It always feels good to tidy up with a few simple tasks, like making your bed, loading the dishwasher, or putting away your kids' toys at the end of another long day. However, you'll have to put in a little elbow grease if you really want your house to shine. If the idea of tackling every dust bunny and stubborn stain in sight feels overwhelming — or you just don't know where to get started — then learning a few easy cleaning tips can help you manage your stress levels (and hopefully get your house squeaky clean in no time).
From the kitchen to the bathroom to the bedroom, the list of items that need scrubbing in your household can seem endless. Thankfully, there are ways to make the dirty work of spring cleaning feel manageable — and there are also plenty of quick cleaning hacks that can help you get the job done. Best of all, cleaning doesn't have to involve expensive tools and harmful chemicals, either. If you have some white vinegar, baking soda, and lots of surfaces that need some TLC, then this list of quick and easy cleaning tips was made for you. Now go grab your rubber gloves and get started!
Sanitize your sink.
It's hard to believe, but your dirty kitchen sink has more bacteria than your toilet seat. Cleaning your kitchen sink depends on its shape and material, so you should always consult the manufacturer's care guide before sanitizing. But there are some general cleaning tips that work for all kitchen sinks regardless of type.
Besides regularly wiping down your sink with dish soap or an anti-bacterial spray, our friends at Good Housekeeping say the best way to sanitize any sink after cleaning is to fill it up with warm water and add a tablespoon of bleach. Dip a sponge and use it to wipe down the faucet and handles, then let the bleach sit for a minimum of five minutes. Rinse and let the area air dry.
De-funk your dishwasher.
Just like the other appliances in your home, dishwashers require regular cleaning, and it's best to give your dishwasher a deep clean — including an alkaline wash and drain trap scrub — once a month. One way to do this is to fill a dishwasher-safe cup or bowl with white vinegar and place it on the upper rack of your dishwasher. Afterwards, run the (otherwise-empty) dishwasher on the hottest setting. If you don't like the smell of vinegar, you can also opt to sprinkle one cup of baking soda along the bottom of your dishwasher and rinse on a hot-water cycle instead.
To clean your drain trap, remove and disassemble it and — once it's apart — use a sponge or toothbrush and dish soap to remove any stuck-on food bits or mold.
RELATED: How to Clean Your Dishwasher
Show your oven some lovin'.
Tackling the spills and splatters in your oven doesn't have to be a daunting task. While it may be more time-consuming than, say, cleaning your kitchen sink after dinner, there are plenty of tips and tricks to make the process a lot easier.
To start, remove your oven racks and let them sit in dishwashing liquid for at least an hour before scrubbing with a mild abrasive cleaner if needed. After removing your racks, it's time to tackle the oven door. First, use a spatula to scrape away any food bits. Then use a store bought oven cleaner or create a paste using baking soda and water. Spread the paste on the oven door and let sit for no more than 20 minutes before wiping clean.
Make your microwave look like new.
You should avoid using heavy-duty oven cleaners, bleach, and other abrasive chemical solutions to clean your microwave, which can damage the appliance's interior. Instead, try washing your microwave with dish soap. To make the process easier, start with a steam-clean. Simply heat one cup of water in the microwave for two or three minutes. Then leave the door closed for a few more minutes, allowing the microwave to fill with steam.
If a steam-clean and dish soap don't do the trick, apply a paste of baking soda and water to the interior of the microwave and wipe down with a microfiber cloth. Don't forget to wipe down the microwave's exterior with soap and water as well!
RELATED: How to Clean a Microwave
Scour your gas stovetop.
When food residue spills over the sides of pots and pans around your oven's burner heads, things can get messy. However, it's possible to restore your gas stovetop to its former glory. You should start by placing your stove grates in the sink and soaking them in a non-toxic degreaser, like Simple Green. Then, remove your burners and spritz your stovetop with the same degreaser. Use a soft scouring pad to eliminate the grease and grime, and then wipe clean with paper towels.
After that, give your grates and your burner caps a good scrubbing with a nylon brush, as well as the burners themselves. Just be sure not to put any aggressive cleaners or solvents on your burners.
Make your glass stovetop shine.
Unlike gas stovetops, cleaning a glass stovetop can be as easy as wiping it down, but burnt-on food and grease can sometimes stick around. Baking soda and vinegar can tackle stubborn stains on your stovetop. First, make a baking soda paste using a three-to-one ratio of baking soda to water, mixing it in a bowl until it thickens. Then, spread the paste evenly over your glass-top stove using a spatula or a brush.
After spreading the paste, fill a spray bottle with vinegar and lightly spray your cooktop. Once the area is evenly covered, spread warm, wet towels over the stovetop. After 30 minutes, remove the towels and wipe down the surface in circular motions.
Keep stainless steel looking spotless.
Stainless steel is one of the easiest surfaces to clean, and keeping your stainless steel appliances gleaming can make a big difference. All you need to keep stainless steel clean is soap and water. First, dampen a soft sponge with water and mild dish soap to wipe down the surface of your appliance. Use a dish towel to wipe off soap residue and then, once the stainless steel has been fully rinsed, wipe off any remaining water with another dry dish towel.
Soap and water should remove most smudges and residue from stainless steel, but spray glass cleaner can take care of any stubborn fingerprints. Abrasive cleaners, sponges, and materials should never be used, as they can scratch the metal surface.
Spruce up your sponge.
Though you should replace your kitchen sponge anywhere from once a month to once every two weeks, depending on how much you use it, you can make a sponge last by giving it a good cleaning. However, that old trick of putting a sponge in a microwave probably isn't your best move.
The best way to clean a sponge is by mixing three quarter cups of bleach in one gallon of water and soaking the sponge for five minutes, then rinsing.
Refresh your refrigerator.
To properly clean your refrigerator, first remove and hand-wash removable refrigerator shelves, wire racks, and drawers in hot water and mild dish soap. Cover stubborn food spills with a warm, wet cloth for a few minutes to soften the spills before tackling with a non-abrasive scrubber.
For drawers and shelves you can't remove, get them clean using a mixture of one part baking soda and seven parts water. Once you've rinsed and dried all surfaces, deodorize your refrigerator by filling an open container with dry baking soda and leaving it on the bottom shelf.
Decalcify your coffee maker.
While you should be washing all removable parts of your coffee maker with dish soap after every use, you should also decalcify your coffee maker every month with vinegar. To do so, fill the reservoir with equal parts vinegar and water, and place a paper filter into the machine's empty basket. Put your pot in place, "brew" the solution halfway, and then turn off the machine.
After letting it sit for 30 minutes, turn the coffee maker back on, finish the brewing, and dump the full pot of vinegar and water. Rinse everything out by putting in a new paper filter and brewing a full pot of clean water.
Get your electric kettle shining.
You can also use distilled vinegar to descale your electric kettle. Add equal parts water and vinegar to the kettle until it is about halfway full. Next, bring the mixture to a boil and allow the boiled vinegar water mixture to sit in the kettle for 15 or 20 minutes. Finally, pour off the mixture and rinse the kettle.
If there are still scales or gunk inside the kettle, use the rough side of a sponge to remove anything that is sticking around.
Tidy up your toaster.
When cleaning out your toaster, you should start with the crumb tray. After making sure your appliance is unplugged, wash and dry your toaster's crumb tray, using a small pastry or basting brush to get into the hard-to-reach corners. Once finished, you can replace the tray.
To clean the toaster's exterior, wipe it down with a damp cloth and gentle soap. If your toaster is stainless steel, you can use a bit of vinegar to make it shine.
Get the gunk out of your slow cooker.
Nothing's worse than dealing with a ring of crusty, baked-on food in your crockpot, but keeping a slow cooker clean is probably easier than you think. To start, fill your slow cooker with water until it’s just above the leftover food line, then add 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar for a 3-quart slow cooker (or 1 cup for a 6-quart slow cooker). Follow the vinegar with 1/2 cup of baking soda for a 3-quart slow cooker (or 1 cup for a 6-quart slow cooker).
Once you've added your vinegar and baking soda, cover and set your slow cooker to low for at least one hour (but no more than four). After your slow cooker cools, wash it in the sink with warm, soapy water and then set it on your counter to dry.
Get cloudy glasses gleaming.
Drinking glasses looking grimy? Lucky for you, cloudy drinking glasses can be cleaned up with white vinegar, baking soda, and a microfiber cloth. The first step is to soak your cloudy glasses in vinegar for five minutes. If the timer goes off and there are still some spots, gently rub these areas with baking soda. Rinse clean by hand and dry with a microfiber cloth.
If this method doesn't work for you, it may mean the glass is etched. "If the film is etching, which happens to some types of glassware in the dishwasher, that unfortunately is permanent and can't be removed," says Carolyn Forte, Executive Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab. When in doubt, always wash expensive or sentimental glassware by hand.
Tackle your cabinets.
Most cabinet types — including metal, plastic laminate, painted wood, and vinyl cabinets — can be cleaned with a solution of liquid dish soap and warm water. Use a spray bottle full of that solution and a cloth to wipe down the exterior of your cabinets, and then thoroughly dry. For tough stains, try using a paste of baking soda and water and a soft-bristled brush.
Once the exteriors are clean, empty each cabinet and vacuum out any residue or crumbs. Then you can wash the interior of the cabinets with warm water and a mild detergent and thoroughly dry. It's a good idea to wipe down dusty cans and containers with warm water and dish soap as well.
Restore your pots and pans.
If you want to get your pots and pans looking like new, then try using some baking soda. For porcelain-enameled cast-iron cookware, fill the pot or pan with about one quart of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add two tablespoons of baking soda, stir, and let simmer for several minutes. Then dump out the pot and rinse the pan with warm water.
Non-stick frying pans can also benefit from a mixture of baking soda and water. Simply cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of water and sprinkle baking soda over the water to create a thin paste. Let the pan sit for several hours, then rinse and wash the pan.
Sanitize your garbage can.
Even if you always use a liner bag, your trash receptacle gets pretty grimy. Start the task of cleaning your garbage can by emptying it, removing any large pieces of food or particles you see in the bottom of the can. Then, rinse out the can using either a hose outside or your bathtub.
Once the can has been thoroughly rinsed, use a disinfectant cleaner to spray down the inside and outside of the trash can and scrub the can with a nylon bristle brush. Afterwards, rinse and dry the can thoroughly.
Clean off your countertops.
The way you clean your bathroom and kitchen countertops will depend on the type of material. For marble, quartz, granite, and laminate counters, avoid acidic cleaner and instead use hot water and a squirt of dish soap in a spray bottle. Spritz the counter with the spray and then wipe it down with a damp microfiber cloth.
For butcher block or concrete countertops, you can also use hot water and dish soap. Spritz your counters and then scrub with a dish sponge or a brush with plastic bristles to clean.
RELATED: How to Clean Granite Countertops
Wash away hard water stains.
Getting rid of hard water stains doesn't have to be hard, and the best way to remove those hard water stains is with vinegar. To tackle hard water stains on shower walls and bathtubs, grab a spray bottle and mix equal parts of water and vinegar. Then, spritz the solution onto affected surfaces, let sit for at least 15 minutes, and wipe clean.
Hard water stains on chrome sink fixtures can also be cleaned with this same mixture.
RELATED: How to Clean Shower Doors
Spruce up your shower head.
Bacteria can thrive in shower heads, so keeping yours clean is pretty essential. Fortunately, shower heads can be kept fresh and clean with the help of some white vinegar. To start, fill a plastic bag partway with white vinegar. Then, place the bag over the shower head until the entire fixture is immersed in the vinegar and fasten around the neck of the shower head with a piece of string or twist ties. Let the shower head soak for several hours — unless you have a brass, gold, or nickel-coated shower head, in which case you should only keep in the vinegar for 30 minutes.
If buildup remains, scrub the fixture with an old toothbrush. After, run hot water for a minute to flush out any mineral deposits stuck inside the shower head.
Corinne Sullivan is an Editor at Cosmopolitan, where she covers a variety of beats, including lifestyle, entertainment, relationships, shopping, and more. She can tell you everything you need to know about the love lives of A-listers, the coziest bedsheets, and the sex toys actually worth your $$$. She is also the author of the 2018 novel Indecent. Follow her on Instagram for cute pics of her pup and bébé.
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