10 Essential Cleaning Tools to Keep Your Home Sparkling

Stock your cleaning caddy with these must-have helpers.

When it comes to cleaning your home, often the tools used for the job are more important than the cleaning agents themselves. A rag, sponge, mop, or vacuum usually has a much greater effect on the ease and outcome of the chore than the spray or cleaning solution.

But with so many cleaning tools on the market—including a lot of gimmicky items—it can be hard to know which ones you actually need. To help you get a head start on your next deep clean, we're sharing the top ten most essential cleaning tools that every household should have.

cleaning wall with blue cloth
Jason Donnelly

1. Microfiber Cloths

Microfiber picks up and absorbs dirt and other particles more effectively than cotton rags or sponges. The combination of its tiny fibers—the eponymous 'microfibers'—and static electricity allows microfiber to grab dirt, dust, baked-on food, or soap scum much more powerfully. Switching to microfiber cleaning cloths will make a big difference in ease of cleaning just about everything in your home, from the bathtub to the refrigerator.

2. Dish Towels

Dish towels are essential for drying both dinnerware and hands, but they can also be used to polish just-cleaned surfaces like stovetops and kitchen counters. They can also be laid on the countertop to act as a draining station for hand-washed dishes, and for wiping up spills big and small. To keep these surfaces clean and bacteria-free, launder your dish towels more often than you think you need to—at least weekly, but ideally after daily use.

citrus patterned sponges
Carson Downing

3. Assorted Sponges

Every home should have a classic two-sided scrubbing sponge, which can be used for all sorts of household chores, such as washing dishes and cleaning the oven. But there are a number of other types of sponges that deserve a place in your cleaning caddy, like the Dobie Pad, a non-abrasive scrub sponge that's ideal for deep cleaning scratch-prone surfaces like plastic or stainless steel.

The ultra-popular Scrub Daddy is another good option to have on hand, because it changes texture from soft to abrasive when exposed to different water temperatures, allowing you complete control over messes. Microfiber sponges can be used for everything from quick cleanup jobs to deep cleaning, and chainmail scrubbers make quick work of scrubbing out cast-iron cookware.

4. Squeegee

An essential tool for any home with glass shower doors, a squeegee can also be used for all sorts of cleaning jobs. Use it to wick water off glass shower doors to prevent soap scum and water spots from creating an ugly film, or use a squeegee to quickly dry off tile walls to keep mold and mildew from forming. And, of course, squeegees can be used to leave windows, windshields, and glass-topped furniture streak-free after they've been washed.

5. Telescoping Duster

Dusters come in many forms, but one of the most useful types is the telescoping duster. This long-handled duster allows you to clean hard-to-reach spots, like the tops of cabinets, window casings, or baseboards, without having to climb a ladder or bend down. If you don't already have one, you can create your own telescoping cleaning tool by securing a dry or damp microfiber cloth over the rushes of a broom with a rubber band.

scrubbing bathroom floor with brush and baking soda cleaning solution

BHG / Danielle Moore

6. Scrub Brushes

When it comes to cleaning tight spaces where stubborn buildup can occur, sometimes a scrub brush is a better tool than a cloth or sponge. When you need to clean grout, tile, fixtures, or tough stains, a bit of elbow grease and the proper scrubbing tool can usually do the trick. An old dish brush or toothbrush can be used as a cleaning tool, but you can also buy a scrub brush for just about anything. There are scrubbers for every type of job you can imagine, from small detailing tools to wide, flat scrub brushes for tackling expanses of tile flooring.

7. Toilet Brush

Technically speaking, a toilet brush is a scrub brush, but it's important enough to be considered a separate tool. A good toilet brush is crucial to cleaning a toilet bowl, where bacteria and human waste can build up, leaving a stained basin.

8. Broom and Dustpan

Amid the popularity of robot vacuums, it can be easy to forget about the humble broom and dustpan. If your home has hardwood or laminate flooring, a broom is the ideal tool for daily cleaning. (Aim to vacuum high trafficked areas once a week, and less frequently-used spaces once a month.)

Specialty brooms can help you make the most of your cleaning routine. If you have pets, a rubber-bristled broom makes sweeping up pet hair a breeze. If you do a lot of outdoor or garage work, look for a broom designed for heavy duty outdoor jobs.

using string mop on tile floor
Jason Donnelly

9. Mop

Mops are essential for cleaning tile or natural stone floors, and they're incredibly useful tools for plenty of other cleaning jobs as well. Used dry or damp, mops can also be used as telescoping tools for swabbing walls, window casings, baseboards, and other hard-to-reach places in the home.

10. Vacuum

A vacuum is another essential tool—but its usefulness extends far beyond cleaning floors. A vacuum is key to keeping upholstered furniture and mattresses free of dust, dander, pollen, and other allergens. And when fitted with the right attachments, a vacuum can allow you to clean everything from the interior of your car to the needles from holiday garland.

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