A person wearing rubber gloves uses a spray bottle and microfiber cloth to demonstrate two essential tools for cleaning

10 Essential Cleaning Tools for Every Home

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People ask me all the time what I think are the essential cleaning tools every home should have. Sometimes, they’re surprised by my response. To me, essential cleaning tools are the ones you absolutely need—not all the fancy stuff with batteries, bells and whistles that break down.

This list of essentials are things I’ve used to clean my home for over thirty years. Wait, I take that back: two of them have only been around for half that time. None of them match my home’s decor or establish a video-worthy aesthetic. They aren’t fancy, but they’re effective—kind of like me.

So, if you want to clean your home without a lot of hype, here are the essential tools I recommend.

1. Microfiber cloths.

A wet microfiber cloth holds onto debris rather than spreading it. I prefer sets which include four or more different colors, then I use one color for the kitchen, one for dusting, one for glass, and one for bathrooms. I fold them in thirds, roll them up, and tuck a few in each of the cleaning caddies I keep throughout my home.

2. A cordless vacuum.

When I first became a housewife, I’d wrestled every day with a Kirby up and down two sets of stairs. Switching attachments was a workout. When cordless vacuums with suction strong enough to clean the entire floor came out, they replaced uprights on my essential tools list.

Look for a cordless vacuum with a battery that lasts long enough to clean your entire home, is light enough to carry, and easy to empty. If the one you’re interested in doesn’t have all the attachments you want, get it anyway then look for universal attachments.

3. An extendable duster.

Even if you aren’t short like I am, a multi-attachment duster with an extendable handle is a game-changer. This tool makes it easy to reach all the awkward places where dust hides. Look for one with washable attachments and a universal end so you can use it with lint rollers, squeegees, even paint rollers.

4. Assorted sponges.

There are several different types of cleaning sponges that I recommend everyone have. Melamine sponges (also known as Magic Erasers) are fantastic for removing scuffs and grime from hard surfaces. Polymer sponges (like Scrub Daddy) are great on nonstick pans and more delicate surfaces. Even cellulose sponges have their place as long as you clean your sponge after using it.

5. Spray bottles

Spray bottles are must-haves for anyone using my homemade cleaning product recipes. Look for one that fits your hand and has a nozzle you can adjust for stream and mist. Whether you want to use glass or plastic is a personal choice.

I use plastic spray bottles because they don’t break if they fall, which happens a lot more than you’d think. Some people say you need amber glass to protect the contents from light, but I store mine in a cool, dark cabinet so that’s irrelevant.

6. A mop.

The best mop for your home depends on the type of floor your home has. I use a microfiber spray mop most of the time, but haul out the string mop and bucket when doing a deeper clean.

  • Tile and stone: A steam mop can clean the surface and grout at the same time. But avoid using steam on cracked or missing tiles or grout.
  • Vinyl and linoleum: A microfiber mop or a string mop with two buckets are both great.
  • Wood or laminate floors: Since you need to use as little moisture as possible, opt for a microfiber mop with a spray bottle.

7. A squeegee.

Look for a squeegee that fits your hand, has a strong blade, and has a universal end so yo can attach it to your extension duster pole. Squeegees are essential for cleaning windows and glass shower doors. Used wet, they’re also an easy way to get pet hair off furniture and rugs.

8. Old toothbrushes.

Your old toothbrush gets a second life when you clean it in the dishwasher then put it to work around your home. Use it to scrub grout, get the dust out of crevices, clean scuffs on your shoes, and get rid of the gunk in your shower door track. You get the picture. It should go without saying: once you’ve used it to clean things, don’t use it to clean your teeth again.

9. White cleaning rags

Any time you’re treating a stain or doing a spot test for colorfastness, it’s crucial to use a white rag since they don’t don’t have dyes that can transfer or bleed onto the surface you’re cleaning. You don’t need to go high-end on them: washcloths, old flannel diapers, even old t-shirts cut into squares can all work.

10. A lint roller

Look for a lint roller with a cover and peelable tape, so you can remove the dirty section and have a clean surface ready for the next use. They’re great for quickly removing dust, dirt, and pet hair from upholstery, clothing, and lampshades. Dropped a glass on the floor? Sweep the big chunks into a dustpan, then run a lint roller to get the little bits you might not see.

Cleaning Tools You May Want Someday

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

  • A ceiling fan brush that works with your extension duster to slide over blades.
  • A bucket to mix larger quantities of cleaning products or to rinse your cleaning tools.
  • A toilet brush a vented holder so air circulates when it’s not in use.
  • Essential oils to add fragrance and mild cleaning and disinfecting power.
  • One or more washable cleaning caddies to keep your cleaning tools organized and ready for use.

What would you add to this list of essential cleaning tools? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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8 Comments

  1. I need to sort through my microfiber cloths and designate some for the bathroom. But I wash all my cloths together in a separate wash w/hot water and I’ll do a rinse cycle twice.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Washing in hot water and tumble drying for 40 minutes or line-drying in direct sun will disinfect them.

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

  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!

  4. 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.

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