Tell me your cleaning tips & appear on The Art of Doing Stuff.

My sister in the pink tool belt is the type who loves to clean. So is fish pedicure sister actually. And my niece. My mother and I? We prefer to make the mess.

I like the end result of cleaning. The sparkle, the glow, the bugs turning around and marching out the back door.

To be perfectly honest it isn’t the cleaning I dislike. It’s the putting away. Laundry? Not a big deal. Putting it all away. Barf. Doing dishes? Don’t mind it. Putting them away? Hate it.

The more organized my house becomes the easier the “putting away” thing is getting. I have spots for places and try very hard to remember where they are. Books in the bookcases, extra dishes have been banished to the basement so I’m not wandering around the kitchen for half an hour deciding where I can possible fit the oversized bowl … and I cleaned out my closet and drawers so I don’t have to throw my clothes in the laundry hamper when they’re perfectly clean because they won’t fit anywhere else.

Come with me (in an imaginary way) for a moment as I scan my yet to be completed kitchen. On the island there are no less than 3 sets of Hex keys, a flashlight, a screwdriver, a pair of scissors, car keys and some black Isotoner gloves. And maybe Dexter. If I looked a little harder I would probably find Dexter.

That island was empty just moments ago. I actually woke up 2 hours early today so I could put things away before I started working but it’s all back. All of it. It’s like living with a teenager only I’m the teenager and yelling at me doesn’t work either. I’m going to have to take my iPad away from me.

However, like I said, even though I still leave things out, things are much easier to put away now that my house is more organized than it’s ever been. Which leaves me more time to clean.

I’m not going to tell you what I clean or how I clean it because that’s not what this post is about. Although this is one of my tips …


This post is about how YOU clean.

I’m looking for any of your tips, tricks or cleaning recipes.

I’m going to test the 3 that I think are the most interesting or useful and will then feature them in a full post on The Art of Doing Stuff along with a picture of you! Don’t worry. If you’re picked and you don’t want me to include a picture I’ll put up a picture of Dr. Phil or his wife and say it’s you. If you’re a man you get the Dr. Phil picture, if you’ve had so much botox your eyebrows live on the North Pole, you’ll get the wife picture.

Dusting, cleaning solutions, routines … any cleaning tip is accepted. It can be something you do because your mother did it, or a recipe you found on the Internet that works great, or just something you discovered on your own. Extra points for either exceptional results, or exceptionally fast results.

Start commenting about cleaning!

Have a great weekend.



  1. Susan Whelan says:

    Get a puppy. Whatever you forget to put away will be eaten. You will declutter very quickly and dust just doesn’t have time to settle.
    I said I was too old for a puppy and I was right.

  2. Sally A says:

    I use the used dryer sheet for chrome too. Works great! Baking soda for my porcelain? kitchen sink. I knowl, pretty boring. I know that vinegar is good for cleaning, but I can’t stand the smell. I run it through my coffee maker every once in a while and that is super stinky. Am I using to strong a mixture? Also, am I the only one who can’t tell what Karen is holding in the picture? I give up.

  3. Tris says:

    I live in an apartment building and people throw away t shirts and towels in the laundry room all of the time. I yank ’em out of the trash can, run them through a hot wash/dry cycle and cut them up for cleaning rags. After one use, I can throw them away. There is always a stack of rags for us to use for big spills, cleaning anything nasty, etc. and the family is trained to use them instead of paper towels. As long as we live here, there will always be a stash and I don’t have to buy paper towels every time we go grocery shopping. P.S. vinegar and water to clean almost EVERYTHING except the micro suede…that gets a few hits of rubbing alcohol and a swab with one of the lighter colored rags.

  4. Liesl Joubert says:

    Create a landing strip just inside your front door. I saw it at:

    You literally leave your cares at the door and keep your home organised at the same time.
    It can take any form you like, but at minimum you need a surface, a couple of coat/key hooks and an electrical outlet. Then you ACCESSORIZE! This I believe is the key.

    Mine is a narrow (1 ft x 3 ft) table with some baskets underneath:
    Come in, switch pretty lamp on, hang keys, drop bag & shopping on table, hang coat, kick off shoes (into shoe basket), kick on slippers (from shoe basket), sort mail, immediately recycle stupid marketing pamphlets (into recycling basket), empty pockets, discard any mess (into waste basket), put phone on charge.

    Its wonderful when you don’t have the above clutter all over your kitchen/dining/lounge room. You don’t track dirt and mess in, so your house is cleaner, or needs cleaning less often.
    Bonus: your landing strip works just as well for take-off too. Add a jar of sweets/mints. Add a perfume bottle, so you smell amazing EVERY time you go out. Hang your shopping bags on a coat hook. Hang a small blackboard for chalking reminders to yourself. Use one of your baskets as an outbox, for borrowed books/items that must be returned to their owners, for things you want to give away or donate.

    • Kim from 3 peanuts says:

      Another GREAt one. I think this probably works best sans kiddos though.. We have the shoe basket but they just drop everything else on the floor!

  5. Ember says:

    We learned from a good friend who was a retired vetinarian that a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and a spoonful of liquid dish detergent will make a paste that will remove
    skunk spray from your dog that was stupid enough to chase a skunk and get sprayed TWICE, dead-on in the chest. Just rub the paste in and rinse. Add enough peroxide to spray the mix thru a spray bottle and it will remove the skunk stench from your couch where said dog ran to hide after said spraying. Just explain to the security at the store that you are not buying supplies to make a bomb. Just let them smell your hand where you dragged dog off couch…after they revive from fainting…they should believe you. Baking soda added to your wash also helps remove cat urine smell from the towel left on the floor.

    • Sally A says:

      That’s hilarious! And a great tip! I love dogs, but they can be very dumb. My dog got stung by a wasp once, and instead of avoiding them, he would chase them. Dumb.

  6. Karen says:

    Used dryer sheets make the best polishing cloths for chrome and mirrors. After they’ve been through the dryer. Just rub them on dry and they remove water spots and sparkle up everything.

  7. silvie says:

    Pick up around the living room, kitchen, dining room – wherever, during tv commercials instead of being a total couch potato at night. It’s mindless work, so a good fit. It gives you 3-6 minutes of activity and sometimes you’ll get caught up in something way more productive. Also, after cleaning a toilet, set the brush down btwn the toilet rim and the seat to let it drain while you clean the rest of the bathroom. This eliminates the little puddle of skanky water in the toilet brush holder.

  8. Ramona says:

    Ok, I’m going to go and get all practical… It’s not exceptionally fast, but it does give exceptional results. I HATE the smell towels take on after months or years of use. (Yes, of course with normal washing.). They tend to have a musty-ish smell? I read this tip online, and I will use it forever! Wash towels the way you normally would. Next, run through a short wash (warm) cycle with one cup of vinegar (I pour the vinegar into the bleach cup). Then, sprinkle one cup of baking soda over the towels and run another short wash (warm). This takes that smell away, and as an added bonus, it reduces the fabric softener build up and the towels are more absorbent again. I do this about once every six months. I wish I could give credit where credit is due! Ah well, just have to ‘pay it forward’…

    • Lynne says:

      Baking soda in the wash and a vinegar rinse works wonders for getting rid of the yellowish buildup on white bed linens – for those of us who have oily skin.

    • Pati Gulat says:

      I use vinegar as a fabric softener and neither my towels nor my front loader get that musty smell…EVER. And you never smell the vinegar.

    • Rebecca says:

      This is a great tip! Thank you for paying it forward.

    • AngieC says:

      Brilliant! Thanks for sharing it. I’ve been having a problem with musty towels and have tried everything to get rid of the smell but nothing has worked. I’m going to try this tip this weekend.

    • Ramona says:

      This works well with any kind of stinky laundry. I use it for my baby’s cloth diapers, and sometimes my husbands work clothes need a good hit of vinegar & baking soda. I am going to see how well it works on white linens to brighten them, as well as trust the vinegar next time around as a fabric softener. I won’t use a softener sheet… Thanks ladies, for the input!

    • Ceecee says:

      You know what that smell is? It’s old gunk stuck to old detergent. Detergent sucks. Yes, dirt sticks to detergent, but detergent sticks to EVERYTHING! Just wash, once a month, in Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds or soap nuts or something natural (not borax – borax bad). That will remove the old detergent AND the crop of gunk it’s growing in it, which is what real soap does and detergent really sucks at. I keep Bronner’s Peppermint in a foamer at the kitchen sink. If I have to use regular dishsoap on something, I use the Bronner’s to get the dishsoap off it. LOL. It takes about a million gallons of water to rinse detergent sort of good but Bronner’s will rinse completely, in a heartbeat. I also use Kirk’s castille soap in the shower, for both body and shampoo. It also rinses in a jiffy, leaves no residue and won’t dry out your skin or hair, after an adjustment period. You can use Bronner’s bar soap, but it’s a lot more expensive than Kirk’s. Plus, you can get Kirk’s just about anywhere.

  9. Lisa says:

    My fav tip is to wax the shower…I’ve been doing it for yrs yes a looong time. I used to use the wax that u had to wax on wax off ….but now they have that new fangeled stuff u just spray. Sure makes that easier. Ya just have to make sure it is clean to start off and when u notice soap scum or whatever not sliding off re do it. ! or 2 times a yr. Just rinse when u r done and everything just comes right off. U can also use it on ur bathroom sinks even the stove top. Now if u r a fanatic I heard u can even do ur light bulbs to keep dust off and keep them nice n bright, but I don’t go that far. So nice when everything comes right off with out scrubbing. Oh and I love my roomba for the cat hair.

    • JB says:

      What kind of wax is this? Do you have a brand name? Is it in a spray can? Is it, like, floor wax or something? Dying to know!

    • JB says:

      I have no tips. But I will say that I thought I was the only one who HATES putting things away (laundry, dishes, files, anything)! I’ll clean (when I have to), but I hate putting things away. I never mind not having a dishwasher (I’m a renter, and you never know if you’ll get one in a new apartment. I don’t have one now.), because it does the work I don’t hate TOO much, but it creates even more need for putting away. Yuck.

  10. Carolyn says:

    My favorite tip for cleaning–hire it done!

  11. Glenda says:

    I listen to music too, Victoria! It really makes cleaning less sigh inducing.

    My helpful hint is that my cleaning music is limited to a 45 minute playlist. I rush around cleaning to some of my favourite upbeat songs and when the music stops, I stop. I find that 45 minutes is short enough that I will actually press play and pick up a feather duster, and long enough that there is a significant improvement in cleanliness.

  12. Teresa J says:

    I read this advice in a magazine somewhere …… Always leave the vacuum cleaner out and if you have visitors over and the floor is a mess, then you were just going to vacuum and if the floor is clean, then you just finished and did not have time to put the vacuum away.!! Hey, whatever works!!!

  13. Stephanie says:

    I’m so (deliberately) bad at cleaning my husband does it.

  14. Nora W. says:

    Thanks for your blog every day, Karen. It helps me start each day with a laugh or two. Can hardly wait to see your new kitchen!

    I LOVE household tips. I always think I will find the magic tip that will make housekeeping go away. Still searching for it! Here is my tip for the day. I buy extra loaves of bread when it’s on sale, and freeze half-loaves in recycled bread bags so they don’t get mouldy. (WAIT … that’s not the tip! Just keep on
    reading.) I use empty Kleenex boxes in my kitchen drawer for storing these recycled plastic bread bags (as well as extra plastic bags from the grocery store produce section) to keep them separate and tidy, and to prevent them from multiplying as they tend to do when I am not watching. And then they are ready to pop up, one at a time, when I need them. I think I learned about this on the internet.

  15. Michele says:

    Hi Karen, I’m a total freak when it comes to cleaning. I love to clean. My husband just rolls his eyes. My favorite trick? I use a sticky lint roller to remove the dust off if my lamp shades.

  16. Mael says:

    I invested in 2 roombas to deal with pet hair. They’ve made the single greatest difference in how clean my house looks and feels. I buy the cheapest vodka I can find in bulk, and use it to clean surfaces, even windows. It works as well as white vinegar, it disinfects, and doesn’t have the vinegar smell. Bonus, after serving guests two cocktails made with the good stuff, they won’t be able to tell if you switch to your counter cleaner. :)

    • Marsha Jean says:

      Does that work with gin and tequila too???

    • Arianne says:

      Ack I totally agree! We have three cats and a Labrador and I swear we could make a 5th pet EVERY SINGLE DAY by the amount of pet hair those four shed! We bought a Roomba Pet Series and it changed our lives! I love that little gizmo!

  17. Ella says:

    I sweep things under the rug. :) Srsly.

  18. victoria says:

    I like to put on my favorite upbeat music really loud and then I just kind of dance my way around the house picking up and putting away whatever’s in my path. There is no designated area, which makes it less boring. I might pick up a used band aid on the hallway floor and on my way to the trash I find a sock that needs to be put in the laundry or something else so I carry stuff with me and go with the flow! And dance while doin’ it! Works even better if I’m on a coffee high!

  19. Amber says:

    I hate cleaning the shower. Specifically, rinsing the wall tiles after I have scrubbed it (with a foam/Oxo dish brush with cleaner inside). Our tile shower does not have great pressure, and the showerhead does not move much. A trip to Target towards the end of last summer led to an epiphany. In the clearance section was a foam shark super soaker. Pull the tail back to fill with water and then push the tail to fire away. It makes getting everything off the shower tiles amazingly easy.

    The only downside – other than having to explain to visitors why we (30-something lawyers with no children)have a foam shark super-squirter in our bathroom – is that I have careful not to spray the water out with too much force. Sometimes I get overzealous and end up with super splash-back. That said, when it happens, so long as I don’t get soap in my eyes, it is still fun.

    • Karen says:

      O.K. I don’t even have wall tiles in the bathroom and I’m thinking of trying this. ~ karen

      • Jody says:

        I know the point of this is to provide our cleaning tips. I’ve got nothing special. I use an old sock of my sons over my hand sprayed with cleanser to wipe the wooden blinds. However if we can vote on the best comment I would say Amber, the Shark Lady wins, hands down!

      • Linda S. in NE says:

        Okey, Dokey…Contest is probably over…Amber (the shark lady) wins. Karen, maybe you could start a new contest. The idea could be to guess what carma’s “thing” is…and then we win that “thing”, if we want it!!

    • Mary says:

      I bought hand held shower heads for our tile bathrooms, then you have a sprayer for when you clean.

    • Mary Werner says:

      OK I’m getting one of these – even when I don’t have the energy for this “fun” my grandkids will! WOW you are a genious!!

    • Kim from 3 peanuts says:

      GREAT tip!!!!!

  20. carma says:

    i have the most brilliant and genius way of cleaning………….this thing that i have. and every time i clean it i think…my god this is brilliant, my god i’m a genius, why doesn’t everyone clean their thing this way, how come nobody knows about this amazing way to clean this thing, really i should not be so selfish, i should share my brilliance with the world and let others know they no longer have to suffer while cleaning their thing the way everyone always has,if you clean it like this you only have to clean it once or twice a year at most, maybe a quick wipe now and again in between. yes i really must start a blog and share my brilliance with the world.

    i kid you not, i think this *every* single time i clean that thing of mine.

    and do you think i can remember what the hell it is now? i swear to you i am not making this all up, no really!

    i’m brilliant i tell ya. truly i’m a genius. not that it does me a damn bit of good. i can promise you that being a genius is not all it’s cracked up to be….not when you don’t have a working or workable memory.

    the next time i clean that thing of mine, i’ll share my brilliance with you. by then your contest will be over. and by then i’ll probably forget that i promised to tell you what it is.

    sigh. such is the bane of my existence as a perpetually unrecognized genius.

  21. Jen says:

    Hmmm… I am looking forward to seeing these posts. I need all the help I can get.

    Between starting both the husband and I starting new jobs, my attending grad school, and other stuff…. well I think war zones might look better than here.

    If I have one tip, it’s to just stay on top of two things: Dishes and Laundry. By that I mean once they are clean, they go where they are suppose to. (Or near it, in case of my husband.)

    I don’t know why, but if they back up the rest of the house goes to heck in a hurry.

    • Hope says:

      SO agree! Many mom’s wait till their kids / partner are able to unload the dishwasher because it is a simple job ….DON”T !!! Time it!!!! it’s a 3 minute job when done by a “professional” and everything is returned to the exact spot where it is needed whenever anyone cooks. THEN…. let anyone old enough to deal with the stove cook and expect them to clean up after themselves, or put their dishes in the dishwasher when they reluctantly and after many years of nagging bring the dishes to the kitchen from under their stack of gaming devices or under their beds. Having an empty dishwasher is the key to a tidy kitchen at our house. (Only eating in the kitchen is a rule I would have loved to enforced but dad thought any food just tasted better when eaten by the flickering light of the TV)

      • Mary says:

        great tip! Maybe, I shouldn’t have been so quick out of the gate by commenting that Karen should pick comment no. 1. :-)

  22. Laura says:

    hopefully that link works =) My fave recipe is for laundry sauce (soap) Saves a ton of money, and I really like how easy it is to make.

  23. SK Farm Girl says:

    Here is the best cleaning tip EVER! Well, I can’t take full credit for this tip as it was my ex-mother-in-law who gave me this tip. It’s fast. It’s effective. And it costs nothing. In the (nearly) famous words of my ex-mother-in-law, “The best way to dust is to not dust. However, don’t ever move the doilies or the junk on the table or the dust imprint will show. And ONLY have company over in the evening and make sure half the light bulbs are burnt out! (That way the lighting is poor and the dust doesn’t show!)” She and I didn’t always see-eye-to-eye, but I sure saw the value in some of her advise – LOL!

    • Pam'a says:

      An extra frill to add to that inspired idea came from one of my favorite Heloise columns ever: “If I haven’t had time to clean up and friends pop over, I have a stash of Get Well cards I put out.”

      I imagine they’re extra-beautiful with dim lighting. ;)

  24. theresa says:

    I vacuum the bathroom before I clean it…I use to get really frustrated with all the hair. Husband, two cats, two cardigan corgis and me shedding all the time meant that no matter how I tried to collect the hair I seemed to always be re-depositing it as I got on with the scrubbing and polishing and wiping. So after we remolded the condo and I got a Dyson animal to suck up the cat litter (their toilet was next to ours) I just kept going and FINALLY got rid of the hair. I wait until everything is dry and hit the outside of the toilet and the tub rim and every blessed corner and crevice. And then I just keep going around the house to the kitchen–honestly my dust bunnies could audition for Cadbury’s!!

    • Debbie says:

      I looooooove my Dyson Animal. When we were in the process of moving, we saw a home that had a narrow spiral staircase as the only staircase to the upstairs and wondered aloud how (at my increasing) age, I would get a vacuum up and down the steps (central vac was in the home we were leaving and not an option to install in our new home). My wonderful real estate agent had a simply wonderful solution – he said to buy two vacuums. Thanks to Costco coupons, I saved a bundle and in our new home (not the spiral staircase house), I have an upstairs and a downstairs vacuum. I clean much more often since I don’t have to lug anything.

      Sheepishly she says – I also have a Dyson stick vac and pretend I am the lithe, pretty woman in the commercial when I lift it overhead. It is awesome and the charger hangs on a wall in a closet. I am a happy, happy person.

  25. Gwen H. says:

    My cleaning tip: Organize all of your cleaning supplies in a bucket. Take it to the particular room. Set the timer and clean until the timer rings.

    • Janet says:

      This is a great tip! I think it will help me stay focused on the task at hand if I know I am on a time limit.

    • Mary says:

      I agree that this is a great tip. Karen should pick you. :-)

    • Ceecee says:

      I do that thing with the timer, too. I don’t mind cleaning, I just don’t realize it needs to be done until the doorbell rings.

      One tip, for single people, pack away all of the dishes you don’t use. That way, there’s never more than a one sinkfull of dirty dishes. Plus, you gain a boatload of spare storage in the kitchen cabinets.

      Also, TubTrugs (or some similar flexible bucket type thing). TubTrugs are awesome! I’ve even filled one with dirty dishes and stuck it in the pantry, during a doorbell ringing incident! They are SO handy. You can clear an EXTREMELY messy room in about 5 minutes. That’s “clear”, not “clean”. You still have to redistribute the items into their rightful places.

      Also, the dishcloths with the mesh on one side. Couldn’t live without those after using them for a month.

      Good microfiber cloths – I can do all of my windows, inside and out, in less than an hour. No cleaner, just dip in water, wring it out really well, and clean. Rinse it in the same water, wring it out again, and keep going. It traps dirt inside of it, so it will continue to clean, even when it’s dirty, if you rinse the loose stuff out and wring it out well.

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