10 Genius Cleaning Hacks

Top pros confess their dirty little dust- and grime-busting secrets.


I clean rugs with a shower squeegee.

Photo by Sean Freeman

The motive: With vacuuming, fur weaves its way into the rug fibers and hair can get tangled in the brush roll. Edged with rubber, a squeegee glides along a rug smoothly, creating static electricity that draws hair and fur from the carpet.

The method: Run a dry squeegee across the rug in overlapping rows. Collect clumps as they form and discard.

—Melissa Maker, founder of the Clean My Space Cleaning Company, Youtube Channel, and Blog


I use packing tape as a duster.

The motive: It's easy to ignore lampshades, speakers, and the insides of drawers because it's tough to get them clean with regular dusting. With its strong adhesive, packing tape is the answer—it grabs dirt from fabric and crevices.

The method: Press a foot-long stretch of tape onto the surface, then pull it back to pick up the grime. To get crumbs out of drawers, ball up the tape, leaving much of the sticky side facing out. Tap the ball onto the debris, applying extra pressure to catch stubborn pieces.

—Maeve Richmond, founder of the organizational company Maeve's Method


I "mop" with my feet.

The motive: Cleaning floors and baseboards with a rag and the standard hands-and-knees method takes mettle. Legs are typically stronger than arms; the added force speeds the process.

The method: Using a formula of equal parts water and white vinegar, spritz the bottoms of a pair of thick, absorbent socks, then put them on. Glide one foot across the baseboards. Spritz again, then skate around the floor to pick up dust, starting with the farthest corner and working toward the entryway. When you're finished, toss the socks in the washing machine. Need to save your socks for the gym? Try Evri-holder Slipper Genie cleaning slippers ($12, amazon.com).

—Pam Young, founder of cluborganized.com


I use a polymer-based car wax to prevent toilet-bowl stains.

The motive: Traditional formulas work for a bit, but this solution's polymers coat the surface for six months, keeping it slick so nothing sticks.

The method: Clean the toilet to remove existing stains, then back the water out. This is easy: Shut off the water valve by turning it all the way to the right; flush the toilet, holding down the handle until most of the water flows from the tank; and pour a bucket of water into the bowl. Dry the interior with a cotton cloth, and use a separate cloth to apply the protectant. (Try 3M Performance Finish Synthetic Wax; $20, amazon.com.) Make sure to open a window for ventilation. Let sit for 10 minutes, then replenish the water by turning the valve left to open. For upkeep, every three months pour ½ cup distilled white vinegar into the bowl to prevent water rings from forming.

—Mary Findley, cleaning expert and owner of Mary Moppins


I tackle marks on upholstery with shaving cream.

The motive: Sometimes you don't have the right stain solution on hand. Shaving cream, which is essentially a whipped soap, is an ideal substitute. Its lather can penetrate nearly any stain and lift it to the surface. (Test first in an inconspicuous place.)

The method: Apply a small dollop to a damp cloth. (Use a standard white shaving cream, like Barbasol Original, rather than a gel version.) Dab this onto the spot and let sit for 30 minutes, then blot with a clean, damp cloth. If any stain remains, reapply and let sit overnight.

—Cheryl Sousan, founder of the lifestyle blog tidymom.net


My fix for stained food storage containers is the sun.

The motive: Even if you put the containers in the dishwasher, you can never get them fully, good-as-new clean. The sun's rays are akin to a natural bleach, so they eliminate most stains.

The method: After washing the containers in the sink with dish soap and warm water, place them on a clean tea towel in the sun. Let sit for eight hours. Rinse and let dry.

—Donna Smallin Kuper, certified housecleaning technician and author of Clear the Clutter, Find Happiness


I use newspaper to soak up garbage spills.

The motive: A newspaper lining absorbs trash-bag leaks so you don't have to wash out the bin later.

The method: Place yesterday's news at the bottom of your trash bin with a plastic bag underneath, to keep the paper from sticking to the can. Discard it all when you toss the trash.

—Tara Aronson, lifestyle expert and author of Simplify Your Household


I don't wash the blender—I just press a button.

The motive: A blender's sharp blades and ridged interior can be tricky—and dangerous—to clean.

The method: Fill the blender halfway with water, add a few drops of dish soap, and blend on low for 10 seconds. Wipe down the upper area with the soapy water and a sponge, then rinse.

—Marla Kabashima, organizing coach at Maeve's Method


I quick-clean my mattress with a spritz of vodka.

The motive: Mattress upkeep is often overlooked, even though pros suggest quarterly cleanings. Vodka is an odorless disinfectant that evaporates fast, so you'll never have to do a deep cleaning.

The method: Using a vodka-filled spray bottle, spritz the mattress and pillows when changing the sheets.

—Pam Young


I get rid of crayon marks on walls with toothpaste.

The motive: Cleaning sprays can discolor walls. But a white, non-gel toothpaste that contains baking soda acts as a fine abrasive to rub away wax without leaving a tint.

The method: Apply with a clean toothbrush, scrub gently, then wipe clean with a damp cloth.

—Cheryl Sousan