Ask UfYH: The Top 10 Must-Have Cleaning Supplies for Every Home

This is it: the definitive list of the ten products you’ll need to get and keep a clean house. 

You guys, these lists are a trap. There are no “must-have” cleaning supplies. I can pretty much guarantee that I could go into any house and get it UfYH-approved clean using only what was already on hand in the house. (As long as the water isn’t turned off.)

These lists and posts and articles are just another way for various “lifestyle” brands and ad agencies to make people feel like if they don’t have Product X, they have no hope of having a clean home. It’s capitalism, plain and simple. And although I’m an avid (and often enthusiastic) participant in most aspects of capitalism, there’s just no need for there to be even one more way for people to think cleaning is inaccessible to them because they can’t afford or can’t get certain products.

If someone told me I’d have to pick ten cleaning supplies, and those would be the only things I’d be able to use forever, I don’t think I’d need, or even want, all ten spots. I could easily keep a clean house with white vinegar, dish soap, some rags, and a broom. I have carpets, so a vacuum would be great, too, but in a pinch, you can sweep a rug. I’m not counting things like laundry soap, but if I did, that brings us up to six things. Seven if you count hot water.

My point being, don’t fall into the trap that you need all of this expensive, specialized nonsense to be clean. You can do it with what’s on hand. I have a spray bottle (repurposed after being thoroughly cleaned and clearly labeled) with a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water and a squirt of dish soap. (Hot water works great, but I don’t feel like mixing it up fresh every time.) I use that to clean: the shower, the counters, the toilet, the stovetop, the sinks, floors, the front of my appliances, the fridge shelves, and most other surfaces. Vinegar alone is great for glass. I usually steam mop my hard floors (which is a luxury, but sure, let’s count that as spot #8), but you can clean floors with hot water and a little vinegar or dish soap or both (just do a rinse mop with plain hot water afterwards). No mop? That’s where those rags come in handy. It’s a little Cinderella, but a hell of an arm workout.

Do specialized cleaning products make certain jobs easier? Absolutely. Am I saying to never buy any? Nope, and I’d be a huge hypocrite if I did. But it’s important to know that even when your budget is down to less than nothing, you have no way to go to the store, and your house is a disaster, you can still do it. Use up what you have and then try paring down. Cleaning supplies can be clutter, too. Why add more?

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[E] Rachel

I punctuate sentences with Oxford commas, and I punctuate disagreements with changesocks. Proud curmudgeon. Get off my lawn.

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