Welcome to Your No-Sweat Guide to Spring Cleaning, a month-long series that puts the fun (yep, for real!) back into cleaning. We’re talking spruce-ups that take less than five minutes, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that hacks, and hands-off cleaning tasks that basically…do themselves—plus our trustiest tools and helpers. The goal: clean less, go outside more.
There are lots of ways you can make investments in your cleaning arsenal, like buying a self-emptying Roomba, finally ponying up for the Dyson stick vacuum you’ve always wanted, or getting yourself an aesthetically pleasing broom and dustpan that you feel happy leaving out. Given how much time we spend cleaning our homes (especially this year), we’re full supporters of splurging on anything that makes cleaning less painful.
That said, there are lots of cleaning miracle workers that don’t actually require a payment plan. Some of my most-trusted allies in the war against gunk are simple and affordable. Beyond the obvious baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice, cleaning agents and little helpers abound. Below, we’ve gathered some of our favorite and most-turned-to items, all ringing in under $10.
There was once a time when I absolutely despised the Scrub Daddy. I mean, they have the word “Daddy” in the name…shudder. My mom loves them, though, and there’s always one or two kicking around my parents’ house, so each time I went home and approached the sink, they’d accost me with their toothless grin. But much to my dismay, they’re amazing. I’ve tried scrub brushes, sponges, and every never-before-seen way to do dishes, but nothing compares to these menacingly happy little guys. They’re pliable in hot water, stiff for scouring in cold, and truly, amazingly, never stink. I also just found out that they come in gray and dye-free, which are much less offensive to my kitchen’s color palette than the neon green and orange.
If I didn’t rent my apartment, I would absolutely have ripped the shower doors off by now. I find the gunk that accumulates in the tracks to be one of the most revolting things in my home, compounded by the fact that they’re really difficult to effectively clean—I always end up with cramped fingers and a bunch of shredded paper towels. That is, until I was targeted by an ad on Instagram for these amazing groove cleaners. They’re reusable (I just pop the sponge part of mine in the dishwasher), easy to hold, and also work fantastically on window tracks, baseboards, and anything else…groovy.
Magic Erasers are absolutely nothing short of their name—they’re pure magic. Wall scuffs, stained stainless steel (ha), bathtub scum, dirty grout…none of it stands a chance against these little blocks of wonder, loved by Director of Studio52 Shannon Muldoon, and literally everyone else. Whenever I come across something difficult to clean with spray and a rag, I reach for one of these, and nine times out of 10, they do the trick.
I mean, if you’re not throwing on a pair of gloves before you get deep-cleaning, you might want to try. In the winter, especially, my hands get so dry from household cleaners and disinfectants, not to mention the added shriveling effect from all the hand sanitizing and washing we’ve all been doing. Get yourself a pair (or a box!) of gloves—your hands will thank you.
Everyone on our team—but especially Copywriter Maurine Hainsworth—sings the praises of Bar Keeper’s Friend, because it really is such a universal cleaning agent. It’s probably best known for the incredible job it does polishing all things stainless steel (pots, pans, appliances, grills, utensils), but it also does a number on rust, hard-water stains, soap scum, sports equipment, and grimy wheels, too. Honestly, if I had to list every last thing this stuff is good for, it would take an entire article, it’s that great.
I, too, fell prey to the ease of the Swiffer WetJet. They’re a pretty genius invention, after all, and they’ve stuck around for many years now because people love them. The only problem? They’re so inherently wasteful. You’re stuck repeatedly buying plastic bottles full of solution (they’re locked closed so you can’t refill them—trust me, I’ve tried), and each time you mop, you run through one to three paper pads. Lucky for me, our Assistant Buyer, Jacob Parsons, introduced me to these reusable microfiber pads, which actually stick better to the Swiffer and tolerate more tough scrubbing. When you’re done, you can handwash them or throw them in the dishwasher or washing machine.
Larissa Sanz, our Five Two brand manager, loves these mini scrub brushes for any and all cleaning tasks. They’re basically dedicated versions of the old toothbrush you used to use for grout and cleaning your white sneakers, with the added bonus of a rubber wiper blade that dislodges dirt from small crevices.
According to our Customer Care Specialist, Kaliegh Embree, Pink Stuff is the only thing that effectively tackled some really nasty grout in her rental apartment. As much as I want to believe that baking soda and vinegar can do everything, sometimes you’ve got to bring the bigger guns in.
We’ve gone in-depth about the necessity of cleaning your coffee maker (don’t you want your brew to taste better?), as well as how to do it, but if you’re looking for something other than the usual white vinegar, Kelsey Burrow, our head of PR, recommends a descaling product to really get after the grime that builds up in your coffee machine.
I sang an entire ode to these brushes that pop right into my drill for maximum cleaning power (with minimum effort). Dirty grout, the bathtub, greasy hubcaps, and crusty patio furniture would all greatly benefit from a rotary scrubbing from these bristly fellows.
Compostable sponge cloths are an ideal swap-in if you’re conscious of your paper towel overuse, a blinds brush is a genius way to dust your window treatments, and a quick run of this fabric shaver over your couch will have it pill-free and perfect in no time at all.