13 Cleaning Hacks Using Common Household Items

Photo by Scott Ehardt (Wikimedia Commons)

Are you out of cleaning supplies? That’s likely not a problem. The kitchen and bedroom are full of common items that can be used to help you clean. I’ve written a lot about the awesome power of vinegar and the truly diverse array of things baking soda can clean (not to mention the stuff you can do when you combine the two), but here are some other interesting common household items you can clean with. If you’re trying to stay cheap and clean at the same time, give any of these options a try:


If you have little kids as I once did, you’ll notice that those little fingerprints can get everywhere. They’re especially obvious on white walls. Some white bread will take out those greasy, dirty stains. After tearing off the crusts and folding the bread into a ball, you can rub the marks to remove them.


As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, greasy, gross mayo can actually be helpful when cleaning. It’s great for polishing wooden surfaces, especially when you have dried water rings. Olive oil and salt works well for this, too.


It can clean your teeth, but it can also clean your silver. Squeeze a small amount on a rag and polish with it. After rinsing, it’ll sparkle as much as those pearly whites. Other items that can clean tarnished silver include everything from corn starch to tin foil to chalk. You really don’t need to buy silver-cleaning products, people!


Fill the cap of your mouthwash and pour it in about a gallon of water, then mop vinyl or tile flooring with it. (Don’t use it with wood.) The minty germ-killer can also help to kill germs beneath your feet.


A natural odor-killer, old newspapers can help to ward off many bad smells. Some people stuff them in their shoes to help them keep their shape and a decent smell. Others, like me, like to occasionally line their garbage can with newspaper to prevent bad smells. My favorite way to clean with old newspapers is to wipe down windows with it; it’s less expensive and more effective than paper towels. If you’re too “electronically minded” for newspaper, you could wipe down your windows with unused coffee filters as well.


Please don’t feed this to your kids, but buy some lemonade-flavored packets to clean your toilet bowl with. Let it sit for a while before brushing and flushing. I haven’t tried this yet, but it may be just as effective as Coca-Cola.

A Tennis Ball

Rubbing a new tennis ball onto a surface will clean away scuff marks on tile, woodwork, or vinyl. Add a bit of water and rub away!

Old, Clean Socks

The next time you encounter either a mismatched glove or sock, don’t throw it out. Use that lonely item that’s been cleaned to do your dusting. Just put it on your hand and wipe down the blinds. Afterward, try your best not to chase your spouse or kids with the filthy sock-puppet you’ve created.

Shaving Cream

Plain, foaming shaving cream can be used for many things. It’s a real help when trying to remove stubborn grease stains from a carpet, as the foam helps to break the grease down.

Used Dryer Sheets

Besides just generally smelling good, dryer sheets can help to clean the baseboards of your home. The anti-static properties makes these items a great item to dust with. Also, you can shine metal faucets and appliances with them.

Baby Oil

You don’t need to have a baby to have and use baby oil (and if you do, you won’t need to buy an extra cleaning product). This is yet another option that shines wooden furniture. Use it on your metal appliances to buff out a good shine. In addition, you can wipe down a cleaned shower to help dirty water roll down the drain so you won’t need to clean as often.


When you need a miracle cleaner, turn to your liquor cabinet. Sharpie and ball-point pen stains are the worst, but vodka can help you get them out of your upholstery. It can kill mildew, cut soap scum, destroy stains, and get rid of goo on jars.


There are quite a few things you can do with lemons. Try cutting one in half and adding salt to clean your wooden cutting board or butcher block. Polish your fancy copper items in your kitchen with it. Attack the worst food stains in your plastic containers, on your dishes, or even in your microwave by combining lemon juice with water.

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