Number 4 is a total game-changer. 

By Katie Holdefehr
Updated December 12, 2018
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Every year, Real Simple editors learn dozens of new cleaning tips and tricks and try out many new cleaning products and gadgets. Some don't make the cut, others work just fine but we wouldn't necessarily adopt them ourselves, and some are so noteworthy we can't help but add them to our own home cleaning routines. Below, we've rounded up eight of the best cleaning lessons of 2018 that we'll definitely be taking with us into the New Year. From the trick to making dishwashing more tolerable (stress-reducing, in fact!) to the right way to clean white leather booties, here are the top cleaning lessons of the year.

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1
We Figured Out How to Never Vacuum Again

This year, we pitted two under-$300 robot vacuums against each other in a cleaning match. The result: Both the Roomba 690 and the Shark ION got the job done, but the Roomba proved better for cleaning rugs and carpets, while the Shark bumped into walls less often and was ideal for cleaning around delicate furniture. In the end, the real winner was us—because with a robot vacuum at home, we can avoid vacuuming all year long. 

To buy: Roomba 690 and Shark ION; both $279 on amazon.com. 

2
We Discovered the Secret to Cleaning Blinds Quickly

Back in 2017, we were meticulously cleaning window blinds with a paper towel or cleaning rag, but in 2018, we discovered this under-$10 blinds duster on Amazon. With three microfiber cloth-covered prongs, you can clean multiple panels in a single swipe. And when the cloths get dusty and dirty, a run through the washing machine refreshes them. This cheap yet time-saving gadget goes down as one of the best cleaning buys of 2018. 

To buy: $8; amazon.com

3
We Learned the Right Way to Clean White Shoes

In 2018, fresh white sneakers and stylish white boots were on trend, which meant that keeping them clean became a new struggle this year. Luckily, we learned the tricks to keeping white shoes clean, whether they're canvas, leather, or suede. Depending on the type of material, you'll need to use different cleansers. For example, white vinegar and a pink pencil eraser are the secrets to removing stains on white suede shoes.

4
We Turned Dishwashing Into a Stress-Relieving Activity

This year, we started to think about dishwashing a little differently. In one small study conducted by Florida State University, researchers found that participants who read a short passage on mindfulness before washing dishes reported higher levels of inspiration and lower levels of nervousness than those in the control group. Our takeaway: We're trying to be more present and mindful when washing dishes so we can turn this formerly-dreaded chore into a stress-reducing one.

5
We Learned How to Split Household Chores Fairly

Perhaps one of the biggest cleaning tips we learned in 2018 is that we shouldn't expect to do it all by ourselves. This year, we explored why its important to divide housework more fairly (our careers depend upon it!), along with strategies for splitting the labor in a way that feels fair, even if that isn't necessarily a 50/50 split.

6
We Realized 13 Places We've Been Forgetting to Dust (Eek!)

Let 2018 be known as the year we realized we should have been dusting our houseplants and air vents all along. Curious about the other 11 places you're not dusting but should be? Find the full list here.

7
We Learned We Should Clean Our Vacuums (and Dishwashers and Washing Machines) More Often

If you still think that your cleaning appliances don't need to be cleaned themselves, make this lesson one of your 2019 New Year's resolutions. Emptying the vacuum bin and unclogging the brushes will boost your vacuum's cleaning power, so you can get the job done faster. Similarly, your dishwasher and washing machine will both function better when they're properly cleaned. Step one: Learn the right way to wash these appliances.

8
We Started Tossing Out Our Toilet Brushes

When we asked John Cohen, the vice president of the house cleaning service Molly Maid, how often we should be cleaning or tossing our toilet bowl brushes, we learned we're not replacing ours often enough. Even if you clean the brush regularly with bleach, you should still buy a new one once per year. And if you don't clean it regularly, it's a smart idea to replace it every six months. Replacing your toilet brush every January isn't exactly a glamorous New Year's resolution, but it will keep your home cleaner.