43 Household Cleaning Tips and Tricks
From An Expert With Over 30 Years Of Professional Cleaning Experience
Includes 4 bonus tips
8/22/23 Written by Don Glasgow, Owner, First Impressions House Cleaning (435) 879-1239
These are cleaning hacks I’ve learned and used for 30+ years in my house cleaning businesses.
Nothing lifted from the internet. Just the real deal from someone that knows housecleaning.
This makes great bathroom reading material. Sit and learn!
Tip #1 – My spray on general purpose cleaning and sanitizing solution.
I make a general purpose spray-on sanitizing cleaner at home. We use it everywhere. The only thing we don’t use it to clean are the showers and bathtubs.
Recipe: mix slightly less than 1 gallon of purified water, 1/2 pint of 70% rubbing alcohol, and 1/4 teaspoon of Dawn dishwashing detergent. Add a little more Dawn if needed. Fill a spray bottle with this cleaner.
Tip #2 – Speed up your cleaning: Put together a caddy of your most commonly used cleaning products.
Like us, you can easily carry your cleaning products around in a cleaning caddy. This makes cleaning faster. Our caddies are mesh so that water can run through and not pool at the bottom of the caddy.
Tip #3 – I prefer cotton cleaning towels to microfiber towels.
Tip #4 – Plastic mesh scrub pads
Our company uses scrub pads that are covered with plastic mesh. The mesh won’t damage what you scrub it with, but it cleans really well. You can find these scrub pads on Amazon.
Kitchen Cleaning Tips
Tip #5 – How to get an electric stovetop professionally clean
1. Remove any grates or drip pans / bowls.
2. Prop up or, if possible, remove the burners.
3. Most electrical stove tops can be lifted up to easily clean the area under the drip pans. Lift if possible and clean that area.
4. Scrub out the drip pans as best as you can. If you need to replace them, drip pans are inexpensive. Wipe off any debris on the stovetop.
5. Using a soaked, soapy plastic mesh scrub pad, scrub down the stovetop. If it is really dirty, let the stovetop soak for a while.
6. Wipe the stovetop dry and then use our cleaning solution to make it shine.
7. Pull the temperature knobs off the stove top, clean them and clean the area behind where they sit and then put the knobs back. The area behind the knobs is usually very dirty. You might as well get that area clean, too.
Tip #6 – To get a gas stove top clean
Getting a gas stove top clean is like an electric stoves except you remove the grates and spray those clean. The stove top does not come up.
Tip #7 – Use “Easy Off” oven cleaner on stubborn burned on food and stains on your stovetop.
Remove stubborn stovetop stains by spraying them with Easy Off oven cleaner. Let the Easy Off sit for a while. Keep the Easy Off wet with spray cleaner or add more Easy Off. Wipe clean the Easy Off and then, if needed, scrub the stain with a scrubber sponge. Repeat this process if needed.
Tip #8 – Really Clean: Making the dishwasher get dishes truly clean.
Throw in 1/2 cup of bleach before starting the dishwasher. This works great for over-filled dishwashers or older dishwashers that aren’t working as well as they did. Warning: Don’t let bleach sit in the bottom of your dishwasher as it will ruin the rubber and plastic parts. Only put the bleach in right before you start the dishwasher.
Tip #9 – How to super clean your kitchen and bathroom countertops
To get kitchen and bathroom countertops clean & shiny use a very wet, soapy scrub pad and use that pad to scrub the counter until it feels clean when you run a hand over it. Dry, then polish and sanitize the counter using our cleaning solution.
Tip #10 – Use a putty knife to clean countertops (Yes, really!)
If a counter top is not coming clean with the soapy scrub pad, use a plastic (not metal) scraper (putty knife) and scrape the surface clean. Re-scrub the countertop, then dry and polish with the cleaning solution.
Tip #11 – How to clean a really trashed microwave oven
Spray the inside of the microwave and inside of the microwave door heavily with our cleaner and then let it soak for 15+ minutes. If the debris doesn’t wipe out easily, wait for a longer period and try again.
Tip #12 – How to get older stainless steel appliances clean
If you have an older stainless steel fridge and / or dishwasher, it is fairly likely their doors never come really clean. To make them shine like new, you need to remove the built up kitchen grease.
Start with a somewhat wet, soapy, plastic mesh sponge. Pour a generous portion of powdered cleaner on the sponge. Use that to clean 1/4 of the fridge door or all of the dishwasher door. Wipe the fridge or dishwasher dry where you’ve been scrubbing occasionally to see if it’s clean yet. It takes a while and some elbow grease to get these surfaces free of grime.
When the surfaces are clean and dry, polish them with our cleaner and a clean dry cloth.
Tip #13 – Finish Sooner: How to get fridge and oven door handles clean quickly and easily.
Use a damp soapy scrubber to scrub the handles. When clean, dry with a clean cloth.
Tip #14 – Hidden dirt and grime: Here are two commonly missed areas in the kitchen that are really dirty.
The area under your stove and under the fridge is probably really dirty. For cleaning under the stove, remove the pan drawer and clean the floor where the drawer was. If you have a gas stove, you may need to pull the stove away from the wall to clean under it. To clean the floor under the fridge, pull the fridge forward until you can get behind it. Clean the floor and then push the fridge back into place.
Tip #15 – Hidden dirt and grime: The top of your fridge
The top of your fridge is really dirty. You never see it (unless you’re quite tall) but the grime and dust is there. Consider cleaning that area yearly. Perhaps make it a spring cleaning project.
Tip #16 – Finish Sooner: How to “Whirlwind Clean” the kitchen (or the bathroom).
If your kitchen isn’t too dirty, spray everything all at once, (including inside the microwave) with my cleaning spray. Then clean, dry and polish everything at the same time. Go fast enough so that you don’t have to reapply the cleaning solution. You can clean and polish the kitchen in less than 5 minutes. Whirlwind Cleaning is also suitable for cleaning in the bathroom.
Tip #17 – Finish Sooner: Cleaning the kitchen, the living room and the dining room all at the same time
For our house cleaners who are working on the kitchen, we have them start by cleaning the laundry room, the living room coffee table, and end tables. We also instruct them to clean the dining room table and pull out the dining room chairs and barstools so the floor under them can be cleaned. Doing this saves a ton of time and gets a lot of areas cleaned all at once.
Tips to get your windows looking like they were professionally cleaned.
* I cleaned windows for a living for five years. Here’s the good stuff I learned…
Tip #18 – Really Clean: To get windows really clean and streak free
Scrub the window with soapy water, then squeegee. After you have squeegeed the window, dry the edges and bottom of the window. Next spray with window cleaner or our spray cleaner and then polish the window with a clean, dry cotton cloth, paying close attention to the edges of the window.
Tip #19 – Minimize the chance of scratching your windows when using a metal razor blade scraper
Do you have “stuff” stuck on your windows? You can buy plastic razor blade scrapers on Amazon which can scrape most of the debris off windows. A metal razor blade can then remove anything left. Make sure the area is wet before using the razor blade.
Tip #20 – Two easy methods to remove hard water stains from windows.
First method: Soak a plastic mesh scrubber with vinegar. Wipe the vinegar onto the hard water stain and then scrub with the plastic mesh scrubber. Rinse and dry. You may need to do this a few times.
Second method: First, put on rubber cleaning gloves. Generously pour original blue label Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner on a mesh scrubber (You don’t really want any water on the window or the scrubber). After getting the hard water stain wet with toilet bowl cleaner, scrub the stain for 30 seconds to a minute. Rinse well with water and then dry.
Don’t use this method over two times in a row, because the toilet bowl cleaner has acid in it. You don’t want to damage anything, including etching your window. Rinse off any spilled cleaner. As an FYI, we don’t use this method anymore due to the possibility of damaging something. You’ll have fewer worries as a home owner.
Tip #21 – Really Clean: Want to go overboard on cleaning the window tracks?
If your window slides open to the side, you can lift out the window that slides. Where the window was sitting, you’ll see a white piece of plastic that bulges slightly (a slide rail). The slide rail and the area under it is normally quite dirty. Use a screw driver to pry the slide rail out on the sides then clean under the slide rail. The hardest part is getting the slide rail back in place. It has to snap down completely or the window won’t close or open.
Tip #22 – Really Clean: How to get your slat blinds (wood or metal) really clean.
Warning: If the blinds are old, be gentle using the following method, because the strings will have deteriorated and could break. If the blinds are made of wood, they will need to be dried by hand with a dry cotton cloth immediately after cleaning them.
Outside in the yard, spread out a large plastic painters “drop cloth.” Have a bucket of soapy water and a large, soft bristled scrub brush handy. Have a hose with a sprayer available. You will need clean, dry towels.
1. With the blind all the way down, remove the blinds from the windows (look this up on YouTube if you’ve never done this before). Have someone help you with this because reaching up to remove or replace blinds can be difficult. It feels a bit like lifting weights above your head.
2. Take the blind outside. Lay it on the painter’s drip cloth. Scrub it gently with the soapy water and scrub brush. Turn it over and do the other side.
3. Rinse the blind off and lay it somewhere clean. I’ve used my car. Dry the blind with a cotton cloth. You need to do this by hand rather than air drying because if you don’t, you’ll leave hard water stains.
4. If you fill a pump spray bottle with purified water and spray off the window blind with that water, you can let the blind air dry.
5. If the blind is wood, dry it off right away and rehang inside.
In The Bathroom…
Tip #23 – Really Clean: “Guests are visiting” toilet cleaning
1. After putting on gloves, take everything off the back of the toilet and pull everything away from the toilet that sits on the floor around or behind it.
2. Wipe the toilet paper dust off of the toilet paper holder.
3. Use a toilet brush along with a liquid toilet bowl cleaner (Lysol toilet bowl cleaner is my preference) to swish the bowl thoroughly clean.
4. Using my cleaning spray, spray every surface of the toilet, including the hidden back parts, the floor, and the baseboards around the toilet.
5. Using a cotton cloth (not microfiber) wipe clean and dry the baseboards, the floor around the toilet, and the hidden parts of the toilet. Then wash clean and dry the other parts of the toilet.
6. Use (your husband’s toothbrush – kidding!) a toothbrush to clean all the hinges and edges of parts that didn’t get clean yet. Wipe dry.
7. Now polish the toilet by spraying lightly all areas of the toilet with my spray cleaner. Use a clean dry cotton cloth to polish the toilet to a bright sheen.
8. Place everything you moved back on or around the toilet.
Your toilet should now look brand new.
In The Bathroom (cont)…
Tip #24 – A warning: Don’t use pumice to remove hard water stains in your toilet bowl.
Pumice creates small scratches in the porcelain. This allows hard water stains to build up even faster and larger. This creates a vicious cycle that can only stop if you replace the toilet.
Best idea: Clean your toilet bowl with a toilet brush at least once a week.
Tip #25 – Hidden dirt and grime: 2 areas you may miss when cleaning your bathroom.
If you’ve just cleaned the bathroom counter, wash the outside of the soap dispenser and the toothbrush charger. You may not be aware of these items on a day-to-day basis, but I believe that subconsciously we are aware of dirty items in our homes.
Tip #26 – Really Clean: How to get mirrors really clean
Clean the mirrors twice. Pay special attention to the top of the mirror, edges of the mirror and the area on the mirror near the faucets.
Tip #27 – 3 different ways to get bathroom floors clean.
1. Sweep under the cabinets to remove hidden debris, then use a wet towel to hand-clean all the corners of the bathroom. Bathroom corners are often pretty gross.
2. Using a wet towel, hand clean under the cabinets. Clean the corners and then finish by mopping the floor.
3. If the bathroom isn’t too big and you want “spotlessly clean,” hand-wash the entire floor. Depending on how dirty the floor is you may want to clean it twice this way.
Tip #28 – Hidden dirt and grime: Toilet brush thought
After cleaning your toilet bowl, set the bristle part of the brush on a towel to drip dry while you clean the rest of the toilet. When you are done cleaning place the brush in the toilet brush cup holder. If you put the brush back into the cup holder right away you’re putting gross toilet water in there to fester. Ugg.
Tip #29 – Do you have a slow bathroom drain (sink, tub or shower)?
Use a hair removal tool that you can buy on Amazon or ask for the tool at your hardware store. You use it to pull out hair and other debris from the slow drain. You’ll be amazed and a little grossed out at what you pull out of there.
Tip #30 – Cleaning grunge off of shower pans and tub bottoms (maybe).
The best way I have found to clean these areas: Wet the bottom of the tub or shower. Spread on a large amount of Comet cleanser. Scrub, scrub, scrub the grime. There is about a 50% chance you’ll be able to get the area clean. This depends on how long it’s been since the bottom of the tub or the shower pan has been cleaned or how dirty it is.
I’ve tried everything I could think of that might do a better job, including using Easy Off oven cleaner. Nothing but elbow grease and Comet works, sometimes.
My Top Tips For Cleaning Floors
Tip #31 – Getting carpeting as clean as possible.
To vacuum carpets really clean, buy the vacuum cleaner that is most recommended in the house cleaning forums (do a google search). Don’t go cheap on this purchase. Spend at least $175. My current vacuum of choice is a Shark Navigator. It’s light, quiet, and does an excellent job. I own 4 of them.
Tip #32 – Getting hard floors to look and feel professionally clean.
It is well worth the cost to buy a professional mop handle, professional string mop head, and a professional mop bucket with a squeeze ringer to dry your mop. Altogether, you might spend $100 to get these items, but you’ll have and use them your entire life. I own a professional mop bucket that’s 30 years old. Still works great.
Owning and using these tools has two tremendous benefits: 1) While cleaning your floors, you can rinse and squeeze the mop dry in the mop bucket with ease. 2) You can remove the mop head and wash it in the washing machine. Mopping will no longer spread dirt on the floor thanks to these two benefits.
Tip #33 – Really Clean: How we get hard floors really clean using a special vacuum
We use a special hard floor vacuum called a mighty mite (Eureka – $80) to vacuum the floors in the houses we work at. When you’ve used this vacuum once, you’ll see why we recommend it for cleaning hard floors. Want to try it before you buy? Call me to borrow one.
My Top Tips For Cleaning Floors
Tip #34 – Really Clean: Scents and a clean home
We have found that for a home to feel really clean, there needs to be a slight cleaning smell when we leave. We use Mr. Clean-Frebreze in our mop water. Not very much, just enough to leave a clean smell in the home.
Tip #35 – Dusting and what I’ve learned
We used to use stick dusters like Swiffer Dusters. There were two problems with this: 1. It was easy to do a poor job of dusting, and 2. The Swiffers left dust in the home.
We now use slightly damp cloths (rinsed often) for all of our dusting. We don’t use furniture polish because that leaves streaks and an area for dust to settle and stick.
Tip #36 – Furniture oils
I recognize my viewpoint may not align with that of others, therefore I am introducing a notion that may eventually alter their outlook.
If the surface of wood furniture feels very smooth and slick, it means that it has been sealed, usually with polyurethane. There is no way for the furniture polish to reach the wood. Don’t waste polish on these items.
Tip #37 – While cleaning, carry a damp, clean towel with you.
I put one in my pocket. You could keep one in your caddy. This way, if you come across anything that was missed or needs special attention, you’re ready.
Tip #38 – Invest in a good ceiling fan brush cleaner on an extendable pole.
You’re going to have this brush for the rest of your life, so don’t go cheap.
Tip #39 – Cleaning grout
There are two thoughts:
1. You can clean grout using bleach and a toothbrush, but it won’t look brand new. I’ve never been able to get grout “new-looking,” only clean.
2. I haven’t tried this, but have watched many videos and looked for these products at Home Depot: Grout paint and grout sealer to seal the grout paint in. The directions for use are pretty simple. I think this would be worth trying. Try a small hidden area first.
Tip #40 – Put away the clutter easily.
Use a plastic bin to place clutter items in. Anything you don’t use monthly goes in the bin. You would mark the bin with a permanent marker to let you know what’s in it. Put the bin in an area designated for storing those bins. Most people use shelves in the garage.
Tip #41 – Cleaning baseboards
We use a ceiling cobweb remover to dust all the baseboards in a home that we clean. We do this at each cleaning. This keeps dirty gunk that would need to be hand washed, from building up on the baseboards.
Tip #42 – Finish Sooner: Use a timer to clean your home in half the time
Not for everyone, but in our business we use the timer on our phones to help our new people learn to clean faster. We set the timer to go off every 15 minutes, then we clean. We always do a faster job when we use a timer.
Tip #43 – Not an inside the house cleaning tip, but a quick tip to wash your car that sits outside.
When it rains, go outside after it stops and do a quick wipe down while your car is wet. It takes about 3 minutes to clean your car. FYI: I always throw away towels that I’ve used to clean the outside of my car. I don’t want any oil or grease to contaminate the rest of my cleaning rags. Of course, I have at least 1,000 cleaning rags, so throwing 2 away is no big deal.
Bonus Tips – Things I haven’t tried, but do make total sense.
Tip #44 – Use an oven liner (or a cookie sheet)
You can buy an oven liner for the bottom of your oven to catch stains. You can easily remove and clean it. I don’t think I would put it directly on the bottom of the oven, even though that’s what the directions specify. Most ovens have three racks. Take one rack and put it in the bottom slot of the oven. Cut the oven liner to fit over this rack. Food drips go onto the oven liner, which can then be easily removed and cleaned.
I have been using this concept for years. When baking, I put a large cookie sheet on the rack below the food I’m cooking. Spills go on to the cookie sheet instead of on the bottom of the oven, which makes for quick, easy cleanup.
Tip #45 – Pay yourself to clean.
Paying yourself motivates you to do housecleaning. When you’re done cleaning, you can do something fun with the cleaning money you’ve “earned.”
Tip #46 – Dusting blinds
Use a slightly damp sock as your dust rag. You can easily rub the top and bottom of the blind at the same time. It might be easier to clean closer to the strings, too.
Tip #47 – Vacuum your bed mattress.
Think of how much hair, grime, microscopic bugs, and their feces are on your mattress and its patterns. Vacuuming the mattress just makes sense. I might try rubbing in a bit of baking soda before vacuuming.
I’m Don Glasgow
I own First Impressions House Cleaning, which serves St George and the surrounding areas.
I can be reached at (435) 879-1239 or DonGlasgow@outlook.com
43 Household Cleaning Tips and Tricks