11 Brilliant Cleaning Tips We Learned from Grandma

Updated: May 12, 2023

Grandma didn't have half the cleaning products available today, yet she knew exactly how to keep her home shining.

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Wash clothing by hand with detergent. Water will wash over wash machine. Hand washing.Space for text; Shutterstock ID 489494236; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
birdbyb stockphoto/Shutterstock

Whiten Clothes with Lemon Juice

Combine a gallon of hot water with the juice of a lemon, and let your faded whites soak for an hour or two. Afterwards, run them through the laundry machine on rinse cycle, and hang them outside to dry in the sunshine—a natural whitener Grandma would love. Here’s a quick laundry tip Meemaw would approve of.

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Chutima Chaochaiya/Shutterstock

Skip the Paper Products

Instead of constantly buying paper towels to clean up messes, invest in thin towels that you can wash and reuse. They’ll last a long time, saving you the costs and trouble of buying more paper products all the time. Even better, reusable towels are an eco-friendly option that’s good for the planet, too.

Have you thought about going plastic-free? Start here.

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Hand with sponge cleaning white sink.; Shutterstock ID 218603473; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
BK foto/Shutterstock

Clean as You Go

Rather than letting laundry, dishes and other messes pile up, clean as you go. Toss toys in a basket when you walk through the living room. Put dishes in the dishwasher as you cook. Wipe down all the counters before bed. Make cleaning part of your routine, and reap the benefits of a home as neat as Grandma’s.

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Closeup Of Young Woman Washing Plate In Kitchen; Shutterstock ID 148463402; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH

Double Your Dish Sponges

Every budget-loving grandma knows the appeal of making household items last longer. So get twice the life out of an everyday dish sponge by cutting it in half. Not only does this give you two sponges for the price of one, but it also creates smaller sponges that are easier to fit into pots and dishes. Here’s how to clean your kitchen sponges.

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Using yellow sponge for cleaning dusty wood; Shutterstock ID 273329774

Dampen Your Cloth Before Dusting

When you’re going to dust the furniture, lightly dampen your cloth. Whether you use an old T-shirt, a cheesecloth or another soft cloth, you want it to be damp enough to pick up dust, but not wet enough that it pools water while you use it. Rub this cloth along surfaces using gentle motions so you can restore furniture’s shine.

Have you met the microfiber cloth? It’s amazing.

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house care natural healthy cleaning; Shutterstock ID 153069143

Make Your Own Cleaning Products

You don’t need expensive cleaning products to scrub the sinks or wash the windows. Combine a cup of water with white vinegar, rubbing alcohol and a few drops of essential oil to create a simple, effective window cleaner for streak-free shine. Use baking soda and soap to scrub the tub. Try these lemony DIY cleaners.

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Healthcare and SPA. Essential aroma oil with cinnamon and coffee beans; Shutterstock ID 518943121; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Gamzova Olga/Shutterstock

Boil Cinnamon for a Sweet-Scented Kitchen

Get rid of offensive cooking odors or simply sweeten up your kitchen by boiling cinnamon sticks. Cover cinnamon sticks with water in a small saucepan on the stove, and bring the mixture to a boil. After a few minutes, a comforting aroma will fill the room, reminding you of the best holidays at Grandma’s house.

Check out these other ways to make your house smell like Williams Sonoma.

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white flour on rustic wooden table, top view; Shutterstock ID 521824987

Sprinkle Flour on Oil Stains

Spill some oil on the counter or the floor? Don’t panic. Just sprinkle a little flour on top of the stain, let it rest for a bit and return with a sponge or cloth. When you go to wipe the spill, it should come right up. Here are a bunch more kitchen tips you’ll actually use.

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Juicy grapefruits on wooden background; Shutterstock ID 398660866
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Use Grapefruit to Get That Grease

There’s nothing like the frustration of a greasy pan that won’t come clean. The next time this happens to you, think old school and sprinkle salt and grapefruit juice on top of the greasy area. Wait 5 to 10 minutes, and the gunk should scrub up easily. Try these other ways to clean with grapefruit.

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Susan Law Cain/Shutterstock

Shut Down Shower Curtain Mildew

As soon as you get a new shower curtain liner, cut off the bottom two inches. When the water doesn’t get to linger inside the curtain, pressed against the tub, it doesn’t build up that annoying mildew over time.

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Cropped image of beautiful young woman in protective gloves using a flat wet-mop while cleaning floor in the house; Shutterstock ID 510917479

Deep-Clean Once a Year

Let spring inspire an annual household cleaning spree, just the way it did for Grandma. Once a year when the winter weather turns nice enough to open the windows again, set aside an entire day to clean. Use this as a chance to wash the windows, deep-clean the floors, vacuum your mattress and clean out your closets. Print our spring cleaning checklist (psst: you can really do it any time of year!).