Maybe you took home economics at school and learned how to clean a kitchen up to code at work. Apart from that, learning how to clean is a lifelong study full of patchwork lessons. We pick up tips from loved ones, TikToks, and articles—and there's always a sneaking suspicion that you're overlooking an easier way.
If you've ever had the joy and privilege of using a cleaning service, you know both the delight and confusion of walking back into what appears to be an entirely new home.
To learn their secrets, we talked to three experts to get their cleaning tips to help you clean smarter, not harder. Read on for their recommendations.
Meet the Expert
- Kadi Dulude is the founder and owner of Wizards of Homes NYC, a professional cleaning service she founded in 2009.
- Rebecca Sears is the chief gardening guru for Green Garden Products, owned by Ferry-Morse Home Gardening, where she has worked since 2017.
- Alexis Davis is the vice president of Home Maid NYC, a Black-owned green cleaning company she founded with her husband, Anthony, in 2017.
Break Out the Alcohol
No, we aren't recommending you have a beverage before cleaning—but do as you like. Dulude says her staff loves using alcohol as an all-purpose cleaner. It's great at killing germs on most surfaces, and it makes for a great product to use on mirrors, windows, and other high-gloss areas that would normally need extra polishing to get streak-free results.
Be Nice to Your Future Self
Once you've deep cleaned the tops of your cabinets, Dulude recommends putting down a layer of paper towels.
"You won't see the paper towels since they're high above the ceiling, but they'll trap all the greasy, sticky dust," Dulude says. Next time you're deep cleaning the kitchen, all you'll have to do is swap out the dirty towels.
Get a Robot Vacuum Cleaner
Robot vacuums aren't a secret, but here's how to use yours like a professional. Take an afternoon to arrange your wires and furniture so that the robot can access most of your home without getting stuck.
Dulude says to run the vacuum every morning—yes, every morning. "This keeps your floors clean but also your air since there's less dust flying around," she says.
Store Gardening Tools Without Hassle
Sears says her favorite hack is to use any ordinary beverage cooler if you’re just getting started and have limited storage space for gardening tools.
"It’s the perfect weather-proof, put-it-anywhere, space-saving garden tool storage for items like hand tools, nutrients, and gloves—and a perfect way to hide the mess," she notes.
Keep Stainless Steel Looking Beautiful
If polishing stainless steel is the task that always remains at the bottom of your to-do list, we don't blame you. To make the arduous chore easier, Dulude recommends Weiman stainless steel cleaner. It does a great job cleaning and polishing your stainless steel well, but it will also protect it from dust and dirt.
Spend Five Seconds Instead of Five Minutes
According to Davis, all community spaces in the home should be wiped down daily. And no, that's not obsessive. Keeping an area clean means you won't have to deep clean it later, so get into the habit of grabbing a towel at the end of a day and you'll free up your weekend time.
Don't Let Basil Go Conquering
If you want to keep your herb garden orderly, here's how to cut back on time spent pruning. If you’re planting multiple herbs, Sears says to put them in containers. That way, they won't spread and overtake the rest of your garden.
Store Your Seeds
For tidy and successful planting, it's important to store your seeds well. Sears recommends using airtight plastic containers or mason jars to keep them organized and storing them in a cool, dark place.
According to Dulude, the moisture content within a seed greatly affects the viability of the seed, so organized storage is a gardener's best friend.
Skip the Harsh Products
If you are cleaning specifically to target germs, Davis recommends skipping those heavy-duty harsh products, as frequent use will release more irritants into your home. She recommends using clean products instead.
Don't Let Liquids Sit
It's tempting to let your countertop dry naturally and continue cooking or relaxing, but that's actually not in your best interest. Bacteria grow and live on wet surfaces, so Davis recommends wiping counters down prior to using them.
Do Some Prepwork
Who hasn't moved an item while cleaning and then spent the next two days wondering where it went? Davis recommends storing all of your personal items before you start a deep clean. You won't have to stop and move things every five minutes— and the remote control won't go walking off.
Use a Cleaning Supply Subscription
Be nice to yourself and the planet and buy a cleaning subscription. Your cleaning supplies will be cute and organized, you won't be creating plastic waste, and you'll never run out mid-spill.
Make Cleaning the Microwave Easier
Don't waste time scrubbing baked-on food splatters. In a microwave-safe bowl, mix a cup of water with a couple spoonfuls of apple cider or white vinegar, then pop the mixture in the microwave on high for a few minutes to get it boiling. Once it's good and steamy, turn off the microwave, let it sit for a few minutes, then remove the bowl and wipe down the inside with a cloth.
Grab a Paperclip
If soaking and scrubbing don't get all of the debris off of your stovetop burners, Dulude recommends using a bent paper clip to gently nudge off stubborn particles.
Buy a Pan Brush
No burnt-on bits or grease are a match for a wooden pan brush. Its bristles break up grime a billion times faster than a sponge, and you won't be left with a dirty, torn-up sponge after cleaning up your dinner.
Don't Forget Your Mattress
To ensure your mattress lasts for years—and smells nice all summer—it's important to clean it every now and then. Remove everything from your bed, then spray it down with a solution of two parts water to one part laundry detergent. After it dries for thirty minutes, vacuum the mattress to remove any debris and dust.
Dust Your Plants
On your journey to eliminate dust, don't forget your plants. Plants can't absorb dust, and letting it sit on the leaves prevents the plant from absorbing the most sunlight possible. It also dulls the vibrancy of its leaves, so grab a soft, damp towel to wipe them down.
Let It Sit
When it comes to bathroom cleaners, it's best to let them sit on a surface for five to ten minutes. This gives them time to break down scum and work efficiently.
Don't Throw Out That Old Toothbrush
One of the most powerful tools in a cleaner's arsenal: the simple toothbrush. You can use it to scrub out stains from tricky spots, like your kitchen stove or bathroom grout, or really get in those tight corners.
Use a Makeup Expiration Chart
Instead of playing guesswork, use a makeup expiration chart to track when to toss items. Throwing out items over time as they expire will keep your space and your skin clear.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Bottle of Rubbing Alcohol. Cleveland Clinic. February 10, 2021