10 Clever House Cleaning Hacks

Woman Vacuuming Rug
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Keep these tricks in your back pocket to make a tough job a tiny bit easier.

One major benefit of living in a lockdown state is that my house is cleaner than ever. With an empty calendar and no competing priorities, Saturday mornings have become house-cleaning time. Oddly, I've begun to enjoy it. Perhaps it's because I don't feel rushed or squeezed in other areas of my life, so I'm able to give it the time it needs without feeling like I'm missing out on other activities. Or maybe it's because all five members of my family are stuck in this house 24/7 and a weekly deep-clean is one thing that makes it more manageable!

Regardless, I now look forward to my Saturday mornings, with the tunes blasting and the coffee brewing, and I even spend time during the week perusing cleaning websites to find fun little 'hacks' that make the job easier. I suspect many of you are in a similar boat right now, which is why I'd like to share my latest batch of cleaning tips below. They come from a range of sources, including Clean My Space, Good Housekeeping, The Kitchn, and Apartment Therapy, as well as my own discoveries. Please share any of your favorite cleaning tips in the comments below.

1. Clean the shower while you're in it.

Cleaning a shower is an annoying task, but you can almost eliminate it by doing a quick scrub during a shower. Melissa Maker quotes a Clean My Space follower, who says, "I hate cleaning my shower so what I do is I have a dish wand, one of those with handles that you can fill up with soap and I fill it with dish soap and vinegar. Every day I wash down the wall or tub while I’m in there. It’s super easy, super quick, super cheap and my daughter loves to do it as well." You can also wait till you're finished showering, then grab a squeegee to wipe down walls and use a rag to mop up the moisture along the bottom.

2. Illuminate the dirt.

Think how you move your face around to get the ideal angle for taking a picture. Cleaning is similar; you need to look at surfaces from different angles to see the dust and dirt that's there. Grab a flashlight and shine it in corners, under furniture, and on surfaces to make sure you do a thorough job. Clean My Space reader Samantha advises,

"Switch on a flashlight and lay it on the floor, the darker the room, the better, while you sweep or vacuum your hard floors. You have to move around the room a few times. Every speck of dust or strand of hair will be highlighted and/or have a shadow that you cannot miss."

3. Flip rugs over for a deep clean.

Most of us vacuum one side of a rug and call it clean, but if you want to make sure a rug is truly clean, flip it over for a second pass with the vacuum, then flip it again to its proper side and repeat. You can also sprinkle with baking soda and let sit overnight to deodorize, then vacuum several times to remove all traces of baking soda and accumulated gunk.

4. Open windows as you clean.

Even in the middle of winter, I usually crack the window at least an inch to let in fresh air while cleaning, and obviously more when it's warmer. The introduction of fresh air immediately takes a room from stale and musty to smelling fresh and clean. It serves a practical purpose, too, helping to flush indoor contaminants (and viral particles) from the air.

5. Use tongs to clean blinds.

Blinds are annoying to clean, so here's a way to make the job easier. Wrap the ends of a set of tongs in small rags and attach with an elastic band. Now grab one slat of the blinds with the tongs and move along it. The rags will clean on top and below simultaneously.

6. Open those blinds.

Pull the blinds up to let the light in, as there's some evidence that UV rays can damage most microorganisms and viruses. Huffington Post cites Mark Fretz, a professor at the University of Oregon's College of Design and co-author of a guide to making indoor spaces as inhospitable as possible to germs: "We have evidence in the literature that sunlight can inactivate influenza viruses and other viruses. It’s also good for your psychological well-being."

7. Make a pile on your bed.

If you're cleaning your bedroom, heap all the clothing and pillows and other items on top of your bed, so that when you go to bed you have no choice but to put it all away before sleeping. I do this to keep on track, too. If I'm busy dusting and vacuuming and mopping, I don't want to get distracted by folding clothes and putting them away, but I need them off the floor to do a proper job.

8. Use toothpaste as a cleaner.

Did you know toothpaste can get rid of stray marker or crayon lines created by children who get overly enthusiastic in their artistic endeavors? According to Good Housekeeping, toothpaste works wonders on marker stains on wood surfaces and walls. While you're at it, toothpaste can be used to polish bathroom fixtures, shine silverware and jewelry, scour sneaker edges and scuffs on leather, and clean piano keys.

9. Use lemon and salt to clean wood.

The combination of salt and lemon can clear build-up on butcher block-style countertops and wooden cutting boards. Good Housekeeping suggests, "Just sprinkle [table salt] over light marks, then scrub with the cut side of a half of lemon. Let sit overnight, then rinse with water." A similar technique can be used to clean a dirty grill: heat it up, dip a lemon half in salt, and scrub to remove buildup.

10. Use your dishwasher creatively.

Dishwashers aren't just for dishes. Melissa Maker says you can wash plenty of things in them that are heat-resistant, such as kids' plastic toys, baseball caps, shoes, tools, switch covers, vent covers, and more. I've read about kitchen sponges, silicone oven mitts, light fixtures, desk accessories, fan exhaust covers, hairbrushes, and makeup brushes all going through dishwasher cycles successfully. I'd suggest, however, not washing dishes at the same time and keeping non-food-related loads separate.