32 Smart and Surprising Uses for All the Cleaning Supplies You Already Have

updated Nov 11, 2021
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Credit: Andrea Monzo for Apartment Therapy

Finding out about a new cleaning solution that promises to dissolve your grout grime or melt away the stains on your baking sheets is very exciting. I know because I’ve recently fallen pretty hard for the miraculous carpet and upholstery cleaner, Folex

But you don’t have to spend money to breathe new life into your cleaning routines. Realizing that what you already have can be used in novel and effective ways is sometimes even more exciting than opening something new. And it means you don’t have to wait for an Amazon delivery or your next Target run.

Here are some unexpected ways to use the cleaning supplies you already have.

Windex 

1. Cut through grease on your backsplash

Windex does a great job of cutting through grease and oil splatters, leaving you with squeaky-clean surfaces. Use some to clean up a tiled backsplash.

2. Clean a dry-erase board.

Yes, you can rub off dry-erase markers with your hand or a rag, but there are sometimes some stubborn leftover streaks that need a bit more work to get off. A spritz of Windex gets the job done — quickly — leaving you with a literal blank slate. 

3. Refresh outdoor furniture. 

Any hard outdoor furniture can be cleaned with Windex, which will cut through and loosen grime. Use the blue stuff on resin, plastic, metal, and aluminum furniture. Spray on, let sit for five minutes, and wipe clean with a rag. 

4. Clean toilets. 

Windex can tackle stubborn stains in your toilet. Spray it in and around the bowl — especially in the area that meets the floor (if you have little boys at home). Let it sit for a few minutes and wipe it down.

5. Shine faucets.

Faucets all around the house will look their best when given the Windex treatment. Spray a bit onto a soft rag and polish bathroom and kitchen faucets to a sparkling gleam. 

6. Clean your floors. 

Don’t use it on wood floors because the ammonia in Windex can damage them, but linoleum and tile can stand a scrub-down with diluted Windex — and will look all the better for it. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Rubbing Alcohol 

7. Disinfect granite.

Granite is natural stone and requires caution in order to avoid damaging it. While regular soap and water are best for daily cleaning, sometimes you want to disinfect your counters. Bleach and vinegar are too harsh for granite, but you can disinfect them with undiluted rubbing alcohol. Mist counters with the alcohol, allow it to sit for three to five minutes, and then rinse clean with a damp rag and buff dry. 

8. Make DIY glass cleaner. 

My favorite DIY glass cleaner is Alvin Corn. It’s made from water, rubbing alcohol, cornstarch, and water and it’s a miracle worker. The cornstarch helps gently lift residue off glass and the rubbing alcohol helps the solution dry quickly, leaving your glass surfaces spotless and streak-free. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Magic Erasers

9. Clean your oven door.

Running one of these humble-looking white sponges down the glass of your oven door erases the unsightly veneer of gunk that tends to build up. It’s a quick fix for a dreaded chore that we usually set aside an entire day to tackle.

10. Lift stains from coffee mugs.

Eventually, the inside of your favorite coffee mug will sport some stains that regular washing won’t touch. A Magic Eraser makes your mugs clean as new with a few swipes. I keep one under the kitchen sink at all times. 

11. Remove stains from plastic food storage containers.

There’s hope for all your sauce-stained plastic containers! A Magic Eraser takes care of even these stubborn stains so your containers can start fresh during the next round of leftovers. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Dish soap

12. Banish oil stains on clothes. 

No, the shirt that got splattered with grease is not doomed to the discard pile. A dot of Dawn on oil splatters is usually all it takes to lift them from your clothes. After dabbing on dish soap, let it sit for at least a few minutes and then launder as usual. Make sure the stain is gone before putting the garment in the dryer. 

13. Clean cabinet doors. 

A solution of sudsy dish soap and water is all you need to wipe down greasy cabinet doors. Squeeze a few small squirts of dish soap into a bucket of hot water, dip a rag in and squeeze, and then wipe down. Use a damp rag with no soap to wash off the soap, and a dry one to finish. 

14. Clean the bathtub.

Dish soap is made to cut through grease and oil. And you wash off body grease and oil every time you shower. Use dish soap to clean up the grime that’s left behind in your tub.

Read more: 7 Ways to Use Dish Soap — Aside from Cleaning Dirty Dishes

Credit: Joe Lingeman

OxiClean

15. Clean hood grates. 

Oven hood grates suck up a lot of grease as they’re venting your home. That, combined with the fact that they aren’t easily visible and therefore rarely cleaned, means hood grates can be pretty grimy by the time they’re removed. But you don’t have to spend a lot of time or energy scrubbing them. Instead, fill a deep of a bucket with hot water, dissolve a scoop of OxiClean in it, and soak your grates. 

16. Remove labels from jars.

This is my favorite off-label (ha!) use for OxiClean. Fill a bin or sink with hot water, dissolve some OxiClean in it, and place your jars or items with stubborn, sticky residue in the water. Within an hour or so, you’ll see most of your labels floating in the water, no scrubbing required. 

17. Clean grout.

The whitening power of OxiClean can be harnessed for cleaning icky grout lines: Make a solution of OxiClean and water, scrub it into your grout lines and allow it to sit, scrub some more, and then rinse clean. 

18. Clean your shower curtain liner.

Whether it’s plastic or fabric, your shower curtain liner needs to be cleaned every so often. To remove mildew, slimy bacteria, and soap scum, make a hot water and OxiClean solution, soak your liner, scrub to remove any lingering trouble spots, and then rinse clean. 

Read more: 8 Surprising Ways to Use OxiClean — In the Kitchen and Beyond

Credit: Cat Meschia

Murphy’s Oil Soap

19. Clean cabinet doors. 

Here’s another way to clean cabinet doors: Murphy’s Oil Soap on a soft microfiber rag. It will dissolve dirt and grease without wrecking your finish. 

20. Clean leather. 

Did you know you can use Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean and condition your leather furniture? It’s true! The company even suggests it.

21. Clean paint brushes. 

Don’t throw away the paint brushes you thought were ruined by dried-on paint. Instead, soak them for 24 to 48 hours in Murphy’s Oil Soap to dissolve the paint and soften the bristles.

Credit: Kitchn

Dishwashing Tabs 

22. Erase that stubborn toilet ring. 

There are two ways to use a dishwasher tab in the toilet. You can toss it in the bowl when you start cleaning the bathroom and let it dissolve before you scrub with a brush. Or you can put on gloves, wet the tablet a little bit, and rub the tablet on trouble spots like an actual eraser. 

23. Clean up goopy refrigerator messes. 

If a sticky mess in the fridge has you scratching your head, use a dishwasher tablet to scratch it away instead. Wet the tablet a little bit to get it going, and then rub the mess directly with the tab. (Always wear gloves when handling cleaning chemicals.) 

24. Clean your oven door. 

The grease-fighting power that cleans your dishes in the dishwasher is right in the palm of your hand when you use a dishwasher tablet to clean your oven door. Put on gloves, then dip the tablet in some warm water and use the edge of the tablet to scrape the burnt-on bits of grease from your oven door. 

Read more: 10 Surprising Things You Can Clean Using Dishwasher Tablets

Credit: Cat Meschia

Vinegar

25. Get dishes sparkling.

If you live in an area with hard water, you are probably pretty frustrated with dirty-looking dishes that come out of your dishwasher. Put a bowl right-side up in your dishwasher and pour in some vinegar. Run the dishwasher — the vinegar will help combat that hard water so your dishes come out looking spotless.

26. Degunk your faucets.

This one is also for people with hard water. Whenever you start to notice your faucets are spraying a bit wonkily, soak them in vinegar. Easy fix.

27. Eliminate bad odors.

The next time you’re cooking something smelly (fish or cauliflower), set out a bowl of vinegar. The acetic acid in vinegar neutralizes alkaline odors, which means it can help get rid of cooking smells cheaply and easily.

Read more: 31 Things You Didn’t Know You Could (Easily!) Clean with Vinegar

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Baking Soda

28. Freshen up your sink.

When you think of all the gross stuff that goes down your drain, it makes sense that it’ll start to smell eventually. Try this DIY de-clogger to keep your pipes clear of gunk and smelly pretty(ish): Flush your drain with hot water, then slowly pour a cup of baking soda down. Finish it off with about a cup of lemon juice and wait for the fizzy chemical reaction.

29. Freshen up your carpet.

Sprinkle baking soda liberally all over your carpet. Work the baking soda into the carpet with your fingers and let it sit for a few hours or overnight. Then, vacuum. Your carpet (and the room!) should smell better instantly.

30. Lift stains out of marble.

Our Editor-in-Chief, Faith Durand, removes stains on her marble countertop with a poultice made of baking soda and water, which she leaves on the countertop overnight.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Hydrogen Peroxide

31. Revive old baking sheets.

Hydrogen peroxide is our favorite method for cleaning old baking sheets. You’ll need some baking soda, too, and a spray bottle.

32. Clean wood cutting boards.

Wash your wood cutting board by giving it a bath in hydrogen peroxide. Let it soak for 10 minutes, then rinse.

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