The best cleaning products to freshen up your home
Put on a goood and get to work.
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Two years ago, Popular Science and Working Mother teamed up to share the most effective ways to clean up your home. To keep that list fresh—and account for new cleaning tricks picked up over the past year—we’ve updated it with newer, better models of certain devices. You don’t have the time for a leisurely scrub-down, so we’ll cut the crud, showing you the optimal way to sweep a floor, sharing our tips for cleaning your electronics, and tracking down the best ways to actually (for real, in real life) remove a stain.
And now: we’re coming clean about the products that’ll make your digs shine, from inventive tech to the stand-bys we swear by. Cleaning doesn’t have to be a chore—especially if there are robots. Which there are. So many robots.
Sometimes elbow grease doesn’t cut it. Connect the Brush Hero Wheel water-powered brush to your hose or shower to cut through tougher build-up with ups to 15 pounds of turning force. The apparatus can spin in both directions and has interchangeable brushes so you can swap out soft or hard bristles. If you’re cleaning something outside, this can cut down on time, effort, and water.
Feel like you’re cleaning without dedicating any actual time or work to do so. The AirMega 400s comes in three smart modes: auto-speed, Eco, and sleep. Auto mode adjusts the filtration based on the room’s current air quality, Eco shuts down after the AirMega determines the air quality is good for 10 or so minutes, and sleep mode turns the fan speed down to make it quieter. It can be controlled via WiFi on iOS and Android devices where you can monitor the speed, indoor and outdoor air quality, and schedule in real time. The device covers up to 1,560 square feet and will tell you when you need to change your filters.
The Scrub Daddy Smile Sponge is a cult favorite for three reasons: (1) it’s adorable, (2) its name is unambiguously hilarious, (3) the two-sided sponge, with a scratch-free FlexTexture on one side and a foamy material on the other, works super well for tougher build-ups. That FlexTexture gets its name from its ability to adjust its stiffness according to water temperatures. Said another way: heat up your water for a softer sponge (for woods and ceramics, for example) or keep your H2O cool for a tougher scrubber (ideal for stovetops or hard-water build-up around faucets). The ResoFoam side is softer and more absorbent, so it’s meant to be used for spills. Scrub Daddy insists it will not scratch glass, wood, or stainless steel, and claims to have a “semi-closed cellular structure” that keeps schmutz from adhering to it. Upgrade your sponge. Seriously.
Before you start cleaning, glove up. The Mr. Clean latex gloves are lined with cotton for comfort, are reusable and have an embossed palm for improved grip. They’re a classic for a reason.
Easy-Off oven cleaner is the power player that works sans noxious fumes. The product contains Butane and Monoethanolamine, which both help loosen carbon molecules and break down buildup in your cooker. Once build-up has softened, sodium hydroxide works its way through fatty acids. The foamy texture of the product ensures that the chemicals don’t quickly evaporate.
If you have a toddler, you already know this one. Extra durable Mr. Clean Magic Erasers will snatch the crayon and grease stains from walls, rip the grime off of tubs, and remove stubborn coffee stains from cups. It is made out of melamine foam, which has an extra fine sandpaper-ish texture. Be wary of using it on glossy or delicate surface, though.
The extra fine, microscopic abrasive particles in this Simichrome polish scrubs away oils and tarnishes. After polishing, the paste leaves a thin protective film coating to prevent further corrosion and slow down tarnishing and oxidation. It will, quite literally, make your house shine.
The Dyson Ball Multi Floor is light and slim. Its slender profile means it turns easily, and gets into your house’s trickiest corners. Also: it’s easy to carry up and down stairs. The vacuum works on hardwood, tile, and carpets and has a self-adjusting cleaner head which automatically changes when you go onto another type of floor. Cool.
The Dyson Cyclone V10 cord-free Animal vacuum—equipped with a V10 Dyson digital motor—picks up 25 percent more dust than the previous V8 model. It’s quieter, lighter, and easier to maneuver, too. The battery gives you an hour of suction, even when you’re deep-cleaning your carpets. It also transforms into a handheld vac.
The Roomba 985 Vacuuming Robot isn’t quite Rosie from The Jetsons, but it’s a huge help, nonetheless. It comes with “multi-room navigation” and boasts 10 times the suction power as earlier models. It agitates, brushes, and sucks, picking up dust, crumbs, and hair with about five times the air as earlier models. While you are cleaning your bathroom, let it take care of your living room or kitchen. It is voice activated—works with Alexa and Google Assistant—and cleans both hardwood floors and carpets. It’s only 3.6 inches tall, so can fit under most pieces of furniture, too. The Roomba uses sensors to navigate and learn your home floor plan. The best part is that it automatically recharges itself once it is done with a cleaning cycle. Each charge lasts for 2 hours of cleaning.
The Libman Wonder Mop is another classic. Here’s why: it’s fast-drying, machine-washable, and absorbent like whoa. Slide the mop head up and twist to wring out the water.
Sometimes things don’t need a deep clean. If you’ve got delicate items that need a quick dusting, the OXO microfiber duster will remove and trap those bunnies. It’s lightweight, has a comfortable handle, and is perfect for vases, glassware, or picture frames. Once you are done, pop off the head and throw it into the washing machine.
No matter how many paper towels you waste, you’ll never get all the dirt that’s accumulated on your window blinds or the screens of your air conditioner. The Orgrimmar duster brush’s three microfiber cloth blades are designed to fit in between such surfaces. Five cloths are included.
The Braava mopping robot is similar to a Roomba except that it mops. Duh. It charges itself, uses GPS navigation to remember where it has mopped and where it still has to clean, and has two modes—dry sweeping and damp mopping.
Some things you can’t clean by hand. DrillBrush power scrubbing brushes are the way to go for tougher spots, like outdoor walls and blackened grout. The stiff nylon brushes fit directly into your power drill and promise cut through tub grime way quicker than scrubbing by hand. I used these the other week to buff out some scratches in my metal shower frame.
It’s a cordless power squeegee! The battery-operated device has a built-in vacuum and features double-layered 11-inch blades made of neoprene—a synthetic rubber that only weighs 1.5 pounds.
Don’t forget all the dirt that’s slowly built up on your house siding, deck, or car exterior. Sun Joe SPX3000 power washer sprays 1.76 gallons per minute to blast through layers of grime. It’s electric-powered and comes with three nozzles and two hoses—one 35 feet long and the other 19.6 feet long.
Remember when you—or someone else in your house— thought it would be a great idea to put stickers on a wall or mirror? Get around to finally removing those stickers with some Goo Gone. The orange scented, oil-based cleaner, removes goo from carpets, clothing, metals, and finished woods.
For annihilating grease, food stains, and general stickiness, consider Parker & Bailey Kitchen Cabinet Cream. It’s made of white mineral oil, so it’s food-safe and makes for a nice shine on wood finishes. It’s also got glycerine for removing stains and prevent dust from sticking to the surface.
If you didn’t catch our DIY article about how to clean your keyboard without breaking it, one way to clean your keyboard is by using a compressed gas duster to remove dust and dirt. This Multi-Purpose Cleaning Gel is another way to remove dust and hair. Take the gel out of the bag and press the clean side onto the dirty surfaces. Once pressed down a few times, fold it over to create a new clean area and repeat. Satisfying.
You know that door that’s been squeaking all year? Give it a quick spritz with some WD40, which lubricates moving bits, protects metal surfaces, and removes grime. Carbon dioxide propels the (secret!) WD-40 formula out of the can. This stuff is just the best.