Recently a reader, who is setting up her first home, asked for my recommendations of cleaning tools everyone should own. It’s an excellent question because having the essential cleaning tools makes staying on top of messes so much easier.
When it comes to basic cleaning tools, there’s no need to spend a lot of money. In fact, if you’re first starting out, it’s a good idea to learn how to clean properly before you invest in more expensive gear.
As you build your cleaning arsenal, be sure to look for tools that can be used in multiple ways. This will help you save money as well as space.
Essential Cleaning Tools Everyone Should Own
1. Microfiber Cloths
A set of microfiber cloths in different colors tops my list for a good reason. Unlike feather dusters or those disposable things, a wet microfiber cloth holds onto dust. As long as you rinse it often while cleaning, you aren’t just moving dirt around from one spot to the next.
They’re also brilliant at cleaning counters or appliances, polishing tile or glass, even getting pet hair off clothing. Use one color for bathrooms, another for the kitchen, and the third for everywhere else in the house.
2. An Adaptable Stick Vacuum
Even if you have hard flooring, there are times you need a vacuum, so a combination stick/hand vacuum is a must.
- A hand vac gets crumbs and pet hair off of upholstery, helps freshen your mattress, and keeps your car interior looking nice.
- Use it as a stick vacuum in the kitchen, and you’ll never have to deal with that annoying line between a broom and dustpan always leave behind.
- Give your home’s entrance mats a quick vacuum every couple of days, and you’ll cut down on the dirt tracked indoors, too.
3. An Extension Dusting Kit
Regularly dusting ceilings and walls dramatically improves indoor allergies but it’s a hassle unless you’re very tall or like hauling a step-stool around. An extension dusting kit makes it easy, plus you can use it to clean chandeliers, light fixtures, and the tops of kitchen cupboards.
Shake it outdoors or rinse it in the sink, and you know the dust is out of your house.
4. A Ceiling Fan Cleaning Brush
Pop a ceiling fan duster onto your extension pole to clean both sides of the blade in one quick swipe.
The brush’s stiffer bristles are also great at getting cobwebs off of popcorn ceilings and picking up lint from behind the dryer.
5. Spray Bottles for Homemade Cleaners
A set of inexpensive spray bottles is perfect for homemade cleaning products. They’re also great to mist clothing before ironing, and to train pets to stay off the furniture.
In the summer, keep one filled with this homemade mosquito repellent. Stash it in the refrigerator for a cooling mist that keeps you bite-free.
6. A Steam Mop
A steam mop with washable pads gets the grout and tile clean at the same time. Got a small shower stall that’s awkward to clean by hand? A steam mop will get those walls clean, too.
Thanks to the sterilizing power of steam, you can skip the expensive floor cleaning products.
7. A Squeegee
A squeegee that attaches to your extension pole lets you get windows clean and streak-free. Use it on tall mirrors, too.
In between those tasks, use it in your shower to keep glass doors spot-free.
8. A Scrub Brush
The list of things you need a scrub brush for is almost endless.
- Use it to get tough stains out of car mats, off garage floors or cement patios.
- Clean flower pots and garden tools.
- Get soot off of your fireplace walls.
- Scour grout.
- Clean garbage cans.
- Get dry mud off the bottom of your shoes.
You get the picture.
9. White Cleaning Cloths
A white cleaning cloth is necessary when removing carpet or clothing stains since colored fabrics may transfer their dyes and make the problem worse. Buying inexpensive white washcloths like these makes it budget-friendly, too.
Start by using them as regular washcloths – they’re great at removing makeup. Once they start to look worn after several months, put them to use as cleaning cloths. After a few months of that, cut them into strips and use them as filling for saggy throw pillows or pet bedding.
10. A Lint Roller
A lint roller is, of course, excellent at removing pet hair from clothing but it’s also a fantastic tool for cleaning other things around the house.
- Use one to sweep crumbs and dust off of upholstery quickly.
- Run a lint roller over lampshades to clean them.
- Dropped a glass on the floor? Pick up the big chunks then run a lint roller to get the little ones you might not see.
Ready to Upgrade?
While these things are the essential cleaning products that everyone should own, they’re really just the bare necessities. Head over to my Recommended Products Page when you’re ready to upgrade to multi-purpose cleaning tools and products that I’ve been using for years.
Note: This entry first appeared Dec. 3, 2015. It has been revised and updated for republication.
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