When it comes to cleaning your home, having the proper tools on hand makes all the difference. Whether you’re just getting started in a new home or looking to complete––or perhaps upgrade––your cleaning supplies, we’ll walk you through the cleaning tools the pros use to make jobs easier. Spend less time cleaning and more time enjoying your home by using tools that help you work smarter.
These tools are a must-have for keeping showers mold- and mildew-free. Squeegees with telescoping handles also work great on car windows and windshields: extend for hard-to-reach areas or retract for tight-space cleaning. Look for a squeegee with a dual-sided head with foam for scrubbing on one side and a heavy-duty blade for liquid removal on the other.
To get the most life out of your squeegee, make sure you protect the blade from being damaged while you use and store it. If your squeegee is leaving streaks or just not performing as well as it once did, that’s a sure sign it’s time to replace the blade.
Don’t underestimate the power of a sturdy, well-made bucket. It can not only stow your cleaning supplies when not in use, but also can be used for mopping and a multitude of other household tasks, such as rinsing out sponges or rags and soaking items.
Deck scrub brushes are tough scrubbing brushes on long handles. Not only can you use them to clean decking, they’re also great for giving almost any hard floor a really good scrub without having to get down on your hands and knees. (Who doesn’t want to avoid lower back pain?)
Deck scrub brushes are specifically designed with heavy-duty scrubbing in mind, whereas standard brooms and brushes often have softer bristles meant for sweeping, aren’t meant to be used wet and won’t stand up to use with strong cleaning products.
A sponge or cloth isn’t always going to get the dirty job done, so keep an all-purpose scrub brush on hand to use on tile, tubs, fixtures and tough stains. A plastic brush with strong bristles and an ergonomic handle with a rubber grip is enough to tackle most messes, including scrubbing a bathtub or sink, getting tough stains out of car mats, scouring grout or getting the dry mud off the bottom of your shoes.
There are shortcut products out there, but real mopping makes a big difference in the look of your floors. If you have pets or kids, you will want to invest in a good wet mop, which will give you more power to clean up after spills or scrub grime from the floor.
A mop is your go-to tool for cleaning hard floor surfaces like tile, wood or laminate and making them shine. For the best clean, go for a mop head with super absorbent 4-ply 100% natural cotton loops, which can be easily cleaned in the laundry after use. You can invest in a mop with a handle you can fill with cleaning fluid or a simple stick mop with a sponge head.
Make sure to buy a dedicated toilet brush because, well, you don’t want to use that brush anywhere but the toilet bowl. When choosing between brushes, look for two primary things: a scrubbing head that can get into all the nooks and crannies of your toilet and a longer handle (at least 10 inches) with a good grip.
A toilet brush that comes with a stand is especially convenient, as you can store it next to or behind the toilet and easily carry it between bathrooms and eliminate the need to have one in each.
Broom and dustpan
A broom and dustpan are essential for cleaning up spills, such as a knocked-over box of cereal on the kitchen floor, or for sweeping up grass clippings on your patio. They’re also effective at clearing floors of dirt and dust before scrubbing or mopping.
Angle brooms are best for dry dust, dirt and pet hair and work well around the home or in the garage. Opt for a pan with a rubber lip, which will grip the floor and allow you to neatly sweep all of the dust and debris into the pan.
For tight spaces like powder rooms or panty closets, a handheld brush and matching dustpan are a great way to clean up without breaking out the full set.
- Push brush
Regular brooms are fine for cleaning up small messes indoors, but if you need to sweep up debris in a large area or brush away caked-on dirt on a deck or driveway, a push broom is the way to go. If you want a push broom for cleaning your deck, sweeping debris off your driveway or landscaping your garden, look for a model with thick, stiff bristles. These are better at moving debris, including heavy mulch, gravel, dirt and soil, across rough surfaces. They also work better for caked-on dirt, which you’ll most likely experience outdoors.
- Dust mop
Microfiber cloths may be great for dusting, but when it comes to reaching things like crown moldings, high shelves, the tops of door frames and cabinets, and the upper parts of window treatments, you’ll want a long-handled tool to help you get the job done. Instead of lugging a step stool from place to place, an extendable duster is the perfect solution. Dust mops are popular for their ease of use and additional dusting applications. Long-handled like a broom, a dust mop’s flat head is covered in cotton or microfiber cloth, not regular broom bristles. Mop heads made with cotton-looped ends, in particular, are excellent at picking up dust, pollen and even bacteria from hard surfaces, often without needing to use additional cleaning products or a dustpan.
- Distilled white vinegar
One of the best cleaning agents is likely already in your kitchen pantry. Not only is vinegar antibacterial, which means it works wonders as a household cleaner and disinfectant, but it’s also acidic, which allows it to cut through grease and grime on your stovetop, in your oven or on tile. You can use it neat or dilute it with water, depending on the level of strength you need for the task at hand. It’s also safe to use on most surfaces, including wood, stone, metal, porcelain and tile.
- Baking soda
To most people, a box of baking soda is just a comforting panty staple that can perform some clever household tricks. But this nontoxic natural substance is a valuable, environmentally sound cleaner and stabilizer. A baking soda scrub (a solution of baking soda and water) can be used to clean your home facade as a safer alternative to sandblasting or solvents. It removes grime and paint without damaging the surface or releasing chemical fumes.
- Rubber gloves
There is nothing worse after a major cleaning effort than to be left with callused, pruned hands that smell faintly of lavender and strongly of vinegar. A good quality pair of rubber gloves can go a long way in protecting the most useful cleaning tool of all: your hands. They’ll keep your hands and nails from damage from harsh dish soap, hot water and other cleaning detergents. They allow you to use hotter water that you would normally to truly sanitize your dishes. Foot-long latex gloves are best. Wash them with hot, soapy water to clean, hang them to dry, and they’ll be ready to use over and over again.
- Microfiber cloths
Simple, yet effective, microfiber cloths are a wonder at trapping dust and dirt off a multitude of surfaces of any height: up high to clean the ceiling fan, at eye-level to dust bookshelves and countertops, and down low to pick up bits on the floor that the vacuum might miss. You can also use them to wipe down surfaces before going in with liquid cleaners. Keep a stack in your bathroom vanity and under the kitchen sink for easy access. If you’re diligent about washing them, they can last for years and years, sparing countless paper towels and single-use sweeping cloths from the garbage. Don’t just clean them frequently, but also carefully. You can throw them in the wash with your normal laundry soap, but avoid tossing them in the dryer. Heat exposure from the washer or dryer can quickly damage or even ruin a microfiber cloth.
- Spray bottles
Spray bottles are a versatile purchase that can be reused and are better for the environment than single-use bottles. You can use spray bottles to mix and store cleaning solutions, water your plants or even create your own air freshener out of essential oil blends. They’re also great to mist clothing before ironing and to train pets to stay off the furniture. The best spray bottles have durable nozzles that are resistant to leaks and adjustable triggers that feel comfortable in your hands, and settings like mist or stream that give you application options.
With the right tools in your arsenal, cleaning will feel less like an endless fight and more like a quick victory.
Ready to upgrade your own cleaning caddy? Shop for our favorite cleaning brushes and equipment that make getting—and keeping—your home in tip-top shape so much easier.Shop for cleaning tools