5 Expert-Approved Cleaning Hacks That Are Completely Counterintuitive

person spraying cleaner onto a sponge

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

Nowadays, everyone’s a cleaning expert. From the TikTok trends to the DIY YouTube videos explaining every ‘How To’ under the sun, we're soaking up more information than we ever have. And we tend to gravitate towards what captivates our attention with the promise of teaching us something new.

With cleaning, this definitely holds true.

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve tried the weird laundry hacks, DIY soap dispensing tips, and I’ve definitely been guilty of purchasing one of those ‘magic,’ tiny mops from a social media ad. We’re human—and cleaning is a natural part of our lives—so it goes without saying that we’ll lean into whatever strange hacks, tips, and products promise to make the job easier.

Here are a few of the most counterintuitive cleaning hacks out there right now… and what experts have to say about how and why they (actually) work.

  • 01 of 05

    Use Ketchup and Bananas to Clean Silver

    ketchup on a spoon

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    Cleaning jewelry can be a stressful task, especially if you own precious pieces that you don’t want to get ruined. However, cleaning often comes with added costs, so rather than breaking the bank to shine up your silver, here are a few tips from Ana Andres, Co-founder of TidyChoice.

    “Ketchup is one of those surprising items that will bring back the shine to your silver,” she says. "Simply pour ketchup into a plate and place the silver until it is fully submerged. Let it sit for 10 minutes and then you can remove and rinse the silver with warm water.”

    Another counterintuitive cleaning hack (for jewelry and silverware) is using banana peels. You simply create a paste from blended peels and scrub!

  • 02 of 05

    Try Toothpaste on Mirrors

    toothpaste and scrub brushes

    Scratches on Glass and Mirrors

    Brad Roberson, President of Glass Doctor, offers a useful trick: "Use a small dab of toothpaste and a soft cloth to gently scrub away small scratches on windows and glass," he says. However, you have to be careful about what toothpaste you use.

    "Be sure to use traditional toothpaste with gentle abrasive properties," he says. "Not a gel paste."

    Cleaning Hard-to-Reach Cracks

    You can also use a toothbrush as a cleaner for those hard-to-reach cracks and crevices. David Flax, Vice President of Window Genie, says that a dry, old toothbrush can clean areas like sliding door jams. "If necessary, sprinkle with a light dusting of baking soda, spritz with a mixture of vinegar and water, and leave for five minutes," he says. "[Then you can] wipe up the solution and grime with a clean rag or paper towel."

  • 03 of 05

    Skip the Pricey Disinfectants

    using alcohol to make cleaning spray

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    When it comes to cleaning, and especially post-pandemic cleaning, we’ve all become very acquainted with sanitizers, disinfecting wipes, and commercial cleaning products. However, Ilya Ornatov, founder of NW Maids Cleaning Service in Seattle, shares, “Common household cleaners can be just as effective, without damaging the surfaces in your home or leaving toxic residue on your hands.”

    You can also disinfect your home without any wipes or EPA-approved cleaners, she says. Her hack is using 70% Isopropyl alcohol and a microfiber cloth or paper towel. Or, she says, diluting bleach with a ratio of 1/3 cup of bleach to every gallon of water will do the trick, too.

  • 04 of 05

    Stop Reusing Your Gloves

    person wearing rubber gloves

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Over the past year and a half, we’ve used more plastic gloves than we’ve probably realized. But, did you know that gloves may actually be doing more harm than good? Yes, especially if you’re trying to use them more than once.

    “Don’t reuse gloves,” Ornatov says, “They carry germs on them wherever you go! Instead, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.”  

    Perhaps a no-brainer for some of us, but with post-pandemic changes, it’s important to realize that while it may *seem* sanitary to cover your hands and use gloves to keep a barrier between your skin and your cleaning surface, it might not actually be as helpful as you think.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Try Coffee to Deodorize Your Fridge

    coffee beans in a bowl

    Alin Luna / Unsplash

    “If your fridge doesn't smell good, [or if]… you forgot to clean it up, coffee can come to your rescue," said Casey Allen, the founder of Barista Warrior. "Just take some coffee and keep it in a small bowl inside the fridge. It works as a great fridge-deodorant.”