We’ve come a long way since Barry Scott dipped his grimy penny in Cillit Bang in the famous commercial. Home-organization gurus and “cleanfluencers” such as Marie Kondo and Mrs Hinch have become household names — and if you keep scrolling past the viral dances and lip-synching videos on TikTok, you’ll discover a gold mine of cleaning videos and home-renovation hacks.
The social media app is usually considered the preserve of Gen Z and Peter Pan millennials, given that more than a quarter of the 3.7 million UK users are aged between 18 and 24, but it is increasingly giving a platform to countless “cleanfluencers”. Everyone from professional cleaners to lifestyle bloggers and everyday enthusiasts are sharing videos demonstrating how to scrub, mop and wipe away household dirt and grime with the least amount of effort.
Here are some of TikTok’s best hacks.
Hand Sanitizer for Ink Stains
Alcohol-based hand sanitizer has come into its own during the pandemic, but it turns out hand gel makes light work of ink stains. TikToker Carolina McCauley from Australia shared a video with her 600,000 TikTok followers proclaiming the “best way” to remove ink from clothing is to first rub hand sanitizer over the stain, then wash on a hot cycle with half a cup of baking soda in the drum, and vinegar in the fabric softener drawer. Hand sanitizer also works a treat at removing ink stains from wooden desks — as always make sure to test it on an inconspicuous area first.
Strip-Washing for Germs
If you thought a regular 40 degree washing cycle does enough to leave towels and bed linen squeaky clean, think again. Laundry stripping — essentially a deep clean of towels, bedsheets and even pillows using a mixture of borax, washing soda, and laundry detergent — was 2020’s viral cleaning hack. Lauren Elms’s (@mrslaurenelms) video demonstrating how her washing machine-fresh towels turn the water a murky brown after a five-hour soak in a bathtub has been viewed more than 7 million times.
To strip wash, fill a clean bathtub, big bucket or top-loading washing machine with very hot water. For a full load of laundry, add a quarter cup of borax, a quarter cup washing soda and a half cup detergent (adjust the ratio to suit). Once dissolved, add your just-washed laundry — either wet or dry — and soak for a minimum four hours, stirring occasionally, then run them through a water-only cycle in the washing machine.
Squeegeeing for Carpets
Before hoovering carpets, use a squeegee to remove dust, dirt and pet hair clinging to the carpet fibers. Mia Slater’s (@Miaslaterxo) video demonstrating her scraping her carpet with a 75p handheld squeegee from Ikea has been watched more than 1.4 million times. She claims the technique removes far more hidden grime and will “fluff up carpets way more” than a vacuum can.
Vacuuming for Mattresses
Housekeeper Vanesa Valdez (@vaneamaro91) has posted a mattress-refreshing video to her 3.1 million TikTok followers, revealing how she first vacuums a mattress before sprinkling bicarb onto the mattress for five hours, then vacuums once more. For an extra flourish, you can also mix a few drops of essential oil into the bicarb.
Dishwashing for Children’s Toys
To clean her children’s gunky Lego collection, vlogger Holly Smith (@hollyvlogsofficial) pops the pieces in a mesh laundry bag and washes it on the top rack of her dishwasher. The heat and steam leaves them spotless.
Fabulosa Blast Can for Dust
Meanwhile, 20-year-old cleaning-obsessed TikToker @cleaningwithcharl, swears by the Fabulosa Blast Can to spray away dust trapped inside radiator grilles.
Fluffing for Towels
Mom-of-two Chantel Mila (@mama_mila_) from Melbourne shares her secret to fluffy towels. Use a small amount of laundry detergent in the washing machine drawer, add a half cup of bicarb to the drum and some white vinegar to the rinse cycle. Wash towels together and “avoid overfilling the cycle to allow for air circulation to plump the fibers”, she says. Air dry until almost dry, then pop into a tumble drier (with a tennis ball) for the last five minutes to soften them even more.
Lemons for Teakettles
Mila’s favourite nontoxic way to remove limescale from a kettle is slice up a lemon, boil twice and leave it to stand for 30 minutes. She also shares a fuss-free way to clean oven trays without scrubbing, seen by 1.2 million TikTokers. Wrap the oven trays in foil and put them in a bathtub filled with hot water and a dishwasher tablet. Leave them to soak for two hours and voilà, sparkling trays with zero effort.
Fairy Liquid for Microwaves
User Gia Gabrielle’s (@gia_gabrielle) easy recipe to leave a microwave oven or oven spotless with minimal elbow grease, includes making a paste using a half cup each of bicarbonate of soda, Fairy Liquid and water. Line the inside of the appliance and leave for two to three hours (or overnight), rub off the mixture with some vinegar, or a Brillo pad or Scrub Daddy sponge to leave the inside spotless.
Don’t forget to hoover your oven first — TikToker @allisonscleanin always uses a handheld vacuum cleaner before a deep oven clean to remove crumbs and burned-on debris.
Victoria Brzezinski is a writer for The Times and The Sunday Times of London