The 10 Most Surprising Cleaning Tips We Learned This Year

updated Dec 29, 2020
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Credit: Diana Liang

When we all spent way more time at home in 2020 than anyone could have predicted, cleaning became more important than ever. Yes, we were all on high alert to disinfect as much as possible. But cleaning also became an even bigger part of our days. We had more dishes and more messes than usual. And we just couldn’t stand to stare at long-ignored oven grime any longer. Plus, there’s something oh-so soothing and satisfying about checking off over-procrastinated tasks. So like you, we imagine, the editors and writers at Kitchn spent a lot of time cleaning. We even got creative with it, testing out new methods and experimenting. Some of these sessions resulted in game-changing surprises!

These are the very best cleaning lessons we learned in 2020.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. There are five things that should always get tossed in the dishwasher if there’s room.

Make the most of every dishwasher load! If you’ve got the room, there are a few surprising things you should always add to the racks. They’re things that you probably didn’t even know could go in the dishwasher and things that you probably don’t really get around to manually cleaning all that often. 

Read more: 5 Things You Should Always Throw Into the Dishwasher If There’s Room

Credit: Sarah Crowley

2. A bit of vanilla extract can help your fridge smell better.

Let’s face it: Fridges aren’t always the best-smelling things. Sure, you can go with the classic box of baking soda to neutralize odors — but who says you can’t take it one step further? All you need is some vanilla extract and a cotton ball and your fridge will actually smell yummy!

Read more: The First Thing You Should Do with a New Bottle of Vanilla Extract

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn
She really should have gloves on here!

3. There are some things you should never do with hydrogen peroxide.

Peroxide may be the little bottle that could — an underrated powerhouse that can do everything from brighten your linens to clean grout. But! There are a few precautions to keep in mind before you grab that bottle next time, so read up and look out. 

Read more: 5 Things You Should Never Do with Hydrogen Peroxide

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. Wax paper can help keep the grime off the top of your fridge.

Did you know there are people who actually clean their fridge tops on a regular basis? If you can get it clean once, you can keep it clean with this super-simple trick. 

Read more: The First Thing You Should Do with a New Box of Wax Paper

Credit: Joe Lingeman

5. There’s actually a way to get baking sheets looking new again.

When was it that we all decided that our baking sheets would just have a patina? We went down the rabbit hole to test and find the one ultimate way to clean those well-loved pans and get them looking good as new.  

Read more: We Tried 5 Methods for Cleaning Baking Sheets and Found a Clear Winner

6. You can clean your oven door with a dishwasher tablet.

Say hello to the tiny secret weapon that can remove that caked-on grease and grime from your oven door. This cleaning hack is totally legit, and we can demonstrate!

Read more: I Cleaned My Oven Door with a Dishwasher Tablet — Here’s How It Went

Credit: Joe Lingeman

7. Salt and a good scrub brush really are best for cleaning cast iron skillets.

Cleaning hacks for cast iron abound, but are they any good? We ran some tests so we could find out. The results of our cleaning showdown? Our tried-and-true salt scrub wins the day. Fact: This tried-and-true brush is also a winner!

Read more: We Tried 5 Methods for Cleaning Cast Iron Skillets and Found a Clear Winner

Credit: Joe Lingeman

8. WD-40 can clean the grout in your backsplash.

If you don’t have a can of WD-40 in your kitchen, you’ll want one now. Among the long and surprising list of things you can do with it: magically lifting grime from your grout lines!

Read more: 9 Surprising Uses for a Can of WD-40

Credit: Joe Lingeman

9. Oven cleaner can shine up the outside of an enameled Dutch oven.

Intrepid spirits on Reddit (and those willing to test small areas first!) find that you can remove burnt-on gunk from enameled pots with careful application of oven cleaner.

Read more: The Clever Reddit Tip for Getting a Le Creuset Dutch Oven Looking Good as New

Credit: Joe Lingeman

10. Aluminum foil is best for cleaning a pan with burnt-on bits.

We ran so many cleaning showdowns! This last one was done in attempts to find out how to get those burnt bits out of stainless steel pans. Spoiler alert: Our tests found a ball of aluminum foil with baking soda paste does the trick!

Read more: We Tried 5 Methods for Cleaning a Burnt Pan and Found a Clear Winner

What are the best cleaning lessons you learned this year? Share in the comments below!