Our editors, on the whole, tend toward the OCD side of the cleanliness spectrum. We like our spaces and our things to be neat, fresh, and sparkling. And, for the most part, we prefer cleaning with natural products and/or ingredients we already have on hand. Between the germaphobes and the neatniks on our staff, we have myriad housekeeping secrets and hacks to share—all tried and tested by us.

Here, our team’s best scrubbing, cleaning, washing, stain-removing, disinfecting, deodorizing secrets.

Featured photograph by Matthew Williams, styling by Alexa Hotz, for Remodelista: The Organized Home.


Above: Michelle’s marble backsplash is back to its original pristine condition after she applied a poultice to the grease stains. Photograph by Liesa Johannsson for Gardenista, from My Dirty Secret, or How I Learned to Live with a Marble Backsplash for details.

Stains on marble: “My best tip is to use a cornstarch/water poultice to draw stains—oil stains and yellow—out of marble,” says Michelle, who was able to rehabilitate a grease-stained marble backsplash using this method. Read her confession for details.

Spots on stainless steel: “When I was a waitress, we used to clean stainless steel surfaces with seltzer water from the soda fountain, and it worked like a dream,” says Christine.

Meredith, meanwhile, rubs olive oil on with a soft cloth, then wipes off with a soft cloth dampened with white vinegar.

Erin uses a similar method. She writes, “There are lots of products on the market for this purpose, but a teaspoon of coconut oil is by far the cheapest, easiest, and most effective. Use a clean rag to apply a small amount of coconut oil directly to the steel. Work the oil into the appliance until streaks and stains disappear. Give one last wipe down with an oil-free rag and step back to admire the gleam.”

Mildewy grout: “Basil is a natural antiseptic with anti-fungal properties. I dilute a few drops of basil essential oil with water and use it on grout and tile; plus it’s a great scent for the kitchen,” says Alexa. (Go here for everything you’ll ever need to know about grout and caulk.)

Dried food splatters in microwaves: Fan places water in a glass bowl (about a cup’s worth) in the microwave, sets it on high for about three minutes until the inside gets steamy, then keeps the door closed for a few minutes more as the steam does its magic. “By the time you open the door, all that caked-on grime has been loosened and it’s easy to wipe clean,” she says.


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