10 Cleaning Tools Everyone Should Own

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Check out this list of 10 essential cleaning tools everyone should own for affordable multi-tasking items that get your home spotless without taking up a lot of space.

Overhead view of some of the essential cleaning tools everyone should own: cloths, scrub brushes, and a spray bottle

Recently, a reader 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.

What Cleaning Tools Are Essential for Every Home?

When it comes to essential cleaning tools, there’s no need to spend a lot of money. If you’re first starting, it’s a good idea to learn how to clean and maintain your home before investing in more expensive gear. Then round out your cleaning gadgets to suit your needs and budget.

1. Microfiber Cloths

A set of microfiber cloths tops my list for a good reason. Unlike feather dusters, a wet microfiber cloth holds onto dust. And unlike Swiffers, using one doesn’t mean adding to the landfill or throwing money away after. They’re also brilliant at cleaning counters or appliances, polishing tile or glass, even getting pet hair off clothing. I prefer this set which includes three different colors: use one color for bathrooms, another for the kitchen, and the third for everywhere else in the house. Launder in hot water without bleach, vinegar, or fabric softener, and line dry them in the sun or tumble dry them on high heat to kill germs.

2. An Adaptable Vacuum

Even if you have hard flooring, there are times you need a vacuum, so a multi-use cordless vacuum is a must. Use it to remove crumbs and pet hair on upholstery, freshen soft furniture, and clean your car interior. I prefer this model to the Dyson: it’s less expensive, and the battery lasts twice as long. With the dust bucket on top, you can lower it enough to get under furniture, too.

3. An Extension Dusting Kit

Dusting your ceilings and walls helps reduce indoor allergies so much, but it’s a hassle unless you’re tall or don’t mind hauling a step-stool around. I use this extension dusting kit on those surfaces and chandeliers, light fixtures, and the tops of kitchen cupboards. Shake it outdoors, rinse it in the sink, or pop it into the wash.

4. A Ceiling Fan Cleaning Brush

If you have vaulted ceilings, it can be challenging to keep your ceiling fans clean. I use this ceiling fan duster which has a universal base, so it’ll attach to any standard extension pole — even my extension duster. The bristles are stiff, so they pull dust off both sides of the blade in one quick swipe. You can also use the brush to get cobwebs off popcorn ceilings and slide it behind the dryer to pick up lint. But be warned: if you haven’t cleaned your ceiling fan in a long time, you’re going to get showered with dust.

5. Spray Bottles for Homemade Cleaners

This set of inexpensive spray bottles is perfect for homemade cleaning products, and they last for years. (I bought mine in 2016 and they’re still going strong.) Adjust the nozzle tip from a stream to a mist and you can use them on your plants or dampen clothes before ironing.

6. A Steam Mop

Even if you don’t have a lot of hard flooring, this steam mop comes with multi-use attachments that make it an indispensable cleaning tool. The included attachments let you use it to clean shower walls, dirty tubs, greasy countertops, and even dirty ovens. If you have tile floors, the mop head’s scrubby texture also cleans grout and removes grime simultaneously. The steam spray nozzle works miracles to remove that smelly grime around the base of toilets and on the seat hinges. There’s a clothing attachment, too, if you want to steam clothes instead of ironing them.

7. A Squeegee

Yes, you need a squeegee even if you live in an apartment or condo where someone else handles window-washing. With a squeegee that attaches to your extension pole, you can clean the inside of your windows without leaving streaks and use it on tall mirrors, too. In the bathroom, using a squeegee on shower walls and doors helps reduce mildew, prevents soap scum, and keeps glass doors spot-free. Oh, and if you own pets, a damp squeegee is one of the easiest ways to get pet hair off furniture.

8. A Scrub Brush

The list of things you need a scrub brush for is almost endless. I like the OXO scrubbers because you can pop them in the dishwasher, and they hold up to hard scrubbing, too. If you have a pet, a scrub brush and soapy water get those messes out of your carpet fast. Use it on your car mats and upholstery, too. Clean mud off the bottom of your shoes, scour grout, get soot off your fireplace, clean that nasty gunk in the nooks and crannies of your shower door tracks. You get the picture.

9. White Cleaning Rags

Don’t reach for any old rag to clean stains: colored fabrics can transfer dyes and cause new stains. To avoid that problem, you need to use white cleaning rags. Stock up on inexpensive white washcloths like these and you can toss them in the washer with bleach to disinfect them.

10. A Lint Roller

An inexpensive but effective lint roller is an essential cleaning tool. Use it to pick up crumbs and dust on upholstery or clothes. Run it over your lampshades to get them clean. Dropped a glass on the floor? Pick up the big chunks carefully, then run a lint roller to get the little ones you might not see. With this set of five, you can stash one in your car, too.

More Basic Cleaning Tools You Need

Once you’ve stocked your home with the essential cleaning tools, there are other items you might find helpful to own, too.

  • Sponges. I like these sponges with a fabric cover on one side and a non-scratch scrubber on the other — you can microwave them daily to disinfect then throw them in the washer once a week.
  • A rubber broom to remove pet hair and quickly dry tile, cement, or glass
  • A bucket with an angled measuring line so you can combine floor cleaners without extra cups or spoons
  • Melamine sponges (a more affordable version of Magic Erasers) to remove scuffs, greasy marks, stains and other messes from a variety of surfaces.
  • Old toothbrushes or cotton swabs for crevices.

Where to Next?

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11 Comments

  1. Christy Parks says:

    Great list! The only thing I’d add is an old toothbrush or q-tips for those impossible to reach crevices.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Both great suggestions, Christy!

  2. Question: Can you use the extension pole that comes with the dusting kit on the ceiling fan cleaning brush? I don’t really want to have to get 2 poles. Thanks!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I do all the time. They both had universal ends when I bought them.

  3. Julie P Clark says:

    My favorite cleaning tool is a Cuban mop (also known as a T mop)! With a wet bar towel, my favorite cleaner made up in a spray bottle, I can mot all the downstairs hardwood and the vinyl downstairs bathroom/mud room/laundry room in a little over 10 minutes! I first saw a Cuban mop used in Miami Florida back in the 1960s. About a year ago, that mop popped into my mind and I wondered if it had a name so I Googled (stick mop) and that’s how I learned about Cuban mops. I loved using them so much I made two more; one for upstairs and a smaller one for dusting hard to reach places by attaching a microfiber cloth. I always hated to mop–getting out the bucket of water, rinsing rinsing rinsing and still seeing dirty streaks. The Cuban mop is so easy, you just rinse out the cloth and keep going, then wash the cloth!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Julie,
      I’d never heard of a Cuban Mop before but they look brilliant!

    2. I lived in Germany in the 90s and the mops were similar- the only difference – the T was a stiff broom/brush (Schrubber). You used the bristle broom to scrub tile with cleaner before mopping. While mopping, it’s simple and easy to remove the cloth to rinse multiple times and then to launder afterwards.This was a great improvement on the difficult to ring and clean, smelly because slow to dry string mop I was accustomed to. Nowadays I use a rubber “Schrubber” on a telescoping stick with microfiber cloth. Happy mopping:)

  4. Lynette Bayliss says:

    Looking for something that can clean skirting boards.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Lynette,
      The extension duster can be shortened to the perfect length to knock dust off of skirting boards. For deeper cleaning, a microfiber cloth and this homemade all-purpose spray do the job.

  5. How do you keep the kitchen sponge smelling fresh?

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