Domestic Science: Our Editors’ 27 Most-Reached-For Cleaning Hacks

Musty-smelling towels: Izabella uses the same approach for her towels: “Wash towels in hot water with one to two cups of distilled white vinegar now and then. Keeps them fresh and mold-less.”

Oil stains: Fan uses dishwashing liquid to spot-treat oil stains on clothing. Afterward, toss into the washer for a regular cycle.

Blood stains: “Castile Soap is really good for getting blood off of things,” says Kristina. “You’re normally supposed to dilute it, but I just use it directly on the item and it works like magic.”


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Above: You don’t need to buy a product to get the gunk from labels off of glass jars; just use a mixture of oil and baking soda to rub it off.

Sticky residue on glass jars: Meredith uses oil to remove the sticky label residue on glass jars: “The homemade Goo Gone recipe in 3 DIY Cleaning Recipes for a Healthy, Happy Home really works. The smell of Goo Gone is nauseating to me. All the DIY recipes say coconut oil, but I’ve always used canola oil because it’s what’s in my fridge and it’s cheaper than coconut oil; this is a cleaning product, after all. It works brilliantly every time.” (Also see How to Repurpose Old Food Jars for the Pantry (Plus, How to Get the Sticky Labels Off.)

Moths: “To keep moths from infiltrating clothes and linens, I reinforce the cedar blocks in closets with a few drops of cedar essential oil every month or so. If you don’t do this, they dry out. The moment you no longer smell cedar, they no longer deter pests. I didn’t know this, and had to learn it the hard way,” says Alexa. (Find more natural ways to deter moths in Expert Advice: How to Moth Proof Your Home, 5 Natural Deterrents.)

Dust, lint, and pet hair on upholstery: “A rubber pet brush works is awesome for removing fur, dust, and lint from couches and other upholstered furniture,” says Fan.

Tarnished copper: “I clean my copper with lemon and salt. Cut the lemon into wedges, dip in salt, then rub on the copper. Rinse quickly in cold water and dry well with a soft cloth,” says Sarah.

Tarnished silver: Margot uses toothpaste to shine silver—”especially small pieces, such a rings, necklaces, and spoons.” She adds: “It must be a paste, not a gel (something with a bit of grit); I’ve found that classic Crest works well.”

Wine stains on carpet: “Pour salt on a wet red wine stain in the carpet, then leave it overnight before vacuuming it up,” recommends Christine.

Finger smudges on walls: “When I still had baby wipes in the house, I would go from room to room looking for toddler-height finger smudges to erase from our white walls. It wasn’t hard—neither finding the smudges nor getting them off,” says Fan. (Got white walls? Read 10 Things Nobody Tells You About Painting a Room White.)

Find more eco-friendly cleaning tips here:

N.B.: This story originally ran on March 26, 2021, and has been updated.

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