These are the best cleaning hacks we learned from our parents

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Pink bubbly background with cut outs of lemons, white vinegar and essential oil
(Image credit: Future / Beth Mahoney)

#CleanTok might have the edge on cleaning RN but it doesn’t beat the cleaning hacks we learned from our parents and grandparents and still use today. 

Admittedly, the cleaning-obsessed side of TikTok — where I sometimes scroll for hours on end — has some seriously great cleaning hacks. While I've tried out (and loved) plenty of them, IMO you can't beat the tried and tested hacks passed down from generation to generation.

With that in mind, I've picked the brains of the rest of the Real Homes team, asking them to share all of their favorite cleaning hacks that they've learned from their parents and other important folks in their lives. 

Wondering what all our fave hacks are? Take a look at the roundup below of all the cleaning tips we gleaned from them.

The best cleaning hacks we learned from our parents  

There are cleaning products and processes that I use simply because my parents always used them (and saw results, obviously). So, with that in mind, I asked the rest of the team for their fave cleaning hacks that their families swear by, too. 

1. Use bleach to remove stains 

Staff writer Eve says that her mom always uses diluted bleach (this Clorox formula from Amazon comes highly rated) to clean tea and coffee stains from cups and spoons, leaving them looking sparkling clean and free of discoloration. I tested this out myself and it works like a dream. 

2. Use lemon juice to clean chopping boards 

Eve's mom also recommends using lemon juice to remove grease from chopping boards, which works wonders when soap or water just isn't cutting through. Aside from helping clean up these kitchen essentials, lemon also helps deodorize the smells that tend to sink into chopping boards. 

3. Clean windows with newspaper and white vinegar 

Forget the window cleaning spray, my grandma always cleaned her windows with white vinegar (Heinz white vinegar that's available on Amazon is the best for this) and scrunched-up newspaper pages. The panes were always sparkling clean, and after trying and testing the process myself as an adult — grandma got it right. 

4. Use essential oils to freshen rooms

Our editor-in-chief Melissa says that her mom has a homemade lavender essential oil spray on hand at all times. She recommends putting a few drops of lavender essential oil in with distilled water and rubbing alcohol (this one from Amazon should work well) in a spray bottle like this mini one from Amazon and using it to freshen rooms, bedding, or towels whenever you need.

5. Use baking soda or lemon to deodorize the fridge 

Melissa's mom also recommends having an extra box of baking soda at the ready. Her family uses Arm & Hammer's baking soda from Amazon to deal with all those nasty fridge odors. All you need to do is open the box and pop it in the fridge and it should help to disperse the smell.

As another hack, my mom recommends using lemons in the fridge to banish stinky odors. She cuts them in half, pops them in the fridge door, and leaves them to soak up the smells.

6. Use toothpaste to remove scratches from glasses 

Staff writer Eve’s mom swears by using toothpaste to remove small scratches from glasses. It's perfect since it's something you already have around the house and it doesn't take much to work its magic.

7. Use lemons and baking soda for general cleaning 

My mom always prefers to use natural cleaning products, so when I was growing up she was always using lemons and baking soda to clean our home. From our sinks to our countertops, and everything in between, these two ingredients were never missing from our pantry.

8. Use a mini sponge to clean vases and water bottles 

Another super helpful cleaning hack that Melissa swears by is cutting a little piece of sponge, like Scotch-Brites' beloved nine-pack from Amazon, and sticking it on the end of a fork. Then you can use it as a cleaner to get inside of water bottles, vases, and anything else that’s ultra-narrow and impossible to clean with a thick dishwashing brush or sponge.

These tried and tested cleaning hacks are worth bookmarking for later. After years of watching our families use them with success, we're carrying on the tradition. There are also plenty of natural cleaning hacks worth trying, too. 

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.