25 of the Most Brilliant Cleaning Tips We’ve Ever Gotten from Dads

updated Jun 10, 2022
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Mature man cleaning table in dining room in his apartment with rag and spraying bottle
Credit: Getty Images | mixetto

Dads always have plenty of good fatherly advice. They almost always know just what to say, when it’s time to make a terribly punny joke, and how to make the perfect pancakes. Dads also always seem to have plenty of clever cleaning tricks and smart time-saving tips up their sleeves. To celebrate Father’s Day this year, we surveyed a few dads to learn their best cleaning tips. Here are 25 you can use for yourself!

Related: 25 of the Most Brilliant Cleaning Tips We’ve Ever Gotten from Moms

1. Clean crevices with a toothbrush.

Ryan Smith, owner of Ant & Garden Organic Pest Control, says he learned some of his best cleaning tips from his dad. One of his go-to secrets? When you’re scrubbing down your sink, use an old toothbrush to get slimy food waste out of the area around the drain. You can use the same toothbrush for cleaning kitchen grout and other tricky corners and crevices!

2. Use pantry ingredients to clean your drain.

Jake Romano, a plumber with John The Plumber, recommends keeping kitchen drains fresh and functional with a simple pantry recipe. Just grab 1/2 cup of baking soda, dump it down the drain, then follow with 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Allow the mixture to percolate for about 15 minutes, then dump a kettle of boiling water down the drain, followed by hot water from the tap. “If you do this, you’ll probably never need my plumbing services!” he says.

3. Don’t put junk down the drains.

Here’s another way to keep a plumber at bay, according to Romano: Don’t use store-bought drain cleaner! Instead, maintain the integrity of your pipes by being smart about what goes down there. More importantly, what DOESN’T go down there! No matter how tempting it is to rinse oil, coffee grinds, and food down your sink, doing so could result in a costly plumber’s visit.

4. Use steel wool to break down burnt-on food.

Matt Smith, owner of Pong Place and father of two, says it’s key to keep the right tools on hand. For baked-on food and grime, he swears by steel wool — just don’t use it on stainless steel, or you’ll end up with scratches!

Credit: Juan Aunion/Shutterstock

5. Erase crayon marks with SOS pads.

You’ll need something slightly abrasive to remove marker and crayon art from walls, tables, and floors. Smith likes SOS pads, which use a combination of steel wool and soap.

6. Use a dishwasher tablet to pre-soak pots and pans.

Jonathon O’Brien, co-blogger at Aden’s Mom, fills dirty pots and pans with hot water, then adds a dishwasher tablet to dissolve overnight. “When you wake up the next morning, they’ll easily wipe clean,” he says.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

7. Bring your vacuum into the kitchen.

When your broom or rag just aren’t getting the job done, Andy Gibson, founder of Someone Sent You a Greeting, recommends hauling your vacuum to the kitchen. “I use mine to clean out cabinets and drawers,” he says. “It’s fast and effective, and if you have a vacuum with different head attachments, some of them work wonders in small spaces, getting crumbs.”

8. Clean your faucet with lemon.

Fresh lemon juice can be used for so many things and add a fresh scent to your kitchen. Gibson’s favorite use? Grab half a lemon, squeeze a bit on your faucet, and wipe. It’ll be spotless and shiny in no time!

9. Fix discolored stainless steel pans with Bar Keepers Friend.

Jim Stonos, a food blogger at Home Cook World, has a funny story about his dad, who burned oil on a stainless steel frying pan. “Knowing that steel wool would scratch the pan, he called his grill buddies to ask if they knew a strong non-abrasive cleaner. A few of them recommended Bar Keepers Friend,” Stonos says. “It cleaned the pan so well, my mom phoned me worried because she found him fanatically cleaning their entire cookware collection out of the blue when she woke up that morning!”

10. Make your own wood cleaner.

Alex Perkins, co-founder of All the Stuff, makes his own DIY wood polish with lemon oil and white vinegar. Just fill an empty spray bottle with one part lemon oil to one part vinegar, and you’ll have a new go-to solution for wiping down (and shining up!) wooden tabletops, cabinets, and baseboards. 

11. Enlist some help.

Greg Halter, dad of three boys, has a simple trick for cleaning up big kitchen messes: Enlist the family who helped make the mess in the first place! After dinner, Halter has his older kids handle the dishes — one boy unloads, the other loads. “[My kids] don’t do well with pots and pans, so I typically will finish those off for them,” he adds.

12. Use a drill brush to clean grout.

Bill Samuel, real estate developer with Blue Ladder Development, found a super-smart and effective method for thoroughly cleaning grout lines. First, purchase a product specifically designed for cleaning grout. Then, find a drill-bit brush to use for scrubbing. Samuel uses this technique on all of his properties.

13. Kill weeds with white vinegar.

Pesky weeds in your garden or sidewalk cracks? Michael Alves, founder of Hello Gardening, says weeds are no match for distilled white vinegar and dish soap. Pour a gallon of vinegar into a five-gallon bucket, then add a cup of table salt followed by a tablespoon of liquid dish soap. Stir until it dissolves, then use a funnel to add the mixture to a spray bottle. Just make sure you don’t spray the plants you want to keep!

14. Descale an electric kettle with vinegar.

Another great tip from Alves: Use white vinegar to remove pesky mineral buildup from your electric kettle. First, add equal parts white vinegar and water to the kettle until it’s around half full. Then, bring the mix to a boil, and allow it to sit for 20 minutes. To finish, pour out the mixture and thoroughly rinse the kettle.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

15. Stave off ants with vinegar, too.

We’ve all fallen victim to ants on the kitchen counter. Alves recommends solving that problem with white vinegar, too! Wipe down counters with a 50-50 vinegar and water mix and ants should stay away.

16. Clean your dishwasher with vinegar.

According to Alves, you can descale your dishwasher with white vinegar, too. It’s super easy — first, fill a dishwasher-safe bowl with a cup of vinegar, which you’ll place on the top rack. Next, run the appliance on a hot water setting. The vinegar won’t just remove mineral buildup; it’ll also help break down leftover food and grime.

17. Rehab garden tools with vinegar.

Clive Harris, creator of DIY Garden, renews his rusty or dull garden tools with vinegar. He recommends soaking them overnight in a container filled with half vinegar and half water. In the morning, use a wire brush to scrub the rust off, then clean the tools in soapy water to remove any remnants.

18. Try lemon juice and salt, too.

If you don’t have vinegar on hand or want to try another method, Harris suggests rubbing equal parts salt, lemon juice, and water onto garden tools that need some love, then scrub away rust with a scrubby brush.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

19. Give your microwave a spa treatment.

James Hall, head editor of Spotless Vacuum, microwaves a cup of water with a tablespoon of white vinegar before cleaning the microwave. “The steam loosens any stains, making them much easier to wipe,” he says. “This saves a huge amount of time, especially if you often microwave soups or other liquids that are prone to splashing.” Just make sure to use a microwavable bowl!

20. Clean your drain with lemony ice cubes.

Bertie Cowan, founder of Effortless Outdoors, says his dad used to have him squeeze lemon juice, mix it with water, then fill the mixture in ice trays to freeze it. “Once frozen, he threw the ice blocks along with the rinds of the lemons down the garbage disposal,” he says. “This technique would clean the garbage disposal as well as sharpen the blades. I still use this tip to this day.”

Credit: Dana Velden

21. Shine copper with ketchup.

Copper pots and pans losing their shine? Here’s another tip from Cowan: Clean dull copper pots with ketchup to make them shine again. Just slather the pots with ketchup, leave it until it dries, then wipe and rinse!

22. Use water and a clean rag to clean your windshield.

David Bitton, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Doorloop, follows a cleaning tip from his dad to this day: Never use ordinary soap or detergent with water when you’re cleaning a car’s windshield. “If you wash it off, unseen debris will remain, making it difficult to view from the windshield when it rains. [This will make] driving difficult with poor visibility,” he says. Instead of using your kitchen soap, just use water, and make sure the rag is clean. Glass surfaces are sensitive to abrasions that can scratch your windshield.

23. Clean up as you go.

Lee Wallach, chef and founder of Home Appétit Philadelphia, says cleaning is a whole lot easier when you do it as you go, before moving onto the next part of your meal or activity. “It might seem quicker to just load up the sink and wash everything at the end, but that makes cleanup almost unbearable,” he says. 

24. Designate a dedicated counter sponge.

Wallach keeps a separate scrubby sponge for counters only. “I use dish soap and get the sponge soapy, and then scrub the whole counter. Then I take a dishcloth, wet it, and wipe the soap off,” he says. “It’s quick and efficient and you don’t go through a million paper towels or have to use harsh chemicals.” If he wants to polish the counters afterward, he uses a solution of white vinegar and water.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

25. Clean the grill while it’s warm.

David Cusick, chief security officer and executive editor of House Method, says it’s always a good idea to brush and clean the grill right after you use it. To make the job easier, clean while it’s still warm, using a wire brush to scrub off grime and food debris.

Have any other cleaning tips to add? Tell us in the comments below!