Recently a reader who is setting up her first home sent me an email to ask for my recommendations of cleaning tools everyone should own.
As I thought about my response, I realized that what seems an obvious must-have to someone might not be needed by someone with hard floors. A carpet shampooer, for instance, is a tool I need in my home where two cats and an active teenager frequently wreak havoc on my rugs. But if I had wood floors, I wouldn’t need one at all.
There’s also a difference between cleaning tools, which the reader specifically asked about, and different cleaning products I think everyone should have. White vinegar is one of my go-to cleaning products — as are baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and various essential oils. But those aren’t tools so much as ingredients to make homemade cleaning products.
10 Cleaning Tools Everyone Should Own
So throughout the past couple of weeks, I’ve kept track of which tools I reach for time and again to tackle various cleaning problems. Since I like devices that serve multiple purposes, I also made notes of how I used them to make sure they are indispensable.
The result is this list which is a great place to start if you’re putting your first home together, looking to round out your cleaning arsenal or know someone who is.
A Non-Exhaustive List
While these things are the essential cleaning products that everyone should own, they’re the bare necessities. If you’ve got kids and pets, you may need more specialized equipment. Head over to my Recommended Products Page for a list of the other things I use in my home, along with my reviews of each.
1. Microfiber cloths.
A set of microfiber cloths in different colors tops my list for a good reason. A damp microfiber cloth is one of the best ways to reduce household dust. Unlike feather dusters or those disposable things, a wet microfiber cloth holds onto soil: Wipe surfaces clean and rinse the fabric to get the dust out of your house.
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. A double-duty stick/hand vacuum.
Even if you have hard flooring, there are times you need a vacuum, and 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 can dramatically improve indoor allergies but it’s a pain to do unless you’re very tall or like hauling a step-stool around. An extension dusting kit makes short work of such tasks, along with cleaning chandeliers, light fixtures, even 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 on 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 lets you make and store homemade cleaning products so you can stop filling your indoor air with harsh fumes. They’re also great to mist clothing before ironing, and to train pets to stay off the furniture.
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 in no time. They work on wood, marble, tile, vinyl and laminate floors. 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, hang it in your shower from a suction-cup hook 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 the dried-on mud off the bottom of your shoes. You get the picture.
9. White cleaning cloths.
Though microfiber cloths are my go-to for cleaning, there are times you need something else. A white cleaning cloth is necessary when removing carpet or clothing stains, for instance, because colored fabrics may transfer their dyes and make the problem worse. Microfiber cloths shouldn’t be used with bleach, either, but a white cotton cloth holds up to it just fine.
10. 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.