Readers' Best Cleaning Tips and Tricks
"Don't wipe any surfaces taller than your tallest friend."
Loren Boiarsky, Commack, New York
Eliminating Pet Hair
“To pick up cat hair, put on a wet rubber dishwashing glove and wipe your hand over surfaces. The hair will stick right to it."
Theresa Demonte, Long Beach, California
"I get very distracted while I'm cleaning, so I set a timer for 30 minutes. It helps me to stay focused, and I get more done in a short amount of time."
Brooke Dorr, Centralia, Missouri
"I keep cleaning products in a shoe holder over the back of my laundry room door. They're easy to see and access, and it saves space."
Heather Pelham, Delray Beach, Florida
Zapping Red-Wine Stains
"A dab of foaming shaving cream can help remove many red-wine spills from carpets."
Kathy Purves, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Washing the Tub
'When it's time to clean my shower, I strip naked, hop in, and scrub, using any harsh cleansers with caution. When I'm finished, I step out and rinse it down, then take a shower myself to admire my handiwork."
Keli Honsberger, San Rafael, California
"My sister and I help clean each other's houses. It's great to share the workload with someone who uses the same cleaning techniques, and it cuts the job in half."
Bryn Scougale, Issaquah, Washington
"I leave a basket at the foot of the stairs and toss in any toys or miscellaneous items that were brought downstairs during the day. Whenever I go upstairs, I take the basket with me and unload. It beats running up and down the stairs all day."
Lisa Lutz, Sarasota, Florida
Using Outside Services
"If you have an insurmountable pile of laundry that you can't bear to do yourself, find a Laundromat with wash-and-fold service. I pay by the pound, so it costs only a few dollars per load. And I can pick up my clothes the next day."
Lamia Khorshid, Miami, Florida
Cleaning for Guests
"If you can clean only one room before company arrives, tackle the bathroom. This is the only room where people spend time solo and may have the time and tendency to notice a mess."
Carol Baxter, San Jose, California
Removing Food Odors
"When my plastic storage containers start to smell like the food that was in them, I wash them with hot water and two tablespoons of baking soda."
Jennifer Nocero-Gurule, Warrington, Pennsylvania
Speeding Through Chores
"I follow two good tips: Time will fly if you listen to great music, and enlist your family's help."
Laura Stierman, Mahtomedi, Minnesota
Dusting Lamp Shades
"My vacuum attachment doesn't work on cloth lamp shades, so I dust the shades with a lint roller."
Cynthia Studer, Grant City, Missouri
Repurposing Old Clothes
"I wear an old, unmatched sock on my hand when I have to dust the house. I run my hand along chair rails, crown moldings, and doors until the sock is dusty enough to discard or wash and reuse."
Lisa Taillefer, Mobile, Alabama
"Baby wipes are useful for quick surface cleanups in kitchens and bathrooms. They also are great for cleaning up after craft projects."
Laura Fenton, Albuquerque, New Mexico
"My priority is to be a good mom, not to have the perfect house. I picked up a friend's motto: 'If you want to see me, come on over. If you want to see my house, call ahead.'"
Melissa Taylor, Denver, Colorado
"To remove stubborn price tags from items like dishes and glassware, I use a cotton pad or Q-tip soaked with rubbing alcohol. The alcohol dissolves the sticky glue and doesn't mess up my manicure."
Kathe Palmucci, Riverside, California
Keeping the House Clutter-Free
"When in doubt, dump it. You'll revel in your decluttered existence and have fewer items to dust."
Johanna Steele, Arlington, Virginia
Using One Tool for Many Tasks
"I use a cordless, bagless, handheld vacuum cleaner for everything from kitchen crumbs to dust bunnies. Then I just empty the canister into the trash."
Julie Tresp, Rockville, Maryland
Asking for Help
"The best household cleaning tip I can give is find someone else to do it."
Chantell Trumbull, Folsom, California
Eliminating Wax Spills
"To remove hardened wax from fabric, place a paper towel or a brown paper bag on top of the wax and press with an iron on low heat. The paper absorbs the wax, and your iron stays clean."
Elizabeth Wright, Carrboro, North Carolina
"Use old newspapers instead of paper towels to clean mirrors and windows. They work great, and you're recycling."
Chrissy Stone, St. Louis Park, Minnesota
Maintaining Tidy Rooms
"During the week, the rooms that matter most to you are the ones to keep neat. If you worry about all the rooms all the time, you'll spread yourself thin."
Susan Veenema, Newark, Delaware
"I make a paste of baking soda and water to clean discolored teacups and teapots. It's gentle enough for most fine china, and it's easy on the hands and the wallet."
Wendy Wiebe, Vancouver, British Columbia
"When you're washing narrow-necked glass vases and decanters, add a little uncooked rice to the water. Your glassware will sparkle."
Mona Lynch, Cork City, Ireland
Getting Motivated to Clean
"My husband and I motivate ourselves to clean by inviting people over. Having a deadline makes us work faster and more efficiently. When our guests arrive, we can relax in our freshly cleaned house."
Jen Stack, Olney, Maryland