Cheryl Mendelson, author of the sleeper hit "Home Comforts," ignores fancy packaging to find housekeeping marvels at supermarkets and hardware stores.

By Monica F. Forrestall
Updated: March 31, 2015

Cleaning Machines

Mendelson calls the Miele vacuum cleaner "the Porsche of vacuums." Some have HEPA filters, minimizing the amount of dust they emit. And they're great-looking—especially the "Aluminium" ($1,000; 888-817-5798).

All-purpose Cleaners

Fabuloso, a Colgate-Palmolive product from Mexico that Mendelson says is "in every bodega," has a strong scent, but it's versatile and mild ($2 for 32 ounces). With Procter & Gamble's little-known Orvus paste, "you can wash everything from antique fabrics to floors" ($10 for 1 pound;


Refrigerator thermometers are vital for food safety. "I keep my fridge at 35 degrees. That's as cold as it can get before a film of ice appears on the milk." Measuring a room's humidity with a hygrometer helps you control dust mites, which "love hot and humid" (thermometers start at $4, hygrometers at $15;

Cleaning Pads

"I love Scotch-Brite's Dobie pad for nonstick surfaces and Scotch-Brite's Heavy Duty pad for stainless. If all else fails, I use Chore Boy scouring cloths" (pads, $1.59 each; cloths, two for $1.29).


"I have two: a corn broom with uneven edges—great for my uneven Mexican-tile floor—and a little plastic broom with a straight edge, for close sweeping. And a dustpan, of course. With a long-handled one, you don't need to bend down."

Scouring Cleansers

To remove caked-on food, Mendelson uses Bar Keepers Friend or Zud. "Zud has acid in it for rust. You can even use it to clean tires. It's been around forever." (Bar Keepers Friend, $2.50 for 12 ounces; 866-COOKWARE. Zud, $3 for 6 ounces; 800-456-9477.)