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Top 11 Cleaning Tools You Must Have

Written by Nicky Tomboulides .

You already know about the two very important tools: the tray, and the champion of them all, your apron! (If not read previous article). Now let’s talk about the cleaning tools you’ll need.

Important Tools

There are some basic tools that every home should have to take care of the basic cleaning needs.  We will discuss each below and what you need to look for and know!

Every home has one and yet everyone tries to hide its very existence! This is the story of the much-needed toilet brush. Get one with strong plastic bristles contoured to reach inside the rim of your toilet bowl. Forget those soft bristles with a tacky toothbrush feel.

As for the toilet brush holder, don't bother getting one. Here’s why: the brush bristles are constantly touching the bottom of the holder which sits in a puddle of dirty water. As for those high-end brushes with fancy holders, the whole brush disappears in a tube never to see the light of day! Immersing a toilet brush in standing water without any breathing room is not a good idea. The holder lacks smart design. If you do find one designed to suspend the brush inside the holder with a wide opening in the back, please buy it and share your good news with the rest of us! Moisture is the enemy. A wet anything is a magnet for bacteria. For now, keep your brush in your tray under your bathroom cabinet with its bristles up so it can air dry. Sorry, but for me toilet holders are OUT!  


It is also called a utility brush. The best kind you can buy has strong synthetic bristles with a strong plastic handle. A tile brush will help you scrub your tiles, sink and bathtub. You can get these at a commercial supply store or at a home supply center. If you can’t find one, buy an extra toilet brush with strong plastic bristles, but mark it. I wish they made toilet brushes in different colors. Again, keep your tile brush in your tray with the bristles up to air dry in between uses.


A white pad is a great sponge and is softer than a green scouring pad. Use it for everyday cleaning. For tougher jobs such as your stovetop, go ahead and use the green pad. Always, always use all your pads on a wet surface, otherwise they will scratch. More than any other tool your pad is literally a sponge for bacteria growth. Not only you need to keep your sponges high and dry but you can also get into the habit of giving them an occasional bath in the dishwasher.


An average-sized heavy duty pair of gloves in your tray will do. Don't get small-sized or surgical gloves for routine cleaning; you will not be performing surgery! Again, keep them dry. Smelly gloves sitting in water for a week will make you a very unhappy cleaner!  


There are millions out there. No matter which one you choose, get a good quality one. Again, those tacky, flimsy feather dusters will leave pink feathers all over the house. At Penguin's Best, we use a good quality ostrich feather duster with an average length wooden handle so it fits in your back jean pocket.


The best cleaning cloths are 100% white cotton cloths that we get from The Clean Team1 (we have no financial interest in this company). I use them in the business and at home every single day. For really dirty jobs like the stove and oven you can use paper towels.

I didn't have good luck with microfiber cloths. However, if they work for you and you are happy with them, go ahead and use them. If you decide to use only paper towels, use the plain white or brown. Why? Because the color-printed designs will bleed into and stain the surface you are trying to clean.


In my apron I carry three tools that I use every day: a toothbrush, a scraper, and a razor blade. You can get all three at a commercial cleaning supply store. Use the toothbrush to clean areas around the faucet. A scraper will come handy when you need to remove the dried spilled soda in the fridge! And the razor blade will get any spilled paint off glass or clean your oven door. You always need to use the scraper and the razor blade at an angle and on a wet surface. If the surface is dry, the razor blade will scratch it. Be extra careful when you use your razor blade. After every use, you need to carefully wipe it clean, dry it and re-track it to its closed position.


If you are using concentrates or making your own homemade cleaning brew you will need a few good quality spray bottles. You can get them at a home supply store with sprayers in different colors. Use a blue sprayer for the window cleaner, red for red juice or the surface cleaner of your choice. You MUST label each bottle.  For bleach, use a flip top and keep it always in a closed position. A sprayer for bleach can do major damage if squirted by accident.


A broom needs to have strong synthetic fibers and a long metal handle with special coating, not wood. A “witch broom” may be good to sweep the leaves outdoors, but it’s not for inside the house. It will leave pieces of twigs all over your floor. For a dustpan, buy one that is made of strong plastic that won’t rust or break. If you like, they sell them with long handles which is a great convenience if you are elderly or have back problems.


The biggest financial investment of all your tools. Not only do you need to do your homework, but you are also called to make a wise choice. This purchase needs local service. Don’t order your vacuum on the Internet or from a catalog! You need to try the vacuum at a vacuum store for fit, get a free vacuum tutorial, and establish a relationship with the store owner. Don't go for expensive models that weigh a ton; you can find those for sale at your local bargain paper. Go for easy-to-handle, light and easy-to-service. I always say maintenance starts before you buy. Learn how you can take care of your new vacuum before you take it home!  Do know if your vacuum uses a bag, and that ALL bags are not created equal. Buy a minimum of a dozen at the store; they should last you a year.


Aim for high quality and ergonomic design for both. Cheap won't do. Go for the best possible quality, with a mop head that is removable and washable. Get a bucket that is made of industrial strength plastic. If built and designed well, both items can last you a lifetime.

We’ll be sharing with you a detailed article about vacuums and mops in the near future.

The Extras

Finally, you'll need in your arsenal of tools some extra and super practical items. They always excite my students when I introduce them. Here are the most popular:

A Pumice Stick takes care of the ring around the toilet. Please use it always wet. It comes handy if you happen to have hard water.

A Whisk Broom can be used in lieu of vacuuming your furniture. It’s especially good for tight spots like your stairs and even to straighten your carpet tassels. Be sure you keep your whisk broom in your back pocket when you do your routine cleaning.

A Ceiling Brush to remove the cobwebs from high spots.

Knee Pads to protect your knees from all that cleaning you are planning to do.  They are also sold in garden centers.

Good to Know

DUPLICATE - If you live in a larger home, consider duplicating all your supplies. A vacuum on each floor, a tray in every bathroom; it will make your spot and routine cleanings a breeze.
Keep your cleaning tools in impeccable shape, high and dry, and well replenished, ALWAYS!

In the next article, we will talk about:  Do you clean your own home? Should you use a commercial cleaning service or one person? We'll go over the pros and cons of doing it yourself versus hiring out!

Keep it Clean! :)


1The Clean Team.
Haley, G., Haley, R.  Haley's Cleaning Hints. NAL Trade. 2004. 

Nicky Tomboulides
Nicky Tomboulides

Nicky P.E. Tomboulides, MBA has run and managed Penguin's Best Housekeeping Service, LLCsince 1994. Nicky's entrepreneurial experience and spirit is behind the birth of her business. Penguin's Best, an upscale residential cleaning service, has evolved from teaching and training its own crew to running outside classes and workshops for various organ.. Read more

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