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Choosing the right cleaning tools for your home can be a challenge. These days, stores offer up a dizzying variety of products, with each item claiming to be stronger, better or more fast-acting than the one before. From battery-operated spinning brushes to automated vacuum cleaners, it can be difficult to distinguish between the truly innovative and the downright ridiculous. So, with all of these options available, which tools and cleaning supplies do you truly need to effectively clean your home?
THE 7 THINGS YOU NEED TO CLEAN YOUR HOME (BUT MOST PEOPLE DON’T HAVE)
1. A STEAM MOP
For households with hard floors, steam mops are an absolute must-have. Not only do they provide a safe, chemical-free way to effectively clean flooring, but the steam also sanitizes surfaces, making steam mopping a great choice to clean bathrooms and kitchens, or for families with children and pets. According to Bissell, a company well versed in steam-cleaning technology, 15 seconds of continuous steam is capable of killing 99.9 percent of bacteria and germs. Most steam mops include several steam-setting options to give you the right amount of steam for the job.
Steam mops are simple to use, too. Most can produce steam within seconds, so there’s minimal waiting time prior to use, and better yet, steam mops eliminate much of the mess created by traditional mopping. You won’t need a bucket or cleaning fluid, and there won’t be any sloppy, smelly water to dispose of after you’ve finished. In fact, the only water you’ll need goes directly in the appliance’s tank to create the steam, which makes setup quick and easy.
Steam mops are ideal for quick spot cleanups. Plus, with their lightweight design and no need for wringing, they’re much easier on your back and arms than standard mops.
Most steam mops come with reusable absorbent pads, which can be easily tossed in the wash for cleaning. Replacement pads are available if you want to make sure to always have a clean one on hand.
While you should always check with your flooring manufacturer if you have any questions regarding appropriate use on surfaces in your home, steam mops are generally safe on stone, vinyl, linoleum, ceramic tiles and laminate floors. They can also be used without issue on most sealed hardwood floors.
2. A DIVIDED BUCKET
Almost anyone who’s ever cleaned floors with a traditional mop and bucket will agree that there are few things worse than wringing out dirty water into a bucket and then dipping the mop right back into the water for the next pass. No matter how many times you empty and refill the bucket, it’s unavoidable – or is it?
Most hardware stores and home improvement retailers sell divided buckets. With two side-by-side compartments, you can keep clean water – with the cleaning solution of your choice – on one side with water for rinsing and wringing on the other. This dual-compartment tool promotes cleaner floors, leaving surfaces with less product residue after they dry.
Smaller divided buckets also work well with scrub brushes for tackling heavy-duty tasks, such as cleaning bathrooms, patio furniture and entryways. They also make a handy addition to your car-washing supplies.
3. TELESCOPING HANDLES AND INTERCHANGEABLE TOOLS
Whether it’s a living room with a cathedral ceiling or the narrow space between your refrigerator and wall, almost every home has hard-to-reach places that make cleaning a challenge. Rather than climbing an unstable ladder or moving bulky appliances, try using your favorite cleaning tool with a telescoping handle.
Better yet, mix and match. Many home and garden tools are now available with threaded connectors, which easily screw onto standard handles. Dusters, scrubbers, brooms and squeegees can all readily be turned into extended-reach tools. Having that extra reach can help simplify household tasks, such as knocking down cobwebs, cleaning skylights, dusting ceiling fans and scrubbing awkward shower stalls.
Telescoping handles let you adjust your tools’ reach, eliminating the need to purchase handles in a variety of sizes, or worse, multiple tools. Once adjusted, most handles easily lock into place for stability.
Having cleaning tools with the proper reach eliminates the need to climb, crawl and reach, to spare your back and arms some of the aches and pains of heavy-duty cleaning. This alone makes tools with telescoping handles another must-have in your home-cleaning arsenal.
4. A HANDHELD VACUUM
While a handheld vacuum won’t replace your heavy-duty, all-purpose unit for cleaning large, carpeted areas, it’s a useful tool to have on hand to tackle minor mishaps and small cleanup jobs. Whether it’s a cereal spill or cat hair on the couch, messes happen, and hauling a large vacuum cleaner out of the garage or storage closet for quick pick-up tasks can be inconvenient. A handheld unit can be stored under a sink or in a drawer where it’s more readily accessible.
Generally lightweight and compact, handheld vacuums are simple to use and much more maneuverable than their larger counterparts. Often cordless and rechargeable, these machines provide ample cleaning power, generating enough suction to pick up dust, dirt and small-sized debris.
What really stands out about handheld vacuums is their sheer versatility. Handheld vacuums are great for families with small children or pets and households that deal with a lot of small cleanup jobs. They’re also ideal for precision cleaning in areas that might be damaged by larger, more clumsy vacuum cleaners, such as throw rugs or chair cushions. Plus, their portability makes them a great choice for car detailing.
5. SPRAY BOTTLES FOR HOMEMADE CLEANERS
While commercial cleaning solutions are readily available and formulated for many different uses, some people are turning away from chemicals in favor of natural, homemade blends. Many people swear by the cleaning power of vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice and other household staples, offering up recipes that promise to clean everything from pet urine stains to stinky garbage disposals.
These chemical-free recipes can be effective ways to safely and naturally clean your home. But to prevent waste, you’ll need an appropriate way to store and dispense the fluid. So, if you’re a DIYer, you’ll want to keep several empty spray bottles on hand to accommodate your cleaning concoctions.
Spray bottles can be purchased at a variety of retailers, but home improvement stores often sell bottles that can be adjusted to disperse the fluid as either a spray or stream.
One caveat: make sure to either color-code or label your homemade cleaners clearly so as not to confuse your vinegar mixture with your plant mister. Keep black markers or stick-on labels on hand for easy labelling.
Unless you’re a neat freak, cleaning is probably not something you look forward to doing. Whether you’re embarking on your annual spring cleaning or just doing a quick dusting, having the right cleaning tool for the job can make all the difference. Not only will you enjoy a cleaner house when you use the proper equipment, but the right tools can also make your cleaning routine more efficient, so you can spend less time scrubbing and more time doing the things you love.