So often, we hear from new grads, newlyweds or people who are moving out of their parents’ house and into their own place. Their biggest question for us is how to stock their new space with the right cleaning tools and products. Admittedly, it can get confusing to know what you need, since there are so many specialty products and tools out there. How do we know what we need to have, and how to do we know what’s just a nice to have.
What I’ve done, is assembled my list of cleaning essentials for you, and I’ll also explain how and where to store them for maximum efficiency in limited space.
I always lean to the more natural side, so I’ll use my own products or simple homemade solutions where possible. On that note, it’s really important to have the following in your cleaning kit:
1) Baking Soda
Not only is this a natural mild abrasive, it’s a deodorizer and makes the perfect additive to any cleaning solution to scrub out touch grease, soap scum and scuff marks. Check out our baking soda post here.
2) White vinegar
If you can find ‘full-strength’ vinegar you are in even better shape. Vinegar is a degreaser, a streak-free cleaning agent, a mild disinfectant, and a deodorizer. It’s amazing for everything from cleaning windows to cutting heavy kitchen grease to a simple floor cleaner. Check out all the things you can clean with vinegar here!
3) Dish soap
This is what is considered a pH neutral cleaner. Any time ‘warm, soapy water’ is called for, this is what you want to use. A small squirt goes a long way. Not only does it cut grease, it removes surface dirt and won’t harm or stain delicate surfaces.
4) Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol/surgical spirits)
This is a disinfectant, which can be used to clean and sanitize surfaces and points of contact which harbour germs and bacteria. Learn about points of contact here!
Check out how to create your own, homemade cleaning products by checking out our video on 5 Homemade Cleaners!
I think you can clean your house with these products alone, but for full transparency, I’ll go a step further.
4) All-purpose cleaner
(homemade version: 1 teaspoon dish soap: 1 liter of water)
This is terrific for general surface cleaning. You can use this to clean furniture surfaces, remove build-up, clean counter tops and for general touch ups around the house. This cannot clean glass, remove clothing stains, and will only disinfect if the product specifically states it is a disinfectant.
(homemade version: 1 part rubbing alcohol: 1 part water)
This is the kind of product you want to use when cleaning points of contact (things we touch – check out our video on this), as well as surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom that are likely rife with bacteria. If you can, I would recommend selecting an all-purpose cleaner with disinfectant to save on space and cost.
6) Tub and tile cleaner (which can also be used for the toilet)
(homemade version: 1 part vinegar: 1 part dish soap)
This product is designed to handle soap scum, limescale and bacteria. It is good for all surfaces in the bathroom so long as they are not natural stone. If they are, a specialty product will need to be purchased.
7) Glass cleaner
(homemade version: 1 part vinegar: 1 part water).
This is required to clean mirrors and windows, commercial products cannot be mixed with any other cleaning products.
Cleaning tools you will need:
Look for the type that is called ‘non-scratching’ to avoid scratching your surfaces. I like to have 2 on hand, one for the kitchen and one for the bathrooms.
I love these cloths for cleaning, they dust and polish like nobody’s business. I usually have 5 on hand, but more never hurts. Do not use them for greasy jobs as you cannot wash oil out of them, check out our post on how to care for your cloths here. Invest in one good optical cloth as well, you can use that for cleaning your electronics.
3) Cleaning toothbrush
These are free! Just use your old toothbrush (clean it first) for cleaning hard to reach areas. Keep it in your cleaning kit and disinfect after each use. You will be amazed at how many uses you can find for these!
4) Paper towel
I like paper towel for cleaning toilets or other bacteria-laden areas. That way, I can simply throw away the paper towel afterward.
5) Rubber gloves
These are optional, and up to you!
6) Mop (and bucket)
Depending on what kind of floors you have, you can choose the kind of mop that suits your needs. If you get a twist mop, aim for a microfiber head (they clean much better and are easier to wash) as well as a good wringer bucket. If you don’t have much by way of hard floor surfaces, don’t even bother and just clean the floors by hand to save on space. Some flat head mops are OK, but I don’t find they get as good a clean as twist mops do, although they do save on space. It’s a toss-up and the choice is yours.
7 ) Vacuum
So here’s where it gets dicey. A lot of folks don’t want to invest in a vacuum because they feel it’s a lot to store, or too expensive, or useless, or a combination of these 3 ideas. The truth is, a vacuum is critical to cleaning. It removes dust, whereas sweeping only kicks it up and helps your space feel and be much cleaner. Search for a smaller, compact canister vacuum and you can even find used ones online, or ask for one as a grad gift. Believe me, they are well worth it.
I would recommend a cleaning caddy to store and carry these items along with you, it makes things much easier!
If you plan on making your own products as suggested above, grab a few spray bottles or re-use some that you have at home from empty cleaning or hair products (just rinse them really well first).
In terms of how to store everything, here’s what I suggest. Designate a spot either under your kitchen or bathroom sink, in your linen or coat closet or in your laundry room to store your supplies. There are a lot of options available, and for really tight spaces, you can use some over the door storage racks to keep bottles and tools. If you have a shelf or cupboard free, I like to place all products in the caddy, ensure the lids are tightened and bottle sides and bases are clean (that way you avoid any grimy build-up) and include your toothbrush, clean cloths and bathroom sponge in there as well. You can roll your cloths up for easy storage! If you have a mop with bucket, you may want to consider using the bucket to store your supplies too which will save on space. You can keep your mop and bucket my your laundry machine, or inside your coat closet.
For your vacuum, we’ve seen it all. Since the two varying factors are how large your vacuum is and how large your space is, I’ll give you a few ideas to consider. You can store it under your bed, in your coat closet, on the top shelf of a vacant closet or on top of your stacked washer and dryer.
Maintenance of your cleaning tools
In order to keep them clean and functioning for a good long while, check out our post on how to clean your cleaning tools!
So, now that you have this list, head out an assemble your cleaning kit!