Cleaning

The Best Cleaning Products For Every Situation

Ever had to clean a carpet after your little one puked all over it?

Or try to remove pesky stains on a leather sofa? 

Regardless of the situation, there is a cleaning product out there that will make your life much easier. This is the detailed go-to guide you can reference every time - feel free to bookmark this for future use.

HEPA filter

When you get into high quality cleaners, you’ll see a lot about HEPA (high efficiency particulate) filters. It pulls air through the filter screen and catches the contaminants.

To reach the HEPA requirements, the filter must be able to capture at least 99.97 percent of particles larger than 0.3 micrometers. The flow of air shouldn’t be affected either.

The design behind this type of filter was actually developed during World War 2. It was originally made to capture tiny radioactive particles released during the making of atomic bombs.

In cleaners, the HEPA filter keeps dust from escaping after it gets sucked in.


Cleaning the Floor

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Hot water extraction machine

Abbreviated as the HWE method, this is a type of steam cleaning. It is used to clean carpets by pulling out the dirt after steaming.

Experts recommend using the HWE system to remove pollutants in the carpet dust. This can help with allergies and asthma. One study showed that steam cleaning plus vacuuming continuously removed dust mites for up to 8 weeks. 

In another study, water extraction of the carpet was used to remove Aspergillus. This type of mold can cause infections in those with allergies and weak immune system.

Professional machines come in large truck mounted machines. But there are more portable sizes too. If you have time, clean your carpet once a week. Pair the HWE machine with intensive vacuuming for best results.

Best for: cleaning carpets, effective against allergies

Upright steam mop

For those stubborn stains, you’ll want a mop instead of a vacuum. Mopping after you sweep or vacuum is also a good habit for thorough cleaning.

Compared to traditional mopping, steam cleaning leaves behind less water. There is a shorter drying time. But you can remove stains and dirt without scrubbing hard.

In one study, the commercial household steam cleaner was used on beef and hog carcasses. Which may sound absolutely disgusting. But the steam was able to kill significant amounts of 3 types of bacteria (L. monocytogenes, total aerobic and thermoduric bacteria).

So the steam treatment is effective in disinfecting contaminated carcasses. Just imagine how much cleaner it can make your home!

Friendly tip:

If you have hardwood floors, use the “finish soundness test” to find out the finish. Find a small corner and remove any wax. Add a drop of water. If it soaks through or darkens the wood, you have an unsound or soft oiled finish.

Water will damage this type of wood. The steam mop is a good option. But you should still be careful not to get the floor too wet.

Best for: speedy and effective cleaning of hardwood floors

Microfiber flat mop

If the steam mop is not within your budget, you can look for a flat mop made of microfiber. Many flat mops have an ergonomic design. This means that it is more user-friendly.

The traditional string mop is around 8 to 10 pounds when wet. But a flat mop is only around 3 pounds when wet. It is smaller, lighter and more portable. If needed, you can push it on a cart for easier transport.

This portability is able to reduce worker injury. These include pulled muscles and strains. If you often experience aches and pains, this will be especially helpful.

Microfiber is also more effective than usual cloth material. The millions of little fibers hook around dirt particles and pull them from the ground.

Best for: mopping with less strain on the body

Wood polish

To keep your wood looking good as new, a polish is necessary. It can stop the wood from drying, cracking, changes due to weather and scratches. It also protects the wood from permanent stains.

There are many types of polish. What you choose depends on the type of wood and finish you have. Consider the end appearance in mind. You should use the lightest color that matches your wood.

Also keep in mind the ease of application, safety and cost. Some polishes can be toxic.

An aerosol polish is best for: varnish, shellac and polyurethane polyester finishes. Use cream wax instead for a more matte look.

Paste wax is best for lacquer finishes. You will need to work hard with buffing. But it is “harder” and matches the lacquer well.

An oil polish goes with oil finishes. The wood can absorb the oil polish. So feel free to apply it liberally and more often than the others.

But as always, don’t apply too much. If you want to refinish the wood later, the polish will complicate things.

Friendly tip:

What type of finish do you have? First find an inconspicuous corner of your floor for testing. Put a drop of:

  • Linwood oil: if the wood absorbs the drop, you have an oil finish

  • Acetone: if you rub it in and it dissolves, it is a lacquer finish. If it sheds like water, you have a polyurethane polyester finish. If the acetone turns gummy within a minute, you have varnish or shellac.

  • Denatured alcohol: Drop the alcohol in the previous gummy substance. If it dissolves, you have shellac. If not, the finish is varnish.

Best for: protecting wood from scratches and damage

Spray-and-vac machine

A lot of people say ceramic tile “feeds” bacteria. That’s not quite true, since fungi (mold and mildew) and bacteria need food to grow. Ceramic isn’t food.

But the typical places for tiling include places such as bathrooms and kitchens. Moist and damp places. And contamination from food, our bodies and soap residue. This is all that bacteria needs to grow.

The grout used to hold tiles together is another “great” breeding ground. It’s porous. All the dirt, residue and mold gets absorbs.

Why talk about ceramic tiles? Because the best way to clean it with a spray-and-vac cleaning process.

One study looked at the effects of spray-and-vac and cleaning with a mop. The test was to wash away cleaning solution from the tiled floor.

The mop only removed around 50 percent of bacteria. The spray-and-vac process though, removed almost 90 percent. After a disinfectant was added in, half of the initial bacteria still existed with mopping.

But with the disinfectant paired with the spray-and-vac machine, only less than 1 percent of bacteria were left.

Friendly tip:

The spray-and-vac machine included: indoor pressure washer, automated chemical system, fresh water tank and more.

You can switch between high and low pressure settings for different tasks. There is also a wet vacuum. It is separate from the vacuum for soils.

Best for: killing bacteria in ceramic tile floors

Oil-phobic impregnator

You have your grout cleaner. But how do you make it easier for yourself? Unless you use epoxy-based grout, a grout sealer is needed.

There are both surface and impregnator sealers. Impregnators penetrate the surface of the grout. It coats the individual particles underneath. This stops water, oil and grime from entering.

This type of sealer doesn’t change the appearance of grout or need frequent applications. They’re not affected by UV light either. This means you can use it outdoors as well.

You can choose between hydrophobic and oil-phobic impregnators. Hydrophobic can repel water based liquids. Oil-phobic can repel both oil and water based messes.

There’s a difference between oil “resistant” and “repellant.” Resistant will slow down the absorption. But for true prevention, oil repellant is needed.

Do note that flammable and noxious vapors can be produced during application. Have adequate venting and check the label for dangerous ingredients.

Friendly tip:

For application, choose between: brush on, roll on and spray on. Of the three, rollers are more accurate. There’s less tile surface cleaning needed afterward too.

Best for: sealing grout against water and oil-based liquids

Vacuum cleaner with prototype vacuum bag

For conventional upright vacuum cleaners, choose one with a prototype vacuum bag. These have smaller pore sizes and are more effective.

Four vacuum cleaners were evaluated in a study. Each vacuum was used throughout homes (on carpets and soft furnishings) for a 15 minute period. The air was sampled simultaneously and the weight of the dust recorded.

The filter vacuums produced lower amounts of airborne dust allergens, compared to conventional cleaners.

Another study showed that 2 to 3 layer microfiltration bags are able to reduce allergen leakage. There is still room for improvement.

Other specialized vacuum cleaners:

  • Cordless vacuum: If you are not a fan of cords
  • Bagless vacuum: For the luxury of not having to replace bags every few months
  • Wet dry vacuum: Heavy duty vacuum cleaner for the trickiest of situations. Can clean up almost anything
  • Robot vacuum: If you want to live the sci-fi dream of having a robot clean your house. You will be pleasantly surprised.
  • Pool Cleaner: For swimming pools and the like

Best for: removing dust and debris, effective against allergies and asthma

Cleaning the Air

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Air purifier

The air inside our homes is actually dirtier than the outside air. There are many sources of air contaminants in your home that you might have never thought of.

Dust particles and bacteria are circulated around through forced-air heating and cooling systems. Outdoor allergens and pollen may blow in and stay on furniture. Pets shed fur and smokers also produce toxins.

According to a 2002 scientific review, air filters can help improve asthma. An impressive study from 1990 showed a reduction in pollution of 70 percent. The air purifier also helped improve symptoms of allergies.

The best air purifier will offer different settings and additional benefits. There are a range of choices to look at. A BioGS HEPA filter can capture certain allergens that the typical filter will miss.

Customizable filters options will take care of bacteria, mold, pet dander and even odors. To reduce smells, look for a charcoal filter. Other machines have an air ionizer too, to improve the quality of the air. If what you need is to bring in fresh air from outdoors and improve circulation, get an air exchanger. 

To monitor indoor air quality levels to begin with, you should consider an air quality monitor.​

Tip: Use the CADR (clean air delivery rate) to compare different air purifiers.

Best for: removing airborne dust and contaminants, effective against asthma and allergies

Bamboo charcoal

There are tons of air fresheners out there. Aerosol sprays, electrical wall plug-ins, solid and liquid fresheners . . .

Most of them mask the smelly odors. They cover the odor with a nicer fragrance. But there’s a stinky side to it.

The Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs found that many air fresheners emit allergens. Toxic air pollutants, such as benzene and formaldehyde, are also sprayed out. They can aggravate allergies and asthma.

A study by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that many air fresheners don’t list certain toxic chemicals on their labels. Even if they say they’re “all natural.”

What is a truly natural and non-toxic deodorizer? Enter bamboo charcoal. It is also known as activated charcoal. As an air purifier, it is usually packed in a linen bag.

Bamboo charcoal works by absorbing the odor. Studies also show that it also absorbs bacteria, moisture, pollutants and radiation. It is a much safer option!

Friendly tip:

The charcoal can last for up to two years. If you place it under the sun once a month, it can rejuvenate itself.

Afterward, use the charcoal as fertilizer in your yard.

Best for: eliminating odors without toxic effects

Refrigerant dehumidifier

This is also known as the compressor dehumidifier.

Compared with other allergens, there is still limited knowledge about mold allergens. What is clear though, is that moisture control is the necessary first step in reducing environmental exposure.

In a single-blind study, effectiveness of low-cost home intervention was tested. The products included dehumidifiers, air filtration and furnace filters.

The results showed that when dehumidifiers were used, there were significant improvements for coughing and breathing problems. Total dust allergen and mold spore counts were reduced too.

The researchers noted that when paired with healthy home education, dehumidifiers can improve the health of children with asthma too.

The refrigerant dehumidifier works better for higher temperatures and humidity levels. If you live in a super muggy environment, this is the one for you. It works by drawing air over a filter and pass cold coils. The water then condenses and is collected in a water tank.

Best for: removing mold in hot and humid environments

Desiccant dehumidifier

On the other hand, the desiccant dehumidifier works most efficiently in colder environments. Such as a garage or basement.

For this one, absorbent material or chemical extracts water from the air. Because of the process, the desiccant dehumidifier works at any temperature or humidity level.

Friendly tip:

Purchase a hygrometer to measure the humidity. The ideal level is 40 to 50 percent.

Best for: removing mold in a variety of temperatures

Humidifier

But if you live in a very dry place, you may want a humidifier instead.

In a dry environment, 70 to 77 percent of airborne flu viruses can transmit the infection through coughs. But just increase the humidity level to 43 percent or above. And the percentage of viruses drops down to only 14. That’s more than a 50 percent difference!

Multiple studies show that this cleaning product can relieve congestion as well.

In one, the researchers evaluated the effects of humidifiers on nasal symptoms and sleep apnea. When heated humidity was used, the participants felt more refreshed waking up in the morning. There were less dry mouths, throats or noses as side effects.

In addition, the best humidifier can alleviate sore throats and coughs. Another study found improved quality of sleep with consistent use of a humidifier.

Friendly tip:

Use demineralized or distilled water. The minerals in regular tap water will build up and create bacterial growth. Distilled or demineralized water will save you time while cleaning the machine.

Regardless of how dirty it is, clean the humidifier once a week. Change the filters regularly too.

Best for: preventing flu viruses and improving sleep quality

Water softener

Water can be either hard or soft. Hard water means that there are minerals dissolved in it. The most common are calcium and/or magnesium. These ions make it a pain to perform typical cleaning tasks.

The minerals react with soap to form soap scum. There might be residue on dishes after washing. The deposits can clog up pipes and drains. Your clothes can feel harsh and your hair can look dull.

The problem can be expensive as it affects water-using machines.

You can’t really control what comes out of your faucet. But you can use a water softener to change the quality of the water.

A softener can also reduce bacteria in the water. Tests showed that after 1 day, there was no more E.coli in the softened water.

Most water softeners are plumbed into your plumbing. There are also pellets you can add to the water. Or products to add onto the faucet. Choose the best ones suitable for your uses.

Friendly tip:

Don’t forget to keep your water softener healthy. Use pure salt along with an iron remover to prevent buildup and sediment. Once a year, clean the brine tank, resin bed and resin tank injector.

Best for: make cleaning easier, increase water quality

Gravity-fed drip water filter

Water contamination is a real thing. Even in developed countries!

According to CNN, millions of Americans may be drinking unsafe water. The public water can be contaminated by industrial chemicals. These PFASs are associated with high cholesterol, hormone suppression and cancer.

Drinking water filters can do a lot to improve the water quality. And your quality of life. In one test, water filters were able to decrease diarrhea and other water-related diseases.

There are multiple types of purifiers to choose from. 

For an effective and budget friendly filter, go for gravity-fed drip water filters. These can remove:

  • Chlorine

  • Chlorine by-products

  • Fluoride

  • COVs

  • Pesticides

  • Particulates

  • Pharmaceuticals

These contaminants are found in most tap and well water. The filters are NSP/ANSI standards #42, NSF standard #53 and #61 certified.

There is no need for electricity. The filter utilizes carbon block filtration. It works by having water drip down from the upper to lower chamber. The contaminants are then adsorbs. (Different from absorption). The carbon works like a magnet and attracts the contaminants. The process is slow, but works very efficiently.

Different from the others, these filters don’t need constant maintenance. You can scrub them and reuse the filter for years. But once the carbon surface is full, replace it.

Best for: removing chemicals, preventing water-borne diseases

Cleaning the Bathroom and Kitchen

Liquid glycerin soap

No one likes soap scum. In fact, the scum on shower curtains has been found to house dangerous bacteria.

But it keeps on appearing. Other than the way you rinse off, the problem may lie in the soap you use. And chemistry.

The scum appears when hard water (with calcium or magnesium ions) reacts with the fatty acids in bar soap. What it leaves behind are mineral deposits. Also known as soap scum.

In order to prevent soap scum, switch to a liquid or gel soap.

And amongst the liquid or gel soap, go for the glycerin based ones. (If you like to stick with bar soap, glycerin-based is also better than tallow-based.)

Along with other vegetable oil based soap, glycerin is great for your skin. It is gentle on sensitive skin. It has been found to keep on moisturizing the skin even after application stops.

Friendly tip:

To get rid of the soap scum you have now, scour the surface first. Scrub away all scum. Apply wax to make it harder for the scum to stick.

In addition to changing your soap, remember to rinse away residue soap each time. Get into the habit. And you’ll save so much more time!

Best for: preventing soap scum and promoting skincare

Dishdrawer

Also known less creatively as drawer dishwashers. These machines are literally like a drawer in your kitchen. You can choose between a single or double drawer washer.

Double drawers are great because you can use them separately. You can separate the different types of dishes for big loads. For smaller loads, just use the top drawer!

It doesn’t require bending over to load and unload either. It’s a relief if you have aches and pains.

Due to the size and flexibility, dishdrawers fit in both small and big kitchens. Install it in a cabinet drawer space near the kitchen sink. A single drawer can go in the pantry or island too.

Best for: versatile dishwashing, easy on the back and waist

Tab dishwasher detergent

The dishwasher does all the dirty work for you. But you have to choose how it works. Detergent for the dishwasher comes in three main forms: powder, gel and tab.

Go for the tab!

The major ingredients of dishwasher detergent are: enzymes and bleach. The first eats away at food residue and buildup. The second takes care of stains. However, liquid bleach kills enzymes. So you can only get one or the other in gel detergent.

As for powder, the only downside is storage. You can’t let the box get wet. Because detergents are activated by water. So you must store it somewhere dry and safe from water (not under the kitchen sink.)

You are left with the best option: tab dishwasher detergent.

Though a bit more expensive, it is more effective. It is also more reliable and convenient.

Best for: thoroughly cleaning your dishwasher with ease

Powder dishwasher detergent

Actually, the storage problem is the only con to powder detergent.

Though less convenient, it is a budget friendly choice. Both enzymes and bleach are able to exist in powder detergent too.

Water hardness affects a dishwasher’s performance. As with bar soap, the water may leave mineral deposits on your dishes. And all over the walls of the machine.

If you live in an area with hard water, powder is the way to go. You can adjust how much detergent to use.

So, tab detergent is the best option. Powder is an inexpensive alternative. And gel detergent is for last resorts (you must choose if you want to get rid of gunk or stains.)

Friendly tip:

Some dishwashers also have a build-in water softener. The special salt will soften the water so your machine can give the best results.

Best for: cleaning dishwashers in areas with hard water

Air burst drain opener

Clogged drains are annoying. A kitchen drain is usually plugged up by too much solid grease. Then all sorts of foods and particles can build up too.

In the bathroom, hair is the main problem. Soap, toothpaste and other residue can clog up the drain too.

For these problems, you can use an air burst drain opener. Instead of using chemicals or mechanical force, this uses a strong gas force. It’s usually air or carbon dioxide.

The gas force dislodges clogs. It works faster than chemical drain openers. The air can also reach a further distance than handheld drain openers.

In addition, the air doesn’t leave any scratch marks. This makes it a good option for drains in the shower, bathtub, sink and toilet.

Friendly tip:

Chemical or acid drain openers eat away at the clogs. However, they generate heat. The acid can soften PVC pipes or older, metal pipes. If you decide to use acid drain openers, make sure to use as directed.

Best for: unclogging bathroom drains

Sewer jetter

If you need something more powerful, look for sewer jetters. This directs a high-pressure water force into the clogged drain. It produces up to 4000 pounds per square inch (PSI) of water pressure.

The water force can travel longer distances. It can also flush out food, hair, mineral deposits and grease. You can also use jetters to clean the sides of the drains. It can prevent grime and residue from building up.

Sewer jetters are usually used by professionals. You can use it too! Many jetters also have specialized parts. Such as pressure valves and electric-start engines.

Compared to electric drain cleaners, the sewer jetter is more economical. And like the air burst drain opener, there is lower risk of scratching and damages.

Friendly tip:

There are alternatives if you don’t want the entire thing. You can look for sewer jetter attachments. Portable sewer jetters can remove soft clogs as well.

Best for: opening main drains and pipes

Lactic acid toilet cleaner

The toilet bowl isn’t as gross as made out to be. Your kitchen sponge and phone are much dirtier. But there are still bacteria to catch from the toilet.

E.coli is fecal-borne bacteria. You can find it in the toilet water and the gunk on the sides of your toilet bowl. When you catch it, you’ll come down with diarrhea, stomach cramps and vomiting.

If you have serious mineral build-up or lines of yellow and brown, get a toilet cleaner. Distilled white vinegar is a good home remedy. But lactic acid toilet cleaners are definitely better for the job (read the label to see if acid in an active ingredient).

The lactic acid will eat away at the gunk without damaging your toilet bowl.

Friendly tip:

There are about 14,000 cases of shigellosis infections reported per year in the U.S. These occur when an infected person’s poop contaminates a surface. This includes all parts of the toilet.

To disinfect these (and other) invisible germs, use bleach or antibacterial wipes.

But do NOT use bleach and acid based cleaners together. It will be toxic.

Pumice stones should also be your last resort. They can scratch the finish on your toilet bowl.

Best for: cleaning build-up in your toilet bowl, killing bacteria

Cleaning Furniture

Emulsion furniture polish

Why polish your furniture? It’s not just to make everything smell good (although there’s that).

A polish can also add shine and scratch resistance. It helps in dusting and cleaning as well. To clean away water-soluble dirt, grease and wax, look for emulsion polishes.

Usually sold as aerosols, these are a combination of petroleum-distillate solvent and water. It is great for dusting and cleaning furniture.

Other choices include clear polishes and paste wax. Clear polishes are also good for dusting. But not as great of a choice for cleaning.

Paste wax gives your furniture a (almost) permanent shine. It makes the surface scratch resistant as well. But in order to clean, you will need additional supplies.

Friendly tip:

If a furniture polish claims to “replace natural oils” in the wood, they’re probably lying. Most wood for furniture don’t even contain oil in the first place. They contain water instead.

Only certain exotic woods, such as teak and rosewood, contain oil naturally.

Best for: cleaning, dusting and polishing wood furniture

Fast evaporating cleaner

Fast evaporating cleaners have a strong solvency power.

Because they don’t damage plastics or rubber, they’re often used for cleaning electronics. They can reach tight corners of sensitive electronics. And flush away carbon deposits and other lighter contaminants.

Due to being evaporative, there is no moisture left behind to cause corrosion. Depending on the cleaner, you might not even need to shut the electronic off.

Best for: cleaning sensitive electronics

Kitchen sink cleaner

The kitchen sink is where you rinse off dishes and foods. It’s covered with soapy suds half the time. So it should be clean with a quick rinse, right?

Sorry, but the kitchen sink can be germier than your toilet. Food particles from plates left to soak are a breeding ground for bacteria. These include killers such as E.coli and salmonella. This can then get onto your hands and other food.

Thankfully, many home ingredients can be used to clean the sink. You can use vinegar, lemon and sea salt. Then with an old toothbrush, scrub and sanitize

Web MD also recommends using bleach and water solution once a day. Wash down the sink and let it run down the drain. When you have time, clean your faucets and handles too. And drain plug!

Of course, there are commercial sink cleaning products you can choose between. Just make sure it’s suitable for the material your sink is made of.

Best for: preventing risk of contracting salmonella and E.coli

Rust converter

Rust happens naturally when air and moisture interacts with a contaminant. It’s also known as “corrosion.” Though it sometimes gives a vintage look, many people want to get rid of it.

There are many rust converters (rust removers or killers) you can purchase. You can put it directly onto the iron or metal surface. They are usually liquid with two primary active ingredients: an organic polymer and tannic acid.

The acid converts the rust. The other ingredient makes it easier to remove. Some converters also contain acids to speed up the reaction. Such as phosphoric acid. You can look in the label of the product for the ingredients.

Different types of rust will require slightly different removers.

  • Red rust: result of heavy exposure to contaminates

  • Yellow rust: “runs and drips”

  • Brown rust: drier than red and yellow rust

  • Black rust: looks like a black stain

Friendly tip:

While commercial rust removers are great, home remedies abound for this task. Some handy tools include: lemon juice, distilled white vinegar and baking soda. Create a paste and rub it on the rust.

Best for: removing rust from iron alloy surfaces

Metal polish

Different from other materials, metal has a special cleaning problem. It goes through oxidation. And you get tarnish.

It is similar to removing rust though. The tarnish needs to be eaten away by acid. Most metal cleaning products are pastes or thick liquids abrasives. They should contain organic acids, such as citric acid or oxalic acid.

For best results, choose a polish that contains antioxidants. This will slow re-tarnishing of the metal.

Friendly tip:

Keep going to get that metallic luster! After removing the grime, go on to buff.

You can use a rotary buffer or orbital buffer depending on your needs. You can also pair it with a fine abrasive and grease to smooth the metal surface.

Best for: preventing metal from tarnishing

Window and glass cleaner

These light-duty cleaners are actually part of the “fast evaporating cleaner” group.

But they are great used on windows, mirrors and other glass surfaces. Because they get rid of the germs and dirt. Without leaving behind messy streaks.

This is due to the surfactants, solvents and mild alkali ingredients. These are what soap and other cleaners don’t have. Other chemicals in glass cleaners are effective against killing germs.

Just be careful not to touch or breathe them in too much. If you use it improperly, some can irritate your skin or lungs.

Friendly tip:

Don’t use paper towels. Even though the cleaner won’t leave behind streaks, the paper will.

Newspapers are another option. However, they are not very absorbent.

The best option is microfiber towels. Soft and absorbent, you don’t have to worry about damaging your windows or mirrors. And there won’t be unsightly streaks either.

Best for: cleaning glass without streaks

Lexol leather cleaner

Cleaning leather will remove the grease, dust and other grime collected. All the buildup can cause the leather to break and crack. This is why the best leather cleaner will contain surfectants. It’s a softening ingredient to gently clean away the dirt.

The solutions should have a neutral pH. It should not contain alcohol or abrasives. Those can discolor or further damage the material.

Many people use saddle soap or regular soap. Saddle soap is high in oil and fat.

In general, lexol soap is much gentler on the leather. Use it to avoid discoloring or drying out the material.

For best results, different types of leather require different cleaners. To find out which leather you have, try a water test.

Friendly tip:

Thorough cleaning is not often needed. Regular cleaning should just be a quick brush and wipe down. For salt and snow, just wipe with a damp cloth.

Then, as needed, use a leather conditioner to keep the leather supple. When wiping or rubbing, go in a circular motion.

Best for: cleaning and maintaining leather

Cleaning Your Car

Carburetor cleaner

A clean carburetor is essential in your car running smoothly.

If you don’t run your engine often, the gas can go bad. Old gas thickens inside the carburetor. This causes the parts to get stuck.

Do you need to clean your carburetor? Here are the signs:

  • The motor turns over but just won’t start

  • It runs “lean.” There’s too much air or not enough fuel. There are popping sounds.

  • It runs “rich.” There’s too much fuel and black exhaust comes out.

  • The motor is flooded.

Use a carburetor cleaner and you will notice: 

  • Better fuel efficiency

  • Improved acceleration and engine starts

  • Proper fuel flow to the engine

Best for: making your car run smoothly

Head gasket sealer

The head gasket is inside an internal combustion engine. It lies between the engine block and cylinder head.

A sealer is needed to make sure there is maximum compression. It prevents leakage of the coolant or engine oil. It’s responsible for the most important sealing application in the engine.

A good head gasket sealer with have polyester urethane material that withstands up to 500 degrees. It remains sticky so you can disassemble and re-assemble with ease.

Best for: keeping your head gasket functioning

Cleaning Laundry

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Front load washing machine

There are two major types of washing machines: top load and front load.

Top load machines either have an agitator or don’t (and are called high-efficiency or HE). These are friendlier on your wallet.

However, front load washers clean better while using less water.

They also spin at a higher speed to extract more water. Washing will take around 30 minutes more. But the clothes require less drying time. Choose a stainless steel tub, to better withstand the speed.

The high speed causes the machine to vibrate though. Concrete floors would be better suited than wood floors.

Due to the design, water collects in the folds of the rubber gasket. Clean this regularly to prevent mold.

Depending on your needs and budget, there are many additional features to try out. For example, an extra rinse cycle can get rid of stubborn stains. It will remove detergent residue too. This is helpful if you have sensitive skin.

Friendly tip:

Measure the space you have before buying a washing machine. Allow at least 6 inches for hookups behind the machine. The washer and dryer should have around 1 inch in between too. And don’t forget that it needs to fit through your doors!

In case you forget, here are a few items you might also need to fit in your laundry room: an ironing board, and a fabric steamer.​

Best for: high efficiency clothes washing, place on non-wood floors

Heat pump condenser dryers

After getting a wash, get a new dryer too. The heat pump condenser is more expensive. However the lower running cost will offset the purchase price. It is getting cheaper too.

It uses a similar technology to your reverse cycle air conditioner. The heat exchange principle is energy efficient. It uses around 63 percent less energy than a vented dryer.

The drying time is a bit longer. But they condense and remove moisture from the air. The heat is captured and reused instead of vented out, so your laundry room doesn’t turn into a sauna.

Best for: energy efficient drying of clothes

Liquid HE laundry detergent

Front-load and HE washing machines require different detergents than top-load machines. This is because the former machines use much less water. So you will need the less sudsy HE detergent.

Most of these are dual-use though. You can also use them for top-loaders.

The biggest debate is on liquid vs powder laundry detergent. Experiments show that both are equally effective.

However, liquid detergent can sometimes double as pre-treaters for tannin or water-based stains. On the other hand, powder can leave a residue on clothing. So liquid detergent is a better choice by a bit!

Friendly tip:

Laundry detergent pods or tabs are not kid-friendly. The American Association of Poison Control Centers warn that children can swallow the packets. The concentrated detergent can cause vomiting and wheezing.

In addition, fabric softener can produce toxic emissions as well. Try to avoid them if possible.

Best for: cleaning stained clothing without residue


Cleaning Dust

Microfiber cloth

Your usual cleaning cloth is made of cotton or nylon. But a microfiber cloth is made of synthetic material with much smaller (and much more) fibers.

The fibers are bundled together. Science says that by using an adhesive force called the van der Waals force, they can hook around dirt particles. The dirt stays trapped until you wash the cloth in hot water.

The best thing is, you can use microfiber cloth to clean without any detergent or chemicals.

Friendly tip:

The cloth can last for years if cared for properly.

If you use it for something dry (such as dusting), shake it out after each use. If you use it while wet, rinse with warm water and light laundry detergent.

If you throw it in the laundry, don’t use fabric conditioner. Otherwise, the small fibers will be coated and become less effective.

Best for: dusting and wiping small areas

Electrostatic duster

There is actually big debate between microfiber and electrostatic technology. Thankfully, both have slightly different advantages. So you can use both!

Electrostatic technology utilizes a negative charge. This naturally pulls in the dust particles. There are washable electrostatic clothes. Most are disposable though, and a bit more expensive. They are usually used in vacuum cleaners. Microfiber is more common for cleaning that includes rubbing.

These dusters are heavily used in multiple industries too. Its effectiveness was tested by removing insecticide dust on crops. It has been used to clean out litter in chicken barns too. Both studies had positive results.

For dusting in less accessible places, use an electrostatic duster. You can remove the dust and throw it away. Instead of just spreading it around, as you would with a typical duster.

Friendly tip:

They come in varying lengths and sizes. Some also have extension poles. This can give you a bigger reach than with microfiber cloths.

For maintenance, simply shake it vigorously (outside). For thorough cleaning, wash with warm soapy water. Rinse with cold water and let it dry.

Best for: easy dusting in difficult places

All-Purpose Cleaning Products

Powdered abrasive cleaner

If you ever need a good scrubbing, go for abrasive cleaners. They are designed to remove large amounts of dirt buildup.

The power behind powdered abrasive cleaners comes from the fine mineral particles. Most commonly used are calcite, silica, feldspar and quartz. These particles scrub off the dirt with power of physics.

Small amounts of surfactants help with degreasing and removing stains. On the other hand, oxalic acid or sodium hydrosulphite is needed to remove rust.

Some cleansers have antimicrobial agents to disinfect surfaces. Pine oil, sodium hypochlorite and others can kill bacteria and germs.

Best for: scrubbing away buildup in hard to reach places

Liquid abrasive cleaners

Liquid cleaners are usually a thick and gritty liquid. If you’re looking to clean somewhere greasy (like a kitchen) or more delicate items, liquid is for you.

They have more surfactant ingredients. This makes them better at degreasing. However, they also contain softer abrasives. This means they are gentler than the powdered type.

Best for: washing away grease stains

Steel wool

Abrasive cleaners and soap should be paired with a scouring pad for best results.

The most common pad is steel cotton ball or wool pad. Fill the steel with some kind of soap and get to scrubbing. It’s effective for cleaning metal surfaces. However, the pad can start to corrode after the soap is used up.

Non-corrosive materials, such as copper or nylon mesh can reduce the scratching. Cellulose sponges with polyurethane backing also helps.

Best for: scrubbing away dirt and rust buildup

Cellulose sponge

Sponges are literal magnets for bacteria and germs. You should throw them out long before they’re “dead.”

But the typical sponges are made of plastic. Not very eco-friendly.

Instead, try cellulose sponges. These are made from wood fibers. They are recyclable and biodegradable. When you’re in the store, choose those that are 100 percent cellulose. And no polyester filling.

As a plant fiber, the cellulose is great at absorbing water. They are also more heat resistance than plastic sponges. And work well with organic solvents.

You can use these on pretty much every surface. They can survive tough cleaning jobs too.

Friendly tip:

After each use, rinse the sponges thoroughly.

For thorough cleaning, throw it in the microwave. A study posted in the Food Control Journal showed that microwaving for 2 minutes can remove 99 percent of various bacteria.

Make sure the sponge is wet beforehand. And only microwave for up to 30 seconds each time. You don’t want a burning sponge!

Best for: effective and environmentally friendly sponging

Nitrile disposable gloves

When you say “disposable gloves,” latex is probably what first comes to mind.

Latex is a natural rubber. But latex allergy is a major problem. There are also some chemicals that the material can’t protect against.

Instead, you can consider nitrile gloves. Nitrile is a synthetic rubber. It was developed mainly as an alternative for those with latex allergies. Less than 1 percent of users are allergic to nitrile.

The material is also more chemical resistant. If you are cleaning with strong chemicals, these gloves will protect your hands. Compared to latex, nitrile is especially effective against petroleum-based products.

There is another often overlooked advantage. When punctured, nitrile will tear easily. This alerts you immediately that the glove is damaged. Because latex will remain intact when punctured. And you won’t notice the hole.

This is helpful in protecting you from contact with toxic substances.

Friendly tip:

Nitrile gloves come in different textures.

The most common (95 percent of gloves) is micro roughened texture. This makes it easier to grip and handle tools.

For extremely slippery objects, aggressive or heavy duty texture is an option. It is best for automotive uses, such as cleaning the inner workings of your car.

Best for: protection against chemicals while cleaning

Thick disinfectant wipes

Disinfectant wipes . . . disinfect. And are essential in having a clean home.

In one study, various commercial disinfectants were used on electronics and mattress coverlets. They were wiped every hour for two months.

The results showed complete removal of microorganisms for some. The wipes were used on sensitive surfaces too. But the products were able to disinfect without causing damage.

But there’s a lot of talk about how disinfectant wipes don’t work or are counter effective. But the effectiveness of the wipe depends on two main factors. You need to take all of them into mind when purchasing. They should all be noted on the wipes’ label.

Contact time: this is how much time it takes for the disinfectant to do its job. It is regulated by the EPA. Each disinfectant must be tested against various pathogens.

A single product can have different contact times for different germs. It can range from anyway where from 30 seconds to 10 whole minutes. To be safe, look at the longest contact time for bacteria and viruses.

Dry time: how long it takes for the liquid to evaporate. This is crucial. The disinfectant can only work while wet. External factors, such as room temperature and air flow, affect dry time. So there is no definite number.

When purchasing, you have to put these two together. If a product dries before the end of its contact time, you need to keep reapplying. If the dry time is long but contact time short, it can work with one application.

Friendly tip:

Many disinfectant products now need to be able to disinfect and clean. The first means to kill germs. Cleaning means to remove dust and debris.

Thicker wipes are able to deposit more liquid to disinfect. They can also pick up more debris and clean more effectively. Even better if there’s an embossed texture.

Best for: disinfecting and cleaning sensitive surfaces

Paper towels

These towels are needed for cleaning up spills. They are easily thrown away and you don’t have to worry about the mess inside.

You can also use them for drying your hands. Transmission of bacteria is much more likely to go from wet skin than dry skin. In fact, drying your hands can reduce bacterial translocating by 99 percent.

This is crucial for work and medical environments. You can do the same in your home. But in most homes, people use a cloth towel or rag.

That is a bad idea!

The effectiveness of hand drying depends on: speed and degree of drying, bacteria removal and prevention of cross-contamination.

A summative review of multiple studies showed that cloth towels are the least effective. They dry slower and the bacteria stays on the towel. When different methods of hand drying were tested for eliminating residue bacteria on washed hands, cloth came in last.

Results vary between studies for effectiveness of electric air dryers. But for home use, paper towels are definitely the most hygienic.

Friendly tip:

To be more eco-friendly, remember to recycle!

Best for: drying hands and spills, effective for eliminating bacteria

Handheld steam cleaners

Steam cleaners use the same technology as the aforementioned steam mop. But there are different models with versatile functions.

Depending on the model, you can use the machine on other surfaces too. In addition to the floor, you can clean countertops, tiles, small corners and more.

Handheld steam cleaners are portable and more affordable. Because of their size, they’re great for cleaning hard-to-reach places.

Best for: smaller cleaning jobs

Vapor steam cleaners

These usually come with a large variety of attachments and features. Different from others, it provides a “dry” clean. The steam is so hot that there is no dampness left behind. However, it is the more expensive option.

Best for: killing bacteria in large surface areas

Electric pressure washer

A pressure washer uses water jet sprays to remove dirt. All machines have three basic parts: an engine or motor, a high pressure hose and a powerful pump.

Pumps are divided between light, medium and heavy duty. Each duty is suitable for different cleanings. It affects the price too.

A light duty washer has a maximum power of 100 bar. This is good for tools, furniture and small cars. Small to medium surfaces are suitable too.

A medium duty washer goes up to 110 bar. You can use this to clean vehicles, pools, large patios and more.

Heavy duty pressure washers are generally for industrial use instead of the home.

You can use a petrol or diesel engine. However these produce fumes and can’t be used indoors. A safer option is a washer with an electric motor. Connect it to a main or generator. Then use it to clean both in and around the home.

High density trash bags

People don’t really put much thought into trash bags. But there are actually two main types: low density and high density.

As the name implies, low density bags are thinner. They are measured in mils. That is one thousandth of an inch. The standard kitchen bag is 0.9 mils.

High density trash bags are much thicker. They are more flexible and resistant to tears. The type of bag you choose depends on the purpose. Light density bags are suitable for lighter trash. But high density trash bags are the catch-all.

Friendly tip:

There aren’t any dramatic price disparities between bags. But it will add up if you buy large quantities. The main difference is in color: the cheapest is black. Then white, lastly clear.

Best for: kitchen and outdoor trash

DIY Home Remedy Cleaners

Maybe you want to try more natural cleaners. The Internet is not lacking home remedy tips. They might not be as effective as the cleaning products that you buy from your local store.

However, they are easy to find, more environmentally friendly and with less health hazards. And definitely have some science behind them as well. Here are just a few you can try:

  • Baking soda

  • Salt

  • Ammonia

  • Borax

  • Distilled white vinegar

  • Lemon juice

  • Dishwashing liquid

  • Rubbing alcohol

Baking soda

Also known as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda, is a type of inorganic salt. Other than in your food, it’s used in laundry detergent, pesticides and more.

Baking soda crystals are harder than soil. So it is a good powdered abrasive for removing light soils.

Because of its super alkaline nature, it’s a great eco-friendly cleanser. Absorbing grease, gentle scrubbing, whitening and deodorizing are all functions of baking soda.

Best for: light powdered abrasive and grease absorber

Borax

Borax, or sodium borate, is a close relative of baking soda. It is also highly alkaline. There are disputes as to how safe borax is though, so be careful while using.

Best for: scrubbing away stains

Ammonia

Household ammonia is another alkali. Because it’s volatile, it doesn’t leave any solid residue. This makes it easy to rinse away after cleaning. It is an ingredient in many glass cleaners and wax strippers.

It is a disinfectant too. Studies show that ammonia disrupts the cell walls of bacteria.

In addition, ammonia is super polar and can help clean soap scum. Calcium salt (the thing in soap scum) cannot dissolve in water. However, it can dissolve in ammonia.

Note that it is also highly irritable. Household ammonia solutions should only be 5 to 10 percent ammonia.

Best for: cleaning glass, soap scum and more

Distilled white vinegar

Murky vinegar is used in food. Distilled white vinegar is a longtime favorite in home remedies for cleaning. It contains cetic acid, gallic acid and other acids. This makes it a great antioxidant and antimicrobial agent. Use it with baking soda to clean stains.

Best for: cleaning stains and killing bacteria

Lemon juice

The acids in lemon juice come in handy for cleaning as well. Like dissolves like. And most stains (from coffee, paint, sweat, lipstick and more) are acidic.

When combined with alkaline compounds (such as baking soda), it creates powerful chemical reactions. Lemon juice can also remove alkaline residue. Such as lime scale or rust.

Best for: clearing acidic stains and rust

Dishwashing liquid

There’s rarely anything better than dishwashing liquid at attacking grease. You can use it for much more than just dishes too.

Best for: degreasing

Rubbing alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol, or rubbing alcohol, is a handy disinfectant and cleaning agent. Because it is a type of alcohol, it can take care of water-insoluble messes. These include chewing gum, hairspray and nail polish.

It is an active ingredient in many hospital disinfectants. When used in the home, it can kill bacteria, viruses and spores on surfaces.

Best for: cleaning sticky messes and disinfecting

13 Practical Cleaning Tips

Now you have the top cleaning toolkit. How should you put them to use? Here are some tips to make cleaning quick and easy.

1. Bag them up

Maybe this sounds like common sense. But it seems as if only the true experts actually do it.

Get a tote tray or container. Stash your cleaning products, rags and brushes in it. Stick some trash bags into the corner too. Keep bigger tools, such as the vacuum or steam mop, nearby.

Having everything you need by your side will save you so much time.

2. Throw before sweeping

The first thing to do after entering a room is to tidy it up. Quickly.

Take a basket and throw every misplaced item in it. Toss the junk in the trash bag. Don’t put too much thought into it. And a tidier room will appear within minutes.

Then you can continue cleaning clutter-free surfaces.

3. Sweep before wiping

Make sure you sweep away the dust and hair first. Otherwise, you’ll just be mopping it around, creating an even dirtier puddle.

To wipe, wet a sponge or rag in warm water. Remember to squeeze out the excess water. A quick swipe will do wonders in removing and preventing dirt buildup. For stubborn stains, add a little vinegar and/or baking soda to the site.

4. Top to bottom

Whether you’re sweeping or wiping, start at the top. You can knock the debris directly down onto the floor. Don’t worry about where the dirt is going.

When you get to the lower surfaces, you can let the vacuum and steam mop do their job.

5. Use your dishwasher

It may be called a dishwasher. But you can put pretty much anything into it. As long as it’s made of hard plastic, ceramic, glass or metal. (Read the label to be sure though.)

So take advantage of the machine instead of laboring over scrubbing!

6. Steam in your microwave

We know how powerful hot steam is. And how hard it is to clean your grubby microwave. But you can give your microwave a steam treatment! Simply put in a cup of water and spin it on high for 2 to 3 minutes.

The steam will kill bacteria and soften buildup. Then you can easily wipe it down with a damp rag.

7. Put storage bins everywhere

Put hampers, baskets or trash cans wherever necessary. This reduces the temptation to just leave clutter on the ground. Even if you throw things in messily, the room still looks organized.

For those with specific aesthetics, you can easily DIY decorations.

8. Plan out your moves

Save time by vacuuming, sweeping and mopping smart. Start from the inside of a room and make your way to the door.

Go in straight lines to make sure you get every bit of dirt. But don’t waste time with overlapping paths.

9. Quick DIY tips

Fold a post-it note so the sticky part is facing out on both sides. Use it for quick access between keyboard and remote control keys.

For window blinds, wrap microfiber cloth around tongs. Then all you have to do is clamp down on a blind and pull.

10. Start squeegee-ing

Get into the habit of using the squeegee after each shower or bath. (If you live with others, tell them to get onto it as well.)

Wipe down the walls from top to bottom. Make sure the water goes fully down the drain. Pick up any hair as well. This will save you from soap scum (if you are still using bar soap). It will reduce the chances of clogging up your drain too.

11. Fix the looks

If you’re looking for cleaning shortcuts, this is it. Because cleaning is really just about the looks.

Unless you’re doing spring cleaning, skip the less important rooms for now. And for the rooms that do matter, throw out the garbage and organize the messes.

Clear away the random magnets and outdated coupons on the fridge.

Give your bedroom a five star hotel treatment. Make the beds and fluff up the pillows. Open the curtains and let the sun shine through.

12. Dress for success

What is your housecleaning outfit? A ratty shirt and raggedy jeans? No way!

Comfortable and washable clothes are a must. But don’t forget about the rest of the gear either. Flat and padded shoes give you the support you need.

Stock up on gloves for hot water and things you don’t want to touch. If you’ll be kneeling, get kneepads too.

13. Flowers for you

As in, for yourself.

This isn’t exactly a cleaning tip. But after sweeping, wiping, vacuuming and steaming, it makes for a good wrap up. Give yourself a pat on the back and a bouquet of fresh flowers. The blooms will add a splash of color into your newly cleaned home. Making it seem that much more put together.

If you don’t like flowers, then add a decoration that matches your style. You work hard on cleaning your home. So add a bit of personality into it. And make it yours.


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