THESE ESSENTIAL CLEANING SUPPLIES WILL HELP YOU KEEP YOUR HOME LOOKING bright & cheery on the cheap
1. Distilled white vinegar
First on my list of essential cleaning supplies is vinegar. It’s super cheap, eco-friendly, non-toxic, contains natural disinfectant properties, and chances are you already have some on hand.
I use it to clean just about everything – fresh produce, kitchen countertops, kitchen floors, shower doors, appliances, windows and mirrors etc… the list goes on.
Do you have a particularly pungent load of laundry from the hubby hitting the gym too hard? Add one or two cups of vinegar to your washing machine because it neutralizes odors… get where I’m going with this?
For basic cleaning, I typically use a 1 to 1 ratio of vinegar to water filling a reusable spray bottle or bucket for mopping etc…
Vinegar does have it’s own strong smell but it fades relatively quickly, and the odor neutralizing properties are worth it!
2. Baking soda
Baking soda, not to be confused with baking powder, is not just for baking. It’s a powerful cleaning tool that can be used for so many things, I could dedicate an entire post to “cleaning with baking soda”. Aside from its odor absorbing and mild abrasive properties pairing it with vinegar is truly magical. Here’s a few of my favorite uses of this household staple:
- Unclog slow moving drains – Pour 1/2 a cup of baking soda followed by 1 cup of distilled white vinegar directly into the drain then let it sit for awhile (you’ll literally hear/see it working) meanwhile boil a kettle/pot of water then pour the boiling water down the drain. This is also great for non-clogged drains because it will remove biofilms that form on the sides of the drain which can cause a mildewy smell in your shower.
- Clean your jewelry – Add a teaspoon to a small bowl and drop your rings in (don’t add too many at once, a few pieces are fine) then pour in some white vinegar and watch it bubble up – let it soak for a while unless the pieces contain gemstones in which case you’ll only want to leave them in the solution for a few seconds) after that rinse your pieces with cold water and dry them with a soft cloth. For cleaning silver specifically, line a disposable baking pan with aluminum foil (shiny side up) place your silver pieces on the pan then sprinkle baking soda and salt on top. Next pour boiling water into the pan and make sure the pieces are submerged – let them sit in the solution until you no longer see any tarnish then remove and dry with a soft cloth.
- Remove a pet accident from carpet – I hope you never have to deal with this but in the event your fur baby (or child) has a #2 accident of the very wet variety on your carpet this will take care of it. For example, diarrhea (cha-cha-cha) is one of the absolute worst carpet messes I can think of, but fear not, if it happens, do this: 1) remove any solid pieces 2) saturate the liquid mess with some club soda (it will break it up and making it easier to blot 3) repeat #2 to get more of the stain up 4) rub in some dish soap with a clean rag 5) add club soda again 6) blot up as much liquid as possible 7) Baking soda time – pour a generous amount of backing soda over the area then let it dry for a couple hours to overnight – then vacuum with a shop vac or vacuum hose.
3. Bon Ami Powder Cleanser
A bit more abrasive than baking soda, Bon Ami is a hypoallergenic, non-scratching, scouring powder. It’s chlorine-free, sulfate-free, dye-free, paraben-free, and a safe choice for your household that’s 100% biodegradable. Even it’s packaging is eco-friendly – sourced from recycled and recyclable materials.
It’s my go to for cleaning my kitchen sink and bathtub and it works wonders on stubborn counter stains and glass cook-tops. For instance, I use it reguraly to remove baked-on grime and residue from my stove top and inside my oven. Sprinkle a little Bon Ami, grab a damp sponge, soft rag, or microfiber cloth, and let the scrubbing properties do the hard work for you. In short, less elbow grease is required.
4. Microfiber cloths
These little cleaning warriors are so versatile! Soft and absorbent but unlike regular towels, they don’t leave lint behind and they’re highly effective when it comes to trapping dust. They are super gentle making them perfect for dusting wood and painted surfaces, and polishing glassware, subsequently, you can use them to clean just about any surface.
Microfiber cloth – Swiffer Mop Hack
I use microfiber cloths for mopping because they happen to be a near perfect fit for my Swiffer mop, likewise you probably have one collecting dust in your utility closet. A few years ago I stopped buying disposable Swiffers for two reasons: 1) They’re kind of expensive 2) They’re wasteful, and I’m trying to do better.
Most microfiber cloths you’ll find are about the same size and they are thin enough that you can easily poke them in the the Swiffer mop head like you would do with the disposable replacements. After you finish mopping throw your microfiber cloth in with your dirty laundry instead of the trash. 🙂
5. Good old fashioned bleach
Bleach sometimes gets a bad rap, but it has some pretty cool properties like killing bacteria and viruses and getting those super tough stains out of your whites and even your tub.
Bleach can be safely diluted with water, but NEVER mix it with anything else. Mixing bleach with other common household cleaners containing ammonia or acids (I’m looking at you, vinegar) can cause dangerous toxic vapors. So please be careful and always read the instructions before use.
Disinfecting vs. Sanitizing
There’s a distinction between “disinfecting” and “sanitizing”. Sanitizing products essentially remove dirt and bacteria from the surface (which in most household situations is all you really need). Disinfecting products will kill bacteria and viruses. Solutions with higher concentrations of bleach will definitely disinfect.
Also, keep in mind, bleach is an oxidizing agent which gives it it’s lovely whitening properties, but it also means you need to be careful where you use it! Non-porous surfaces like a bathtub, sink, or toilet are perfect candidates for a bleach job – but don’t use it on granite, marble, wood, or metal surfaces. Also, be careful to test it on an inconspicuous spot if using it on fabrics, upholstery, or carpets.
Lastly, this should go without saying, definitely don’t use it to clean or sanitize food.
6. European dish cloths
My newest essential cleaning obsession! European (sometimes called Swedish) dish cloths are highly-absorbent, durable, and versatile cleaning companions with a super low profile, making them easy to store. They typically last 9 – 12 months making them a great alternative to paper towels.
They’re kind of like thin, square sponges that expand as they get wet and shrink as they dry out. I like to throw them in the dishwasher to wash them and then I let them air-dry flat. I don’t recommend throwing them in the dryer, but it’s fine if you do.
7. A squeegee
Everyone needs a good squeegee. It doesn’t have to be fancy but it has to work. I keep one in our shower that we use it to remove water droplets off the shower doors. It keeps them looking pretty clean overall and helps us to spend less time scrubbing soap scum and water marks off the glass when deep cleaning the shower.
I got this one from Amazon for a super reasonable price. It’s great for two main reasons: 1. The rubber part is black instead of clear so it’ll look nicer over its lifespan, since clear rubber tends to yellow over time. 2. It comes with a matching hook that has an adhesive back that seriously holds… let’s face it, suction cup hooks create a never-ending-battle of trying to get them to stay in place, and I’d rather not play that game. 3. It looks nice… it’s streamline with a low-profile and it doesn’t look like an eyesore in our newly remodeled shower.
8. Refillable spray bottle(s)
If you’re trying to cut down on your consumption of single-use plastic like me, this is the way to go. I use one for a bleach mixture in my bathrooms and another one for a vinegar/water solution in my kitchen. I sometimes add scented essential oils to the one with vinegar.
Pro-tips: If you go with glass, make sure you get one with a silicone/rubber sleeve to protect the glass bottom. Also, definitely get different colors so you can differentiate what cleaning solution is inside.
This may sound strange but using newspaper to clean your mirrors and windows works – leaving a streak-free shine. Spray your solution of equal parts vinegar and water directly onto the glass surface and wipe it away with a waded up piece of newspaper and voila!
Be careful to avoid the panes and frames when cleaning your windows with this method. Most newspapers utilize soy-based ink which won’t transfer or cause any issues but some papers still use petroleum-based ink which can smudge ink on those painted white frames which might be difficult to clean.
10. Method squirt + mop wood floor cleaner
This is my go-to hardwood floor cleaner. It smells incredible (if you don’t like the scent of almond this isn’t for you), it doesn’t leave a weird residue, and most importantly, it’s easy to work with. Simply squirt and mop it up with your micro-fiber cloth mop head and voila!
11. Goo Gone
Got a sticky mess on your hands or a sticker you can’t seem to remove? You need this.
A little bit goes a long way. Just spread a small amount to the sticker or ‘sticky mess’ and let it sit for awhile. Once the orange solution appears to have penetrated the paper of the sticker you’ll know because it will lift off like butter and then you can wipe off the excess.
12. Water mark remover cloth
This is my favorite cleaning essential – and most people haven’t heard of it. It’s a cloth that’s specially treated and slightly abrasive that removes water stains, heat and alcohol marks, minor blemishes, and surface scratches from wood surfaces, and most importantly, it’s reusable… I mean it will last a really long time if you store it properly.
With just a bit of elbow grease, it’ll make that ring on your coffee table disappear. You know, the one your Great Aunt Bertha created when she didn’t bother to use one of the eight coasters available and instead set her sweaty glass directly onto the vintage walnut surface (sigh). No worries, Aunt Bertha, I got this.
Did you learn anything new? Something I missed? Add your tips and comments below!