13 Cleaning Tricks That Save Time, Money and Grief

Advertising Disclosure: When you buy something by clicking links on our site, we may earn a small commission, but it never affects the products or services we recommend.

Woman cleaning
didesign021 / Shutterstock.com

You probably spend at least some of your day wiping down counters, scrubbing the grill and cleaning the coffee grinder.

If those chores feel like a pain, we have a slew of cleaning hacks to make life easier.

These tips will save you time, money and grief.

Use a caddy for your supplies

Caddy of cleaning products
Vizual Studio / Shutterstock.com

It may not necessarily be a hack, but having a cleaning caddy is a smart move. When all your bottles, rags and other supplies are in one place, it makes it quick and easy to get the work done.

For tips on making your own cleaning supplies to fill the caddy, check out “Never Buy These 7 Overpriced Cleaning Products Again.”

Discover amazing uses for vinegar

Pat_Hastings / Shutterstock.com

This isn’t just one cleaning hack, but six. Most of them are hands-off. Here are a few of the miraculous things a little vinegar can do:

  1. Soak the exhaust filters from above your stove in a mixture of vinegar and water to remove the cooked-on gunk. After soaking, rinse and return.
  2. Put vinegar in a baggie, and put it on your showerhead. Use a rubber band to secure the bag and let it soak to remove buildup. Or, remove the showerhead and let it soak in a bowl of vinegar.
  3. Cover the bottom of a burned pan with vinegar and water. Heat to boiling, and then turn off and let it cool so you don’t burn yourself. Add a couple of tablespoons of baking soda, and scrub to make the pan shine again.
  4. Pull an old sock over your hand, spritz with vinegar and use it to wipe down dirty blinds.

For more, check out “27 Money-Saving Ways to Use Vinegar in Every Room of Your Home.”

Clean your grill with an onion

elbud / Shutterstock.com

Rather than using a wire bristle brush to scrub your grill, spear half an onion with a long fork. Rub the cut side on your grill grates as an alternate way to clean them.

Use a potato on your cheese grater

Savelov Maksim / Shutterstock.com

If you still use a hand cheese grater, you know what a pain it is to clean. Depending on the cheese you’ve used, there’s a good chance it’s been mashed down in between the grates and is mocking your attempts to remove it.

Rather than losing your sanity trying to clean all the crevices, pull out a potato and grate it. Its flesh is stiff enough that it should slough away the cheese wedged in the grater, and then you can easily rinse off the potato.

Use stale bread or rice to clean your coffee grinder

Coprid / Shutterstock.com

Coffee smells fabulous in the morning. But when you shift gears and decide to grind spices or nuts, you don’t want them to remind you of your morning cup of joe.

For a blade grinder, use some stale bread or dry, uncooked rice to absorb the coffee smell and clean out your grinder. If you have a burr grinder (also called a burr mill), bread won’t work — but dried rice might.

A note of caution: Uncooked rice can be harder than coffee beans and may tax your grinder’s motor. Some companies say using rice as a cleaner will void the warranty.

Furniture polish will make stainless steel appliances shine

JR-stock / Shutterstock.com

Let furniture polish do double duty on your stainless steel appliances. Clean off any grime first, and then spray on the polish and wipe dry.

And speaking of appliances, if you’re faced with replacing one of these costly items, check out “7 Ways to Save Big on Home Appliances.”

Make grease stains disappear with rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol
attaphong / Shutterstock.com

To get a grease stain out of carpets or other surfaces, mix four parts rubbing alcohol with one part salt. Rub into the stain to lift the grease. Then, let the surface dry and wipe up or vacuum up any leftover salt.

Bleach your cutting boards

Cutting board
Evgeny Karandev / Shutterstock.com

If only you could see the bacteria making itself at home on your supposedly clean cutting board.

Luckily, cutting boards are easily sanitized by soaking them in a bleach solution. Use 2 teaspoons of bleach per gallon of water for plastic boards, and 2 tablespoons of bleach per gallon for wooden boards.

You don’t need to soak them long — just a couple of minutes will do. Then, rinse your cutting board.

Try lemons and salt for a more natural clean

Evgeny Karandaev / Shutterstock.com

Not everyone loves the idea of using bleach. For a more natural way to disinfect your cutting board, liberally sprinkle kosher salt on the board. Then, cut a lemon in half and rub the lemon (cut side down) on the board.

The lemon juice should kill the bacteria, while the salt should scrub away any small particles of food that may be present.

Use the other half of the lemon to scrub your faucets and make them shiny and clean.

Roll a lint brush over lamp shades

Photology1971 / Shutterstock.com

Lamp shades come in all sorts of shapes and materials, which can make it difficult to figure out how best to clean them. A lint roller can be used on almost any shade to pick up dust and light dirt.

Blow canned air into exhaust fans

Mihancea Petru / Shutterstock.com

The exhaust fan in your bathroom could probably use a little TLC, but how on earth do you clean that?

Use some canned air — like the kind you would buy to clean a computer keyboard — and blow it into the fan to dislodge lint. Place a towel on the floor to collect the dust bunnies as they fall.

Even if you can’t see the dust in your fan, it’s a good idea to clean it on a regular basis. If too much lint builds up, your fan could burst into flames.

Remove dust from vents with a knife and rag

Thiti Sukapan / Shutterstock.com

Another way to remove dust from vents such as those on window air conditioning units is to cover a butter knife with a rag and run it along the inside of each vent.

Despite what the commercials tell you, no special sham or wonder cleaning cloth is required.

Pull out dryer sheets to clean baseboards

Dryer sheets
Mike Fig Photo / Shutterstock.com

Finally, give your dryer sheets another purpose in life by whipping them out when it’s time to clean your baseboards. Running a sheet along the baseboards will remove dirt and help repel dust. What’s more, they might just make the room smell temporarily fresher too.

What cleaning hacks can you add? Share your tricks in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Get smarter with your money!

Want the best money-news and tips to help you make more and spend less? Then sign up for the free Money Talks Newsletter to receive daily updates of personal finance news and advice, delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our free newsletter today.