In setting up a new home, getting a new set of cleaning supplies is often part of the moving process. But as you start unpacking and settling in, it’s amazing how quickly your storage space starts to dwindle. Many of you living in smaller spaces have asked me exactly what to get and how to store it, considering you’re trying to maximize the storage space you have. So, let me share what I have found to be the essential cleaning kit for small spaces!
It doesn’t make sense to go out and buy multiple tools to do the same thing. In smaller spaces, you want to find the best multi-purpose tools you can to get the most cleaning action, while saving you storage space (and money).
Flat head mops are a must have for small spaces. It’s a double duty tool, since you can use it wet or dry, so it replaces the need for a mop and broom.
Storage Tip: They are easy to hang with clip grips or a command hook, helping you maximize your storage space. Their slim design makes it easy to keep in the back of a coat closet or squeeze in next to your washer and dryer.
Care and Maintenance: Wash your mop heads after each use. Avoid letting them sit around for too long since they can start to smell moldy. Most can be machined washed, so throw them in on a cold cycle with detergent (no fabric softener) and toss them in the dryer, without a dryer sheet, for best results.
Small vacuums, like the Dyson V6 Absolute, are great space savers. It comes with a ton of handy tools that can be used to tackle a variety of cleaning tasks, making it the ultimate multipurpose tool. The longer attachments help with cleaning the floors, while smaller attachments can be used for cleaning upholstery or tackling high dusting.
Storage Tip: Many of them can be purchased with docking stations, meaning they can be hung up in a closet and left to charge while not in use. For any accessories that come with your vacuum, find a small basket that’s big enough to fit them all and keep it in a closet or cupboard.
Care and Maintenance: Be sure to check there is nothing getting clogged or tangled up in the attachments. Regularly empty the canister and replace any bags or filters as needed. Always make sure to charge it after each use so it’s ready the next time you need it.
If that’s not in the budget, investigate into a stick vacuum. You can always use alternative tools, like a lint roller, for cleaning upholstery. I often get asked why vacuums are needed for small spaces or hardwood floors, and it’s simply because they are key to removing dust and other debris from a space, which dry mopping or sweeping just won’t do.
There are so many tools that you can get but let’s start with the basics and go over the type of tools you’ll want to have on hand. The great thing about most of these tools is they are easy to maintain and are inexpensive to replace.
This is great for heavy duty jobs, namely for tackling things like inside your shower or grout lines. It’s a multifunctional tool and with its small size, it’s easy to store anywhere.
Always have 2 sponges on hand at all times, and be sure to keep one in the kitchen and one in the bathroom. You’ll want to avoid cross contamination, since they are often used for different purposes. I prefer having double sided sponges in my kit, since I can use the soft side for things like dishes and wiping counters, and the abrasive side for stuck on foods or soap scum. It goes without saying, but if they start looking dingy, replace as needed.
Dish and Sink Brush
When it’s time to do the dishes, a dish and sink brush will come in handy. You can also use it for other jobs; just give it a good clean between uses.
I love having cleaning toothbrushes on hand. I always pick up a few extra whenever I’m at the dentist. They are helpful for smaller, detailed jobs or for getting into hard to reach places. As with sponges, keep one in the bathroom and one in the kitchen.
A Skrapr is always handy to have because it can be used to clean all types of messes on a variety of surfaces, without scratching. I tend to use it most to remove burnt/caked on food that always finds its way onto my glass cook top.
For disposing of any garbage you collect in the space. It’s a good idea to keep a garbage can in the most common areas, like the kitchen and bathroom, and always put a bag in to avoid sticky messes from happening.
Some cleaning tasks should not be done with bare hands, especially if the product used can be irritating to skin. Rubber gloves can be used to create a barrier that will protect your hands and skin from things like bacteria around the toilet or from drying out while doing dishes.
Not just helpful for cleaning tile and glass, a squeegee can also be used to help lift pet hair off carpets, bedding and upholstery. Use it after a shower to save cleaning time down the road.
Care and Maintenance: After using your tools, be sure to wash and clean them thoroughly. You’ll want to let them air dry to keep them from getting moldy or deteriorating.
Storage: Find a little basket you can store your tools in that can be kept around the zone they belong. This basket can be stored in the back of a cupboard or at the bottom of a closet, so everything is accessible but out of sight.
Microfiber cloths can be used on virtually any surface and come in different textures and sizes. You can use them for dusting, polishing and cleaning glass or electronics. They are easy to maintain, last you up to 500 washes with proper care, and are reusable. It replaces the need for paper towels for cleaning most surfaces. And if the time comes for your cloth to bite the dust (see what I did there), they are an affordable investment. There are 3 different cloths I like keeping on hand:
Heavy duty polishing cloths are good for larger cleaning jobs that require a delicate touch. You’ll need 1, maybe 2 of these.
A glass and electronics cloth can be used on screens, windows and mirrors. I usually keep 1 or 2 on hand.
General purpose cloths are the ones you need the most of, since they can be used on any surface to clean, buff and dry it. I like to use 2 for dusting, 1 for the bathroom, 1 for the kitchen, and keep a few extra on hand as needed.
My rule of thumb is to have 10 microfiber cloths on hand so you never run out.
If your house is anything like mine, we rotate our tea towels pretty regularly. We use them to dry dishes, as a mat to air dry larger pots and pans, and to dry our hands. Having a few extra gives you the option to change it out every few days without accumulating a huge pile of laundry. I like to have 6 tea towels at home, since you’ll likely be using 2, have 2 ready to launder, and 2 ready for use.
Care and Maintenance: Wash with cold water using detergent (do NOT use fabric softener!). Fabric softener ruins the porousness of the cloths, affecting their ability to absorb liquids and attract dust. Tumble dry as you usually would. Avoid using dryer sheets, since the static helps to trap and lock dust.
Storage: I keep mine in the cupboard above the stove. A basket or reusable bag also works well and can be kept above your laundry machines, under your kitchen counter or under the bathroom sink. I highly suggest folding them, since it will save space and make things look a lot more organized.
In terms of cleaning, paper towels are typically used for quick clean ups, for cleaning areas you wouldn’t want to use your cloths (i.e. they might get stained) or for things that would lead to the spread of bacteria. I use paper towels for things like cleaning the toilet, quick spills and messes, and outdoor cleaning. Since we are talking about small spaces, buy small packs only, unless you have storage space for it. Buying Costco sized packs makes no sense in a small space! They are difficult to store, end up being huge and bulky and can be replaced by microfiber cloths for most jobs.
As many of you know, I am a big fan of making my own products. If you stock these basics (many of which double as pantry items), you’ll be able to whip up any cleaning solution you’d need and not have to worry about storing tons of bottles! In fact, many of these I suggest whipping up at the time of use only, so you don’t need to store products long term, just the ingredients. Ideally, keep 3 empty spray bottles on hand for use when you need them, and be sure to label each bottle so you know what it is. Watch our recipe videos to learn how to mix these great products up!
Small Spaces Storage Solutions
In small spaces, finding the right place to keep everything can be a bit tricky. But, I have a few suggestions that will help you find the best way to optimize your space.
1) Keep a small bucket in the washing machine area for dirty cloth storage. You don’t want to leave them sitting for days on end, but it helps to consolidate them for when you are done cleaning and ready to run a cycle.
2) Place a small enclosed basket either on top of the washing machine or under the kitchen sink to store cleaning tools and supplies which DON’T belong in the bathroom. If you have extra space and can store some in the bathroom, do it. If not, keep the sponges and brushes for the bathroom in a separate container so you aren’t cross contaminating. Labeling might also help. I like the enclosed basket so that you can use the container as a makeshift ‘bucket’ if needed. Otherwise, a cleaning caddy would also be a great solution.
3) If you have space in the bathroom, put a small container in the cupboard to store items that would only be used in the bathroom. You don’t want to be spreading germs and bacteria by mixing up bathroom only tools with those used in the kitchen or other areas.
4) The area under your sink is always an ideal space for DRY cleaning products and tools to be stored.
By being minimalistic about your cleaning needs, you can pack a cleaning punch without having to break the bank or hog valuable storage space. If you live in a small space, what products and tools are must haves in your cleaning kit?