DIY Cleaning & Organizing

I Tried 3 Spring Cleaning Tricks—and I’ll Be Using Them From Now On

You’ll want to keep these up your sleeve, too.
Jenny Stanley Avatar
A person demonstrating three cleaning hacks for the home.

Photo: Jenny Stanley for Bob Vila

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The internet is full of brilliant ideas for saving time, money, and effort on otherwise tedious tasks around the house. But sometimes even the seemingly smartest solutions turn out to be duds when put into practice. To help you suss out the best cleaning hacks to try this spring and beyond, I tested the following in my own home. Watch the videos below to learn why I think they’re worth it.

1. Sanitize Sponges in the Microwave

Video: Jenny Stanley for Bob Vila

According to the USDA, microwaving a wet sponge is one of the most effective ways to kill germs that cause food-borne illnesses. It also extends the life of your go-to kitchen cleaning tool, which saves money and reduces household waste. This tip is a cinch, and all you need to do is: 

  • Saturate the sponge with water. Add a squeeze of lemon juice for good measure. 
  • Microwave the sponge on high for 1 minute.
  • Allow the sponge to cool for a moment.
  • Bonus—use the clean sponge to wipe down the microwave. Stubborn gunk and stains are easier to remove thanks to the steam created by zapping the sponge. 

Before putting any sponge in the microwave, check to make sure it doesn’t have any metal parts. Metal should never be put in a microwave oven, as it can start a fire.

2. Clean Narrow-Neck Containers With Rice

Video: Jenny Stanley for Bob Vila

Most of us have rice on hand for cooking up delicious meals, but the pantry staple has many uses beyond that. My new favorite is cleaning flower vases that my dish scrubber can’t fit into. The concept behind this hack is that the rice acts as an abrasive—no different than a soft-bristle brush—to loosen stuck-on debris. 

To do it, scoop 3 tablespoons of uncooked rice into the narrow-neck container; add a couple of drops of liquid dish soap; and fill the container halfway with lukewarm water. Cover the opening of the container and swish the mixture around. Strain out the rice and toss it in your compost or waste basket, then rinse the container and allow it to dry.

3. Dust Walls With a Swiffer Sweeper

Video: Jenny Stanley for Bob Vila

The sleek design of the Swiffer Sweeper makes quick work of cleaning hard surfaces—even vertical ones. When you’re finished mopping the floors, pop a clean microfiber cloth onto the head of the Swiffer and run it along your walls. The extended reach of the tool allows it to gather dust and cobwebs from top to bottom without you having to scale a ladder or crawl on your knees. To remove tougher messes like fingerprints, spritz the microfiber cloth with an all-purpose cleaner.