Keeping your living space neat and hygienic makes it more comfortable and relaxing, whether you’re deep-cleaning after moving into a new home or completing some seasonal tidying. It is a chore, however—and one that Americans spend a lot of time doing.
The American Cleaning Institute’s (ACI) 2023 spring cleaning survey found that nearly three-quarters of Americans surveyed spring clean at least once per year, and 45% of respondents said they plan to clean even more this year. According to the ACI’s spring 2021 national cleaning survey, COVID-19 made cleaning an even higher priority—55% of those surveyed said they found themselves cleaning and organizing more throughout the year due to the pandemic.
Keeping your home in order is easier when you have the right products on hand. Before you take on this task—whether it’s a quick tidy-up or a thorough cleaning—run down our checklist of must-have cleaning products for every room in your house.
Basic Cleaning Essentials
Before diving into room-specific products, ensure you have basic cleaning supplies. Having the following items on hand will help you keep a consistently tidy space, whether you own a four-bedroom home or a one-bedroom apartment.
As its namesake suggests, an all-purpose cleaner is one of the most versatile cleaning products. These cleaners come in various formulas, and some contain antibacterial properties. With a multipurpose cleaner, you can get rid of fingerprints on your countertops and clean up sticky messes or spills in one go.
Sweeping your floors daily is one of the best ways to keep your home clean. Whether you made crumbs in the kitchen, shattered glass, or simply need to collect dust and dirt, a broom will help you access hard-to-reach spots and consolidate debris into a dustpan for easy disposal.
Microfiber cloths work well for sopping up spills, wiping down countertops and kitchen appliances, cleaning mirrors, and dusting wooden furniture. The synthetic material is much more absorbent than cotton and lasts longer. Microfiber cloths don’t leave behind streaks or lint, meaning one swipe can often do the trick. Plus, they’re a great way to cut back on your paper towel use.
When you want your floors to shine, grab a mop. Look for one that includes a bucket with a holding ring to squeeze out dirty water and store the mop easily. For smaller spaces, consider a microfiber flat mop; you can use it as a wet mop with the right cleaning solution for your floor or as a dry mop to gather dust and hair.
Personal Protective Equipment
Make sure you have proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when cleaning your home, especially if you’re using abrasive cleaners such as bleach or ammonia. Many cleaning supplies can irritate your eyes and skin, so wear eye protection and gloves while you spray and scrub. Consider wearing a mask that covers your face and nose when using strong chemicals to avoid inhaling their fumes.
A good vacuum cleaner is an essential cleaning supply for regular maintenance and bigger messes. Look for one that can clean multiple surfaces. While a vacuum head with sturdy bristles is best for softer surfaces, such as carpets and rugs, you’ll want to remove it when you move on to hardwood floors and tiles, as the bristles can scratch the material. Many vacuums also come with add-on attachments, such as an upholstery brush and a hose; these allow you to suck up debris in tight corners and under couch cushions.
Cleaning Your Kitchen and Dining Space
Keeping the space where you prepare and eat food clean will deter pests such as ants, mice, and roaches; get rid of harmful bacteria that could spread while preparing meat and other food items; and keep you and your family healthy. Here are the top cleaning supplies to have in the kitchen.
In most homes, dish soap is used daily. Look for a formula that can cut through tough grease and stuck-on food. Some dish soaps have specific antibacterial properties, which come in handy when cleaning cooking utensils that touch raw meat.
Your regular sponges can do a lot of day-to-day cleaning, but when you have an especially tough job, try using a melamine foam sponge, commonly known as a Magic Eraser. Melamine, the active ingredient in the sponge, is an abrasive chemical compound that can tackle tough kitchen cleaning jobs, such as getting grime off of microwaves, stovetops, refrigerators, and sinks.
You don’t see the inside of your oven often, so it’s easy to forget it needs cleaning. But a dirty oven will have an off-putting smell, produce smoke, and potentially release harmful gases into your home when turned on. Investing in a good oven cleaner will make this grueling task a lot less difficult. Keep in mind that if you have a self-cleaning oven, you should avoid using oven cleaners.
A good sponge can make a big difference when you’re cleaning up after a messy meal. You can use kitchen sponges to not only wash dishes but also clean your oven and stove, sink, countertops, and other kitchen appliances. Seek a sponge with a soft side and a non-scratch abrasive side for scrubbing stuck-on food. Consider purchasing a reusable sponge, or if you prefer disposable ones, go for sponges made from recycled or biodegradable material.
When the cleaning needs to get heavy-duty, enter steel wool. The material is very abrasive, so don’t use it on sensitive surfaces, such as plastic or stainless steel. However, it comes in handy if you have stubborn food stuck to your grill or a dirty oven.
Kitchen and Dining Room Cleaning Hacks
Here are some hacks for keeping your kitchen and dining area clean:
- It’s natural for your kitchen to accumulate crumbs behind and under appliances, which can attract unwanted critters. Vacuum attachables can come in handy when you need to clean hard-to-access spots.
- Use household ingredients to clean your microwave. Mix water with lemon, white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar in a bowl. Microwave the mixture on a high setting for three to five minutes, then remove the bowl and wipe the microwave clean with a sponge or Magic Eraser.
- Vinegar can come in handy when you’re cleaning your fridge. Mix it with water and spray the inside of your refrigerator while you scrub down the removable drawers. Vinegar can also clean dirty stovetops when mixed with baking soda and some lemon juice.
Cleaning Your Bathroom
Your bathroom is where you wash up, so you’ll want to make sure it’s a sanitary environment. Here are the top products you’ll need for a sparkling bathroom.
A good glass cleaner will keep your shower doors and bathroom mirrors shiny and clear. Spray them weekly and wipe them down with a microfiber rag for the best results.
A porcelain bathtub and sink can make a bathroom sleek and shiny—as long as they’re clean. Porcelain cleaner is the best way to remove stains, mold, mildew, and soap scum from your bathroom fixtures.
Some grime is tough to wipe away with a sponge or rag, especially if it’s stuck in the grout between tiles. A scrub brush can help you clean those tough spaces and any stubborn grime that’s built up in your sink, tub, or shower.
Shower cleaner works great on most materials, and you can even find daily sprays to use after each shower that prevent mildew and soap scum from forming. Shower cleaners come in various formulas, including spray and foam.
A toilet brush is a bathroom must-have. Along with toilet bowl cleaner, a brush lets you clean the inside of your toilet to remove limescale. Buy a reusable one that comes with a stand for easy storage; you can even find some with attractive containers to fit your bathroom decor.
Bathroom Cleaning Hacks
Here are some household materials you can use to make cleaning your bathroom even easier:
- Designate a specific cabinet in your bathroom for cleaning supplies and make sure everything, even sponges, is clearly labeled.
- When you buy a Magic Eraser for your kitchen, grab one for your toilet, too—it can be useful when cleaning showers, counters, sinks, and more.
- When your scrub brush is too big, throw some cleaning solution on a toothbrush to get into corners and hard-to-reach spots. Cooking spray can also come in handy when wiping soap scum off shower doors and bathtubs.
Cleaning Your Living Room
The living room is where families come together, watch television, and lounge. Here are the essentials that will help you keep it clean and cozy.
Due to their material, carpets absorb a lot of dirt and debris. They’re also tough to clean when spills or pet accidents occur. Ideally, invest in both a carpet spot cleaner for smaller messes and a carpet-cleaning machine, which resembles a vacuum but is made specifically for soft materials. A combination of cleaning solution, water, and agitation loosens debris from carpets to extend their life and keep them looking new.
Dust accumulation can impact your breathing and make your home look dirty. A good duster will keep your home dust-free. You can use a feather or microfiber duster. Get one that has a long or extendable handle for high-up areas, such as the tops of shelves.
Wood is a sensitive material, and wooden furniture often has a finish that some cleaning supplies can ruin. If you have wooden furniture, purchase a wood-specific cleaner to keep your pieces in good condition.
Living Room Cleaning Hacks
Because they’re used every day, living rooms can get cluttered easily. Here are some tips to keep your living room neat and tidy:
- Clean from the top down. When you wipe dust and debris off high areas, you’ll catch it when you’re wiping the floors.
- Designate specific spots for smaller items, such as remote controls and coasters, that are easily accessible but out of the way. Wicker baskets and shelves can do the trick while looking sleek.
- Don’t just use your vacuum for the floor. Attachments can be used to suck dirt and debris off drapes, couches, bookshelves, and more.
- If you have a tough stain on upholstered furniture, such as from wine, dab it with club soda.
- Stick to a regular cleaning schedule for your living room. Perhaps that looks like decluttering and vacuuming daily, dusting once or twice per week, and deep-cleaning seasonally.
Cleaning Your Bedroom
Our bedrooms are our sanctuaries, and part of keeping them stress-free is cleaning them. Several supplies can help.
Fabric Spray and Laundry Supplies
If you don’t have a laundry room, store laundry detergent, fabric spray, and other laundry supplies in your bedroom. Fabric spray works great as a refresher for stored clothing items, comforters and duvets, and other upholstered surfaces. Keep detergent, stain remover, and dryer sheets next to your clothes hamper for easy access.
Lint rollers contain an adhesive that picks up lint, pet hair, dust, and more from clothes and other soft surfaces. They’re especially helpful if you have pets, as fur often gathers visibly on chairs, blankets, and rugs.
Tip: Keep a lint roller hidden in each room so you can do quick wipe-downs regularly.
Steam cleaners are versatile tools that are especially useful if you have a carpeted bedroom. They come in several styles, but all use steam rather than cleaning chemicals to sanitize surfaces. Besides cleaning carpets and rugs, steam cleaners can clean upholstery, drapes, and some mattresses.
Bedroom Cleaning Hacks
Bedrooms can get easily cluttered. Here are some tips for keeping your room organized and clean:
- Spot-clean your rug or carpet as needed, and do a deeper clean once per month. This can include steam-cleaning your carpet or area rug or throwing a machine-washable rug in with your other laundry.
- Use a media cabinet, closet organizers, and under-bed storage to make the most of your space and ensure everything has a proper place.
- Your bedroom likely has at least one mirror, whether it’s full-length or on a vanity. For an alternative to glass cleaner, simply spray and wipe away a mixture of white vinegar and water on your mirrors to revive their shine.
Cleaning Forgotten Areas
Some home areas don’t come top-of-mind during a cleaning spree. Here’s how to care for those oft-neglected spaces.
When you’re focused on cleaning the floors and walls, baseboards—or the space in between those floors and walls—are often missed. Use a microfiber cloth or duster to get rid of any dust that’s accumulated, then wipe them down with a rag and some water.
The foyer is the first part of the house that visitors see. It also sees high foot traffic and dirty shoes, so it’s important to keep this area clean and tidy. Clean this area high to low as you would the other parts of your home, starting with light fixtures and making your way to the floor. Use a shoe organizer to keep shoes by the door and out of the way, and don’t forget to wipe down any decor or furniture, such as flower vases, shelves, and mirrors.
Like the foyer, hallways can be easily overlooked if you’re working on each room separately. To clean hallways, remove any runners or rugs, then sweep and vacuum the floor before mopping. Throw machine-washable rugs in the laundry, or replace and steam-clean them after the floor dries. Wipe down any photographs or wall decor with a microfiber cloth.
Because a laundry room is tucked away, it’s easy to forget about it when you’re cleaning. But keeping the floors and tables dust- and lint-free ensures that the clothing and linens you wash remain clean. Dust, vacuum, and wipe down surfaces regularly. If you have a sink, clean it once weekly with an all-purpose cleaner. Use a cleaning solution to sanitize your washer and dryer about once per month.
Even though your pantry is behind closed doors, it’s essential to clean out periodically to collect food that can be donated and dispose of anything that may be stale. Once you sort through your food, wipe down all the shelves to remove crumbs and debris, then dust in the corners and vacuum the floor with the narrow hose attachment.
Just because trash cans are where the mess goes doesn’t mean they should look messy themselves. Rinsing out, scrubbing, or soaking the inside of garbage cans with an all-purpose cleaner helps reduce odor and eliminates food residue that could attract pests. For an especially strong odor, use baking soda and vinegar.
How to Be Eco-Friendly While Cleaning
Going green when you clean is not only better for the environment but also for your health; harsh chemicals in traditional cleaning products can have adverse impacts on the body and harm pets. Here are some tips for greener cleaning:
Eco-Friendly Cleaning Practices
Whenever possible, use washable and reusable cleaning materials instead of single-use ones. You can use microfiber fabric, for example, almost indefinitely in place of disposable duster pads or disinfectant wipes. It’s better for the environment and your wallet.
In the kitchen, wash dishes with reusable dish scrubbers over disposable sponges. If you do go the disposable route, choose biodegradable sponges made from natural ingredients, such as walnut shells.
Another way to cut down on your environmental impact is by limiting your water usage. Using a water bucket when you scrub or mop can help you keep track of how much water you’re using.
Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
Most retailers offer eco-friendly cleaning products. This encompasses both the product itself and its packaging. Look for products with plant-based ingredients and certifications such as EPA Safer Choice, Green Seal, or EWG Verified. Opt for recycled or biodegradable packaging and products that come in tablet or concentrated form, as they require fewer resources to manufacture.
Another option is to create homemade solutions with pantry staples such as vinegar, lemon, and baking soda. You can store them in reusable glass spray bottles to reduce plastic waste.
Safety Tips for Household Cleaning
The following steps can help you and your family stay safe while cleaning.
Ensure Proper Ventilation
Chemicals such as bleach and ammonia sanitize your home, but you don’t want to breathe in their fumes for long periods of time. Open windows before cleaning to help keep fresh air circulating.
Follow Product Instructions
Cleaning supplies have instructions on their bottles for a reason. Before using them, review the safety directions. Be extra careful when mixing chemicals.
Keep Children Away from Chemicals
While chemicals are necessary for cleaning, they can also be hazardous to our health. Make sure to label any dangerous chemicals clearly and keep them out of the reach of small children.
Use Pet-Safe Products
Furry friends may also be a concern. Put any pets in their crates or another room while you clean to keep them away from chemicals and cleaning products. In general, aim to use products that are safe for pets.
Wear Appropriate Equipment
Wearing rubber or vinyl gloves and glasses helps keep your skin and eyes safe while using cleaning products. Also, be sure to wear indoor footwear to prevent slipping on wet floors. If you’re using harsh chemicals, consider a mask that covers your face and mouth.
When you spend much of your time in one space, it’s important to keep it clean. Using this room-by-room checklist will ensure you have the necessary products and equipment to keep your entire home neat, tidy, and sanitized, all while taking your health, safety, and the environment into account.