Here, readers share under-the-sink staples guaranteed to give you the advantage in your next grunge match.

By Real Simple
Updated March 21, 2011
Christopher Silas Neal

I wait tables at an Italian restaurant and have long relied on OxiClean to rid my white uniform of wine, sauce, salad dressing, and soda stains. I recently discovered that this product also gets baby, ahem, leakage out of the carpet. I had to put it to work when my newborn’s 3 A.M. diaper change didn’t go quite as planned. I did my best Billy Mays impression, and thankfully it was a success.
Annie Green
Fruitport, Michigan

When my son was born, in 1988, I used 20 Mule Team Borax to clean his cloth diapers. It left them soft and white and didn’t irritate his sensitive skin. After he was potty-trained, I forgot about this multipurpose product—until about two years ago, when I decided to make my home as eco-friendly as possible. I now use Borax in every room. I really appreciate that it’s green. I feel safe exposing my kids and pets to it.
Julianne F. Tutko
Memphis, Tennessee

White vinegar, of course! It’s a natural cleaner. When I was a salesperson at a carpet store, we told customers to apply it to spills because it doesn’t harm the fibers. It also works well on laminate floors, wood, tile, and vinyl.
Wendy Ormsby
West Jordan, Utah

Fabuloso. Many people haven’t heard of this amazing all-purpose cleaner, which I think of as my secret weapon. I use it everywhere, from the toilet to countertops. Its scent is fresh and clean without being medicinal or harsh, and it pleasantly perfumes the air for days.
Gayle Israel
Fairfield, Connecticut

Last fall, after I moved into my new home, my mom gave me a pink Fuzzy Wuzzy duster. It was so funny looking that I thought it was a gag gift, but this little gem really does the job. I also use it to wipe down my counters and capture crumbs on my kitchen floor.
Megan Leonard
Omaha, Nebraska

For fruit stains—like the ones from avocado that my one-year-old constantly mashes into her white T-shirts—lemon juice is my go-to fix. You just soak the area in the juice, let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse and repeat until the stain is gone.
Katie Murray
Minneapolis, Minnesota

It’s so satisfying to rub the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser* over every kind of mess, from soap scum to pencil marks on the walls to congealed grease on the stovetop. This one handy tool makes it all easy to clean.
Brandi-Ann Uyemura
San Jose, California

*Hands down, the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser was the most popular answer. “It cleans anything,” readers gushed, from crayon marks to cars. “I love it so much that you could call me Mrs. Clean,” wrote one fan. “But I’m not shaving my head.”

When I moved into my first apartment, my dad came to visit. He was in the military and, as a result, is very serious about cleanliness. While I was at work one day, he cleaned the entire place. I swear, it was ready for drill-sergeant inspection. When I came home and oohed and aahed at the sparkling bathroom, he held up the product he had used and, in his deep Texas accent, yelled its name: Kaboom! We both laughed for a solid 10 minutes.
Jill S. Thomsen
Culver City, California

When it’s time to wash my windows, I buy a bottle of 70 percent rubbing alcohol. Then I take off the cap, screw in an old spray nozzle, and watch the streaks vanish. It’s the cheapest cleaner I’ve found!
Debbie Elder
Arnold, Missouri

I grew up understanding that bleach kills germs. Whenever I got sick, my grandmother would sanitize the plates with it. Today I use bleach whenever I can. In fact, I usually buy only white bath towels and bedsheets so that I can bleach my laundry. Nothing beats climbing into a bed made with clean white sheets—I don’t even mind the slight scent of chlorine.
Robin Rodriguez
Alameda, California

Water isn’t a product, exactly, but it’s by far the simplest, most versatile thing to clean with. It’s a universal solvent, and it works wonders when it’s heated in my steam cleaner. The steam dissolves the mess in my parrot’s cage instantly and safely. Our dishwasher’s steam cycle is also a huge help, as it enables us to cut back on detergent. And for cast-iron pans, I think water is all you should use. When I’m tidying up, the fewer supplies I have to pull out, the better.
Alex Miller
Atlanta, Georgia

I can’t get enough of Mrs. Meyer’s Geranium Clean Day All Purpose Cleaner. The fragrance reminds me of my grandmother’s greenhouse, and that makes me feel happy and calm. When I can find the dryer sheets and dish detergent in this line, I buy those, too. The scent truly improves my day. No wonder I’ve traveled as far as 40 miles to stock up on it.
Jen Wyman
Vergennes, Vermont