guests at a dinner partyMaura McEvoy

Getting Motivated to Clean

“My husband and I motivate ourselves to clean by inviting people over. Having a deadline makes us work faster and more efficiently. When our guests arrive, we can relax in our freshly cleaned house.”

Jen Stack, Olney, Maryland