Ashlee Edie, cleaning expert at Handy, says the coarse bristles and size of a toothbrush make them perfect for cleaning stubborn, hard-to-reach places in the home like stove tops. “Grime can quickly build up on stoves,” Edie says. “Apply some dishwashing liquid to a toothbrush and use small circular motions to buff away the dirt.” Make sure to rinse and wipe clean with a cloth.
“To keep grout in between tiles looking fresh, use a toothbrush to scrub a solution of bleach and water along the grout to remove any stains,” Edie says. Remember to rinse when finished.
What’s that goo hiding behind and around the base of your faucet? “Mildew and bacteria can grow on faucets so use a toothbrush, with a mixture of soap and water, to thoroughly clean these,” recommends Edie.
Upholstery and carpet stains
A toothbrush can be used to tackle small but stubborn stains on carpets and upholstery. “Apply some stain remover to the spot and use a toothbrush to apply pressure to the stain,” Edie advises. “Scrub in circular motions to loosen the stain and repeat until it is gone.”
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Removing crayon from the wall
“If the kids have been using the walls as a canvas again, a quick tip to remove crayon marks is to load a toothbrush with some shaving foam or toothpaste, apply to the crayon marks, and buff them away. Then, simply wipe the surface with a paper towel,” offers Edie.
Hair dryer, car, and bathroom vents
Lint and dust gets stuck in anything that moves air—which includes hair dryers, car vents, and even the bathroom vent. Have you ever looked up at your bathroom vent? They are usually loaded with dust. Make sure the vent is off or disconnected then remove the cover. Take outside to gently brush off or if it’s caked on you can clean it in your sink with a damp toothbrush. For a hair dryer, make sure it’s unplugged from the outlet and gently use a dry toothbrush to remove dust. Same for your car vents.
Computer keyboards are typically dusty and may even have crumbs or other debris lurking around the keys. A clean, soft, dry toothbrush is perfect to clean these areas. Unplug the keyboard from the computer or, if it’s a laptop, unplug the laptop. Turn the keyboard onto its side and gently brush around the keys into a trash can or sink. Do not use any type of water or liquid on a computer keyboard.
Using a toothbrush to get into your fridge’s plastic shelves with grooves is the best way to clean those hard-to-reach areas, says Diane Regalbuto, a housecleaning expert and owner of Betty Likes to Clean in Philadelphia and New Jersey. The same goes for the rubber seal between the door and the main part of the fridge where dust, grime and crumbs can gather.
Sink edges and drains
Regalbuto recommends using a toothbrush to clean under-mounted sinks where the counter goes over the edge of the sink. A lot of gunk and mildew can get up in that area. The same goes for the sink overflow drain, usually a series of small holes opposite the spigot. A toothbrush with cleaner is the perfect tool to clean that area.
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Have you looked at your toaster oven lately? It’s probably full of crumbs and burnt-on junk. Regalbuto recommends a toothbrush for cleaning these areas. First unplug the oven and use a dry toothbrush to get the crumbs out and then clean the grill in the sink with soap and water. Rinse and thoroughly dry.
Brush your cheese grater
Give the teeth of a cheese grater a good brushing with an old toothbrush before you wash the grater or put it in the dishwasher. This will make it easier to wash and will prevent clogs in your dishwasher drain by getting rid of bits of cheese or any other item you may have grated.
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Clean silk from ears of corn
Before cooking shucked corn, take an old toothbrush and gently rub down the ear to brush away the remaining clingy strands of silk. Then you won’t have to brush them out from between your teeth after you eat the corn!
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Clean and oil your waffle iron
A clean, soft toothbrush is just the right utensil to clean crumbs and burned batter from the nooks and crannies of a waffle iron. Use it to spread oil evenly on the waffle iron surface before the next use too.
Apply hair dye
Dyeing your hair at home? Use an old toothbrush as an applicator. It’s the perfect size and it will keep the mess to a minimum.
Clean gunk from appliances
Dip an old toothbrush in soapy water and use it to clean between appliance knobs and buttons, and raised-letter nameplates. (Don’t miss these cleaning tips for the trickiest kitchen appliances.)
Scrub under your nails
It can sometimes be hard to remove the dirt and grime that builds up under your nails. Pump some soap onto an old toothbrush and use it to scrub your nails clean.
Tame flyaway hairs
Spray hairspray on a toothbrush that you don’t use and comb back the small hairs that always get in your face. This simple trick will give you a more put together and clean hairstyle.
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Brush away espresso
If you’re a fan of espresso, you’re also familiar with how finely ground Italy’s favourite coffee is. To keep it from clogging up the filter screen on your espresso maker, scrub the screen gently after each use with a soft toothbrush. If any bits remain, remove them with a straight pin.
De-pulp your juicer
It’s easy to forget that electric juicers are traps for all manner of fruit (and therefore, food) particles. Keep it clean as a whistle to prevent bacteria buildup (and illness!) by cleaning it thoroughly: disassemble it, wipe out the pulp and discard it, and fill your kitchen sink with hot, soapy water. Soak everything but the motor casing for 10 minutes, remove the pieces from the sink, and scrub with a soft toothbrush. Dry well, reassemble, and juice for all you’re worth!
Clean your veggies
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean mushrooms and other sensitive vegetables before cooking. A medium- or hard-bristled brush is more suitable for potatoes. Keep your veggies fresh for longer with these tips.
Originally published as 20 Things You Should Be Cleaning with a Toothbrush on ReadersDigest.com.