As a cleaning expert, I’ve spent the last decade collecting all kinds of knowledge on how to solve problems. Some of those problems are pretty universal, like how to get an ink stain out of a shirt, but others are more unusual, like what to do when a candle tips over and spills hot wax on your carpet.
Below, I’ve rounded up 23 of my favorite offbeat cleaning products and common products that can be used in unexpected ways to solve problems like grease stains on clothes or cat pee in a suitcase (it happens!) Want more recommendations? ? Check out my favorite products for the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room.
This is one of the best stain removal tips I have to offer, so I start with it: Hand sanitizer is great for removing deeply pigmented stains, from Sriracha to ink, from fabric. It’s also good to know because hand san is so ubiquitous and we often have it when no other laundry products are available.
I recently bought a walking pad and was reminded of Soilove while setting it up – some of the silicone lube used to keep the belt running smooth got on my hands, and then got into a practically new sports bra! Curses! But it’s me, and I know that Soilove is the secret to getting those messy silicone lubricants out of fabric. Now you know too.
DampRid is a desiccant – it absorbs water from the air and helps regulate humidity and moisture levels. Rooms like the basement, attic or bathroom that are prone to moisture due to environmental or design factors can be unsightly on the one hand and difficult to keep clean on the other, as high levels of humidity encourage growth. bacteria and contribute to lingering odors. DampRid addresses that problem.
Basements and attics aren’t the only spaces where excessively humid conditions create odor problems; closets can also suffer from musty odors caused by excess moisture. DampRid manufactures hanging moisture absorbers as a solution to this particular problem.
When doing a deep clean, the experts will tell you to look up, then down: Some of the dirtiest places in our home are out of our line of sight, like the tops of cabinets or ceiling fan blades. . But hard-to-reach places are rarely cleaned for a reason: they’re hard to reach! A telescopic duster solves that problem.
Vents and vent hoses need to be cleaned, but sometimes a vacuum isn’t enough for the job. Enter: The Vent Brush! Vent brushes can also be used to clean air conditioning units, refrigerator coils, floor and wall registers, and of course dryer vent hoses. Now you know!
One last entry in the “wacky dusting tools” category: an electric duster! This is more of a nice to have item than a necessary item, but for people who love power tools, this is a super fun purchase. It has seven attachments that can be used to clean everything from the interior of the car to your disgusting keyboard. Can it be used to dry pets? Yes, yes, sure you can.
You’re probably thinking that dishwasher detergent isn’t such a weird cleaning product, and it’s not, it’s the use that’s amazing: Cascade Powdered Dishwasher Detergent is an ace at cleaning white tablecloths. Dissolve the Cascade powder in very hot water, then soak the sheets before laundering as usual. It works as a pre-soaking agent for whites because it has a bit of a whitening effect. However, it can be harsh, so avoid using it on very delicate bedding.
You thought I would leave you hanging without a recommendation for those delicate linens?!? Engleside Restoration is a fantastic product that will reverse yellowing and remove fixed stains from old and delicate fabrics such as lace and linen. Do you need to restore grandma’s good tablecloth or her wedding dress? These are the things you want.
This is one of my favorite laundry products because it’s weird and wonderful. Bluish does exactly what it sounds like: it turns things slightly blue, which, due to the way color perception works, counteracts yellowing and makes whites appear whiter. It’s especially helpful to know if you have white bedding that needs a refresh.
If you’ve ever spilled wax or ended up with candle drips that caked on hard or soft surfaces, this tip is for you: Lay a sheet of brown paper over the wax and iron on the lowest setting over the top of the wax. paper. As the wax softens, the paper will absorb it.
Pet parents and long-haired humans, unite! Rubber brooms are great for quickly picking up hair from hard floors and carpets. (You can sweep a rug!)
In other parts of the pet world, Biokleen Bac-Out is The thing for the remediation of cat urine odor. If you have a cat, you know that that cat, at some point in her little feline life, will pee all over your stuff to express her dissatisfaction with a choice you’ve made. Bac-Out is what will save whatever Kitty has sprayed.
Speaking of funky smells! Once in a while, a really bad smell will take over a garment and no amount of washing with regular detergent will touch it. Enter: Dr. Bronner’s, which for reasons I can’t explain with science, is absolutely amazing at removing odors in fabric. Over the years that I’ve written a cleaning tips column, my readers have successfully used Dr. Bronner’s to remove strong odors from clothing, from gasoline to canned fish oil.
Speaking of canned fish oil: if you’re a person who’s prone to dripping pizza grease down your pants, or dripping salad oil down the front of your shirt, you’ll love this one: Lestoil is an ace at oil sourcing. and grease stains on clothes. To use, apply a small amount directly to the stain before laundering as normal.
But what about grease and oil stains on fabrics that cannot be washed? Those happen too, and when they make a pantry staple, cornstarch is what you want. Place an anthill-style mound of cornstarch on top of the stained fabric and leave undisturbed for an hour to overnight; the cornstarch will absorb the oil and pull it out of the fabric.
Dobie pads solve a seemingly intractable problem: how do you remove stuck-on food from cookware or appliances like microwaves or refrigerators without scratching delicate plastic, stainless steel or glass surfaces? Dobies are non-abrasive scouring sponges that are safe to use on almost any material, making them a must-have cleaning tool worth knowing about.
You won’t find a box of baking soda in my fridge; I keep it with the baking supplies where it belongs. Baking soda isn’t the great odor absorber it claims to be, but activated charcoal (which is also known as activated carbon, active carbon, and activated carbon) is a fantastic alternative that really works and will prevent strong food odors take over your fridge.
A bathroom sink never stays clean for long, but a microfiber sponge can keep things tidy between deeper cleans. Place one on the edge of the sink for quick cleanups during the week, and wash the sponge weekly along with the towels.
Canister-style odor absorbers are the “set it and forget it” of the odor removal world. They are an excellent option to keep odors at bay in spaces such as the bathroom or kitchen, since you can place them and let them do the work for you, without you having to do anything. There are many of these products on the market, but I like the Bad Air Sponge because it works, and also because the name is funny!
Hand washing is an easier task than you might think, and it’s worth a try (couldn’t resist the wash pun, sorry!) because it really is the best way to care for delicate items like lingerie, bathing suits, bath and sweaters. Soak Wash is a no-rinse detergent formula that makes hand washing easy.
Sheet spray solves a very specific problem I have, that many of you may have too: I love the look of ironed bedding, but I hate ironing it. So instead of spending a lot of time and energy ironing or steaming a wrinkled duvet cover, I just put it on the bed, spray it with sheet spray, and flatten it out. As the duvet cover dries, wrinkles disappear from the fabric, making the bed look catalog-worthy.
Dryer balls help eliminate wrinkles and static by moving clothes in the drum, allowing for better airflow and reducing drying time. Dryer balls are also key when drying bulky and/or padded garments, as they help redistribute and fluff up the filling of pillows, duvets, parkas, padded vests, etc.