I have a confession to make. I get on my kids’ case all the time about cleaning up after themselves, but deep down inside, I’m pretty sure they get their messy tendencies from me.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love to have a clean house, but I just don’t love making it that way. I may be a homemaker, but I’m no housekeeper. In fact, I wrote a whole post about how and why I never Spring clean. It’s worth a read too, if you’re a reluctant cleaner like me.
This week, I’ve been helping a friend get her house ready to sell, which includes a lot of cleaning, a LOT of coffee, and maybe a little cussing. But it’s made me realize that over the years I’ve built up an arsenal of cleaning hacks to help make housecleaning easier. (I’m allowed to call them “Genius” because none of them were my ideas. I’ve just collected them over time from people smarter than me.)
So whether you’re getting your house ready to sell, preparing for a visit from the in-laws, or just trying to regain control of your space after a weekend of family chaos, check out these tips and hacks to make your life easier and your house cleaner.
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9 Genius Cleaning Hacks
1. Closed Storage
Nowhere does “Out of sight, out of mind” ring more true than in your house. Invest a few dollars in several baskets and bins. Then when you need to clean up in a hurry, just toss everything in and Voila! Your house looks cleaner immediately.
My teenager has taken this concept to a new level with her closet. Apparently, when I do room checks, I’ve been looking in her room but not the closet. One day I made the mistake of going into her closet for something after I green-tagged her room, and I was simultaneously horrified and impressed with how much she could cram in there and still get the door closed. So we’re fine-tuning a little bit, but you get the idea.
2. Pumie Stone
This little thing is magic on toilet rings! If you have a dingy ring around your toilet or bathtub from hard water and stains, you need one of these. All you do is give your toilet a quick scrub first, (you know, just to get it clean enough for you to get up close and personal) then use the stone to rub all along the hard water line. The pumice actually scrubs off the calcium deposits that make up that impossible-to-clean line. Just be sure you only use this on hard surfaces (not those plastic bathtubs!), and test it first to make sure it doesn’t scratch the finish. Also, I like to use gloves because it will also scrub your skin, maybe a little more than you’d like.
3. Krud Kutter
You guys. Stop what you’re doing and get yourself some of this stuff. I first discovered it when I was painting my kitchen cabinets. It was the first step in cleaning and preparing the surface, and boy did it clean EVERYTHING off those cabinets. Not the paint or finish, just everything that had accumulated over the years. I don’t know what they put in this stuff (It’s supposed to be environmentally friendly) but I suspect it may also be able to cure cancer. Now I use it on everything that needs a little persuasion. If a mess doesn’t wipe off easily with a damp cloth, Krud Kutter is my next step.
4. Magic Eraser
Yes, I know everyone loves magic erasers. This isn’t rocket science, but it made the list because it bears repeating. These are great for all those scuff marks that appear on the walls, magically located at children’s hand height. (And foot height in my house. Don’t ask.) Just make sure to get the real deal. I’ve used some of the cheaper brands and they work, but they disintegrate a lot faster and leave a powdery residue behind.
5. Rubbing Alcohol
Did you know Rubbing Alcohol removes permanent marker and dry erase marker? I didn’t until a hysterical play date where the kids decided to “decorate” my youngest daughter’s furniture. It was one of those “The kids have been too quiet, should we check on them?” moments. We should have checked earlier.
Fortunately, after some research, we were able to get all the marks off the walls and furniture and most of the bedding. Now I keep a bottle of rubbing alcohol on hand for such emergencies. Just make sure you test a spot first, to keep from removing any paint or finish on your walls or furniture.
6. Wireless Vac
This has been a recent life changer for me. Ok, maybe “life changer” is a bit of a stretch, but at least it makes me happier to do my chores. When we replaced our flooring in the family room (that post is coming soon), I realized I needed a better solution than sweeping or dragging around our heavy vacuum cleaner. I found this Hoover Linx cordless vac, and it’s the perfect solution for keeping the floors dust free. Even my kids don’t mind pushing it around, and they think it’s cool the way the battery pops out to recharge. I wouldn’t use it to deep-clean the whole house, but it’s great for keeping everything clean in between heavy cleanings.
My friend Jana turned me on to this mop, which is saying a lot. (I really don’t get excited about mopping.) What I love about this little guy is the way it wrings out the mop, without you having to touch the dirty mop water. It’s kind of like a salad spinner and mop bucket got together and had a baby, and that baby helps me do my chores. Plus the handle is adjustable to different lengths, which is great for us vertically-challenged folks.
OK, I know this is a weird one, but hear me out. When my first daughter was born (13 years ago!) someone gave me a pack of bulky cloth diapers and said, “You’ll use them for everything!” I thanked her and immediately put them away on the top shelf of a closet. There was no way I was going to deal with cloth diapers. I could barely wrap my head around having a baby, much less doing poopy laundry every day. (Little did I know that the two were one and the same endeavor, but this isn’t a parenting blog, so I’ll move on.)
Anyway, many MANY disposable diapers later, I discovered this pack of cloth diapers sitting on a shelf when I was looking for a cleaning rag. I couldn’t find my cleaning rag, and decided to just grab a diaper instead. Turns out, it worked great for cleaning! It was soft, absorbent, and left no lint behind. Now I use them for my everyday cleaning rags. They’re also great for sopping up big spills. (Go figure.) In fact, I needed to buy more the other day, and when I found them online, I noticed that they say right on the package “Best Choice for…Household Cleanups.” Maybe the original package said that too, but I was in too much of a baby brain fog at the time to realize what it meant.
Now that cloth diapers and saving the planet are all the rage, you can find all kinds of fancy cloth diaper inserts out there. I’m sure they’d all work, but these from Gerber are the cheapest and best for cleaning, in my opinion. (They’re probably also the worst for actual diapering.) Grab a few to keep on hand. You’ll thank me next time your kid spills a full cup of juice on your new hardwood floors.
9. Touch-up paint
I guess this isn’t technically cleaning, but when you’re deep cleaning your house, you may notice that your walls have taken a beating over time. (If you don’t have kids, maybe this doesn’t happen to you.) The best thing in that case is to keep a little touch up paint on hand to cover any of those nicks and scratches. I like to keep trim paint, as well as a little bit of each color of wall paint. Sometimes dabbing a little paint on is easier than buffing out a scuff or scrape. Check out my free paint can organizer printables to keep track of which paint goes on which wall.
And finally, a bonus tip:
Get a dog. Our kitchen floors have never been cleaner than since we got our dog. Some would argue that “licked clean” does not equal “actual clean” but hopefully those people aren’t eating off my floors.
I hope these tips are helpful, and I’d love to hear if you have any to add. I could use all the help I can get in the housekeeping department! Leave me a comment below with your favorite cleaning hack…