From Spotlight: Storage and Cleaning Tips to Take the Hassle Out of Life

14 Hacks You Can Do Now to Make House Cleaning Go Faster

Like rubber gloves for pet hair. Works like a magnet.

Baking powder, lemons, thyme sprigs, and measuring cups
Image: kjnnt/Getty

It's the little things that get you every time. And that goes for your home, too. Stained porcelain, carpets, stinky appliances — they all hurt your home's market value in the end. And, frankly, they're no fun to look at every day, either.

Get your house put back together with these house-cleaning hacks. No trip to the hardware store needed. You've already got what you need with these quick-and-easy house-cleaning tips.

#1 Kitty Litter for Oil Spills

Oil spots on the garage floor are unsightly, but they're super easy to clean with kitty litter. Buy the cheapest clay litter you can find. Pour a thick layer on the stain, then walk on it to crush it into the oil. Let it sit for 30 minutes, and then sweep it up. Now you've preserved your garage floor and your resale value.

#2 Nail Polish to Stop Rust Rings

Nothing beats the longevity of porcelain, but when it's rust-stained, it loses its appeal. So if your metal cans of shaving cream leave orange rings on your sinks or bathtubs, paint the bottoms with clear nail polish. Now when you put down the can, there's a layer of protection between it and the surface.

#3 Vinegar for Hard Water Spots

Cleaning a faucet with vinegar
After cleaning hard water spots with vinegar

Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

Hard water spots show up around the edge of tubs and faucets, even when you're diligent about cleaning. Get rid of them with white vinegar. Douse a rag, then wipe the stains away. If the stains persist, let the rag sit directly on them for several minutes, then buff the area with a clean, dry towel.

#4 Alcohol to Remove Nail Polish from Carpet

Nail polish on the carpet can give you an even bigger moment of panic than a red wine dump. Keep your zen. Some rubbing alcohol and a microfiber cloth will do the trick.

#5 Swiffer for Paint Prep

Sometimes it takes more time to prep walls for painting than to apply the color. Speed the cleaning portion of the process by dusting the walls with a Swiffer.

#6 Rubber Gloves for Pet Hair

Rubber gloved hands wiping pet hair from a couch
Image: Micco Caporale for HouseLogic

If you're tired of finding pet hair on carpet and upholstery, here's a fast, green fix. Run a rubber glove over the material. The glove creates static, so the hair clings, instantly transferring from the fibers to the latex. Wash off the glove, and use again it every time things get hairy.

#7 Toothpaste to Fill Small Holes in Walls

Need a super quick way to repair small holes (less than 1/4 inch) in the wall? Fill them with toothpaste. Smooth it on with a putty knife (a wooden ruler or playing card works, too), and rinse it with a damp cloth to remove the excess. Then paint over the toothpaste — or, if you're lucky, your toothpaste might actually blend with your wall color.

#8 Lemon for Stained, Stinky Microwaves

Three lemons in a bowl of water inside a microwave
Image: Micco Caporale for HouseLogic

Lemons. We love them in lemonade and Sidecars. But they also cut stinky, burned-on food in microwaves.

Here's the trick: Pour half a cup of water into a bowl. Slice a lemon in half, and squeeze the juice into the water. Then drop the lemon into the bowl. Microwave for three minutes, let stand for five. Remove the bowl, and wipe down the microwave. So easy!

#9 Salt, Flour, and Vinegar to Shine Fixtures

Brass and copper tarnish when exposed to air, making your faucets and fixtures look dull. Give them a shine with a paste made of equal parts salt, flour, and vinegar. Apply, let it sit for up to an hour (a good time to make it a twofer and tackle other chores), then rinse and buff dry. The paste naturally breaks down the oxidation, leaving your fixtures gleaming.

#10 Alcohol to Shine Stainless Steel

Rubber gloved hands cleaning a stainless steel stove
Image: Micco Caporale for HouseLogic

Stainless steel appliances are beautiful and durable, but unless they've been treated to resist fingertips, they're going to stain. Rather than buying specially made, expensive cleaners, use rubbing alcohol. Then follow-up with a light coating of olive oil to protect the shine. (Be sure to wipe up any excess oil so that it doesn't become rancid.)

#11 Car Wax for the Stovetop

Next time you clean your metal stovetop, give your future self a break. Buff a small amount of car wax onto the cool metal surface of the stove. In the same way it prevents grime from sticking to your car, it'll make subsequent stove cleanups quicker and easier.

#12 Socks to Clean Blinds

Cleaning hack using socks with blinds
Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

Window blinds seem to collect the worst of the stuff in the air: pollen, cooking grease, and dust. And they are so tedious to clean. To simplify the process, grab a sock. Slide it on your hand, soak it in water and vinegar, and then rub your hand over the slats. Clean both sides of the slat at once by gently pinching it between your thumb and fingers and sliding your hand across it.

#13 Blow Dryer to Bust Dust and Water Marks

Never spend money on canned air again. Instead, grab your hair dryer, set it to cool, and blow crumbs and dust free. This works for any hard-to-reach spot  from keyboards to that crevice between the stove and the cabinet. While you've got the hair dryer handy, use it to buff water marks out of hardwood floors or wood countertops. Set it on medium, and hold it a couple of inches from the stain. As you heat the wood, buff away the mark with a soft cloth. Keep wiping till the stain is gone.

#14 A Drone to Inspect the Roof

A drone flying above a rooftop
Image: Lex20 and Miguel Sotomayor/Getty

Let's say you need to check the roof for branches after a storm. Don't pull out the ladder. Boring. Borrow a kid's drone. Eyeballing the roof from ground level reduces wear and tear, keeps you safe, and gives you a chance to play pilot.

Related: Quick-and-Easy House-Cleaning Tips

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Kelley Walters

Kelley Walters is a Southern writer and editor. She focuses on interior design and home improvement at outlets from HGTV to Paintzen. She lives in Italy a month every year, drinking Negronis and writing in internet cafes.