17 Surprising Household Items That Are Great For Cleaning

17 Surprising Household Items That Are Great For Cleaning

When did cleaning your home get so technical? Automated vacuum cleaners, mechanical scrubbers and 15ft extendable dusters - do we really need it all? Remember the good old days when dirty work was done with a few cloths, polish and fairy liquid? When money was spent on holidays rather than buying 'the next-generation' cleaning equipment?

Well, we're about to go back to basics. Cleaning really doesn't need to be that complicated - or expensive for that matter. In fact, the majority of tools you need to get your house sparkling can be found in your own store cupboard, garage, or wardrobe. So ditch the expensive gear, and let's get going:

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1. Glasses cloth

cleaning with glasses cloth
So shiny!

Mirrored surfaces can look stunning, reflecting light into the room and making your space look bigger - that is, when they're spotless. What is the secret to getting those mirrored surfaces smudge-free? Microfibre cloths do a pretty good job, but these can be expensive, and what about getting right into the corners?

A glasses cloth is the perfect solution, and chances are - if your eyesight is anything like mine - you'll have at least a few lying around. They get mirrored surfaces shining beautifully, are thin enough to push along edges and are much cheaper to buy that microfibre. They're also great for glass vases, ornaments and also TV and laptop screens, so be sure to try that too.

2. Sports equipment

Most of us have some sort of sports equipment lying around, whether that's a bag of golf clubs, a hockey stick or a tennis racket. Teaming any of these with something soft like a cleaning cloth or sock (we'll talk more about these later) can be a great way to reach into high up spaces. Ceiling corners, behind radiators, and in all manner of hard to reach places.

There's really no need to spend money on an extendable duster, which can be both expensive and difficult to store. The trick to saving money when cleaning is using items you already have, and sports equipment is the perfect example of that.

Don't forget to vacuum after dusting these hard to reach spots!

3. Baby/makeup wipes

Whether you have a little toddler around or not, baby wipes are always handy to have around the house, just check out this list of 39 for proof! If you've not got anything else to use, they're great for cleaning counters or handles that need a bit of moisture to lift stubborn stains and provide an easy 'quick solution' for most spillages.

Makeup wipes are good for the same purpose, but also to remove...makeup! Whether it's mascara on your mirror or eyeshadow on your shelf, makeup wipes are designed to move these exact stains. 

Remember to always dispose of wipes in the bin, and never flush them down the toilet. 

4. Hairdryer

Cleaning with a hairdyer
The easy way to blow all that dust away!

You've probably never thought of using your hairdryer on anything other than your hair, but that's all about to change. Hairdryers are great because they eliminate dirt without having to come directly into contact with it - ideal for those hard to reach places.

If you've got visitors round in half an hour and haven't got the time to dust your ornament scattered shelves, a hairdryer can be a lifesaver. It'll blow away all the light dust, leaving your ornaments looking shiny and polished. All that's left now is a quick hoover. If you need more advice on how to do a speed clean, check out Anushka's amazing guide.

5. Shower pouffe

Ahh, nothing like the feeling of a good soapy scrub with a shower pouffe. Let your tiles in on the fun, too! The netted, abrasive texture is the perfect cleaning tool to scrub off grime and limescale on your shower tiles.

As its form is designed to fit nicely in your hand, it's easy to use and makes getting your shower spotless - no matter how big, or small - quick and easy. Just add some fairy liquid, pull up your sleeves, and get going. If you want even more hacks to help you clean your shower in seconds, these bathroom cleaning tips will help!

6. Plastic knife

Next time you get asked if you'd like cutlery with your takeaway salad, be sure to say yes! Some cleaning tasks require much more than a flick with a flimsy cloth, and those are often the ones we dread the most.

Built up limescale is a classic and can be difficult to budge - even with the most abrasive scrubber and expensive spray on the market. Don't spend hours frustratedly scrubbing away - a plastic knife can make this job so much easier, removing the bulk of the hardened water in one go. Slide it along and under the limescale to chip it off, then remove the rest in the usual way.

7. Socks

Cleaning with a sock
Cleaning with a sock - convenient and easy!

We love socks here at Expert Home Tips as they are so versatile - I've already featured 18 wonderful ways to use them. The easiest of them all? Slip one over your hand to use as a cleaning cloth, and you'll be able to clean more easily than ever before.

The soft texture is great for buffing up surfaces and getting a shiny finish, you can use your palm for large, flat areas and your individual fingers to get into those smaller places. Not only that, but with your cleaning tool stuck firmly on your hand, you won't have to keep searching for it every five minutes!

8. Dish brush

A dish brush is probably something you use multiple times a day, but what you may not have tried is employing it into your cleaning routine. It's hard bristles work in the same way as the toothbrush - flicking dirt away and getting into nooks and crannies - but are better suited to larger tasks.

Over and around drains is the perfect example of this, as the bristles separate easily to reach in between the grills. Another great usage is on floor tiles if a stubborn stain needs more to lift it than a quick mop alone.

9. Dishwasher

Whilst we're already in the kitchen, turn your thoughts towards your dishwasher. Again, often solely considered an appliance reserved for cleaning pots and pans, get your money's worth on this big investment and expand the way in which you use it.

From soap dishes and toothbrush holders, to food wastage bins and showerheads, your dishwasher will do an amazing job at getting a wide range of items clean. 

10. Cotton buds

Cleaning with a cotton bud
Cotton buds - perfect for getting into nooks and crannies.

Cotton buds were designed to get into small, hard-to-reach places, so why stop at ears? Their small, delicate design provides the perfect means of removing dirt from numerous items such as around glasses' frames and around phone screens.

If you're really meticulous, use them to lift dirt from screws and round dials on radiators to get a super clean finish.

11. Paintbrushes

They tell you to keep your paintbrushes clean for a reason - so you can use them for cleaning, of course! If your house is filled with lots of gorgeous, antique ornaments, a paintbrush could become your new best friend.

Whilst clothes can be clumsy for such intricate jobs, the soft bristles on a paintbrush are delicate enough for swiping off dirt on even the most fragile of ornaments and picture frames.

12. Old toothbrush

Everyone should have an old toothbrush in their cleaning kit, especially if you're all about the details. Perfect for getting into small nooks and crannies, the bristles scrub away at the dirt your cloth misses. Round tap bases, in-between tiles and around irregular drain covers, they are the ultimate mini cleaning tool.

Best of all, you don't need to go out and buy one especially - your old one will do fine, no matter its condition. You are only cleaning, after all.

13. Rice

Now this one really is a surprise! Forget trying to scrub inside an awkwardly-shaped glass and plastic containers such as blenders, vases and Tupperware - what you need, is rice.

All it requires is tap water, a squeeze of soap, a handful of this store-cupboard favourite and some strong arm-action. Upon shaking, the rice grains will scrub away at the surface in question, removing all that dirt and grime. With a pack of rice coming in at under a pound and with the 19 other astonishing uses we had already found for it, this isn't a home hack I'll be forgetting anytime soon.

14. Newspaper

cleaning with newspaper
Smear-free windows here you come!

None of us really like waste. Cleaning towels and kitchen roll may be handy, but it's not really a necessity, especially if you've got a stack of newspapers lying around.

Newspapers can be the solution for all manner of cleaning problems: mop up spills with a few sheets (it's highly absorbable and big enough to cover those big accidents), add a splash of white vinegar and water to clean floors, and wipe over windows post-product to get a smear free finish. Here are 37 more ways to use newspapers - who would've thought!

15. Dryer sheets

Dryer sheets were, once upon a time, a pretty big deal. Although over the years they've been replaced by fabric softener in most households, their multiple uses are a very good reason to keep at least a few in your washing cupboard.

If you have a cat, dog, or a particularly malty husband, hair on carpets, sofas and pretty much everywhere else is likely to be a constant problem in your household. A quick wipe over with one of these inexpensive sheets will work wonders in pulling up all of these stray hairs, leaving your house spick and span. The results will be so good, you'll fool all your friends that you've got rid of the cat/dog/husband for good!

Check out these alternatives for dryer sheets next.

16. Old flannels

Let's face it, a pack of cleaning cloths isn't going to cost the world, but why spend money on things when you don't have to? Instead of throwing your flannels and small towels away when they start to look a bit worse for wear, give them a second life as a cleaning cloth.

Flannels are the perfect size for cleaning, and the glove ones are even better, acting in the same way as the sock method explained above. If you're thinking of binning bigger towels, don't. Cut them into cloth-sized squares, and they too will be ideal when it comes to cleaning.

17. Iron & kitchen roll

removing wax with an iron
No need to worry about wax spillages now!

Candles can bring a touch of feminity to any dull room, not to mention the gorgeous smell they produce! Whether you like cherry-scented, blossom or classic vanilla, something none of us like is when the wax gets onto our floors.

Its crumbly nature makes it incredibly difficult to get out of carpets with your hands, and a wet cloth only makes the situation worse. Don't mess around with that stuff, go straight to your iron! Just lay a few sheets of kitchen roll over the hardened wax and iron over on low heat. This will cause the wax to re-melt, lifting it from the floor and onto your kitchen roll instead.

Next time you see a fancy TV advert telling you why you simply NEED a new, hi-tech cleaning product, think of the Holiday fund and refer back to this guide instead.

I hope I've helped make your cleaning a little easier -and cheaper. If you have any of your own ideas, I'd love to hear about them - tell me all about them in the comments below.

Stephanie C


Lover of all things fashion & foodie...I look to satisfy my tastes without obliterating my budget. Wannabe interior designer, I'm an avid cushion cover maker and charity shop hunter.

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  1. Author Debbie on September 22, 2016 at 8:12 am

    Very useful and money-saving as ever, thanks, now comes the silly bit!! I really had to face the facts, an overspill of candle wax had made my carpets quite a mess, how could I clear it up for less? Then I thought, oh this is grand, got the iron in my hand, and applied it to the spill, its promise, yes, it did fulfill, the carpet wax has gone, it's true, alas, so has the carpet, too , I really ought to pay attention, and note the LOW' heat that you mention!

    1. Author Stephanie C on September 23, 2016 at 8:28 am

      Dearest Debbie, I must admit, I'm smiling more than a little bit! Your poems get better every time, how do you manage such a clever rhyme? While we may be the experts at all thing home, It's you who sits on the poem thrown, So thanks again for making my day, and blowing my early morning blues away! ?Keep them coming, Debbie!

  2. Author Jane on September 22, 2016 at 8:21 am

    Use ketchup to clean copper and brass.

    1. Author Stephanie C on September 23, 2016 at 8:20 am

      Really, Jane? That's an amazing tip! Thanks so much for sharing! ?

  3. Author Donatello46 on September 25, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    Loved No 13, I have two fairly small bottles (250ml) that I use for making up my chili vinaigrette salad dressing and, having a narrow neck, they are very difficult to clean out properly, in fact, over time they have become stained. I had tried soaking them with washing-up liquid, shaking them vigorously but nothing really worked satisfactorily (I drew the line at bleaching them!). So, today I tried the rice trick and it worked like a charm, they are now almost crystal clear, excellent tip. Incidentally, another use for a dryer sheet is to put one in the bottom of a drawer to keep the contents smelling nice.

    1. Author Stephanie C on September 27, 2016 at 9:07 am

      Hi Dona, I'm so glad the rice trick worked for you! I have a Nutri bullet which has ridges along the sides - it can be pesky to clean to say the least and this tip always works for me! Thanks for the heads up on the dryer sheets, I normally use my empty perfume bottles but will definitely be trying this! ?

  4. Author Lesley on September 26, 2016 at 5:00 am

    Opticians will sometimes give you a free glasses cloth if you ask nicely

    1. Author Stephanie C on September 27, 2016 at 9:04 am

      Oh really, Lesley? I actually have glasses myself so perhaps I could pop in and ask for a few spares! Thanks a lot for the tip ?

  5. Author Mrs Lynda Ross on April 30, 2020 at 12:43 pm

    I have recently bought an cheap electric toothbrush and I have found it to be brilliant at cleaning grout on floors and walls. I wouldn't live without it

    1. Author Joanne A on May 1, 2020 at 5:35 pm

      That's a fantastic idea!

  6. Author Melissa Hegarty on June 14, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    Love these tips. If you do happen to find yourself in debbies situation and happen to scorch your carpet while removing candle wax Or as I did, drop the iron on the carpet while It was hot and left a huge burn in the middle of the room. As upsetting as it is, leave it overnight and then the next morning rub over the mark with sandpaper and then hoover it. Good as new.

    1. Author Joanne A on June 15, 2020 at 4:38 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Melissa!

  7. Author Betsy on June 20, 2020 at 3:42 pm

    I love reading all of these. I’d like to add something to them. A. I take to baby socks around my hands for cleaning and wiping and dusting. They fit nice and tight and make it easy and they’re inexpensive to buy. 2. When I’m cleaning on purpose I will drop something on the floor such as a cloth or a paper so I get to bend over and get my exercise in at the same time. 3. When I buy paper napkins I cut them in half to get more for my money. More coming ..... thank you

    1. Author Joanne A on June 22, 2020 at 2:39 pm

      Love the idea of cutting napkins in half!

  8. Author Frances Thomson on March 29, 2022 at 11:53 am

    I put dryer sheets under my fitted sheet and it keeps the bed smelling fresh.

    1. Author Joanne A on March 30, 2022 at 5:14 pm

      That's a lovely idea!

  9. Author susan bowden on October 9, 2022 at 2:08 pm

    Don't throw away old credit/debit/store cards - they make excellent non scratch scrapers for pans, ovens etc. - even car windscreens. If you worry about security then just cut them in half - you'll have 2!

    1. Author Joanne A on October 10, 2022 at 10:20 am

      That's an idea! We'd probably only do it with store cards, as credit or debit cards feel a bit risky still.


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