Could your home be any cleaner?!

By Katie Holdefehr
Updated August 22, 2019
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Attention, Monica Gellers of the world: take a break from vacuuming your vacuum and reorganizing your ribbon drawer—here are some clever cleaning hacks even you may not have heard before. We scoured the Real Simple archives to find some brilliant nuggets of cleaning wisdom we should be incorporating into our cleaning routines. Hint: It goes way beyond making sure the blossoms on our duvet covers face up, you know, where the sun would be. Here's how to get your home, "Not just Health Department clean, Monica clean."

The Secret to Sparkling-Clean Dishes

If the cups and dishes fresh from your dishwasher are coming out dingy looking, it's time to refresh the appliance itself. In the April 2016 issue, we offered this cleaning tip: "Soak the filter (inside the dishwasher's base) for an hour in a sinkful of hot water plus a scoop of dish powder. Scrub the mesh with a small brush and rinse." This will dislodge food particles and buildup from the filter so it can work like brand new again.

Steep Your Way to a Shiny Mirror

Most of the time, a glass-cleaning spray is enough to get a mirror sparkling, but for tough buildup or to make older mirrors shine, try this cleaning hack from the April 2014 issue of Real Simple: "Dip a lint-free cloth in a pot of strongly brewed black tea (like Lipton); the tannic acid works magic. Rub in circles and follow with a fresh cloth to dry." One word of warning: be careful not to let liquid seep into the silver coating of the mirror, which can leave black tarnish marks.

Freshen Up Your Vacuum

OK, so Monica Geller went so far as to vacuum her vacuum, but we're willing to bet she never thought to bust out the vanilla extract! From April 2014: "To freshen the room while vacuuming, put a few drops of vanilla extract on a paper towel, rip it into tiny pieces, and vacuum up." This trick will give a dusty vacuum a fresh scent.

To get the entire vacuum *Monica* Clean, use the crevice tool to vacuum the bristles of the brush attachment. Empty the bin and wash it, then wipe the casing, hose, and attachments with a clean, dry cloth.

A Solution to Serious Grout Stains

If you accidentally spill coffee on the kitchen counter, here's a DIY fix for tough grout stains from the April 2009 issue: "Add lemon juice to 1 or 2 teaspoons cream of tartar (an acidic salt that acts as a natural bleaching agent) to make a paste." Apply the mixture with a toothbrush, then rinse. Your grout will be sparkling clean, no trip to the store necessary.

The Toothpaste Trick

Toothpaste works as a mild abrasive, scrubbing away stains and plaque on your teeth, so it's no wonder it can double as a household cleaner, too. Over the years, we've recommended toothpaste to polish tarnished silverware: "Put a dab of toothpaste on a soft cloth, rub it onto the tarnish, then rinse with water and dry with a clean cloth," and to spruce up bathroom fixtures: "rub a dab of plain toothpaste onto bathroom fixtures, then buff clean to make them shine." And even to scrub piano keys: "Rub each key carefully with a damp cotton swab and a dollop of toothpaste. Wipe dry and buff with a clean cloth."

Note: Just be sure to use a standard paste, not gel, and avoid those labeled tartar control or whitening.

Extra Credit

Real Simple editors are big fans of clever gunk-scraping tools like the Lil Chizler, but the OG trick comes from the April 2009 issue. "Put those irritating fake credit cards that come in the junk mail to good use: Scrape along the edges of the stove's knobs to get rid of accumulated grease." Monica would be so proud.

This Story Originally Appeared On Real Simple