Ask the Readers: What Is Your Favorite Cleaning Tip?

By Ashley Jacobs on 4 March 2014 (Updated 11 March 2014) 61 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Elena, Christie, and Betty for winning this week's contest!

It might not feel like it in some areas of the country, but Spring is almost here! The change of season means that many of us are gearing up for a big household to-do: Spring cleaning. Why don't we help each other make this chore less of a chore?

What is your favorite cleaning tip? What tools do you use to make Spring cleaning go faster, cheaper, or more green? How do you make it more enjoyable?

Tell us your favorite cleaning tip and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

Mandatory Entry:

  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

For extra entries:

  • You can tweet about our giveaway for an extra entry. Also, our Facebook fans can get an extra entry too! Use our Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win one of the other two Amazon Gift Cards:

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If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, March 10th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. Winners will be announced after March 10th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Jamie

To keep my carpet smelling fresh, I sprinkle baking soda on it. Let it sit for about an hour, then vacuum. It works great!

Guest's picture
Mary Happymommy

My favorite tip is to enlist the help of others. My daughter (age 4) loves helping.

Guest's picture
Maren

Make my own cleaning products with vinegar, baking soda, water, Dr. Bronners, and essential oils. The DIY soft scrub is the best: http://moneysavingmom.com/2013/04/homemade-soft-scrub.html.

Guest's picture
Kimberly

My favorite cleaning tip is to use natural products like baking soda...they really get the job done!

Guest's picture

To make spring cleaning a breeze, I open all of the windows and let in some fresh air and pump up some great upbeat music an go room to room with my spray bottles of vinegar & water and Dr. Bonner's Castile Lavender Scented Liquid Soap!

Guest's picture
Allison

Put a bowl of water with a little white vinegar in your microwave for about a minute. Then just wipe off all the gunk easily!

Guest's picture
Liz

I recently learned the trick of microwaving vinegar and water to clean your microwave easily. I might have been living under a rock - but if you don't know it yet, this tip is a life changer!

Guest's picture
Tina in NJ

Baking soda is my first choice to clean anything. Also, I'm a huge fan of letting things soak. Fill a pot encrusted with gunk, let it soak a while, then clean. Much easier!

Guest's picture
Megan

A cleaning tip I always follow is to go one small task at a time. If I look at the bigger picture (such as having to clean an entire house), the task quickly becomes overwhelming. Breaking it up in my mind into much smaller, isolated tasks allows me to be motivated by more mini-victories and pretty soon everything is done!

Guest's picture
Monique

I love vinegar and baking soda. Both alone and together, they're inexpensive and none-toxic and do a great job of freshening up, scouring, removing stains and just about everything else.

Guest's picture
Ernest S.

I recently bought a roomba vacuum at Bed, Bath and Beyond (using a 20% off coupon), and I have to say that it's absolutely awesome. Though not the most frugal purchase, I have it set to vacuum every day, and it ends up picking up a full bin of dirt each time. It not only saves me time, but I honestly feel like I have a cleaner house because of it.

Guest's picture

Microfiber towels and water is all you need to tackle most cleaning tasks. Use two different colors for countertops and floors and toss them in the laundry when they get too dirty. Wring out water as much as possible when cleaning treated wood surfaces. I learned this trick from a longtime GRA (guest room attendant) in Vegas who believes cleaning products actually attract dust, which makes sense. How else could cleaning product companies profit if their cleaner actually worked?

Guest's picture
Gina

Get a roommate who loves to clean or hire a maid.

Guest's picture
An

I love to use an old toothbrush to get in hard to reach cleaning places

Guest's picture
Elena

I like to clean with baking soda

Guest's picture
Liisa

Get rid of the chemicals!!! Making simple, multipurpose cleaning products is cheap and works great, and isn't harmful to you, your kids or your pets.

Guest's picture

I love the Magic Eraser, it cleans everything!

Guest's picture
Myke

This tip cleans out clutter, cleans your floors, and saves you money.

Find all of your old tshirts and undershirts that have been taking up valuable drawer space. Cut the tshirts along the two side seams until you can unfold it into the front a back laid out flat.

Now cut as many of your own swiffer pads as you can. You can use a paper towel on your swiffer to make a template of how big you need to cut. When done, place all of your new reusable siffer pads in a large reusable grocery bag, and then place a second large seal-able ziplock type bag in with them. This will be your dirty swiffer pads bag that you'll throw the used pads in until it's time to throw them in the laundry.

For hardwoods and laminate floors, this is how I get them spotless:

1.) Using an old sprayer bottle, I make a batch of homemade floor cleaner with the following: 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup baking soda,1 tablespoon liquid dish soap
and a few drops of essential oil for fragrance.

2.) Do a sweeping pass to remove large debris and dirt.

3.) Spray the floor with a decent mist of the cleaner, and then use a large floor sized
squeegee to pull up the cleaner. This step pulls up an amazing amount of dirt and
debris missed when sweeping. This also allows your homemade swiffer pads to
clean a larger area because you're starting from a cleaner floor

4.) Do a final pass with your homemade swiffer pads to give the floors a nice shine
and remove any lingering dirt.

Guest's picture
Elina O

I use lysol wipes for almost everything! Washing counter tops, floors, wiping toilets/sinks, doorknobs, drawer handles... you name it! They're very easy to use and super efficient. It saves me time when I don't have several hours for deep cleaning, and leaves surfaces much cleaner than if I had used a wet rag.

Donna Freedman's picture

"Commando cleaning" -- and no, it doesn't mean cleaning when you're not wearing underwear. Here's how to do it:
1. Set the kitchen timer for 20 minutes.
2. Pick an area/a specific chore and really dive in, focusing all your attention/effort to completing it before the buzzer goes off.
Chances are you will finish before 20 minutes -- in which case, start in on something else. If you're in the zone when the timer rings, keep going! If not, then stop and admire what you've completed.
If you have roommates/family, have them take 20 minutes as well. Do this two or three times a week and the place will stay very tidy -- which, in turn, makes it easier to do any deep cleaning later.
It helps to keep all your cleaning supplies together so you can grab the bucket/caddy/whatever before you set the timer.
And to keep things tidy in-between commando bouts, clean as you go. Plate and fork goes in the dishwasher, not the sink. Dirty clothes in the hamper/laundry bag, not on the floor. If you see toothpaste in the sink after brushing your teeth, wipe it up before it hardens. Etc. etc.

Guest's picture
MELISSA HANSSON

I have two tips that I live by. The first is never leave a room or go up or down stairs without picking something up and putting it away. The second is to motivate yourself to do just one thing. So often it's overwhelming when you think of how much needs to be done around the house. So I just tell myself that I'm going to do one task and get it over with. Sometimes I do that one thing and that's it, but often I find myself automatically on a roll. It's a really good motivator!

Guest's picture
Anu

I need to get everyone out of the apartment before I can clean thoroughly. I can move things around, swiffer, vacuum, etc, without getting in my boyfriend's way or vice versa.

Guest's picture
Natalia

I put old newspapers on tall cupboards and just collect them carefully and throw away in some time instead of dusting these surfaces which are hard the reach.

Guest's picture
Lori P

Vinegar and baking soda are affordable and can be used to clean almost everything.

Guest's picture
Penguinlady

I love to put a cotton ball doused with a few drops of essential oil into my vacuum canister. It makes the house smell great.

Guest's picture
Danielle

I put in my earbuds/headset and talk to my mom while cleaning so I can make the most of the time.

Guest's picture
Sandra

I use a sheet of Bounce with water to remove soap scum from the bathtub and shower. It works great!

Guest's picture
Susan D.

My favorite thing is to tidy up as I go. I wipe down the shower walls right after a shower, wash the baking and cooking utensils and bowls as I'm finished with them, and pick up things and put them away when I see them. It keeps the house more pleasant between deeper cleanings.

Guest's picture
Betty

My favorite tip is to make your own cleaning products. White vinegar can clean almost anything. I wash my floors, counters, appliances, bathroom etc with vinegar and water. Need scrubbing power..add baking soda.

Guest's picture
KelR1

Get someone else to do it for you! ;)

Guest's picture
Happy Love

I wipe around the bathroom sink with a wad of toilet paper to remove hair and dust/dirt in between regular cleanings.

Guest's picture
Rebecca B. A. R.

Vinegar and baking soda can clean almost anything.

Guest's picture
Tabathia B

I love using vinegar as a substitute over chemicals because it cleans and smells better than using a spray

Guest's picture
Julie R.

I only use vinegar, baking soda, and lemon to make my home clean while being "green". It also helps to listen to upbeat music to make it more fun :) *cue in..."Happy" by Pharrel Williams ;)

Guest's picture
DeeDee

Always squeegee the shower after using it. We have hard water and this makes a huge difference, no more build up to scrub off.

Guest's picture
Emily

3 syllables: VINEGAR! Also, cleaning mirrors with newspaper really does get rid of streaks. And that vacuuming your car makes you feel like a new person.

Guest's picture
Jen

Fave cleaning tip? Make someone else do it! LOL Seriously, though, it's just me and my cat at my house, so I just pick up after myself and deep clean every 2 weeks. Putting on some good music helps me get it done faster, so I guess that's my tip!

Guest's picture
Diane

Mr. Clean Magic Erasers for things that you can't get off otherwise... marks on the cabinets, floors, shoes... works for so many things!

Guest's picture
Alissa A

My favorite cleaning tip is to clean things as you go rather than waiting for an entire messy home!

Guest's picture
Raymond

Barkeeper's friend on glass shower doors.

Guest's picture
Kate

Laundry tip for stains: Using equal parts Cascade and Clorox II (1/4C or so) mixed in the hottest water out of the tap, fill the sink and soak the stained clothing overnight. Then wash in hot water. Does an amazing job--especially on food stains.

Guest's picture
Christie

Definitely the whole "clean-as-you-go" mentality! If you take care of things as you use them, there is not a grand clean-up at the end; it's already done! :)

Guest's picture
Kristin Welch

I like to dust before I clean anything else; that way I don't feel as though when I'm dusting, I'm getting the floors or counters dirty all over again!

Guest's picture
Guest

I'm not a big cleaner... But my biggest tip is to get in the habit of cleaning every Sunday evening, so everything is good for the week!

Guest's picture
alona

Using household items (vinegar, baking soda, rubbing alcohol, lemons, oranges or essential oils) to make your own natural cleaning solutions without all the harsh chemicals.

Guest's picture
Kristina

I use baking soda and vinegar to clean the toilet. Works great!

Guest's picture
Elizabeth D.

My favorite tip is to break it up into a little each day. I have a checklist of things I do every day, (dishes, and sweep) and then everything else is once a week on a certain day Monday through Friday. I dislike spending hours on a weekend cleaning. It feel manageable this way!

Guest's picture
Laura J

Oh when we do our spring cleaning, first on our list is always our windows! One tip I learned a couple years ago, was when we are cleaning our screens, if you have a small hole....you can put clear nail polish on it so bugs wont come in!

Guest's picture
Margaret

I have two of the best tips. One (from my mother) is that people should come to see you and not your house, therefore you must keep your house clean to your standards not someone else's! The second tip was from my mother-in-law: While it is just the two of you, get in the habit of cleaning an area a weekend (living room, bedroom, kitchen, etc.). You'll be so used to it that when kids arrive or life changes you just keep minimal tidying and it stays under control.

Guest's picture
Catseye

My current fave cleaning tip is to unclutter as I clean. Let's say you are dusting and you are frustrated by all of the knickknacks you have to pick up or move aside to dust. Get rid of the ones you don't really like or need. Box them up and donate them to charity, give to someone you know would like them or sell them. Or just throw them away! When there's less to clean, there's less cleaning. Period.

Guest's picture
Thrifty Writer

I buy vinegar by the gallon for cleaning the kitchen and the bathroom. I found a recipe for homemade cleaner on Apartment Therapy for orange vinegar spray - you just soak orange peels in vinegar in an air-tight container for two weeks, pour through a strainer, and dilute in a 1:1 ratio. I've also made a lemon scented one using essential oil of lemon.

Guest's picture
Lynda

vinegar. baking soda. swifter. best cleaning supplies!

Guest's picture
A Fla Mom

When i wash items that don't get washed often (quilts, Drapes/valences, throw rugs, bed ruffles etc.) i always use borax in the water. This helps keep the item fresh smelling and resists mildew so no musty smells. We live in Florida with high humidity so this is a must for us.

Guest's picture
GuestMichelle Maggiore

Lavender room mist. It helps the house feel and smell cleaner, even if I do nothing but spray it. It is also a natural way to calm people, so it is good for you at the same time, especially if you are speed cleaning before in-laws arrive.

Guest's picture
Carmen

Clean up messes as they occur - they're easier to deal with than if they have a chance to dry/soak in.

Guest's picture

My favorite way to save money on cleaning is by using microfiber cloths for dusting instead of blowing money on Swiffer cloth refills. Just toss the microfiber cloths with your ordinary towels in the laundry when you're done.

Guest's picture
BRB

My best tip is if you need a cleaning product go on to Pinterest and search and you'll find a very cheap effective recipe for it!

Guest's picture
Bethany

Norwex is an amazing product that saves money and is toxic free.

Guest's picture
Guest

I add orange peels to white vinegar and let them sit for a couple weeks to infuse the vinegar. It makes cleaning with natural products smell even fresher. Also, having help from family and roommates is also always a good thing.

Guest's picture
Kristine R.

I use household items to make my own cleaners. Cheaper, and way less chemicals!

Guest's picture
Angelina

To keep my washing machine clean and fresh I do a hot empty wash with some bleach to keep it sanitized. I also like putting baking soda on pet mess stains with warm water and then vacuum it to help with smell. Also white vinegar is great with water to wash windows and glass! It keeps streaks away!