The 7 Things You Need to Clean Your Entire Home

published Oct 10, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Being an adult isn’t easy. Along with balancing bills, budgets, and a busy schedule, you’re the person in charge of running your home—and keeping it clean. 

To help make adult life a little easier, we assembled a goof-proof kit of cleaning tools to better prepare you for housework. From a scrub brush to a hand duster, here’s everything you need to set up your first proper cleaning kit—and start handling your housekeeping like a real grown-up. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

First: Start With a Utility Belt

You’ll enjoy the ease of having this whole kit in a utility belt. Even if your apartment isn’t palatial, you’d be surprised at how exhausting it can be to carry your cleaning tools around your space.

Sure, a good rolling cart is great if you don’t have stairs; but if you do, your best bet is to invest in a comfortable and reliable utility belt so you can carry your cleaning supplies from room to room, hands-free. We like this padded one for $19 from Amazon.

Credit: Apartment Therapy

Once you have your belt, here are the seven essential tools and solutions you need to clean almost anything:

1. All-Purpose Cleaner (in a Spray Bottle)

It’s called all-purpose cleaner for a reason! You can use this spray to wash away dirt and grime from all over your space. 

Not only are all-purpose sprays safe to use on a range of household surfaces such as glass, laminate, and steel, they also allow you to clean up grease, grime and other messes without leaving any residue behind. No need to store five expensive bottles of name-brand cleaners at home: One good bottle of all-purpose spray—we like this all-natural, plant-based cleaner by Trinova at Amazon—should be more than enough to tackle your kitchen, bathroom, living, and bedroom surfaces in one fell swoop.

2. Disinfecting Wipes

Your first 101 lesson: You can’t count on cleaners to disinfect, or on disinfectants to clean. So you need both. These wipes will tackle germs in the kitchen and bathroom. 

While some all-purpose cleaners can help remove germs from a surface, disinfects are necessary to get rid of them for good. Thanks to antimicrobial ingredients including quaternary ammonium compounds (aka “quats”), disinfectants actually kill bacteria and fungi on contact, stopping the growth and spread of germs throughout your home. 

We like disinfectant wipes because they’re easy to use and ready to go—no cloth or spray required. However, since every brand is different, just be sure to read the instructions thoroughly to ensure you’re using them correctly. Generally, you need the surface to stay visibly wet for several minutes to know that your disinfectant is doing its job. Also, avoid using disinfecting wipes on porous surfaces, such as granite, because they could mess with the sealant. 

3. Window Cleaner (in a Spray Bottle)

You could use your all-purpose cleaner on your windows, but it might leave streaks. If you have room, get a dedicated window cleaner or, better yet, make your own with this simple recipe: a half and half mix of white vinegar and water.

Even though all-purpose sprays are safe to use on glass, window cleaners are specifically designed with special anti-streaking agents to ensure smear-and-smudge-free window wipedowns. And because of the versatility of these special agents, window cleaners can also be used on non-glass surfaces, like stainless steel appliances and hardwood floors, to really brighten up your space. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

4. A Good Cloth

Ditch the paper towels for a good microfiber cloth that will clean better without leaving behind lint. Composed of superfine and absorbent synthetic fibers that naturally attract dust particles and other household debris, microfiber cloths work great for an array of tough cleaning jobs including dusting, scrubbing tile, wiping down greasy kitchen appliances and countertops. Plus they’re 100-percent washable and reusable, making them a way more eco-friendly option than paper towels 

Not a fan of microfiber? No problem.

There are plenty of dependable alternatives to choose from. Consider blue huck surgical towels for a reusable, lint-free option or cotton diapers for an even more eco-conscious option. 

5. A Multi-Purpose Scrub Brush

Ideally, someday you might have a whole set of these in various sizes to make scrubbing both big and little areas a breeze. But for now, just one medium-size scrubber will get a whole lot done.

A good all-purpose scrub brush, like this easy-grip style from OXO, will make even the toughest cleaning jobs a breeze. Designed to deep clean stubborn and hard-to-reach areas of your apartment (think: bathroom tile floors, shower grout, and greasy kitchen appliances) a solid medium-sized scrub brush will will help cut your cleaning time in half.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

6. A Detail Brush

When your scrub brush is too large to clean a certain area, use a detail brush to get up close and personal with grout, seals, faucet handles, and other nooks and crannies where grime loves to live.

A quality detail brush with non-slip grips and durable scrubbing bristles will help you reach some downright difficult spots, like shower door tracks, stove tops, and bathroom and kitchen fixtures, so you can give them the deep cleaning they deserve. Find a detail brush with a built-in wiping blade, like this versatile brush set from OXO, so you can clear out the gross buildup from drains and other crevices. 

If you’d rather DIY than buy, just use a toothbrush.

Have a toothbrush that’s ready to be retired from dental duty? Use that as your detail brush. Boil your toothbrush in hot water for 10 minutes to shape it into a corner brush, or to give your toothbrush a more ergonomic handle for your next marathon cleaning sesh.

7. A Hand Duster

Your mom might have used a feather duster to clear dust and debris from surfaces like bookshelves and tabletops, but nowadays there are clingier, machine-washable upgrades to be had.

Go for a hand duster with a removable microfiber pad, we opted for this machine-washable one from Full Circle, to dust your home more comfortably (and with just one hand). Or consider one with an extendable handle to swiftly remove dust from hard-to-reach places, such as ceiling fans and tall window casings. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

What Else You Might Need (But Can’t Fit in a Toolbelt)

While this seven-piece kit will get you pretty far in your housekeeping endeavors, you’ll still need a few other essentials to take you to the finish line. And if you can’t afford any of them off the shelf at the moment, don’t worry—these household staples are easy to source second-hand or score hand-me-down-style from a family member.

  • A Vacuum: Nothing makes a place look messier than dirty upholstery and carpeting. Invest in a compact vacuum cleaner, like this top-rated handheld vacuum at Amazon, to clean everything from your rugs to your window treatments with ease.
  • A Broom: Swept floors are essential to tidy home. If you don’t have room at home for a full-length broom, pick up a handheld dustpan and brush set instead. 
  • A Mop: If you have hardwood or tile floors, you’re gonna need a mop to clean them correctly. Luckily, affordable mop sets are easy to come by (and Swiffers work well, too).