Home cleaning experts share their best hacks and tips for tidying up your kitchen, bathroom and more.
Here are key spaces in the home and the best expert hacks and tips on how to clean them:
- If you want to clean your microwave without chemicals, Johnson says take a cup of water and put it inside your microwave and heat for two minutes. This creates steam inside, so you can use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe the appliance down and remove any residue or stuck-on bits of food.
- Dishwashers have evolved over the years, and Bock stresses the importance of reading your manual. “Homeowners often treat a new dishwasher like they last one they purchased, but the technologies have changed,” she says. For example: newer models often have sprayer arms that can be removed and regularly wiped clean, which helps the efficiency and longevity of the appliance.
- Mystery refrigerator smells can be frustrating. Maker says first establish the cause of the odor. Don’t allow plates of leftovers or spilled milk to build up over time. Wipe infected areas clean as soon as possible and use a deodorizer to keep future smells from overtaking your refrigerator. While baking soda is the most popular, Maker says you can also use activated charcoal, an open cup of unused coffee grounds or a cut lemon (flesh side up). Johnson says cotton balls with a couple drops of vanilla extract placed in the back of your refrigerator is another option. Whatever you use, remember to change the deodorizer frequently for best results.
- Since the constant presence of water in a bathroom can lead to mildew and mold, Bock says paying attention to air circulation creates a healthier environment and allows you to spend less time cleaning. “Sometimes people don’t turn on the exhaust fan, open the window or always keep the door closed,” she points out. “You need air circulation, which is also important when you’re using cleaning products.”
- Mineral deposits from water can lead to a clogged or dirty shower head. To clean it, both Johnson and Maker suggest using a plastic food storage bag filled with white vinegar that you tie around your shower head with an elastic band. Allow the bag to sit overnight, and then turn the shower on in the morning to rinse away build up.
Maker says the easiest way to keep your shower clean from soap scum is to use a squeegee each time you shower, to wipe your shower walls down before you step out. Once you’re out, use the squeegee to wipe the tub to eliminate as much moisture and water as possible.
- Hairspray or toothpaste can create stubborn splatters on your bathroom mirror. To remove them, Makers says use a dab of rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball or soft cloth to gently wipe away the offending marks.
- Dirty sheets can give your bedroom a stuffy smell. Maker says if you suffer from allergies, wash your bed sheets once a week. For non-allergy sufferers, washing sheets once every other week should help eliminate odors and keep your bedroom smelling fresher.
- While people think their sheets, they often forget about their bed skirt. “They’re a magnet for dust, pet hair and human hair,” says Bock. “You need to remove and launder them every three weeks. And if you store items under your bed, pull those items out when you sweep or vacuum because they’re a magnet for dust.”
- Framed photos are notorious dust collectors. Bock says when you spray cleaner directly on framed photos, the cleaner can sometimes bleed behind the frame to the matting and damage photos. Instead, spray your cleaner onto a soft cloth instead of the frame itself, so you can control the amount of cleaner and avoid the bleeding problem.
- Family rooms can often become the cluttered drop zone for the house. To keep on top of things, Maker says she and her husband have a rule: when they leave the family room, they always take something in their hands. This allows the couple to keep books, dishes, magazines and mail from overtaking the space.
- Sometimes you don’t clean what you don’t see, points out Bock. Food crumbs build up between chair and sofa cushions and attract rodents and pests. If you can’t stop family members from munching on the sofa, check and remove cushions often and use a damp cloth or hand-held vacuum to remove the crumbs.
- Spilled food and drinks create stains on area rugs. Johnson says the quicker you remove the stain, the better it will be. “When blotting the stain with a damp microfiber cloth, use a fan to circulate the air to remove the dampness after you clean the stain,” she advises.
- If your living room or another space has a ceiling fan, use a sock on your hand to securely capture the dust. “If you haven’t cleaned it for a while, spray the sock with a bit of furniture polish to make sure you can capture all the dust,” suggests Bock.
- Clean your computer screens and keyboards by combining one part rubbing alcohol with one part distilled water (water with no minerals) in a spray bottle, says Maker. Lightly spray a soft microfiber cloth with the mixture and gently but quickly buff dry to remove dust and bacteria.
- Bills, mail and job-related paperwork can create a messy home office, so it pays to have a paper shredder. “By having that one simple tool in your office, you will make managing that room much easier,” says Maker.
- A build-up of fabric softener can dirty the bottom of your iron and stain clothes. To clean your iron, Maker says make a paste of equal parts baking soda and water and then apply the paste to a soft cloth. Using a circular motion, gently clean the build-up (being careful to avoid the holes in the iron where the steam comes out) and rinse with a damp cloth.
- If you have a front load washer, moisture can build up in the inside lip and cause funky odors or mildew. Each time you use the washer, gently lift up the lip and wipe with a clean, soft cloth to remove as much moisture and water as possible. Maker says she leaves her washer door open for a bit after each load, to allow air to circulate and remove moisture.
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