Real Simple readers share their trusted time-savers.
The Do-It-All Adhesive
I have a dark carpet that hides dirt and stains but shows every piece of sock fuzz and lint. I make small rolls of duct tape, sticky-side out, my kids put them on their hands and feet, and they make a game out of collecting the fuzz. Instead of my having to run the vacuum, they get to play.
Paintbrushes of all sizes are great for dusting hard-to-reach places, like the spaces underneath and between radio buttons and knobs, the crevices in remote controls, windowpane borders, light fixtures, and decorative wood etchings. The bonus is that my kids love using them this way.
I love using squeegees to clean the windows and mirrors in my house; they leave virtually no streaks. And I've found that they cost less in the automotive aisle than in the cleaning-product aisle.
Gloversville, New York
Hydrogen peroxide cleans jewelry, removes blood from most fabrics without fading colors (always test a section first), and, of course, cleans scrapes on your skin.
Katherine R. Oberst
I use a tennis ball to rub scuff marks off the floor. It solves the problem in seconds.
I put my hand into a pair of panty hose to clean the dust off candles and lampshades.
Soft cloth diapers are absorbent, and they don't scratch, tear, or fall apart in my hands. I throw them in the washing machine and use them over and over again.
Cotton swabs are great for getting fine dirt out of corners and polishing hard-to-clean spots on silver, copper, and brass items.
I have a two-year-old son who loves juicy fruits and cheesy pizza but who objects strongly to using a bib. Toothpaste has effectively removed most stains―even grape juice―from his clothes.
Los Angeles, California I keep a cardboard box nearby every time I clean. I make sure to find at least three items that I have not used in the past six months and throw them in. I donate the contents to charity.
Kari J. Lee
I use Bounce fabric-softener sheets in the laundry, to wipe soap scum off shower doors, and to eliminate static from TV and computer screens. I've also heard that when left on the table during an outdoor picnic, they're an effective mosquito repellent.
Polident denture cleanser is a great tool for cleaning glass vases and sconces that house floating candles. I fill the item with warm water and drop in one five-minute tablet for every eight ounces of water. I let the item soak for however long it takes to break down the residue, then I rinse it with warm water and dry it.
My dry-erase board has become an invaluable tool. Every Saturday morning I write a chore list on it, and my husband and children sign up for the day's duties. It inspires them to wake up early so they're not stuck with an unappealing task.
Old toothbrushes are perfect for scrubbing around sinks and stoves and removing grime from tennis shoes. The added benefit is that you recycle and save money.
Astoria, New York
A bottle brush is the best tool for cleaning wineglasses, bud vases, and other narrow-mouthed glassware. It beats jamming a hand into a narrow item or bending a sponge that doesn't quite get the job done.
West Palm Beach, Florida
My Whirlpool Duet front-loading washing machine uses about half the water and detergent a top-loader does, and it has twice the load capacity of my old machine. The settings let me launder duvets, pillows, and even hand-wash-only garments.
My steam cleaner has various attachments that I can affix to the end of a hose coming off the water-filled, wheel-mounted base. It takes care of the grease under the stovetop and the grime on the toilet bowl. And it has enough power to clean the entire kitchen floor―without chemicals.
My Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner does an unbelievable job of getting under the bed and into other areas that I'd have to move furniture to access.
Madison, New Jersey
The cordless ScumBuster, made by Black & Decker, runs on a rechargeable battery and scrubs all sorts of surfaces―from tubs and sinks to carpets and furniture. It's easy on the hands, and it's waterproof.
My favorite cleaning tool is Goo Gone, a liquid that removes sticky residue. Among other things, it's useful for dissolving gum stuck to the bottoms of shoes.
San Diego, California
The handy scraper from the Pampered Chef removes food quickly and easily, and I also use it to scrape stuck-on goop from walls, floors, and the stove. It's great for removing wallpaper, too.
My rubber-bristled broom gathers everything on my floor, and it's easy to rinse off. It's the only broom I've ever used that picks up all the beach sand from tile floors.
The Clorox Bleach Pen is great for cleaning pesky stains and grout without bleaching the entire counter.
The sponges with long soap-dispenser handles are fingernail-friendly, and they save my hands from chapping.
I hate scrubbing pots and pans. I keep two cans of Bar Keepers Friend cleansing powder in my house at all times. I sprinkle the powder in my damp cookware and walk away. They shine without scrubbing.
Kerhonkson, New York
An ostrich-feather duster has "fingers" that wrap themselves around my keepsakes, eliminating the need to move them. Dust adheres to the feathers, then the whole thing shakes clean.
Jane Kepple Johnson
Albert Lea, Minnesota