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10 Upgrades That Make Cleaning Less of a Chore

by Meagan Francis on January 14, 2013

Upgraded cleaning products

For most of us cleaning house is a fact of life – something we do more often than we’d like and something that isn’t always a lot of fun. Yet we often skimp on our cleaning supplies when investing just a little more would make the process much more pleasurable.

I know I’ve been making do with a lot of falling-apart and dysfunctional cleaning products for years, and sometimes feel weird about investing extra money into something like a yummy-smelling counter spray when a cheap, smelly spray would work just as well.

But with a few exceptions, most of the “upgraded” products I list below only cost a few dollars more than their cheaper counterparts, and if it makes cleaning the house less of a chore, I think it’s money well spent. (I’ll gladly skimp elsewhere so I can use Method or Mrs. Meyers cleaning sprays, for example!)

So here you have it – my list of 10 “upgraded” products that I am putting into action to make cleaning my house less of a chore. Are you ready to swap in some of these more pleasant-to-use products in 2013?

Disclaimer: The links below are via Amazon Associates. If you click the links and then make a purchase at Amazon, I will receive a commission on the sale.

1. Wonderful-Smelling, Nontoxic Cleaning Products

Let’s face it, cleaning up errant pee off the toilet seats is never going to be exactly “fun.” But when I use a really yummy-smelling spray, like this French Lavender-scented multi-purpose cleaner by Method, everyday clean-up is a bit more tolerable. You can also make your own “custom-scented” cleaner by mixing one part white vinegar to one part water and adding about 15-20 drops of lavender, lemon or another essential oil (I use that solution on my floors and in other areas that need a lot of cleaner at once.) I’ve also had luck finding hugely discounted fancy cleaning products (Caldrea, etc) at TJ Maxx.

French Lavender

2. A New Broom

I’ve been using the same broom since about 2004, and it’s a bit of a debacle – sometimes I feel like I’m actually adding MORE dust bunnies to the floor when I use it. I’ve been wanting a nice, traditional-looking corn broom for a while, and I’ve decided 2013 will be the year to do it.

3. A Grown-Up Vacuum

I used to hate vacuuming with a white-hot passion. Then I got a vacuum cleaner that cost more than $50 (I actually won it as a door prize at BlogHer 2009!) and realized that it wasn’t vacuuming that was the problem, but dealing with cheap, non-functional cleaners that were clunky, heavy, and didn’t get the job done. I still wouldn’t say vacuuming is my favorite chore, but I’m learning to loathe it less. Now that I’ve had a midrange vacuum for going on four years, I think I’m ready to upgrade even more to a real grown-up machine like this $299 Miele model. It’ll be an investment, but with five kids and two dogs I vacuum a lot – and I’d like to enjoy the process more.

Miele Vacuum

4. Lambswool Duster

I don’t know what it is with dust, but I feel like I’m suddenly seeing a lot more of it around the house. Have I started to get pickier in my old(er) age? Did the addition of the second dog put us over the edge into maximum dust production? Is it because I finally got some non-hideous light fixtures and spend more time looking at them than I did the old ones? Either way, lately it’s been getting to me: on fan blades and blinds and furniture, the dust needs to go, and a pretty, functional product like this “dust magnet” lambswool duster will make it easier to get the job done.

5. Streamlined Recycling Storage

Right now we have our standard-issue recycling bin in the pantry. Two problems: it’s too big for the space and makes it hard to move around in the pantry, and the shallow design means there’s always stuff falling out. Since we have to swap out bins every few days anyway, why not keep the ugly plastic bins in the garage and use attractive, less bulky bags – like these Kangaroom Recycling Bags – for temporary storage?


6. A Better Mop

Bleh, meh, blargh. That’s how I’ve felt about almost every mop I’ve ever owned. Some just seem to push filth around while others require lugging a heavy bucket of dirty water around. The spray mops have intrigued me but I hate the waste involved with the disposable mop pads, as well as how you’re often roped into using a specific cleaning product (I like to use vinegar and water only on my wood and cork floors.) A few months ago I got this Libman Freedom Spray Mop and I love it. The microfiber head is reusable, it requires no batteries, and you can use any kind of cleaner you want in the spray compartment. Less waste, less expense, and you can start every cleaning session with a clean mop head. Love it.

7. A Good-Lookin’ Laundry Basket

Raise your hand if you’ve been using the same laundry baskets since you first had children. Keep your hand up if you’ve been using the same laundry baskets since college. Now keep your hand up if you have at least one laundry basket in your house that came from your childhood home. Uh-huh…I thought so.

I know laundry baskets can be a hard thing to get rid of (they still technically work, even if the handles are missing and you keep cutting yourself on the edges of broken plastic) but I, for one, am tired of torturing myself all the way to the washing machine (and back from the dryer.) I like this Rubbermaid laundry hamper because it looks nice (which means I won’t feel bad about leaving it lingering in the dining room by the basement door) and is narrower, so there’s less risk of banging my knuckles on door frames and stair rails.

laundry hamper

8. Duplicates of Your Favorite Products

How many times a week do you find yourself running up or down stairs to grab a cleaner or rag? Keeping extras of your favorite products on each floor – and perhaps in different areas of each floor, if you have a large house – is a simple fix. Make things easy on yourself and buy your favorite products in two-packs, like these Method cleaning wipes.

9. “Designer” Rubber Gloves

Sorry, Mom: I almost never – like, never ever – wear gloves when I clean. Not when I scrub pans, not when I scrub the tub, and not when I scrub the toilet. I guess I’ve always thought of them as fussy, old-fashioned…a 50’s housewife-y throwback. Well, as my hands age along with the rest of my person, I’m finding more and more that “dishpan hands” are a real thing, and they aren’t pretty. Perhaps it’s vain, but I’m getting over myself and investing in some good gloves to protect these hands. These “glamour gloves”  are a cute alternative to traditional yellow gloves and I think will be a lot more fun to use.

cleaning gloves

10. Color-Coded Cleaning Cloths

I’m always forgetting which microfiber cloth I use on the stainless steel and which one’s covered in furniture oil. Since I love geeking out with color-coded markers, pens, and calendars, it just stands to reason that I’d get a little thrill out of these color-coded cleaning cloths. Writing the cloth’s purpose on its tag with a fine-point permanent marker is another great way to beat the “forgetsies.”

Have you upgraded any of your cleaning products lately…or do you need to? Please share your recommendations – or frustrations with your current supplies – in the comments below! 

Want more ideas
for creating a happier home life?

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa January 14, 2013 at 8:44 am

I definitely agree with your point on duplicates. I keep wipes in every bathroom so I can quickly clean without running all over the house for supplies.

Thanks for the reccs. I need a new mop and maybe your suggestion will be the one that will make me like mopping!


Elizabeth Kane January 14, 2013 at 10:47 am

I’m in love with the method line! I can actually breathe when I use them. Haven’t seen the lavender all-purpose one…that’s going on the “to get” list.

I was just thinking about getting a new broom the other day. We’re actually cooking more now and the floor is a crazy mess. Somedays I think more ingredients end up *there* than in the pan.


Kelli Oliver George January 14, 2013 at 11:18 am

I’ve been in the market for a new mop — I am definitely getting that Libman mop! Speaking of Method, I love their almond floor cleaner, too. I absolutely agree that having fun smelling products goes a long, long way when scrubbing a toilet.


Carrie January 14, 2013 at 11:37 am

I really want a new broom. I have a corn broom from World Market circa 2009. The handle is bamboo and is degrading, I get poked by pieces. It’s also not angled which is kind of a pain in corners. I put one back on the shelf this weekend because it cost $24, but you make a good point about paying for quality. I love good-smelling cleaners. I have 7th Gen dishwashing soap, and it’s a delight to hand-wash things now. :)


Nina January 14, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Yes! We got a new broom that works real well. I’m also a fan of eco-cleaners like Mrs. Meyers and Seventh Generation.


Tragic Sandwich January 14, 2013 at 1:06 pm

I have eczema that flares up in the winter, so I have to use dishwashing gloves. Do I have any now? No, and my hands are not doing well!

I make my own all-purpose cleaner (water, washing soda, Dr. Bronner’s), and I use the Method Omop, which works great until it breaks–Method was awesome about replacing it, and then they discontinued it, so Mr. Sandwich has had to make repairs. At some point we’ll have to switch to another system, but I’ll wait until our current stash of reusable microfiber pads wears out!


catherine January 14, 2013 at 1:15 pm

I LOVE my miele vacuum. I definitely recommend going to the next tier to get the model with a power brush on the floor attachment. We have hardwoods and area rugs, and I think you really need the power brush on the rug.

My broom has brightly colored stripes on the handle ( a silly gift from my mom) and my dustpan is shaped like a peacock. It is truly the little things that make housework happier :-)


Sarah Powers January 14, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Confession: I kinda look forward to vacuuming these days – ever since we got a Dyson. :) I’ve never had a mop I like and mopping is my LEAST favorite chore (I’ll sweep, then vacuum, then spot-clean the kitchen floor before mopping, just because I feel like those three things do a better job than any mop I’ve ever had), so glad for the tip on the Libman! Thanks!


Mothering From Scratch January 14, 2013 at 3:53 pm

{Kathy} I bought my first Miele vacuum cleaner 10 years ago when I was nesting before my fourth child was born. It was an investment. I just bought another a year ago. Good tools mean work is completed quicker and better. We know this concept in the kitchen and garage, but cleaning tools are the same! I find that men have a better concept of the importance of proper, well-made tools than women. When we use stuff that doesn’t work well, doesn’t look good, etc, it is a sort of dishonoring of our work. We have to honor our work by improving our tools!!


Megan January 15, 2013 at 10:40 am

I’m a firm believer in using pleasant cleaning products. Cleaning is something I do EVERY DAY – I wouldn’t cheap out on other daily products like toothpaste and coffee, so I’m not going to do it on cleaning products when they make such a difference in my enjoyment of the task! I also keep duplicates on hand – both bathrooms are stocked with everything I need to clean them so I’m not hauling anything back and forth. If it’s all right there and I only have 5 minutes, I can still do a really thorough job!


Jessie January 16, 2013 at 9:01 pm

I love my Miele! It was worth every penny. Every time I use it, I think what a good purchase it was. There is no comparison, no Kenmore, no Eureka, no Rainbow. It is the best. Fork out the $90 for the hard floor attachment too. It is worth it. It goes under every piece of furniture.


Carrie January 17, 2013 at 7:37 am

I’ve had my Libman mop for over a year I think and I love it. I also bought a laminate cleaner that helps “shine it up” a bit when it needs it.

I’m not a big smells person but lemon always makes me happy so I’ve been replacing my cleaners with natural ones or with lemon scented ones. Lemon just smells so nice and clean.


phoenix1920 January 17, 2013 at 12:28 pm

I recently bought a FUN broom–pink highlights and the rest is black and white zebra prints. The girls love to sweep with it and so do I. As for a vacuum, I’ve been reading a lot of reviews that the iRoomba robot vacuum has come a long way and is no longer held back by prior issues, so I’m saving up. I want to have my house vacuumed daily, but time spent vacuuming means less time with kids or other tasks that can’t be automated. My office at work is vacuumed daily and I have very little dust here. I wonder if more vacuuming means less dust . . .


Steph January 20, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Just found this blog and I’m loving it! A year ago I decided to make cleaning easier, and found the perfect basket for cleaning supplies at Target. It has a paper towel dispenser on it, plenty of room for what I need, and a comfortable handle. I live in a too-small house with too-little storage, so buying multiples and keeping them in different rooms doesn’t work for me, but my little basket does! I just grab it and go.


Alexandria February 9, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Ooooh, will definitely try the mop. So far, though I am the anti-neat-freak, the only useful way I have really found to clean floors is “on my hands and knees.” & I have never bought into the uber disposable nature of the swifter.

Sounds awesome. I bookmarked this ages ago, but am buying the mop right now.


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Wow! This blog looks just like my old one! It’s on a totally different subject but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Outstanding choice of colors!


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