When you’re a parent, you don’t have much time for cleaning.
To be fair, you also don’t have much time for cooking, sleeping, working, or crying silently in the shower, but you do all of those things anyway because you’re an expert at time management. You cut out unnecessary steps, find shortcuts, and do what you have to do to make the most of your time.
The next time you need to clean house, try a few of these essential homemaking hacks, and you just might have a few extra minutes to spare.
1. Need to get crayon stains off walls?
Ah, the classic parental cleaning challenge. Don’t worry, it’s actually not too difficult.
Simply apply mayonnaise—yes, mayonnaise—to the crayon marks, then let it sit in place for a few minutes. Wipe with a damp cloth, and the marks should disappear.
If that doesn’t work (or if you’re a vegan), you can also use WD-40. We’d recommend spot testing, however, as WD-40 can damage some types of paint.
2. Clean the oven overnight by making a baking soda paste.
This is an essential hack to have in your back pocket for when your kids help you bake. For some reason your oven inevitably ends up coated in batter and grease—which quickly turn to charred black gunk.
Mix baking soda and water in a spray bottle, spray liberally all over your filthy oven, then leave it overnight. Take a second spray bottle and fill it with vinegar and water; spray this on the baking soda paste to break it up. Wipe out your oven, and you’re done.
3. Get bad odors out of your kids’ shoes with this Reddit user’s recipe.
Redditor steveq76 recommends a mixture of 70 percent rice, 15 percent salt, and 15 percent baking soda. Fill old socks with the mixture, then place them in damp, smelly shoes, allowing them to sit overnight.
The baking soda is a base, so it neutralizes the acids that cause smells, and the rice and salt soak up odor-causing agents.
4. Blast the carpet stains from your kid’s spilled juice.
Kids drink Kool-Aid and grape juice and any number of brightly covered fluids, and they do it over the carpet. Eventually you’re going to need some industrial-strength stain remover.
Or do you? Parents all over the internet are claiming that a simple two-ingredient hack can remove the toughest stains your 4-year-old can throw at you.
All you need are two common household ingredients: hydrogen peroxide and lemon essential oil. Combine one part hydrogen peroxide to two parts water. Then add five drops of lemon oil.
Shake to mix, fill a spray bottle and soak the stained carpet. You can’t really use too much of this stuff. Let it work its magic for a few minutes, then hit the stain with a scrub brush. Finish by blotting with a dry rag.
You might have to repeat this whole process a few times, but trust us. It will work. Now if we could only get the kids to keep their beverages in the kitchen!
5. Use a lint roller to clean up after craft time.
Lint rollers are wonderful for picking up every last speck of glitter. Say goodbye to those annoying little sparkles that you keep glimpsing out of the corner of your eye.
If you don’t have a lint roller handy, duct tape can work reasonably well, but you’ll probably want to hit the area with a hand vacuum before rolling out the tape.
6. Toothpaste can get permanent marker off a hardwood floor.
Simply apply, then rub using circular movements to work the marker out of the floor. Wipe with a damp cloth to finish up.
Toothpaste is actually a remarkably versatile cleaner. It has enough grit to cut through stains, so it’s also a good choice for whitening the rubber on tennis shoes, getting caked-on soap off sinks, and handling other simple tasks that require a bit of elbow grease. Just be sure to spot test it before using it on any fabrics—many toothpastes have whitening ingredients that don’t play well with clothes.
7. Clean up chewed-on Lego bricks in the washing machine.
Moms of junior architects tend to spend a lot of time stepping on Legos in bare feet, then fighting to contain a stream of language that no kid should hear.
While you have your own struggles with Lego blocks, though, have you ever stopped to consider how dirty those things must be? Add to that the fact that Legos will almost inevitably end up in your kid’s mouth at some point, and you’ll understand why we insist on thoroughly cleaning our kids’ Legos every few weeks.
Fortunately, this task couldn’t be simpler. All you need is a mesh laundry bag. Fill it with your kid’s filthiest Legos and wash them in soap and laundry detergent.
You won’t believe the racket this task will make, but trust us, it’s worth it. Don’t worry about the washing machine; it might get pretty loud, but it can handle a bag of Legos.
When you’re done, spread the Legos out on a towel to dry and give them back to your little builders, germ-free!
For even more hacks to clean your kids’ toys, check out the video below!
8. Let your dishwasher do the scrubbing when you need to clean baby toys.
As soon as babies start to crawl, they start collecting germs. Then they play with their toys, and the next thing you know their favorite plastic race car has become its own little germ factory.
It’s a good idea to disinfect your child’s toys every so often. For help, turn to your old pal the dishwasher.
Note that not every toy is a good candidate for dishwasher disinfecting. Don’t include stuffed animals or wooden toys. Definitely don’t include electronic toys or anything with a battery.
For most big plastic baby toys, though, this is the easiest clean-up in the world. Fill both racks as full as you dare. Then add your detergent and set your machine on its gentlest cycle.
Pro tip: Turn off the hot dry cycle. We learned that one the hard way, with a melted pony and tears.
9. Clean pee stains out of your mattress with hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap.
Every kid has accidents. Bedwetting is no big deal—as long as you have a quick, easy, and effective way to clean up the mattress.
Well, here’s a cleaning trick that will get rid of stains and odors alike. Even better, you probably have everything you need in your pantry already.
Start by mixing 8 ounces of hydrogen peroxide with 3 tablespoons of baking soda. We like to mix directly in the spray bottle we’ll use for application. Finish the pee-destroying potion with a generous dollop of liquid dishwashing soap.
We like to scent the concoction with a drop of lavender oil; it helps with the odor, and it helps us relax! Substitute your kid’s favorite essential oil if desired.
Once you have your secret weapon mixed together, spray it generously on the pee stains. Don’t be shy. Really soak that mattress.
Let the mixture dry on the mattress for a full hour, then vacuum up the residue. That’s all it takes!
10. Pick up small toys with a dust pan.
This is a helpful hack if you’ve got company coming over and your kid has dragged out every Lego, Lincoln Log, and doll accessory in existence.
Simply wedge the dustpan under the toys and scoop. Make sure it’s a clean dustpan (duh).
11. White chalk gets out grease stains.
We have no idea why this works, but it does. White chalk seems to soak up grease.
Rub it over the stain, then let it sit overnight. Marvel at your kids’ grease-free clothes (although you’ll probably only have a few minutes before they stain them again).
12. Stop your kid from getting too much soap when washing up.
Want to stop running through bottles of liquid soap? Put a rubber band around the base of the pump.
Your child won’t be able to pump it all the way, and they’ll get the perfect amount of soap.