Back in March, Em wrote about her favorite household basics. EHD’s go-to flatware, glasses, bed pillows, duvet inserts — it’s all in there. But on a recent call, we started talking about the less glamorous basics. You know, the sponges and drying racks and vacuums and brooms that keep us, and our homes, functioning.
These things — the lids and straws and cloths — are practical, tiny, and often affordable, but we never talk about them, even though they can make such a HUGE difference in our quality of life. I know this for a fact, because I’m about to tell you about the broom that has literally made me a cleaner person. (Like, yes, it made my space cleaner, but also, it shifted my behavior!!!)
I slipped my first disc in 2008, at the ripe old age of 17. (Thanks, sports!) I’ve had trouble with my back ever since — including a recent repeat injury earlier this year (Team EHD got to witness me wearing overalls for about a week straight so I could strap a heating pad to my back. I could only travel 3 feet from my desk while remaining plugged in. These are the things I miss now that we work from home.) Anyway, my bad back has always made me hate cleaning my floors since it’s a long process with a ton of bending and replugging and picking up and…you get it.
But when I moved into my apartment last June, I got a lobby broom. Yup — it’s one of those brooms that stands up, like the ones you’d see in a movie theater. I remember my mom laughing at me when I picked it out — “are you sure you want that one?” — but I was dead-set on getting this standing broom. After a year, the verdict is in: I LOVE IT. You guys. I use my broom EVERY DAY NOW. And it’s snowballed: since my floors are cleaner, I keep my surfaces cleaner. I’ve carved out time in my schedule every day to tidy.
You have to know that this was a pretty big shift for me. I was formerly a “do one big clean” type and I’d feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks in front of me, so then I’d procrastinate and it’d just be worse. NO MORE. All because of this little stinking broom!!!
So with all that said, sometimes it’s just about finding the RIGHT basics that make sense for you and your lifestyle. To that end, it turns out we all have a few things we feel passionately about in this department — things that have just made us happier in our homes. Let’s jump in, yeah?
1. Scrub Mommy: I know all the hype is for the Scrub Daddy, but I’m here to say that the Scrub MOMMY is the superior tool. I’ve been dishwasher-less since 2015 and this is my all-time favorite sponge/scrubber. It’s textured on one side and a classic sponge on the back, so it does double duty, and it somehow always rinses clean despite pulling up a ton of gunk from my pots and pans every time I break it out.
2. Double Decker Dish Rack: If you’re the type of person who lets dishes stack in the sink (no judgement) and then gets overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work ahead of you, a double decker rack is a game-changer. This one offers up a TON of space, adjustable hooks, a flatware compartment, and a movable spout that drains straight into the sink. It’s compact, stable, and pretty enough to leave on your counter 24/7.
3. Silicone Straws: 10 straws. 4 cases. (And 4 squeegees, so your straws ACTUALLY get clean…but they’re also dishwasher-safe if you’re lucky enough to have one.) These silicone straws are unbreakable and temperature-safe, so you won’t have to worry about shards or about them getting too hot to touch. Most importantly: there is no aftertaste!!! (This was so exciting for me after coming over from the world of metal straws.)
4. Multi-Functional Vegetable Chopper: This little guy can spiralize, dice, julienne, grate, AND catch it all for you in a safe little compartment. I asked Jess about it and she said, “I have been making some changes to my diet and by that I mean I am finally putting nutrients into my body. This vegetable slicer has been one of the best and most affordable purchases I’ve made. It’s so easy to use and slices my veggies nice and small (which is the only way I like them). FIVE STARS.” High praise!!!
5. Cleaning Gloves: I have 3 pairs of these — one for doing dishes, one for deep-cleaning my kitchen surfaces, and one for cleaning my bathroom — and I don’t think I can go back to a glove-less life. They change my mental state (I feel a lot more competent when I’m dressed for the task) and they just make me a lot more willing to get into grime or to stick my fingers down my shower drain. I rinse them off, let them dry, and store them inside out so they’re ready to grab for the next time something gets gross.
6. Compostable Sponge Cloths: These come in sets of 10 and one cloth can replace 17 rolls of paper towels. They’re SO absorbent and perfect for doing the dishes or soaking up spills. When you’re done, just rinse, wring out, and let them dry! You can put them in the dishwasher, throw them in the laundry, or microwave them (!!!) to clean. I still haven’t hit the point where I’m ready to retire any of mine, but you can just toss in the compost when you are. Y’all, these were a LIFESAVER when all my local grocery stores ran out of paper towels earlier this year and now I’ll never go back.
7. Pot & Pan Brush: It’s nice to have one scrubbing brush in the house for pots and pans and this one is great…but I actually use it cleaning around on the floor near my toe kick. It’s firm enough to remove any gunk or accidental splatter but soft enough that I’m not worried about screwing up the paint on my billion-year-old cabinets. (Plus, the tiny green edge is PERFECT for getting out tiny litter particles that somehow get wedged in the cracks between my flooring and my cabinet. It’s the tiny, satisfying things!)
8. Silicone Lids: Plastic wrap no more! Full disclosure: I did not anticipate falling in love with these, but I DID. They’re air-tight and good for everything. They’ve subbed in for my missing Tupperware lids (where do those go???), they’ve prevented leftovers from splattering all over my microwave, and they’re good for keeping my mac & cheese warm while I decide if I’m going to eat the whole pot (I always do, and it’s nice that it’s still gooey after I’ve debated!). They nest and fit perfectly in a drawer. A TRUE DREAM.
9. Ninja Air Fryer: Oh jeez, there are a whole lot of air fryers out there and it’s kind of hard to discern which is best, especially when you’re a cooking novice. I bought this one per Arlyn’s recommendation — the lady knows her way around a kitchen — and it’s awesome.
1. Dyson Cord-Free Vacuum: We link this puppy up EVERY TIME it goes on sale because it’s a staff favorite. This is the vacuum that Em uses up at the Mountain House and her kids actually love using it. It’s lightweight, it can do double duty as a handheld vac, and not having to un-plug and re-plug in every room makes cleaning and touch-ups go by so much quicker.
2. Upholstery & Carpet Cleaner: Jess’ dad is actually the guy behind this recommendation. A self-proclaimed neat freak, he says this is the perfect everyday wet vac to clean up after spills and messes on those non-washing machine-friendly pieces.
3. Chom Chom Roller: Bowser first introduced us to the Chom Chom Roller in a Link Up about a year ago and our pet-owning lives were forever changed. This is the official pet hair-collecting tool of EHD. It is the best. If you think you’re destined to a life of fur on every surface, think again!!! You know how we get our houses looking all spic and span before we shoot our MOTOs? THIS ROLLER.
4. Standing Broom & Dustpan: AH, the broom that launched this whole post. I have since convinced Ryann to purchase one. Let me reiterate: buying a standing broom was the best thing I ever did for my hard-floored home. It’s easy to transport, there’s no bending required (so I actually sweep regularly, since it’s such a painless process), and the teeth on the top portion help pull out any hair that’s trapped between the bristles. I will never use a different type of broom.
5. Miele Vacuum: OH BOY. This is the heavy-duty, keep-forever, official adult vacuum. Em has this down in LA and Jess owned one for EIGHT YEARS but had to leave it behind when she moved to Australia. A truly heartbreaking story. She thinks about it more than anyone would think about a vacuum (her words!) — it’s the real deal for deep cleaning.
6. Long Lint Roller: “Why do I need such an enormous lint roller?” – me, 5 years ago, when my mom gave me one of these. “EVERYONE NEEDS THIS,” – me, today. My mom is always right!!! This is such a delight if you have a bad back (guilty!) and need to roll a pet bed, or honestly, if you need to roll your own bed. In addition to being great for mobility, it’s so big that you can cover WAY more surface area WAY faster. I can usually hit all the seating surfaces in my apartment with one sheet before pals come over (LOL remember friends visiting?) without having to tear off and throw out a million tinier roller sheets.
1. Weighted Shower Liner: There are magnets attached to the bottom so you will no longer experience the terrifying ghostly embrace of a billowing liner mid-shower.
2. Deep Clean Brush Set: WHAT A MAGNIFICENT DUO. The thumb grip on the larger brush makes it a dream for heavy-duty scrubbing in the shower or on your stovetop. The small brush is a dream for getting into grout but is especially handy for polishing up around your drains! They’re firm enough to remove grime and buildup but soft enough to prevent scratching. If you’re in the “I just use a sponge or a microbe cloth or a Lysol wipe to clean everything” camp (I definitely was!!!), you are going to be BLOWN AWAY by what a difference these and a little elbow grease will make to your home.
3. Toilet Wand: If y’all are not on the Clorox Toilet Wand train yet, IT IS TIME. This is the first thing I purchase ANY TIME I move into a new home. (Do I own a plunger? No! But is my toilet clean? Yes!) It takes so much of the ‘ick’ out of the toilet brush process.
4. Bladed Squeegee: Use this on anything glass: your shower, your window, your mirror, a glass-topped end table…no more streaking. It’s a tiny thing that makes such a huge difference.
5. Harmony Oil Diffuser: We love an oil diffuser here at EHD — they’re beautiful and you’ll never that “oh crap, did I blow that out before I left home?” moment that you get with candles. Target recently dropped a new line of oil diffusers in 3 different scents, but Harmony (woody and spicy) is our favorite — you can read Julie’s full review here. If that’s not your go-to smell, you can also try out Tranquility (floral and sweet) or Serenity (crisp and earthy).
6. Style & Store Caddy: My mom bought me this caddy about 4 years ago during one of her visits and it changed my life. It’s made from silicone and it can withstand high heat, which means that I actually put my hair tools away after using them instead of leaving them on the vanity all day to “cool.” (You can actually spot mine in action in this post, so you know I really mean it!)
1. Self-Changing Trash Can: Welcome to the future where even trash cans are smart!!! At 4 gallons, the TowNew is ideal for smaller spaces or for under-the-sink usage (just measure first!), but the real kicker is this: this trashcan replaces and seals the bag for you. No more touching garbage! No more bending into the can and banging around to get your new bag ready to go! It’s a beautiful solution for those who struggle with mobility or for those who are just a little squeamish about touching garbage. (I use this near my cat’s litterbox and it is a DREAM. And the bags are biodegradable!)
2. Magnetic Laundry Organizing Rack: Small space dwellers, rejoice! This thing is strong and can hold your detergent pods, stain remover, dryer sheets, a spare roll of paper towels, or any other extra cleaning supplies.
3. Drying Rack: Jess loves this guy. It’s sturdy, pretty lightweight and can hold a bunch of drying clothes (which she has tons of). Also, the net at the bottom is perfect for flat dry items. Then when she’s done it folds up like a dream and lives in her closet for no one to ever have to see.
4. Wool Dryer Balls: I am a dutiful patron of my local laundromat (when I’m not trying to wash my clothes in my own tub) and these have changed my drying game. I use 3 per load and my laundry not only dries faster (costing me less quarters!) but also comes out fluffier, softer, and with fewer wrinkles. You can spritz these with your favorite essential oils, too, if you want to add a scent boost. Anyway, these are 10/10 and I will never buy dryer sheets again!!!
5. Gel Mattress Topper: This one was recently tested when Jess was house/dog sitting for her cousin. She immediately asked her it was a Tempur-Pedic mattress. Nope! Just an incredible mattress topper. It’s the perfect depth to relieve pressure points and the gel construction helps keep it cool so you can sleeper more comfortably.
6. Body Boss: Exercise is finally on Jess’ priority list and after getting this set up recommended to her by her brother’s fitness-loving fiancé, she decided to give it a try. To her surprise she loves it! This little foldable gym hits anywhere you want to work on and there are a ton of videos online so if you are a SUPER beginner like Jess, there is no need to stress out because you don’t know where to start.
OK WAIT. So we’ve shared our household essentials, but now we gotta know — what say you??? What are the basics that keep your home running or that make your life a little brighter? Did we miss anything? LET’S CHAT 🙂
Opening Photo Credit: Photo by Tessa Neustadt | From: How Our New Laundry Room Came Together
I love these square laundry baskets for doing family laundry. I have about 8 of them and each family member gets their own basket with their clean laundry to put away. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Sterilite-1-5-Bushel-Ultra-Square-Laundry-Basket-White-Set-of-4
These are the easiest and safest ways to clean windows! E-Cloth Window Cleaning Pack, Microfiber Glass Scrubbing Cloth & Polishing Cloth (Set of 2) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004G621ZG/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_uqakFbCXX4KJT
and i can not live without the ecloth mop. best ever. and of course any of the ecloth cleaning cloths.
Thanks for this post! I am definitely pinning some of these items. Also, I have a Miele vacuum and I love it!
On another note, I wish you could find alternatives to disposable cleaning items (like the disposable toilet wand.). I think we can all agree that we need to do our part for the planet by reducing our consumption, reusing and recycling.
My mom owns a house cleaning company and ONLY buys Miele vacuums!
One more fan of the Miele vacuum club here! I’ve had mine since 2015 and it’s still going strong despite several moves and countless dings on room corners. They’re built to last!
And +1 to the comment about finding more eco-friendly cleaning items. Love any new recommendations for those (like the sponge cloths!).
Another ‘yay’ for Miele vacuum cleaners – I can beat you though, mine’s still going strong and it’s just gone past its 25th anniversary! My Miele washing machine is also roughly the same age – I don’t think either of them owe me anything at this point!
Yessss, team Miele vacuum cleaner, here too!
Never ever will I ever get a different brand, but it’ll probably outlive me anyway.
My grandmother’s Miele washing machine she bought in the early 60s was disposed of in the late 90s – not because it didn’t work any more, but because the spin cycle was unsatisfactory compared to modern washers. We practically had to wrestle it out of her hands!
That’s why I almost exclusively have Miele appliances, except for my Liebherr fridge and freezer.
Absolutely! We don’t need disposables or bleach in our water! Thank you!
My favorite purchase lately is this Umbra Sling Sink Caddy. I don’t like keeping my sponge in countertop caddies, but most in-sink caddies have suction cups that *never* stay. This guy just loops around your faucet to sit in the sink. It’s pretty flat so it doesn’t get in the way when you do dishes. 😊
i LOVE a sponge caddy!
I can attest to the lobby broom being a game changer. I don’t know why it makes sweeping seem so much easier, but my floors are always crumb free. My two year old loves it so much, he follows me around “helping,” and we had to get him his own broom.
RIGHT?! and ahhh. SO SWEET. 🙂
I bought one of these when my then 14-month-old became obsessed with brooms (he would steal them from cleaning carts in airports and hotels). It was the only type that was child-sized. Now, it’s the only kind I buy!
Help! I bought the harmony oil diffuser per your recommendation! I love it.. I think… but I can’t get it open! It doesn’t screw off that I can see nor does it tip or wedge off…I don’t know what to call that. I want to smell it and use it so bad. How does it open, please?
My favorite diffuser:
It is more than target product, but lasts a long time even when I consistently turn over the wood sticks.
You can find on Amazon too.
I bought a very similar lobby broom last year after my spinal fusion (my spine is held up with two rods and 29 screws, two of which are anchored into my pelvis) and I absolutely love it! I wish I had thought to buy one sooner as I really do sweep more now that it’s not such a chore, lol.
WOW. you are tough!! and AGREED. it’s wild what a huge difference such a tiny thing can make!!
Karla, that sounds like it would makes a lot of daily tasks difficult. Sending you hugz from Australia. x
I love the Casabella Infuse Spray Mop. It has made cleaning my floors so much more enjoyable. It’s a non-toxic, eco-friendly version of the Swiffer only it’s cute. I got mine at Target. And love love love it!
Casabella must be a good company, because they make the only dishwashing brush I’ll ever buy.
It’s great to see more environmentally friendly suggestions like the silicone straws and composting cloths. The more awareness we all have about our everyday choices and making the better choices for Mother Earth every time we can….weall benefit now and inyo the future. There is no Planet B. 🙈🙉🙊
Caitlin, I feel for you having back iss. That’s a tough one to deal with and the right gizmos to make things easier makes a big fiffer…so great that you hot that broom! PS: I haven’t got a response to my email about The Insiders?
Favorite cleaning products of all time that are non toxic: FOLEX (upholstery/carpet cleaner that’s a miracle worker), BRANCH BASICS (cleans all hard surfaces and laundry as well), of course they DYSON STICK VACUUM, and BEES WAX polish for cleaning furniture (Don’t think this one is a “clean” product though).
I have had a standing broom set for 10 years-this is the latest version, mine is grey/lime green:) folds up to hang in the front closet!
I also put a shoe rack/shelf from Target in the bottom of every closet to hold whatever-shoes/sneakers in the front closet, yoga mats/blocks in the room we use for exercise.
The shelf on top is really handy!
Like a lot of people, I had some extra time hoe this year-and my house is now uber-organized. Pegboard in the garage, acrylic bins in the kitchen, extra wire shelves in closets-it’s amazing and keeps all our stuff easy to put away. I treated myself to The Home Edit’s fridge/freezer bins and they are the best things ever for the fridge:
My next purchase will be a roomba vacuum before I go back to work. ( I’m a K-1 teacher; all online this fall BUT we have to do it from our classrooms/on campus)
Will totally check out the dish towels and the magnetic rack! Thanks!
Great post ! Funny story…In my house the “stand up” broom is called a Disneyland Pan!! My Dad has always called it that and I’ve used them at all my restaurant jobs, salons and at the Gas station my Dad owned for many years. This is the tool of choice at Disneyland and that’s what we call it 🤩 and when I’ve asked other people to grab one for me, they look at me like “what’d you call it”? 🤣🤣🤣
I used one when I worked at an amusement park and we all called it a “broom and butler.” And they tilted perfectly so you could easily empty them into the giant trashcans.
Yes !! Your hands never have to touch anything gross and dirty !!
I recently bought a similar one, and the first thing my husband said was that it reminded him of working at an amusement park when he was a teen!
Too funny. I had a perfect picture in my mind when you said that. Those discreet guys in white with the brooms and dust pans.
Sorry, I have to be That Person who feels the need to remind everyone that diffusing essential oils in the air can be harmful, even toxic, to pets. Even lavender is bad for cats. They may not get sick right away, which is what can be deceiving. Please google essential oils toxic cats.
I LOVE my ‘roll up sink drain rack’ – it sits on top of the sink (just covers up the side of the sink -not the whole thing) so when you dry items or rinse berries, lettuce etc the drips just go into the sink. Saves counter space too. Then roll up when not using it. Comes in different colors/sizes. https://www.amazon.com/Large-Multipurpose-Roll-Drying-Trivet/dp/B07R72HVT1/ref=sr_1_12?crid=1MPUCHXY6S6TQ&dchild=1&keywords=roll+up+dish+drying+rack+over+the+sink&qid=1596477232&s=home-garden&sprefix=roll+up+dish+%2Cgarden%2C252&sr=1-12
Even better, scrub mommy comes in white! 🙂
Love this post and we love our cordless Dyson!!! I only use Folex because it is the best at getting out any stain, including animal accidents 🙂
Microfiber cleaning cloths are so awesome for all cleaning and I cut them into smaller sizes to clean my eye glasses. I keep one in my purse, desk drawer etc.
Agree with the dyson cordless, only problem I can’t do my whole house on one charge (but I adapt). We have an old house with really high ceilings and so we bought a Sheila (if you watch British TV you’ve seen them, usually in the kitchen). It’s great and it’s out of the way until you need it.
I have a Sheila and it’s in my laundry room! Best thing ever! Mine is called a Pulley-Maid and I ordered it online from the UK.
I will NEVER go back to a corded vacuum. I preach the gospel of the Dyson cordless vacuum to any and all who will listen. I’ve converted many people and regularly come across even more who already share my religion.
One of my favorite posts ever. So funny. Gonna get the Dyson vac (when you let us know it’s on sale!), magnetic laundry caddy, and foldable drying rack.
From someone who read “Helpful Hints from Heloise” when I was 12 and loved it (!!?!), posts like these are so great!
: ) I’d like to share a favorite De-furring (or lint, fuzz, hair) Secret: wear rubber gloves with a little bit of water rubbed between them to make them damp, then use your own rubber-encased paws and go over your velveteen couch, chair, car, whatever and the hair, fur, lint, dust all comes off and rolls into a nice ball. It’s strangely satisfying how using this technique of removing a layer of stuff makes the true color of your furniture or clothing appear!
ok guys, some more eco friendly options? compostable, good, washable better. I use old( or cheap target washclothes 5 for $4)for paper towels.
swedish scubie sheets, washer safe, and really work, mine is a year old.
pledge makes a pet hair remover that collects and empties, $9, but lasts( 9 ” long) no throwing away.
toilet wands? brushes last longer.
lets avoid disaposable , to me, diaper wipes are the only justifiable disposable wipe.. and they SHOULD be compostable!!
There are some compostable baby wipes. We mostly use cloth wipes but when traveling etc we use Eco by Naty wipes which are home compostable.
I wanted to love the Clorox toilet brush, but every dang time I used it, the little scrubby pad fell off before I was even half done using it.
Can anybody recommend a better toilet brush?????
I have debated that dish drying rack on Food52 more than once… but how does one put a pot or pan in that thing? Is it possible? If anyone here owns one and can comment, I’d love to hear. For some reason, this matters to me and I’ve held off buying it because I have this pressing notion that I neeeeed to be able to put a frying pan in my dish rack…
I supplement my small drying rack with a roll up one that goes over half the sink and that is where I usually put pots and pans
LOVE this helpful post and comments. Thanks, all!
I discovered these recently:
They are some kind of odor absorbing volcanic rocks which sounds silly, but they actually work. You can allegedly dry them out in direct sunlight to “recharge” the odor absorbing properties after 6 months. I have two very active stinky boys, a CrossFit enthusiast husband, and a dog. There are many odors in my house and the magic rocks defeat them all.
The magic rocks are in a mesh bag and they do shed a fine powdery substance, so placement is important. I put them up high on top of closet shelves and armoires and such to keep them away from curious kids.
I use cloth diapers as rags for cleaning/mopping up spills. They’re super absorbent and last a really long time. I got a new 12 pack recently and it made me super happy.
I love beeswax wraps to cover pots and plates and to wrap food. Bye-bye aluminium foil and cling foil. For window cleaning I swear by cotton diapers and simple glas- cleaner in a spray bottle.
I love this floor mop. You never have to get your hands wet and the mop head can be tossed in the wash machine. The spinner works really well so no dripping mophead.
I got a set of microfiber cloths and I use them for everything, but I especially like them for cleaning kitchen counters. Unlike sponges, they never smell bad, and when they’re too dirty you can just wash them. I also love my Magisso magnetic dish cloth holder to store the cloths inside my sink and out of sight and help them dry faster–$20 well spent! I’m also obsessed with my (way too expensive) drying rack, the Zojila Rohan (as recommended by Wirecutter). It looks nice and dries dishes so quickly.
That was one thing I hated about my shark ultra light… every single piece of hair would wrap around the brushroll. Tiresome cleaning it out! Never have that problem with my bissell. I have the pet cord rewind and love it!
Magic erasers and WD-40!
If you cook in cast iron skillets and struggle with keeping them clean (you shouldn’t be using the dishwasher, soap or steel wool), try this:
It is a metal scrubber that very quickly scrubs out a cast iron without wrecking the seasoning of your pan. I run it through the dishwasher every so often to keep it clean.
What about cleaning FINGERPRINTS & food from your STAINLESS STEEL fridge, stove, etc.?! The ONLY thing you’ll ever need is the simplehuman microfiber cleaning mitt!! Just dampen it with water. It does the job perfectly and goes in the wash! It’s on amazon for $4.99
See a Feldenkrais practitioner for your back. (Feldenkrais.com) Gentle & effective! You’ll be amazed!! Read about it in the book “The Brain’s Way of Healing” by Norman Doidge.