Your No-Sweat Guide to Spring Cleaning

9 'Why Didn't I Think of That?' Cleaning Hacks

Tackle dirt and grime without working too hard.

June  4, 2018

Welcome to Your No-Sweat Guide to Spring Cleaning, a month-long series that puts the fun (yep, for real!) back into cleaning. We’re talking spruce-ups that take less than five minutes, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that hacks, and hands-off cleaning tasks that basically…do themselves—plus our trustiest tools and helpers. The goal: clean less, go outside more.

While I love a tidy living space, I’ve never been crazy about the actual act of cleaning. Having an organized, nice-smelling home can be one of life’s great joys...but the part where you get on your knees to scrub the toilet? Decidedly un-joyful.

So over the years, I’ve come up with a few ways to effectively deal with dirt and grime without working too hard. If, like me, you prefer maximum cleanliness with minimal effort (welcome to the club!), check out my nine best tips below.

That cutting board will be smelling lemony-fresh in no time. Photo by James Ransom

1. Use a lemon to scour wooden butcher blocks and cutting boards.

Want to clean your wooden cutting boards, but don’t love the idea of using soap or other harsh, store-bought products? You can scrub the board using half a lemon (cut side down) and some coarse kosher salt. Let the lemon juice and salt sit for a few minutes, then wipe or scrape off the remaining mixture. It doesn’t have to be a brand-new lemon half, either—a mostly squeezed half leftover from a recipe will work just fine.

2. Put on rubber gloves to clean up pet hair.

If your furry friend likes to shed all over your furniture, a nice quick fix is to put on a pair of rubber gloves and run your hands over the upholstery (this can also work on the inside of your car). The fur will stick to the gloves. To get it off the gloves, submerge them in a sink full of water — the hair should come loose and float to the surface. If there's a decent amount of your pup’s hair on the furniture, the best solution is to pull out the vacuum and use the upholstery tool to get rid of it—at least for a little while.

3. Dispel fridge odors with newspaper.

One peril of a fully stocked fridge: It will occasionally smell like old food, or maybe those leftovers you forgot about. The secret: newspaper or baking soda. Line your produce drawers with newspaper, which will absorb any stink. Or just open up a box of baking soda and pop it in the fridge, where it will neutralize smells; baking soda reacts with odor-causing compounds to make them less volatile, meaning less stinky. This way, the odor of that salmon you meal-prepped on Sunday won’t permeate into everything else you’re storing.

4. DIY an easy carpet deodorizer with baking soda and essential oils.

Once your home is clean, keep it smelling fresh with this simple recipe. Mix four tablespoons of baking soda with five to 15 drops of the essential oil of your choice (you can experiment with adding different amounts of essential oils to figure out the scent strength that works best for you). Shake the mixture together in a jar, then sprinkle it over clean carpets. Leave it to sit for an hour, then vacuum up the mixture and bask in your fresh-smelling space.

These tips—plus Miele's HomeCare Collection—make clean up a breeze. Photo by James Ransom

5. Get rid of water stains using vinegar.

I do a lot of thinking in the shower, which means gazing into space...and noticing annoying water stains on the shower head and stainless steel taps. Turns out regular old white distilled vinegar clears these right up. Put some vinegar in a plastic bag, submerge the shower head in it, and tie the bag around the shower head using a rubber band, tape, or string. Leave it there for a few hours, and voila! Give it a quick rinse in water, polish with a paper towel or cleaning rag, and no more water stains.

6. Use a simple attachment to de-grime your air vents.

Because I have allergies, I regularly clean my air vents and AC filters (apparently pollen can accumulate in the mesh panels, causing many a sneeze attack). The absolute easiest way to get it done? Pop a dusting brush attachment onto your vacuum cleaner and suck out all the dust and other detritus that naturally accumulates there.

7. Hack those hard-to-dust spots.

Dusting certain household items can be a pain, especially if you are allergic to dust in the first place. So instead of dusting with a brush and then breathing in all sorts of irritating particles, try using a lint roller. This may not be a feasible method for cleaning every surface in your home, but it’s a quick and easy solution for those finicky spots like window blinds or lamp shades. (And guess what? If you've already got your vacuum out to clean off those AC vents, the dusting brush attachment gets you the same result here, too.)

8. Use tea (yes, tea!) to clean wooden floors.

If you have hardwood floors, try cleaning them with a black tea mixture—the tannins in the tea can give the floor a gentle sheen, and it’s a cheap, non-toxic cleaning method. Bonus: apparently the compounds in black teas can help inhibit microbial growth! You don’t want to use too much tea, though, especially if you have light-colored wood floors—the tea could stain the finish. (And if your floors are super-light, this might not be the right method for you.) Boil four to six cups of water, and steep two bags of black tea in them for about 10 minutes. Remove the teabags and allow the mixture to cool, then use the mixture to clean your floors using a mop or cleaning pad.

9. Keep your microwave spotless using the power of steam.

Something I rigorously avoid doing is cleaning my microwave. What soup splatters? I don’t see any popcorn butter! But alas, it has to get done. My go-to trick: Put equal parts water and vinegar (one cup of each should do it) in a microwave-safe bowl and nuke it on high for two to three minutes to loosen up any stains. Then wait a bit for it to cool before wiping down the inside of the microwave with a clean paper towel or cleaning rag; the gunk wipes right away.

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We’ve partnered with Miele to share savvy tips and tricks that’ll help keep your entire home spotless...without putting any extra strain on your schedule.

Do you have any home cleaning hacks that you swear by? Share them in the comments below!

Want to try your hand at these hacks, but lack the necessary equipment? Check out the Miele HomeCare Collection to find the vacuum that is best suited for your needs.

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Nina is a writer, editor, and enthusiastic home cook in New York City.


Mike L. November 26, 2020
Thank you for sharing this detailed information. New cleaning ideas: hacks, tips and tricks. This is very helpful especially this time of Covid. Cleaning should be practised. I know it takes a lot of effort to maintain and keep your house clean but it has its own advantages and perks.
Christina C. November 26, 2020
That's right!
Christina C. November 26, 2020
Sure will Mike! Likewise.
Sheri July 5, 2018
For cleaning the microwave: Lemon juice is also a great substitute for vinegar in this solution. The powerful smell of the vinegar when heated is sometimes a bit overpowering for some (although I personally prefer it :-))
Diana M. June 5, 2018
Any tips on cleaning up excessive shedded "human" rather than pet hair. I have a full carpeted home except the kitchen & bathroom. I use the vacuum hose as often as I can to avoid too much hair wrapped around the vacuum cleaner roller. Using the vacuum hose over the carpet first before regular vacuuming leaves me wore out. I was so tired of needing to have on shoes to walk on the carpet without hair wrapping up around my toes & feet that I recently got on my hands and knees and used a few paper towels to gather as much of the hair as possible, which was quite a bit of hair. I have long hair & also a scalp condition that causes hair loss. Any hacks would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for the other cleaning tips.
foofaraw June 6, 2018
Rubber brush with handle like Norwex rubber brush was great for cleaning human hair from carpet.
Taurino June 12, 2018
My wife and daughter shed a lot of hair too. My Miele vacuum has a special cut out on the brush roller to make it easy to cut the hair and keep it clean.
Patricia P. February 2, 2020
You can also use a rubber window squeegie to gather hair if you don't have a rubber brush.
LaGraciala June 5, 2018
Burnt on gunk on the drip pans? ... just put them ziploc bags with ammonia overnight! Saved alot of money and time with this one!
Clarence M. June 5, 2018
Just waisted 3 minutes reading this come on ...
Monica M. June 14, 2018
Either your wife does the cleaning and you don't help or your house is not very clean.
Sandi D. June 5, 2018
Add lemon juice to the water/vinegar mix for the m/w cleaner...leaves it smelling a bit fresher. Also, after cleaning shower doors with vinegar mix, and it dries, spray a light coating of rain-x and wipe down with cloth...helps keep the next water stains off the door.
Viki June 5, 2018
How do you get that sticky yucky stuff off the kitchen cabinets, microwave and whatever else?
Cory B. June 5, 2018
Good question!! I'm going to look into this :)
LaGraciala June 5, 2018
Wd 40
Whollyfool June 16, 2018
Magic erasers work for this. I wasted a lot of time and effort cleaning without them. Don't be afraid to use them with soap. Be careful though: They once removed the paint on the oven hood!
Patricia P. February 2, 2020
I use a product called Blue Magic, purchased from QVC, you dilute it and use with a spray bottle for normal cleaning but I dab some undiluted onto a microfiber cloth and it's like a miracle, it just wipes through sticky greasy build up so fast, the tops of my cabinets have never been so clean. It's amazing stuff!
Brenda M. June 5, 2018
Pledge pet hair remover is the best product on the market to clean up your pets hair. Last forever and quick and easier than using the rubber gloves.
You will thank me for letting you know about the Pledge pet hair cleaner.
Amy J. June 5, 2018
Nice list- Thanks 👍
Smaug June 4, 2018
This stuff is not exactly ground breaking. They sell specially designed boxes of baking soda for use in the refrigerator- they have vents instead of opening normally- and half the carpet products on the shelf contain baking soda. Microfiber rags work very well for dusting difficult spots, and hold on to the dust. AC filters- like dryer filters- (or any sort of filters for the matter of that) need to be cleaned regularly; this is basic maintenance. By water stains, I would suppose you mean lime stains; buildup from impurities in the water, so vinegar isn't a difficult choice, but not all stains from water are lime.