Cleaning Hacks That Take the Hassle Out of Housekeeping

Do-it-yourself solutions for life's most stubborn messes.

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Empty toilet paper rolls
Photo: Mercedes Fittipaldi /

13 Clever Cleaning Hacks

A Vacuum Trick Worth Pinching

Even your vacuum’s crevice tool isn’t narrow enough to get the built-up crud in sliding-door tracks. For concentrated suction where it’s needed most, fit an empty toilet paper roll over the end of your vacuum hose and pinch the open end to create a narrow slit.

Read on for more cleaning hacks that put ordinary items to extraordinarily good use!

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Cleaning hacks - toilet brush
Photo: Bowonpat Sakaew /

Tidier Toilet-Cleaning Tools

The only thing ickier than a toilet brush is a wet toilet brush holder. To air-dry the brush before you return it to the holder, close the toilet seat on top of the brush handle—with the handle horizontal, brush-end inside. As you continue cleaning the bathroom, the bristles will drip excess water into the toilet bowl.

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Yellow mesh bag for produce
Photo: Ratana Prongjai /

Upcycled Scrubbers

The mesh bags that onions, avocados and other produce are sold in make fantastic pot scrubbers. Scrunch them up into a ball or wrap them around your usual kitchen sponge to make quick work of baked-on messes.

Here are 50 more things you should be repurposing around the house.

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Cleaning Hacks - DIY Bottle Brush
Photo: Vicky Lam / Styling: Christina Yan

Instant Bottle Brush

If you have an ordinary kitchen sponge and a fork, then you have everything you need for a DIY bottle brush. Spear the narrowest edge of the sponge with the fork and slide the sponge down until the tines of the fork are fully covered. You can now scrub out the skinniest vessel with ease, whether it’s a cylinder vase or a thin-necked carafe.

Discover the best way to clean a cast iron pan.

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Shiny wine glass out of dishwasher
Photo: bonchan /

Polished to Perfection

Want a streak-free shine on your glass? Reach for a coffee filter instead of paper towel. The lint-free paper is perfect for wiping down everything from windows to wine glasses.

Here’s what it means if you see white streaks on your dishes.

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Adhesive hook
Photo: Vicky Lam

Give Your Garbage Bags a Lift

There’s nothing worse than throwing something into the trash bin—and watching the garbage bag fall in with it. This often happens when you use plastic grocery bags as bin liners, as they tend to be a bit too short for standard-sized trash receptacles. To prevent this, take a page from The Family Handyman‘s playbook: Stick two adhesive wall hooks onto the outside of your bin (one on either side), positioned so the hooks face downward. The next time you replace the grocery bag, loop its handles through the hooks—and no matter how full the bag gets, it’ll never drop to the bottom of the bin again. Cleaning hacks don’t get more satisfying than that!

Don’t miss these nearly-forgotten house cleaning tips from the past.

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Roll of masking tape
Photo: Kotenko Oleksandr /

A Cleaner Sweep

When a sweeping job needs to be super thorough—for example, cleaning up broken glass—reach for a roll of masking tape. Taping the edge of the dustpan to the floor will create a smooth “ramp,” helping you sweep even the tiniest pieces of debris into the pan.

You’ll also want to add these aluminum foil hacks to your repertoire.

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Cleaning hacks - fizzy effervescent tablet
Photo: anokato /

Harness the Scrubbing Power of Bubbles

Fresh flowers are such a lovely treat that it’s often hard to bring yourself to toss them out once they’ve passed their prime. If you let them sit too long, though, you’re left with a stubborn ring around the inside of your vase. Before you tackle the unsightly stain with your fork scrub brush (see Hack #4!), fill the vase with water and add a few denture- cleaning tablets (those fizzy anti-heartburn tablets also work). Overnight, the residue will loosen, and may even dissolve altogether.

Find out the ordinary household ingredient that keeps cut flowers fresher, longer!

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Cleaning hacks - laundry delicates bag in dishwasher
Photo: BonNontawat /

Let Your Dishwasher Sweat the Small Stuff

It’s always risky washing little items like bottle lids, reusable food containers and food-processor parts in the dishwasher. Not only do they create a racket as they’re flying around inside the machine, they could end up at the bottom of the dishwasher on the heating element, which might melt them. Avoid this by bundling these items in a mesh laundry bag (the kind you’d use to machine-wash your delicates) and placing it in your dishwasher’s upper rack.

Discover how dishwasher tablets can help clean your oven.

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Power drill against blue background
Photo: New Africa /

Stop Garbage Can Suction

If you use purpose-made bin bags, you have probably encountered this: after filling the bag with trash, it forms a vacuum seal so tight that it’s a struggle to lift the bag out once it’s full. Once again, The Family Handyman has the solution: Take a power drill to your plastic garbage bin and punch a couple of small holes in the sides, a few centimetres above its base. The holes will allow just enough airflow to make lifting out the trash a total breeze.

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Cleaning hacks - wiping down stainless steel
Photo: Daniel Krylov /

A Flawless Finish

To help prevent fingerprints on a stainless-steel fridge, apply a thin coat of car wax with a clean cloth or paper towel. Buff to a brilliant shine.

Find out how to clean absolutely everything in your kitchen, according to Charles the Butler of CTV’s The Marilyn Denis Show.

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Old pantyhose uses
Photo: Spinsv /

A Sweater Saver

Wool sweaters are too delicate for the dryer. But using clothespins to hang them from the line to dry makes indents on the shoulders. To help them keep their shape, feed the legs of a pair of pantyhose through the arms of the sweater, pulling the toes out just beyond the cuffs and the waist out of the sweater’s neck. Then, attach the pantyhose to the clothesline at all three points.

Check out 13 brilliant laundry hacks that make garment care a breeze.

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Cleaning hacks - man reaching into dryer
Photo: Monkey Business Images /

Express Drying

Need that just-washed load of laundry dried in a flash? Toss a clean, dry towel into the dryer along with all the wet stuff for the first 15 minutes of the cycle. It’ll absorb some of the moisture and speed up the overall drying time.

If you enjoyed these cleaning hacks, don’t miss our roundup of travel hacks that could save your next vacation.

Reader's Digest Canada
Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada

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