47 Household Tips and Tricks to Keep Your Home Looking Its Best
Tidy closets, organized drawers, and a perfectly styled pantry—everyone aspires for their homes to be clean, comfortable, and always looking their best. Every household requires regular cleaning, maintenance, and organization to achieve this, though. So, we scouted out the best household tidiness tips from experts of all sorts, like organizers and professional cleaners.
Here are 47 expert-approved tips to help you work smarter, stay one step ahead of household chores, and keep your home looking its best.
When it comes to decluttering, always take it one small space at a time. Focus on getting rid of food past its expiration date, and keep track of when you last used things like clothing and gadgets. Aside from critical items, like birth certificates or work items, really analyze what items are currently serving you daily in your home.
Kathy Cohoon of Two Maids shares that a clean space is a happy space, and decluttering is a key step to achieving that.
"Having a clean space can help with focus, as it eliminates distractions and confusing clutter," she explains. "If you have a duplicate or something, no longer use it often, or keep it just because, then it's probably time to ditch it or donate it."
Skip the Rinse Before Loading the Dishwasher
Stop rinsing dirty dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. You'll save water and time, and you'll end up with cleaner dishes. Dishwasher detergent powders, liquids, and tablets contain enzymes and other ingredients that are meant to attach themselves to food particles to dissolve the mess and then allow the spray action of the water to flush them away.1
When you rinse dirty dishes, the detergent is wasted because it can't cling to anything. However, it's still important to scrape away large amounts of food before loading dishes into the dishwasher.
Sick of smudges on your stainless steel appliances? Skip the store-bought products and use distilled white vinegar as a homemade stainless steel cleaner. It's all you need to keep your stainless steel appliances, countertops, and sink looking great.
Just spray the surfaces with undiluted distilled white vinegar and rub gently with a microfiber cloth following the grain of the metal. Rinse with a damp cloth and buff to a shine.
Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin, the expert organizers of The Home Edit, know kitchen organization starts with organized food. Keep all food categories in a designated zone for easy organization.
"When organizing a fridge, the most important thing to remember is creating zones," the duo share. "Everything should be categorized and grouped together."
The organizing duo love using clear containers in a pantry or fridge, that way you see what you have and know when you’re running low. Adding a label also helps members of your household find things easily.
Shearer and Teplin also recommend following the same plan in your pantry. "You want your pantry to flow," they say. "For example, breakfast items should flow into dinner, and snacks should be placed down low and accessible."
Prerna Jain, a professional cleaner and founder of Ministry Of Cleaning, recommends salt and lemon juice to remove grime from outdoor tables and chairs.
"For an extra cleaning boost, you can also leave salt-coated furniture in direct sunlight for a few hours," Jain says. "The combination of salt and sunlight can help break down stains and enhance the cleaning process."
To freshen your microwave, simply boil one cup of water in a bowl with lemon slices or one cup of distilled white vinegar added. Heat on high until the solution is boiling, and allow the steam to work for at least five minutes before opening the door.
When glass breaks, practice safety first. Put on your shoes and keep everyone away until the glass is gone. Use kitchen tongs to pick up large shards or wear heavy gloves. Sweep up as much as you can that's still on the floor or carpet. Then use a piece of fresh bread, a sliced potato, several layers of wet paper towels, or a lint roller to get the final tiny shards.
Don't Skip Making Your Bed
A properly made bed can have a dramatic impact on the way a room looks and feels. Not only does it help the room appear less cluttered and chaotic, but it also sets the stage for a good night's rest. After all, it's so much nicer to slip into a bed with smooth, crisp sheets rather than one with rumpled sheets and a balled-up blanket.
If you don't think you have time to master Army-approved corners, use a comforter that can easily be smoothed over the bed and fluff the pillows.
Utilize Vertical Space in Your Bedroom Closet
To make a small bedroom closet more functional, Courtney Finley of Organized Designs recommends putting clothes and accessories in categories—and don't forget about optimizing for vertical storage, too.
"Utilize vertical hanging space by using cascading hangers or investing in hanging organizers," she suggests. "Install adjustable shelves or customizable modular closet systems to meet your needs, and consider adding hooks on the inside of the closet doors for additional hanging space."
While a garage is handy for storage, it can quickly become a dumping ground for extra items. Todd Lamson, director of franchise operations at The Junkluggers offers these tips to get the space back in shape.
"Taking out the old or unused items is a simple way to help you focus on reorganizing what matters most," he says. "Adding some sturdy cabinets or shelving can certainly help organize your home. For example, wooden pallets on the wall are great for hanging lightweight lawn equipment in the garage, and old bathroom towel racks are perfect to organize power cords on."
Think about first impressions and organize your entryway and coat closet. Guests will remember tripping over shoes the moment they walk in, so hide them away in a closet or a storage system. To keep boots upright, cut pool noodles in half and slip them into the boots.
If you have a sentimental object just stashed away, get it out and change how you use it. Cohoon notes that upcycling helps items feel fresh and new.
"If you love something but it is collecting dust, try to find a new use for it—like turning an old pitcher into a vase for fresh flowers," she says.
To help keep kids' rooms neater, Lamson suggests utilizing over-the-door shoe organizers for small toys, stuffed animals, craft supplies, and shoes.
"Keep Legos organized and away from your feet (ouch!) and dolls or action figures organized and easy to find by placing them inside the shoe pockets," he says.
Save time and energy by following Cohoon's suggestion. "Start cleaning at the ceiling and work your way down to cut down on repetitive work (no use vacuuming before you dust the ceiling fan)," she says. "If you work your way down the room, you will save time and effort and ensure each space is sparkling."
One of the best ways to make a room look better is to reduce dust so cleaning is easier. Keep doors and windows closed, and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Air purifiers are a great option to reduce dust, and make sure air filters are being changed often.
While we love them, pet hair seems to reach every corner of a home and even the best vacuum can't trap all of it. While you'll never be able to get rid of hair completely, using pet-friendly fabrics will make the job a bit easier. And one of the best tools to keep on hand is a lint roller. Use it for clothes, fabric shoes, pillows, upholstery, and quick pick-ups of hairballs on the floor.
"This may come as a surprise, but there is such a thing as using too much cleaning product," Cohoon says. "In the past, you may have used large quantities to feel assured that the products were doing the job, but this can be a pretty wasteful habit."
Using too much cleaning solution or laundry detergent can leave a residue, and this residue actually becomes a magnet for more dirt. Always stick to the amount suggested in the directions.
To get the cleaning results you want, always use clean tools. A dirty mop does not absorb dirt well and leaves residue on the floor, and a vacuum that is filled with dust can't clean well. Dusters filled with grit can leave scratches on surfaces. Clean supplies after every use so they are ready to go when you are.
"A fresh scent can make your home feel warm and inviting and create the effect of a clean space," Cohoon says. "You can attain this by lighting a candle, using a scent spray, or freshly baking a meal or dessert before settling in for guests or to relax."
No time to bake? Place some citrus slices and whole spices (cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamon) in a pot of water and simmer on your stovetop.
Fix sputtering showerheads by soaking them in distilled white vinegar to cut through the mineral deposits that are clogging the jets. Remove the head and let them soak in a bowl or bucket overnight.
Showerhead won't come off? Fill a plastic bag with vinegar and attach it securely to the showerhead with several rubber bands. Remove the next morning and turn on the water to rinse away the dissolved minerals.
"Before sticky soap scum shows up as an unsightly film in your bathtub and shower, a quick vinegar and water rinse daily (or every other day) can help keep the area clear," Cohoon says.
Keep a spray bottle filled with a 50:50 mix of distilled white vinegar and water in the shower. Spritz it on and then use a squeegee or towel to wipe down the walls.
Since a shower curtain can also be a big magnet for scum and mildew, opening bathroom windows can help completely dry it out. If you don’t have a window in your bathroom, vinegar and baking soda spritzes help keep mildew and mold at bay, which is important for both the look and health of your home.
Add a few tablespoons of baking soda into the clogged drain, and pull out the drain plug if it is removable. Then, add equal parts of vinegar. Allow the concoction to rest in the drain for about twenty minutes, working its magic, and then rinse it with warm water. This hack works wonders on all household drains, including shower and tub drains.
Keep Cleaning Supplies Handy
Cohoon recommends keeping a stocked cleaning caddie in the bathroom and any other rooms you clean often. In addition to toilet bowl cleaner, Cohoon suggests that the bathroom caddie include disinfectant wipes, glass cleaner, and a spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner.
"Now, you have the supplies you need to spot clean quickly—toothpaste splatters don't have a chance to dry on the mirror, water doesn't stick around long enough to make a moldy mess around the sink," she says. "And, as an added bonus, your bathroom is always drop-in guest ready."
Even if you clean your toilet regularly, if you live in an area with hard water chances are you have an unappealing ring or streaks in your toilet bowl. Hard water has an especially high mineral content of magnesium, calcium, and iron particles. Mineral buildup or limescale forms chalky white residue and rust-colored stains that need extra attention to remove.
Fortunately, you can remove them by catching them early and using household cleaning products like vinegar, baking soda, or borax to scrub away the discoloration.
If guests are on the way and the bathroom is a mess, do a quick clean:
Add toilet cleaner to the bowl and let it start working. Next, stash any laundry and dirty towels and put out fresh towels. Wipe down the sink with a disposable wipe and dry with a microfiber towel to prevent streaks.
Shake out area rugs or stash them and sweep the floor, and add a few drops of essential oil to the cardboard tube in the toilet paper roll to freshen the air. Don't forget to swish out the toilet bowl, too.
Don't Forget to Disinfect Door Handles
Appliance handles, door knobs, and electrical switches can accumulate germs if not cleaned often, and bacteria can be transferred to other surfaces in your home, Cohoon says.
"A common mistake people make is to only clean the front of the handles when we touch the inside of the handles just as—if not more—often," she says. Make sure you are using a disinfectant wipe or cleaner correctly to kill the most germs.
Nothing spoils the look of a room more than a stained and soiled carpet or rug. You can clean them yourself to remove dirt, pollen, and pet dander or hire a professional.
If you decide to tackle the chore yourself, pick a day when there isn't much foot traffic, and be sure to pretreat stains before cleaning. Move furniture off the carpet or place squares of plastic (food storage container lids work great) under the legs to prevent staining.
If your hardwood floors still look dull after cleaning, be sure you're removing loose soil by sweeping, vacuuming, or dust mopping before you clean the wood. Be sure your damp mop is clean, don't use harsh cleaners, and don't use too much of any cleaning product. Finally, use a dry microfiber mop to buff the clean floor to prevent streaking and ensure a shiny floor.
In addition to obvious stains, curtains, drapes, and shades attract airborne dust and odor molecules. The curtains in food preparation areas may have oily residue and bathroom curtains frequently catch droplets of hair spray and other cosmetics.
All types of window treatments should be cleaned at least once a year. When you take the drapes down, check the panels for care instructions. Most lined drapes will need to be dry-cleaned to remove any stains or heavy odors. If they are only dusty, toss them in a clothes dryer on the air-only cycle to freshen them. After the drapes are rehung, use a clothes steamer to remove any wrinkles.
As one of the most used pieces of furniture in your home, your couch deserves to be taken care of and kept clean. One of the best things you can do to improve the cleanliness of your couch, no matter what style or type of upholstery, is to vacuum it well weekly.
While a lightweight portable hand-held vacuum works fine to gather up potato chip crumbs, you need to use a vacuum with more suction and an upholstery brush and crevice tool to get at the really yucky stuff.
In most homes, walls are the most visible surfaces and if they are scuffed and dusty, nothing else looks clean. Areas near doors, light switches, and furniture gather soil and scuffs from hands, feet, and sharp corners.
As part of your regularly scheduled chores, walls should be dusted and cobwebs removed at least monthly—twice a month is even better. Clean away smudges and dirt around doorknobs and light switches weekly. Large splatters and scribblings with crayons should be cleaned immediately for the best results.
Leather sofas are durable and easy to both clean and maintain. After vacuuming off dust and loose soil, simply use saddle soap to clean away grime. Then use a leather conditioner to keep the hide soft and supple.
Simply rearranging your furniture can actually make a big difference in your home, experts say.
“When planning out your living space, identify the largest wall and place your biggest piece of furniture in that area," interior designer John McClain of John McClain Design says. "It is easier to arrange your furniture around statement elements rather than accent pieces.”
Slipcovers can give furniture a new look and are much easier to clean than upholstery. Spot clean stains and give slipcovers a thorough cleaning at the end of every season to refresh them. When you wash slipcovers, be sure to clean all the components in one washing machine load. This will prevent uneven fading that can happen if you wash one piece at a time.
Even if you come back with the same color, a fresh coat of paint makes every room look better. Or, add an accent wall to highlight artwork or built-in structures like bookcases or fireplaces.
Even if you use a plastic liner, the trash can needs attention. Before you take out the bag of trash, give the can a quick clean-up. Use a disinfecting wipe or wet paper towels and a spray of all-purpose cleaner to go over the lid, sides, and foot pedal to remove drips and food splatters.
Sparkling clean windows bring more light into a room and help a home look fresh and clean. Cleaning can usually be done quickly and efficiently with just a few tools and cleaning products. Out of window cleaner? Make it yourself with distilled white vinegar or isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and water.
Add a couple of inexpensive plastic dishpans to your sink to make dishwashing easier. Use one dishpan as a spot to put dirty dishes as they accumulate. Using a dishpan reduces water use instead of using a large sink to wash just a few items.
If you don't have a double sink, a dishpan can be used for rinsing dishes, a quick disinfecting dip, or soaking stuck-on food. Plastic dishpans protect your dishes from chips that can come when they hit the harder surfaces of stainless steel, stone, or porcelain sinks.
If you want to enhance the look of your kitchen, under-cabinet lights might be just the thing. Interior designer Elizabeth Herrera notes that puck lights are popular because they are affordable and battery-operated, so you don't need to worry about unsightly cords.
"Not only can they provide task lighting, which is great for food prep, but this style of lighting also won't create harsh shadows like overheads and can create a welcoming feel," Herrera says.
Do an Inspection
Protect your most expensive investment by hiring an inspector to check out the areas of your home that you don't normally see. They may discover hidden problems that negatively impact your home's value and safety. Walk around your home and make a list of all the little things that are broken or in need of repair. If you don't feel comfortable tackling the repairs yourself, hire a handyman for a day and watch your "to-do" list disappear.
Your front entrance creates the first impression of your home. Take time to clean it often to remove dust and scuffs. Sweep the porch or stoop and add a clean mat (it helps trap dirt before it gets inside your home). Consider painting the front door a new color and adding a wreath or showcasing plants near the entrance.
The inside of your home will look better if you trim overgrown foundation plants and low-hanging tree branches that are blocking light from coming in. Of course, trimming hedges and keeping lawns maintained always make the landscape more appealing.
Avoid climbing a ladder by vacuuming the leaves out of the gutters using an attachment on your wet/dry vacuum. You can also attach a long wand to a pressure washer and blow the leaves out of the gutters.