Spring cleaning: 22 top tips for cleaning your house without commercial products

Spring cleaning has just got cheaper, easier, and more sustainable with our all-natural tips

spring cleaning hacks
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Spring cleaning: does it require industrial-strength commercially produced cleaning products? Our answer is: absolutely not. Save money and effort, and avoid the use of potentially irritating harsh chemicals by turning to these time-tested cleaning hacks that use natural and easily obtainable ingredients.

You could find everything you need to leave your surfaces sparkling and smelling sweet with this advice. And you can find tons more cleaning tips and expert advice on our dedicated hub page.

1. Deep clean your dishwasher with vinegar

A great spring cleaning hack is to fill a dishwasher-safe tub with white vinegar and place on the top rack of your machine. Run a full cycle with the temperature on high. This will clean and disinfect. To freshen your dishwasher, sprinkle bicarbonate of soda on the bottom of the machine and run a short cycle.

Find out more about deep cleaning your dishwasher in our guide. And don't miss our guide to cleaning a house with vinegar for more tips.

2. Remove watermarks from shower doors with lemon

Get rid of stubborn water marks on shower doors and tiles by cutting a lemon in half and rubbing it directly onto them. Rinse and buff.

Find more clever shower cleaning hacks in our guide.

3. Polish your glassware with potatoes (yes, really)

Possibly the strangest (but effective) spring cleaning hack: if your glassware has water stains, rub over them with potato skins to remove the grime then rinse as normal. They’ll look good as new.

4. Descale a showerhead with vinegar and lemon

To clean a showerhead of grime and avoid blockages, fill a clear sandwich bag with warm water, vinegar and lemon then tie tightly round your shower’s nozzle. The mixture will soak in and remove any dirt.

5. Remove marks from paintwork with a tennis ball (yup)

Gently rub a tennis ball over marks on paintwork and watch them disappear. Okay, so you might not have a tennis ball in your fruit bowl, but maybe there's a fresh one in the shed?

6. Clean the oven with baking soda

A great oven cleaning hack is to make your own cleaner using vinegar, dish soap, baking soda and a lemon or lime.

Find more ways to clean an oven with our expert guide, and don't miss our guide to cleaning your whole house with bicarbonate of soda (aka baking soda).

7. Clean the microwave with cider vinegar

Put some cut–up lemons, or cider vinegar in a microwaveable bowl of water before microwaving it on full power for several minutes. Leave to steam inside for five minutes to remove odours before easily wiping away any remaining stains.

Find out more about how to clean a microwave in our expert guide.

8. Unblock a drain or plughole with bicarb

Unclog your drains by pouring boiled water in before adding a cup of bicarbonate of soda. Next, add a mixture of warm water and vinegar before pouring in more boiled water. Your drain should be good as new.

9. Freshen a mattress with bicarb, too

Refresh your mattress by stripping it and covering with large amounts of bicarbonate of soda to soak up any odours. The longer it’s there, the more effective it will be. Vacuum the powder off the mattress when done. Find out more about cleaning mattresses in our guide.

In the market for a new mattress? Visit our mattresses hub page for reviews, buyer's guides and expert advice on choosing the right one for you.

10. Deal with carpet stains... with an iron

Iron out stains in the carpet by soaking a cloth or flannel in water, placing on the stain and running a hot iron across it. The heat will start to break up the stains, making the carpet easier to clean. This is a great way to remove spilt wax too.

Find out more about how to clean a carpet in our guide and if you a looking to get rid of a particular type of stubborn stain we've got that covered too:

Natural cleaning spray with lemons

(Image credit: Getty)

11. Refresh a freezer with charcoal

A great cleaning hack for your freezer is to put activated charcoal in to eradicate nasty smells, or mix equal parts warm water and vinegar and spray sparingly across the inside.

12. Clean a sponge in the microwave

Get extra life out of your cleaning sponge by soaking it in water and microwaving it for two minutes to kill off all the bacteria. Allow to cool before reusing.

Find more microwave cleaning tricks in our guide.

13. Cleaning kitchen cabinets with soap

If grease has built up on wooden cabinets try this cleaning hack – mix equal parts warm water and soap before wiping the greasy surface down and drying it with a separate cloth. Bicarb of soda is also an effective alternative. Do not over soak a varnished or painted surface.

14. Remove watermarks with the iron (no kidding)

For watermark rings on your table, place some fabric on top of the mark and iron the surface on a low heat.

15. Mix up a DIY fabric freshener

Mix one part fabric softener with one part baking soda and two parts warm water. Put the mixture in a spray bottle for a DIY fabric freshener.

16. Get rid of Pet hair

Scrape hair-covered surfaces with a rubber squeegee to remove fur shed by your pets. If you don't have a squeegee, you can do the same with a rubber glove.

Defeated by your furry friend's epic shedding? You might like to check out our pick of the best vacuum cleaners for pet hair.

17. Clean window frames with a toothbrush

Grime can build up around window frames but it can be tricky to access. Use an old toothbrush to get into the tracks and crevasses.

We have plenty more tips on how to clean windows

18. Clean your car with alcohol and a squeegee

Valet your own car by using a dry squeegee to remove lint or hair on the seats and a toothbrush to scrub dirt off hard surfaces. Rub alcohol on your windscreen wipers to prevent them smearing on the windshield.

19. Use vinegar to cut through grease

Vinegar can double-up as a cleaner to cut through tough grease and make your home sparkle. It also kills mould, but use a distilled or white vinegar which won't leave a stain.

Top tip: Make humble vinegar part of your cleaning collection by decanting it into a spray bottle – more user friendly than sloshing it all over your kitchen. 

20. Get dusting in hard-to-reach spots

Remove dust without chemicals with an old-fashioned feather duster or a modern microfibre cloth, which makes it easier to tackle hard-to-reach spots behind heavy furniture and radiators.

21. Use tea bags to clean hardwood floors

So apparently the tannic acid in black tea cleans and adds amazing shine to hardwood floors. Simply boil a kettle and let two tea bags steep in the mop bucket for around 10 minutes, add more warm water if you need to slightly lower the temperature and start mopping. 

Just be aware this cleaning hack only works for real hardwood flooring not laminate wood flooring. And always spot test, just in case.

22. Use diatomaceous earth to get rid of pests

Spring can be a challenging time if you have a pest issue in your home. Moths seem to multiple even quicker than in winter, and if you have pets that go outside, they may have brought in fleas that have overwintered in your carpet and are now waking up too (the horror). 

Don't reach for toxic pesticides yet, though. There is a natural and very effective solution: diatomaceous earth. It's a natural, rock powder-based dessicant and will kill any pests that live in your carpet by drying them out, including larvae. It will also deodorise and absorb stains. You will need to keep pets and children out while it's working: sprinkle the carpet with it and let sit for 12 to 24 hours. Always use food grade product. 

Check out more ways to get rid of moths.

More cleaning tips:

Alison Jones
Alison Jones

Alison is Assistant Editor on Real Homes magazine. She previously worked on national newspapers, in later years as a film critic and has also written on property, fashion and lifestyle. Having recently purchased a Victorian property in severe need of some updating, much of her time is spent solving the usual issues renovators encounter.