If you told someone in 2017 that in five years cleaning tips and tricks would be the social media sensation sweeping the globe (literally), they wouldn’t believe you. But here and now, cleaning TikTok, better known as #cleantok, is the video trend people can’t stop watching.
Videos tagged with #cleantok have more than 29.1 billion (yes, with a B) views on TikTok, and on Instagram, more than 6.5 million posts carry a cleaning hashtag.
Sure, people have (and have always had) less-than-spotless homes, but this rise in popularity has as much to do with the people behind the how-to and tips and tricks posts as it does with people needing cleaning advice.
Helpful, practiced professionals like Vanesa Amaro, aka @vanesamaro91, aka TikTok’s Queen of Cleaning, have taken to TikTok to share their substantial cleaning expertise, making the platform a valuable resource in addition to being an irresistible source of entertainment.
Amaro is a housekeeper with a slew of tips and tricks for tidying up, scrubbing, and generally keeping a home cleaner. As of publication, she boasts 4.9 million followers on TikTok, with 85.3 million likes on her videos and view counts often reaching 1 million or more. (One of her most popular videos has a whopping 6.2 million views, officially reaching viral status.)
We caught up with Amaro, who has partnered with Clorox to promote cleaner homes in the new year, to learn her best cleaning tips and tricks. Read on to learn what TikTok’s Queen of Cleaning wants you to know as we enter a new year to make it your cleanest one yet.
1. Make the Most of a High-Impact Clean
“I always tell people [to] start the year with a fresh, clean house,” Amaro says. This goes beyond just doing your standard chore list: Amaro says people forget to clean the areas they don’t often see, which can add to an air of overall uncleanliness in your home without you fully realizing it.
“Out of sight, out of mind,” she says. Places like the gaps behind furniture or appliances—or even faucet mouths, which can get mildewy and grimy—often go uncleaned. Tackling them now can make your house truly clean, in every nook and cranny, and best of all, taking care of these messes now means you won’t have this chore hanging over your head.
“It’s the best thing because you know that everything you had to do is done,” Amaro says. “[Pay] attention to things that you normally wouldn’t. Now is the best time to do it so you just start with a fresh, clean slate.”
Get started by moving furniture to clean under and behind it, cleaning behind your bed, and even braving the gaps around your large appliances. You’ll know your home is truly clean—and if you clean thoroughly now, you won’t have to do this again for a long, long while.
2. Take Extra Care With High-Traffic Areas
Ironically, perhaps, the surfaces we touch daily or the items we use the most can be the most overlooked when it comes to cleaning. “Something that people neglect a lot is high-traffic areas like door handles and light switches, remote controls. Those things,” Amaro says.
Keep those surfaces clean (or at least cleaner) by committing to weekly or even daily once-overs. And don’t just wipe them down: “It’s important that we keep in mind when cleaning those high-traffic areas … that you don’t just clean them, but you disinfect them,” Amaro says.
Cleaning just removes visible debris or grime: Sanitizing or disinfecting actually reduces (in the case of sanitization) or even kills (during disinfection) bacteria, viruses, or fungi on a surface. If you want your surfaces to be truly clean, you have to sanitize or disinfect (or even sterilize, in certain cases).
“Clorox is amazing because they have so many disinfecting products that are safe to use on high traffic areas,” Amaro says. “I love using their products, because I know they’re not just getting those surfaces clean. They also sanitize or disinfect it.”
3. Know When (and How) to Clean, Sanitize, or Disinfect
“I feel like I am having to constantly remind people how to clean, sanitize, disinfect, or even sterilize,” Amaro says. “It’s for different things. I don’t mind reminding people, but I do think it’s important.”
High-traffic or frequently used surfaces should be disinfected (or at least sanitized) often, but plenty of other places in your home should be sanitized or disinfected, too. When in doubt, go for the more thorough clean. You won’t regret a too-clean surface.
Fortunately, disinfecting surfaces can be easy, thanks to products such as Clorox’s sanitizing or disinfecting lines, which are formulated to sanitize or disinfect when used properly. The key is to use them (and any other sanitizing or disinfecting tool) properly. They won’t work if you don’t follow the instructions, which will be printed on the product’s container.
“On the back of Clorox’s bottles, you’ll find instructions where they literally tell you, ‘If you want this to sanitize, leave it for this amount of time, but if you want this to disinfect, leave it on for this amount of time,’” Amaro says. “They make it so easy for us to understand what to do.”
4. Keep Your Cleaning Collection Small
Contrary to popular belief, an entire cabinet (or even a whole closet) full of different cleaning supplies won’t make your home cleaner.
“The most common cleaning questions [I get] are ‘what do I use for this, what do I use for that?’” Amaro says. “The thing is, you don’t need a hundred thousand cleaners. You can get a few multi-surface cleaners that disinfect and use them for a bunch of places in your house. So you don’t need a bunch of cleaners: Just get a few that you like, and then you can utilize them in different areas.”
As with most things, picking the right tools is more important than picking a lot of tools.
5. Know When to Use Paper Towels (and When Not to)
Using paper towels instead of microfiber cloths, cleaning rags, or another sort of cloth is a hot topic these days. While there are valid environmental concerns surrounding the overuse of paper towels, sometimes, they just get the job done. And sometimes, you don’t want to use anything else to clean up messes.
To decide when paper towels truly are the best tool for the job, Amaro suggests taking a moment to consider your other options.
“The way I look at it is, think this to yourself: ‘If I clean this with a microfiber towel and I wash it, will I be comfortable using it again? And knowing that it’s clean?’” she says. “Even after washing. And if the answer to that is no, then you should probably be using paper towels.”
Particularly dirty or in-need-of-sanitization surfaces (such as toilets or other surfaces in the bathroom) can be cleaned with paper towels, which can then go in the trash. “You’ll never have to think about it again,” Amaro says.
“But if you’re like, ‘oh, I can wash this and it’s going to be fine,’ then use a microfiber towel,” she says. “So ask yourself that question: ‘If I clean this with a microfiber towel and I wash it, will I be comfortable using it again?’ And if the answer is no, then you have your answer.”
6. Try Color-Coding Your Cleaning Tools
Raise a hand if you’ve done this: You use a reusable cleaning cloth to wipe down surfaces in the kitchen—and then use it to wipe down the light switches all over the house. This might actually be counterproductive.
“A mistake that I see people making is they’re using the same sponges, the same rags, the same brushes for a lot of different areas in their house and they’re cross-contaminating,” Amaro says. “So that’s not good. We want to keep everything separate. Whatever’s for the bathroom’s for the bathroom, whatever’s for the kitchen’s for the kitchen, and you know whatever’s for the common areas is for the common areas. We want to keep things separate. That way, you’re actually cleaning and not making things worse.”
Amaro also has a clever tip for keeping your reusable cleaning tools separate: a little color-coding. Stock up on microfiber cloths (or sponges, or brushes, or whatever you use) in different colors and assign a color to each room.
“That way, you’re not thinking, ‘oh my gosh, did I just use this for the toilet’?” she says. “No. You know that green microfiber towels are for the toilet. Maybe you use purple for the kitchen, maybe you use yellow for dusting, so that way you can dust your entire house with the same microfiber towel, because you know it hasn’t been used for anything else. And maybe you can use the same purple microfiber towel for your whole kitchen, because you know it’s only being used for that.”
With a little preparation, you can avoid accidentally making your house dirtier while you’re trying to clean—and even save yourself some laundry.
7. Clean Quickly and Clean Thoroughly—but Not at the Same Time
It’s tempting to give yourself a time limit for your monthly cleaning session, but trying to clean quickly and thoroughly at the same time can leave you with a less-than-clean house. That doesn’t mean you have to commit to hours-long cleaning sprees every day, though. Just know that you’ll need to do a long, deep clean eventually, and make the most of the days when you can get away with a quick one.
“I think people can definitely be doing quick cleanings throughout the week,” Amaro says. “We’re just trying to maintain the house, maybe just get it to the weekend. And then on the weekend, just give your house some much-needed love.”
8. Cleaning Doesn’t Have to Be Stressful
Watch even a few seconds of any of Amaro’s videos, and you’ll see that cleaning doesn’t have to be stressful. She even makes it seem joyful at times. The key is to approach cleaning right: “A cleaning schedule helps a lot,” Amaro says. “It really does help you keep on track, and I am a very forgetful person, so just having that keeps me on track, it keeps me accountable, of the things that I would forget.”
And when you’re sticking to that cleaning schedule, don’t treat it like a chore.
“Make it fun,” Amaro says. “Make it a shareable experience. Involve the whole family and put some music on. It doesn’t have to be super stressful, and it doesn’t have to be such a heavy chore.”
How to Clean and Disinfect Schools to Help Slow the Spread of Flu. Centers for Disease Control and Protection, 2021.