How to Clean . . . Your Cleaning Tools

Your cleaning tools help you get your apartment spick-and-span, but they won’t be as effective if they’re dirty. You may not have considered tidying up your tools–they clean, so why clean them?–but doing so is worth your time. Your supplies can harbor bacteria, dirt and debris when not properly cared for (eww!).

Everything from vacuuming to sweeping will be more effective when your cleaning tools are in better condition. With that in mind, you may be wondering how to clean your tools. Here’s a guide for all the supplies you use most:

As excerpted from:

Broom cleaning


With all the dust and dirt your broom picks up, it can get messy. Fortunately, getting it to shine isn’t too challenging.

Every week, bring your broom outside and knock it against a wall or railing to loosen the dust. You can also comb the broom or use a vacuum hose to clean the bristles if there’s too much dust or hair to shake off.

Once a month, soak the broom in a solution that contains warm water and dish soap. Rinse the broom and let it dry before you use it again.

Mop cleaning


Take a look at the kind of mop you have. If it has a removable cotton head, you may be able to wash it with your laundry–nice, right? Sponge heads should be cleaned like a sponge (see below).

Also, make sure to clean the handle with an antibacterial wipe.

Clean vacuum


Because every vacuum model is different, no single cleaning process will work for them all. As such, you should check your machine’s user manual to see specifically how to clean the vacuum. However, there are a few things that help, no matter your model:

  • Empty the dirt container into your trash. Some vacuums have bags, while others have a plastic cylinder. Either way, clearing the dirt keeps the vacuum from getting clogged and losing suction.
  • Check the bottom of your vacuum and its attachments for hair or strands caught in the spinning pieces. Clip them with scissors and pull them out, as the vacuum won’t be able to suck them up.
  • Run a clean, soft dishwasher through each opening, oftentimes coming out another
  • If vacuum isn’t like that can try canned air
  • Wash outside with mild soap and water and dry
  • Rotate your filters (hand wash if possible with warm soapy water)



You probably use scrubbing brushes to clean dishes, your toilet, or shower. No matter what kind of cleaning brush it is, here’s how to clean it:

  • Use a pen to pick out hairs and other debris that’s caught in the bristles.
  • Fill a bucket part way with warm water, then pour a cup of your favorite cleaning solution into the bucket.
  • Stir and dissolve the powder.
  • Add your brushes, face down, to the liquid.
  • Let them soak for 30-60 minutes.
  • Leave them out to air dry.

Do this procedure every month to keep your brushes in clean condition. Also, rinse them in between uses to help the clean last longer.

Sponge cleaning


If you’re used to throwing out dirty sponges, this will be a wonderful change– you won’t have to spend money to replace them all the time.

You have a number of options for cleaning your sponges, so pick from these methods:


The lucky renters out there who have dishwashers can use the appliance to sanitize cleaning tools. Simply put your sponges inside in the silverware rack and run the machine on the sanitation mode. If you run it on regular, you won’t end up with a clean sponge.

Soak in cleaning solution

Similar to your brushes, you could also let your sponge soak in a mixture of water and cleaning solution or bleach. Make sure to wring it out when you’re done.


Not only can your microwave cook, but it can also clean. First rinse the sponge with water to remove food markings. Then, put the sponge in a bowl of water and microwave for three minutes. Remove the sponge with tongs (it’s going to be hot) and run under cold water. Warning: do not use this method if  your sponge has metal or foil parts as they can damage your microwave.

Even with regular cleaning, you still need to replace your sponges after a while. When the scrubby side is worn down or the sponge is falling apart, it’s time for a new one.

Cleaning dirty rags

Cloths and dishrags

Wash regular cloths in the washing machine with some baking soda to cut through deep stains. Wash them separately from clothing or anything you value, as the dirt and grime from past use can rub off into other fabrics.

If you have rags with grease stains, try washing them with a can of coke. Just pour a full can into your washing machine along with laundry detergent and run your machine on a heavy duty cycle. The phosphoric acid in cola dissolves grease.

Cleaning microfiber cloths

Microfiber cloths

If you have a microfiber cloth, you generally use it for easy jobs, like cleaning glass or mirrors, or dusting. Don’t use them for really dirty jobs. Why? Because the way you have to clean them won’t cut through the grime.

These cleaning tools use static charge to draw particles to them, and you want to maintain the charge. To do so, rinse in the sink, scrubbing with your hands, then throw in a delicates bag. Place the bag in the washing machine alone (no other clothing) and add a bit of detergent. Avoid fabric softeners, which reduce static. Once clean, place the bag in your dryer without a sheet– this will help the cloth retain its static charge.

Duster cleaning


A feather or wool duster mostly needs a good smack. Take it outside and shake it or hit it against a wall or railing (like a broom) to knock the dust loose. Make sure you’re outdoors, or else you’ll fill the room with dust, which you’ll need to clean with the duster, leaving you right back where you started.

If it’s more than a simple shaking can solve, soak it in warm water mixed with a few drops of dish soap. Swirl it around, rinse, and then hang to dry. Once it’s dry, carefully fluff it up, making sure not to rip anything.

Cleaning a washing machine

Washing machine

Your big appliances need to be cleaned, too. Don’t forget them just because they’re stationary and blend in with the furniture.

Run one cycle with the machine full of warm water mixed with a quart of bleach (and no clothes!). If you don’t have or don’t want to use bleach, a quart of white vinegar will work as well.

Dishwasher cleaning


Your dishwasher needs the occasional clean, just like the washing machine.

You need to clear out the drain first. There’s likely to be food residue in there, but sometimes bones, pieces of plastic or glass, and other debris can get in there and cause some damage. Remove anything you find in there.

Once you’ve cleaned the drain, get a large cup or bowl (dishwasher safe, obviously). Fill it with white vinegar and set it on the top rack. With nothing else in the dishwasher, run it for a cycle on the highest temperature setting.

Taking care of your cleaning supplies will help them last longer and help you do a better job of getting your apartment sparkling clean.

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