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40 Handy Hints for Cleaning Every Nook and Cranny of Your House

You’ll have every corner of your house spick-and-span in no time by following these seriously smart house cleaning hacks. You won’t believe what everyday items can do!

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HH Handy hint garbage can deodorizer boraxFamily Handyman

Garbage can deodorizer

Borax, or sodium borate, is a naturally occurring substance and is an ingredient in many household cleaning products. If you have a smelly garbage can, deodorize it with equal parts borax and water. For our small garbage can, we used 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of borax. Let it soak and then rinse it out. Sprinkle some borax in the bottom once it’s dry, to keep bugs away and to absorb any future odor-causing moisture. Check out these professional secrets that will make your house sparkle.

Clean the Air While You Clean the HouseFamily Handyman

Clean the air while you clean the house

Your vacuum’s agitator brush and exhaust whip up dust that eventually settles on the surfaces you’ve just cleaned. Filter out some of that dust before it settles by switching your thermostat to “fan on.” This turns on the blower inside your furnace and filters the air even while the system isn’t heating or cooling. Leave the blower on for about 15 minutes after you’re done cleaning. But don’t forget to switch it back to “auto.” Most blowers aren’t designed to run constantly.

HH Handy Hint broom wide tooth comb dust bunny dustpan hackFamily Handyman

Dust bunny broom cleaner

Every time you sweep, clumps of dust and hair collect at the ends of the broom’s bristles. To solve this problem, hot glue a wide-tooth comb to the top of a dustpan. Just run the bristles through the comb to remove any excess gunk dangling from the broom. If the dust in your house is making your allergies worse, you’ll love these cleaning products for people with allergies.

HH Handy Hint box fan woodworking filter fan furnace filterFamily Handyman

Saw dust filter fan

My workshop doesn’t have air conditioning, and it gets pretty hot while I’m working. I used to blow a fan directly at myself, but it sucked in dust from around the shop and blew it at me. I had a few extra furnace filters lying around, so I tried attaching one to the back of the fan using hook-and-loop fasteners. This made a huge difference! Don’t use a super-high-performance filter, as it could cause the fan to have to work too hard to pull air through, resulting in an overheated motor. — Reader Larry Brannock.

HH Handy hint swiffer floor sweeper dryer sheetsFamily Handyman

Use dryer sheets to clean your floors

Don’t throw away used dryer sheets. There’s another use for them. Wrap a couple of dryer sheets onto the flat head of a sweeper. The dryer sheets pick up dust and hair just as well as name-brand sweeper refills. Say goodbye to those dust bunnies! Here are a few more tips to spring clean your entire house in just one day.

HH Handy Hint DIY dish scrubber mason jarFamily Handyman

DIY mason jar dish scrubber

If you are all about ease and convenience when it comes to washing the dishes, check out this DIY mason jar dish scrubber. It even has a soap-dispensing handle. First, punch a few nail holes in the jar’s lid. Trace the lid onto a sponge and cut it out. Hot glue the sponge to the inner rim of the screw-on part of the lid. Fill the jar with soap, screw on the sponge and you’re set!

HH Handy Hint toothbrush clean narrow necked containers humming bird feederFamily Handyman

Clean hard-to-reach spots on oddly shaped containers

If you own a hummingbird feeder or tall flower vase, you know how difficult it is to clean inside them. A toothbrush is perfect for cleaning these hard-to-reach places. So, when your old toothbrush has retired from duty in your mouth, give it a new job! Here are some more cleaning tricks for hard to clean objects.

HH newspaper streak free glassFamily Handyman

For more than just the news

If streaky mirrors and glass tug on your nerves, we’ll show you how to get streak-free glass with a couple of items already lying around your home. To get started, you’ll need window cleaner and newspaper. Spray window cleaner on your dirty glass and then scrub in a circular motion, using the newspaper. Switch to a vertical, and then a horizontal stroke until all the liquid has dissipated and you’re left with shiny, streak-free windows!

Note: for vinyl windows, we’ve found that the newsprint leaves a mark on the white frame. Avoid rubbing the window frame with newspaper and stick to the glass.

Remove Bathroom Soap ScumFamily Handyman

Remove bathroom soap scum

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Soap has a nasty way of forming a hard-to-remove film on the tile in tubs and showers. You won’t get rid of it by rubbing. Instead, wait for the surface to dry, then scrape off the scum with a 4-in. plastic putty knife. For grout lines and textured surfaces, use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

To prevent soap scum buildup, stop using real soap and start using a synthetic. Chemically speaking, any soap in a liquid or gel form and some bar soaps (Zest and Ivory) are actually synthetic soaps and much less likely to leave a tough film in your sink, shower or tub. Just be sure to avoid wiping your magic eraser on these 10 things you should never clean with a magic eraser.

Citrus Peels and Ice Cubes for a Stinky DisposerFamily Handyman

Citrus peels and ice cubes for a stinky disposer

If your disposer has developed an odor, it may contain bits of rotted food. Here’s how to clean them out:

  1. With the water running at about half throttle, drop in orange or lemon peels. Run the disposer for five seconds. Citric acid from the peels softens crusty waste and attacks smelly bacteria. Give the acid about 15 minutes to do its work.
  2. Turn on the water and the disposer and drop in a few ice cubes. Flying shards of ice work like a sandblaster inside the disposer.
  3. Run the water until the bowl is about half full. Then pull the stopper and turn on the disposer to flush it out.

HH cleaning around lint trap on dryerFamily Handyman

Paint stick to clean lint buildup

Even if you empty your dryer’s lint trap before each load, chances are there is still lint buildup around the area that could potentially cause a fire. So it’s important to deep clean the area once in a while, and this handy hint will get the job done.

Wrap a clean rag around one end of a paint stir stick. Remove the lint trap and clean out the area with the rag-covered stick. To help the lint stick to the rag, dampen it with water first. Keep in mind these hidden home dangers you should never ignore, too.

HH Cleaning with drill brushFamily Handyman

The drill brush

Start by threading the machine screw through the brush head so the head of the screw rests in the brush head hole. On the other side of the brush head, slide on the washer and secure it in place with a nut. Make sure to tighten it well with a wrench. However, do not over-tighten, as this may cause the plastic brush head to crack. Next, attach the scrubber head to the drill.

To clean, fill a bowl or bucket with hot water and dish soap (or the cleaning agent of your choice). Dip the power scrubber into the mixture just enough to saturate the bristles and do not submerge the drill! Now simply point and press the drill to start and let the drill brush do the work.

Swiffer Sweeper for dusting wallsFamily Handyman

Floor Swiffer for walls

Attach a dry cloth to the Swiffer’s rectangle end and swipe it along the wall to pick up dust, cobwebs and dirt and more. Then press an edge of the rectangle end along window and door trim to pick up dust that tends to collect quickly in those areas.

The extension handle on the Swiffer makes reaching these high surfaces simple and safe—so you don’t have to stand on a step stool or ladder. When you’re done dusting, just toss the disposable cloth in the garbage. Just be sure to avoid these things you should never clean with a Swiffer.

household itemsFamily Handyman

Coffee filters for dusting

When you need to clean a computer monitor or TV screen, reach into your kitchen cupboard for a coffee filter. Thin, cloth-like paper filters are great at picking up fine dust particles, and one filter goes a long way. You can also use coffee filters for dusting knickknacks and other home accessories, while you’re at it. Add a spritz of cleaning solution and the coffee filter will catch even more dust and disinfect surfaces, too.

remove hard water buildup with a lemonFamily Handyman

Remove hard-water buildup with a lemon

To get rid of hard-water buildup on a faucet, try this natural solution: Cut a fresh lemon in half. Then press the lemon onto the end of the faucet. Put a small plastic bag around the lemon and secure it around the faucet with a rubber band. Be sure that the rubber band is cinched tightly and that the lemon is around the end of the faucet. Leave the lemon in place for a few hours to allow the citric acid to work its magic.

After you remove the lemon, you may need to use a gentle scrubbing pad to wash off any loosened hard-water buildup. Then wipe the faucet with a damp cloth to remove any leftover lemon juice, and your faucet will be squeaky clean—and you didn’t need to use harsh chemicals! Here are 6 homemade cleaners that really work.

use garden gloves for dusting small itemsFamily Handyman

Garden gloves to dust knickknacks

For tiny trinkets and knickknacks with small parts that are difficult to clean with a standard household rag, try this handy hint: Slip on a pair of soft (preferably cotton) gardening gloves. Then use your fingers to clean the hard-to-reach nooks and crannies of your collectibles. To get rid of germs in the process of dusting, spritz the cotton gloves with a small amount of antibacterial cleaning solution.

Microwave CleanerFamily Handyman

Microwave cleaner

It’s easy to clean baked-on food and spills from your microwave Here’s how: Partially fill a measuring or coffee cup with water and add a slice of lemon. Boil the water for a minute, and then leave the door closed and let the steam loosen the mess. After ten minutes, open the door and wipe away the grime. Or, try out one of the best-reviewed cleaning products on Amazon.

grocery bag shoe coversFamily Handyman

Grocery bag shoe covers

When I’m working outside and have messy work shoes, I will step into plastic grocery bags and tie the handle loops around my ankles to hold them on. This keeps me from dragging in mud and such when I need to come inside for just a minute or two. It also keeps me out of trouble with my wife! — Lance Wiist

It’s a good idea to stash a couple of plastic grocery bags in your pockets or in your toolbox before heading outside to work in your yard. That way you’ll have quick shoe covers on hand.

HH toothbrush grout cleanerFamily Handyman

Clean more than just your teeth!

One of the handy little tools that I use for cleaning is an electric toothbrush. It’s great for removing stains and grime around the house! To clean up residue and splatters in the kitchen, I use just a bit of baking soda under the spinning toothbrush head to quickly clean the metal sink and plastic dish drying rack. I also use the electric toothbrush with baking soda and a tiny bit of water to scrub grout in both the kitchen and bathroom. Of course, I use a different one for my teeth! — Reader Ellis Biderson

permanent marker HH vegetable oil removerFamily Handyman

Permanent marker stain

Don’t worry, that permanent marker stain on your new laminate countertop won’t be there forever! Dab some cooking oil onto a paper towel and then lay the paper towel over the stain that refuses to budge. Wait a few minutes while the oil works to dissolve the stubborn stain. Finally, remove the towel and rub away the stain in circular motions (with some force) with another paper towel dipped in oil. When the stain is gone, wipe the area clean with soap and water.

pouring baking soda onto upholsteryFamily Handyman

Clean upholstery with baking soda

Use this handy hint if there’s a funky smell lurking in your couch or upholstered chair: Sprinkle a generous amount of regular baking soda onto the fabric and let it sit for at least 20 minutes. The baking soda will help to release odors and break up some light stains in the fabric. After about 20 minutes, remove the baking soda—and the funky smell—with a handheld vacuum or a hose attachment for your large vacuum. Baking soda has several magical powers in the house, find out 17 more.

HH Car Wax Stainless steal appliances applyFamily Handyman

Make your appliances smudge-free

If you own stainless steel kitchen appliances, you may want to consider using car wax to clean them rather than a surface cleaner. Simply apply a light coat of car wax to the appliance, allow time to dry and buff clean to resist fingerprints and smudges. No more kiddy fingerprints on the fridge!

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Vacuum cleaner spout hack

Sometimes you need a little bit of creativity to deep clean hard-to-reach areas. If you have a plastic squeeze top bottle, try fitting the tip onto your vacuum nozzle. If it fits, great, if not, there’s always tape. You’ll have a powerful machine to get rid of dirt and dust in even the tiniest of spaces, like a keyboard, headphone port or for detailing your car.  Keep in mind these 10 places you’re not vacuuming but definitely should be, too.

sock to clean window blindsFamily Handyman

Use soft socks to clean blinds

No need for a special tool to give your window blinds a deep cleaning, just slip a soft (and clean!) sock onto your hand. Your hand is the perfect tool for wiping over, through and under the blinds to get every nook and cranny that collects dust.

Spray a bit of all-purpose cleaner onto the sock for added disinfecting umph. Here are even more brilliant uses for old socks you should know about.

HH Handy Hint Vacuum cleaner nylons find lost itemsFamily Handyman

Find your lost items

Everyone knows how annoying it is when you can’t seem to find a dropped pill or the back of an earring. So how do you find these items quickly and easily? Use your vacuum. Here’s the trick; before you turn the vacuum on, cut off the end of a nylon and secure it on the end of your vacuum hose with a rubber band. Rubber bands are also a key tool in these home improvement hacks you’ll wish you knew sooner.

HH zip-tie sink clogFamily Handyman

Zip-tie to the rescue

When my bathroom sink gets clogged, I don’t reach for chemicals. Instead, I use a long zip tie. I cut several notches on the zip-ties end. It’ll hook the hair clog, allowing you to pull it out. Problem solved. The size of the eye of the zip tie prevented me from inadvertently pushing the tie past the stopper.  — Reader Rick Holmen

shutterstock_532799731 dishwasherYunava1/Shutterstock

Use your dishwasher

Dishwashers are for so much more than just washing dishes. Leslie Reichert, founder of The Green Cleaning Coach and author of The Joy Of Green Cleaning, recommends using yours to dust off knickknacks like mason jars and glass candle globes. Pretty much anything glass or ceramic should be fine going in the dishwasher, but you do want to stay away from putting meltable plastics, and these 9 objects in your dishwasher at all costs.

Lampshade Lint RollerFamily Handyman

Lampshade lint roller

Fabric lampshades are magnets for dust and pet hair. You can’t just throw them in the washing machine, so what do you do? I’ve found that a lint roller works really well. Be careful though, as lampshades are fragile and can even become brittle. A torn lampshade is worse than a dirty one.

HH Steam clean ovenFamily Handyman

Steam for everyday spills

The advantages of traditional oven cleaners are power and speed. But for many of us, the disadvantages outweigh the good, specifically, the corrosive chemicals and caustic fumes that this type of oven cleaning can produce.

A simple, more natural way to clean your oven is to place an oven-safe pot or bowl filled with water inside. Set your oven to 450 degrees for 20 to 60 minutes to loosen dirt and grease with the steam. Once your oven is cool, wipe off the condensation and the grease will come with it. If stubborn spots persist, scrub with a paste of baking soda and lemon or vinegar. This steam-cleaning option doesn’t take as long as pyrolytic cleaning and doesn’t produce smoke, either. It’s a win-win! Have company coming to visit? Try using these 26 secrets personal organizers would never tell you for free to get your place into ship shape.

Fresh Toilet BrushFamily Handyman

Always-fresh toiletbrush

Toilet brushes are relegated to a filthy task, and the thought of what’s leftover on that brush left me a little queasy. So I put a splash of Pine-Sol in the bottom of the brush container. Not only does this help to deodorize my bathroom, but it also disinfects the toilet brush.

Remove Crayon Marks From WallFamily Handyman

Remove crayon marks from walls

Have your walls been redecorated with some original crayon masterpieces? Don’t lose your cool. Just grab a rag, dip it in some baking soda and lightly scrub the marks. They will come off with a minimal amount of effort and give your young Picasso a fresh, new canvas. Before you tackle a new type of stain, keep in mind these cleaning mistakes that are actually making your home dirtier.

HH Hair Zip Clean Under FridgeFamily Handyman

Clean under your fridge

The space between your fridge and the floor is a magnet for pet hair, dust, food crumbs, and other small trinkets. And if gone too long without cleaning, it can attract ants and other pests. To make this cleaning task less difficult, use a hair trap cleaner (also called a drain cleaning zip tool), which sells at home improvement stores for under $5. This hair trap won’t leave scratches on the floor and can reach further than a vacuum cleaner attachment

HH handy hint soda bottle fly trap apple chunksFamily Handyman

Brilliant DIY indoor fly trap

Wondering how to get rid of annoying flies around your home? Wash a plastic beverage bottle and cut off the top. Stick the cutoff top upside down in the bottle’s bottom. Mark a line slightly below the bottle’s spout. This will serve as a “fill to” line. Fill with apple chunks, the riper the better, and 2 cups of white vinegar to deter bees from the trap. Place the cutoff top upside down in the bottle. Flies can easily get into the wide opening, but it’s difficult for them to get back out. This simple hack will keep spiders out of your house.

poster putty computer cleanerFamily Handyman

A surefire way to clean your computer ports

I use my computer a lot in my workshop. Once, the magnetic charging port collected a bunch of metal filings. I tried blowing them out with compressed air, but that didn’t work, as the filings were small and the magnet wouldn’t let go of them. What finally did the trick was sticking a bit of poster putty in the port. The putty doesn’t clog the port and successfully removes anything that might interfere with the connection. — Senior editor Travis Larson

Painted CarpetFamily Handyman

Spilled paint on your carpet? Don’tpanic, do this:

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I used to think dropping a loaded paintbrush on the carpet meant replacing the carpet until a former foreman told me this little tip. Pour some denatured alcohol onto a rag and scrub away the paint. Use a rag that is as close in color to the carpet, as the alcohol can transfer some of the rag’s color to the carpet. – Reader Tom Gerdowsky

eraser to clean keyboardFamily Handyman

Erase marks on a keyboard

Dirt and oils from your fingertips can build-up on a computer keyboard. But did you know that you can remove marks from a keyboard using a simple eraser? A standard pink eraser such as the one shown in the photo works perfectly, you just need to use a bit of elbow grease. Use a corner of the eraser to press down onto each key and rub away the marks.  Thinking about putting this off? Here are 7 reasons you need to clean your laptop immediately.

HH Handy Hint brasso glasses get scratches outFamily Handyman

Clean scratch-free glasses

Scratched eyeglasses are a real nuisance and make it hard to see. If your glasses DON’T have antiglare or scratch coating on them, here’s how to get minor scratches out. Put a drop of Brasso on a 100 percent cotton cloth, the softer the better. Apply the product to the lenses, let it dry completely, and then polish out the scratches.

clean cast iron skillet with coarse saltFamily Handyman

Clean a cast-iron skillet with coarse salt

To prevent rust and extend the life of a cast iron skillet, it’s best not to use soap to clean it. Instead, use about a tablespoon of coarse salt to scrub the pan after a meal.

The salt breaks up bits of stuck food and residue on the skillet. Then you can toss the dirty salt in the trash, rinse the pan with hot water and dry it with a clean towel. To further protect a cast iron skillet, rub a few drops of vegetable oil over the entire cooking surface. Not doing the trick? Here are 10 products that can clean your cast iron fast.

Super-Fast Floor SqueegeeFamily Handyman

Super-fast floor squeegee

When you need to round up water on your garage or basement floor, assemble this simple squeegee. Slip a piece of foam pipe insulation over the tines of an ordinary garden rake to push the water to a drain or out the door.

HH clean sneakers with a toothbrush and toothpaste whiteFamily Handyman

Your shoes will look new

All you need is an old toothbrush and a little toothpaste to get your old sneakers looking like new! Non-gel white toothpaste works great for cleaning white-soled sneakers (colored toothpaste may stain rather than clean sneakers). Apply toothpaste to an old toothbrush and then work the paste into the dirty spots. Leave the toothpaste on the shoes for about ten minutes, and then wipe it off with a damp towel. Repeat the process if necessary. Check out these incredible before-and-after cleaning pictures to get you inspired.

Originally Published in The Family Handyman