15 viral cleaning hacks that actually work, as recommended by experts

They may be viral but not all cleaning hacks actually work, so we tested them to find out the ones worth trying at home

Compilation image of the best viral cleaning hacks that work showing denture tablets removing coffee stains in a mug, shaving foam on a bathroom mirror and a rubber glove to remove pet hair
(Image credit: Future)

The internet is awash with cleaning hacks and viral tricks to help you tackle the weekly chores. But keeping our homes tidy is enough effort without having to test never-seen-before techniques and whacky cleaning combinations. 

So, to help you cut down on both time and effort when cleaning your house, we've put together a list of the best viral cleaning hacks straight from the professionals that have been tried and tested by the woman&home team. 

Whether you're cleaning the bathroom, or deep cleaning the kitchen we've got you covered. Here's our round-up of the tried and tested cleaning hacks to help you tackle your household chores big and small.

13 viral cleaning hacks that actually work 

From cleaning with vinegar to utilizing the best essential oils to deodorize around the home, we've found a cleaning hack to take on any household chore with an alternative approach.

1. Cleaning heavily stained mugs using denture tablets

before, during and after image of a mug being cleaned using the denture tablet cleaning hack to remove stubborn stains

(Image credit: Tamara Kelly)

Sick of scrubbing away at your mugs in hopes they’ll no longer expose your coffee addiction? Well, we’ve found a hack for the stubborn stains via TikTok that may save you some elbow grease. 

This is actually recommended too by the grandparents of one of the w&h team members, so it's not a new hack by any means. Pop a denture tablet into your stained mug then simply add some hot water to the top and watch the tablet fizz into action. there's no need to even scrub, after 20-30 minutes the staining will be lifted away to leave a cup that looks as good as new.

Once you've poured the solution away rinse and wash your mugs like normal to reveal a transformed coffee-free mug. The table acts as a cleanser and lifts any stains that sponges or dishwashers haven't managed to budge. 

2. Rubbing aluminum foil to remove rust

Turns out aluminum foil can do more than merely aid with cooking and preserving food, it's a great cleaning hack for beating rust. "I honestly couldn't believe how effective this simple hack was," says w&h contributor Claire Douglas

"We had quite an accumulation of rust on our chrome heated towel rail and I was worried that it was beyond help. Thankfully, some scrunched-up aluminum foil saved the day and removed every trace of rust after a few minutes of rubbing it over the surface by hand. I've since read that dipping the scrunched foil in water makes the process even quicker, so I will try that next time."

"Initially, I planned to use Brillo pads but was worried about scratching the chrome surface. Happily, as aluminum is softer than chrome, it doesn't scratch, making the removal process stress-free. 

"I found the process very satisfying to complete and couldn't believe how shiny and smooth the towel rail looked afterward, like new," Claire explains. "I'd advise testing the process on a less prominent patch first, just to be sure that your surface is definitely chrome."

3. Removing pet hair from soft furnishings

cream tufted rug with a yellow rubber glove to show a cleaning hack for removing pet hair with grey whippet sat beside it

(Image credit: Future | Tamara Kelly)

If your home is filled with pets or long-haired loved ones then you may be getting sick of loose hairs covering every surface. Usually, a good vacuum will do the trick but it’s hard to get all the hair lifted. Luckily this hack deals with stray hairs with ease

"Put on a pair of rubber gloves, the dishwashing kind will do" say the experts at Well Polished Cleaning Services on behalf of Kingsmead Carpets. "Rub your gloved hands over the carpet, applying a bit of pressure as you go. The rubber material creates some magical static electricity that attracts the hair like crazy."

You'll see the hair start to cling to the gloves, making it super easy to gather it all up, ready to throw it away.

"I had to try this one because it seemed so simple, and it really is," says w&h's lifestyle editor Tamara Kelly. "It works a treat on carpets, sofas, pet beds, and more. "My advice would be to wipe the glove free from hair in between wipes on the surface because otherwise, you can transfer it back onto the fabric. I personally found this most useful for smaller areas like sofas, armchairs, and rugs rather than entire carpets."

4. Cotton balls soaked in essential oil to tackle smelly trash cans

This trick is a new trend circulating on the cleaning side of TikTok. It goes without saying that garbage is not a welcoming scent. Sometimes it’s that bad you can smell it through the house even when it’s meant to be tightly contained within your trash can. You might already remedy this by using scented trash bags but here’s a way to take that one step further. 

Sue Caldwell, managing director of the multi-award-winning, eco-friendly cleaning brand Clean Living International says: "A great eco-friendly solution is to soak a cotton wool ball in your favorite essential oil and place it in the bottom of bins to provide a beautiful fragrance.”

Simply cover a cotton ball in your favorite essential oil, just make sure if you have pets that the brand or scent isn’t harmful to them first. Then place the balls, we think two is enough, in the bottom of your can underneath the bag. That way every time you open or remove your bags there'll be nicer smells coming out than moldy food – one small step to make your house smell good.

It’s always a good idea to keep your cans clean too, although it’s not the most welcoming task, a quick wipe down between bag changes can keep the odors away. 

5. Lemon and salt to clean wooden cutting boards

Lemon and salt on wooden chopping boards as best cleaning hacks

(Image credit: Getty Images)

We’ve all been there, chopping away and suddenly realizing that the red peppers or marinated chicken we’re cutting is starting to stain our wooden boards. Of course, a quick scrub with some dish soap can seemingly do an okay job but due to the wood grain, some stains and bacteria stick around. 

Lynsey Crombie (aka @lynsey_queenofclean), a cleaning entrepreneur and published author, has a hack that makes use of the magic cleaning qualities of lemons and salt. After clearing and rinsing your cutting board she suggests taking half a lemon with salt to scrub your board. 

She says, “It will naturally disinfect and remove ground-in debris and dirt.” The lemon acts as a deodorizing cleaning agent and the salt has gentle abrasive and disinfecting qualities great for lifting up stains as well as removing any nasty bacteria. Lynsey also suggests to then use some coconut oil on the board with a cloth, this will not only shine but also protect the wood – also handy when cleaning wooden spoons.

6. Dampening a cloth for dusting success

Any viral 'cleanfluencer' worth their salt will know the effectiveness of dampening a cloth for better results when trying to get rid of dust.

"The most important facet of dusting is having a damp cloth over a dry one. A dry one just disperses dust particles into the air, whereas a damp cloth collects all the dust with ease," explains Ivan Ivanov from End of Tenancy Cleaning.

It's important not to soak the cloth, just ensure it's slightly damp to the touch so it reduces the friction and catches the dust rather than causing it to disperse.

7. Removing calcium from shower doors using vinegar

Best cleaning hacks - Spray white vinegar on shower doors to remove hard water marks

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There's no denying that white vinegar is a cleaning superhero when it comes to most tasks in our homes. Its versatility knows no bounds. "I'm completely converted to using white vinegar for cleaning a shower after trying this hack," says Tamara.

Ryan Knoll, owner of Arizona-based cleaning company Tidy Casa, cannot recommend the product enough with all his employees using it to tackle calcium stains on shower glass doors. He says, "As much as we'd like them to, showers don't wash themselves. With most homes in Arizona where we clean, hard water leads to a lot of calcium buildup." 

Our tried and tested technique starts with "Soaking some paper towels in the vinegar and adhering them to the glass door like big stickers," explains Ryan "Allowing them to sit for 20–30 mins, the vinegar will then begin to break down the calcium." 

Once 30 minutes have passed, remove the paper towels and take a damp cloth to remove all traces of the vinegar. You can then buff the glass with a microfibre cloth. 

8. Cleaning drains with dishwasher tablets

No matter how much you clean your kitchen sink there is always the danger that the drains may start to smell unpleasant if left. 

“To clean drains, put a dishwasher tablet over the top of the plug and run boiling water so it dissolves," suggests Ivan. "This should unblock some of the grime and leave it smelling fresh. If it doesn’t work for your situation, try using a store-bought drain unblocker to get rid of any excess grime.”

"I've been doing this hack since Ivan shared it with us and it works a treat for preventing unpleasant smells from uncleaned drains," Tamara explains. "It's a far more eco-friendly solution to try before resorting to pouring far more toxic chemicals down the sink to tackle the problem."

9. Descaling a shower head using white vinegar

Shower head before and after cleaning with vinegar

Tamara's shower head before and after cleaning with white vinegar to remove limescale

(Image credit: Future)

You may have heard of this one, It’s a very popular hack and there’s a big reason why. It works. "I won't use anything else now to descale and clean my shower head because the results are so impressive," says Tamara. 

To try this, simply fill a zip-loc bag with white vinegar, around a cup will do. Then remove your shower head from its holder and submerge it into the bag with the vinegar. (You can do this in the sink if your shower head is detachable). Tie an elastic band around the bag and the elongated part of the shower head to make sure it keeps it tight and in place. Leave it like that for around 30 minutes. 

Once that time has passed, remove the shower head from the bag and use an old toothbrush to gently scrub away any leftover limescale. Finally, run your shower and allow all the vinegar and limescale to wash off, making sure to rinse the head and put it back up. The white vinegar is great at breaking down the hard water residue that commonly blocks the openings in your shower head. You should notice an immediate difference!

Toby Schulz, CEO of Australia’s leading house cleaning service Maid2Match, has worked as a professional cleaner for several years and loves using white vinegar. He says, "White vinegar is a cleaning powerhouse. Try to get the 6% vinegar, which has a higher concentration of acetic acid that helps with breaking down dirt and grime." 

10. Removing stains with salt

Spills are inevitable, whether it's coffee, wine, or pasta sauce there's no avoiding it! But what's a quick and simple way of tackling spill stains before they set into your fabrics? Toby recommends salt. 

He says, "Salt is a drying agent, so it’s very handy for tackling stains from liquids like red wine, blood, coffee, and even oil. The salt absorbs moisture and oils from most surfaces, while its abrasive nature also works if you use it as a scrub. However, it’s not as effective for dye-based stains or dried stains, and it could damage more delicate fabrics." 

Toby does however stress the importance of time, he suggests acting quickly when using salt to remove a stain. He says, "For clothing and items like table runners, you can dissolve salt in hot water and soak the fabric for a few hours to “leech” out the stain. Thoroughly rinse the fabric afterward to remove any residue, then launder as normal."  

This hack is especially useful as salt is something most if not all of us have close to hand, especially when eating. 

When it comes to stained upholstery or carpets, whether cleaning a carpet stain or spill on the couch Toby recommends sprinkling a healthy amount of salt, kosher if you have it, on the affected area and leaving it for around 10 minutes. Once the time has elapsed he says to vacuum up the salt and rinse it by wiping it with a damp cloth. 

11. Restoring graying whites with denture tablets

Best cleaning hacks - whiten clothes with dentures

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There’s nothing worse than when you once loved crisp white t-shirts, socks, and towels begin to go that dull murky-looking gray color. It can seem like an expensive or big task having to revive a huge batch of once-white garments, but thanks to this TikTok trick it’s never been easier and cheaper.

Simply fill your sink with around two liters of warm to hot water and drop in two whitening denture tablets, even the cheapest ones will do. Then leave the tablets to dissolve fully within the water, and carefully submerge your graying clothes or towels into the water. Leave them in there for around 30 minutes so the tablets have time to really do their thing. 

Once half an hour has passed removed the clothes, squeeze out the excess water, and put them straight in the washing machine. When they come out they will look good as new and as white as a set of fresh dentures. 

"I was hesitant to try this hack at first because it's a risky business when cleaning whites," says Tamara. "But I can confirm that my best white t-shirts were fine in the solution (even the one with a black logo on the front) and washed up brilliantly white after treating them." Next, we might try this when cleaning our white trainers

12. Using a microfibre mop to clean shower floors and walls

Microfibre mops aren’t just for cleaning your hardwood floors. Instead, they can be repurposed to make cleaning areas such as showers and hard-to-reach ceilings so much easier. 

Giving showers a good clean can be really difficult, with such tight spaces it can be hard to maneuver yourself to be able to reach those corners both on the floor and up on the ceiling. This is where your trusty mop can come in. 

Spray the areas you're aiming to clean with either a white vinegar solution or your favorite bathroom spray and use the mop either wet or dry to scrub. If you’re on the shorter side it’s perfect for tall shower walls too. You can also take this hack elsewhere around the house too. 

With a clean and dry mop head, tackle spider webs and dust on your ceilings and when cleaning walls. It’s a good idea to have two separate mop heads so you can interchange them depending on where in the house you’re cleaning – avoid the common cleaning mistake of mopping all areas with the same head. 

13. Shaving foam to prevent mirrors fogging

compilation image showing three steps for cleaning a mirror using the cleaning hack os rubbing in shaving foam to prevent fog

(Image credit: Future)

It can get annoying, stepping out of the shower to start your skincare routine only to be met with a fogged-up mirror. There's a TikTok shower hack to stop your clean mirrors from fogging up.

Start off by cleaning your bathroom mirror with a simple mixture of soap and water. Once dried, cover the mirror with a small dollop of shaving foam. Take a clean microfiber cloth and begin buffing the foam into the mirror. 

Once completely coated, leave it on there for around 20 minutes before wiping it off with a cloth or good-quality paper towel. The next time you shower your mirror should have repelled any mist and steam thanks to the film the foam leaves on the glass. But don’t worry the residue will completely go and you will be left with a streak-free sparkling mirror.

We can confirm, having tried it ourselves it does actually work at minimizing foggy mirrors.

14. Steam cleaning a microwave with lemons

Best cleaning hacks - Lemon water works to clean microwaves

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Not only does this hack help you clean your microwave it also helps with neutralizing any lingering odors from past dinners too. 

First, give your microwave a quick wipe to get rid of any large bits of loose food. Then, simply fill a microwaveable bowl with water and place around ten slices of lemon into it. Place into the microwave and start it on full for around three to five minutes until the water boils. 

Don’t open the door when it’s done, instead leave it for around five minutes so the steam made by the bowl of water can keep contained within the microwave and do its thing. When you open it, the steam will have worked in breaking down stubborn food stains and splatters. Take a damp cloth and wipe away all remaining stains to leave your microwave looking as good as new. 

15. Cleaning up glass shards using bread

A slice of bread shown as a best cleaning hack to pick up glass shards

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Hopefully, you won’t have to use this hack every week when cleaning the house but it’s a useful trick to know the next time you break a glass and have to clean it up. 

Schulz recommends this hack. He says, “When glass shatters, there are always tiny shards that break off which the broom or vacuum can’t get. But they can still cause harm to people and pets, so it’s essential to thoroughly clean any area around where the glass broke.” 

Start with carefully sweeping up all the large pieces with a dustpan and brush. Then take a piece of white bread and pat it on the area where the glass shattered. This will lift all the micro glass particles which can’t easily be seen. 

The doughy consistency of the bread acts like glue that the glass shards cling onto. Just make sure you immediately throw out the slice and don’t leave it hanging around for any unsuspecting pets or children.

The viral cleaning hacks to avoid 

Our team of experts also pointed out that some of the cleaning advice online from inexperienced 'cleaners' can leave you disappointed or even in some cases can be quite dangerous. Here are some of the hacks and tricks to avoid when starting on your next clean. 

1. Mixing chemical cleaning products

Although many combinations are completely safe and great to use around your home, there are certain chemicals that shouldn't be put together. Lynsey Crombie, warns that "Although it may look pretty, mixing cleaning products down the toilet is actually really dangerous as you are mixing strong chemicals." 

A recent TikTok trend, named the 'Overloading' trend, saw users making potion-like concoctions of cleaning products all within their toilet bowls. 

The trend involved filling a toilet bowl with multiple colorful cleaning products which leads to certain rainbow effects as well as bubbles. Although perhaps nice to look at, the mixture of chemicals can release toxic gases and become very dangerous in badly ventilated areas. Especially stay clear of mixing bleach with any type of vinegar as it can create chlorine gas which is particularly dangerous.

 It's best to keep it simple and stick to just one toilet cleaning product at a time as well as always check the ingredients of the products you're using. 

2. Using soda to clean your toilet bowl

You may have seen the videos of people pouring cola in their toilet bowls and labeling it a cleaning hack. Luckily this won't pose any dangers other than perhaps some disappointing results. 

A soft drink is not nearly as potent or effective as a conventional cleaning product such as bleach or branded toilet cleaner. So it's best to avoid spending extra money on soda to only pour it down the drain. Instead, drink the soda and leave the toilet cleaning products to the professionals. 

3. Lemons in your dishwasher

Unlike its effectiveness in our microwaves, using lemons in the hopes of it both cleaning and deodorizing your dishwasher won't achieve the same results. 

Unfortunately, due to the sheer amount of water that goes through your machine even adding several lemon slices won't make much of a difference. 

Instead, stick to using our white vinegar hack or perhaps some of these useful steps to clean your dishwasher easily and quickly.  

4. Using power tools to do your cleaning

It may seem like using a power drill to clean and scrub your shower, as seen on TikTok, for you is a great way of cutting down on the elbow grease needed. However, fixing a scrubbing brush to your drill can actually damage surfaces, scratch tiles, and lift grout. 

When looking for cleaning tools it's always best to stick to products that are specifically marketed for the use of cleaning. Otherwise, you may end up with some permanent damage that no amount of scrubbing can fix.

5. Applying undiluted essential oils to fabrics

We all want a house that smells amazing but some essential oils can not only be damaging to certain materials but also major irritators for our skin. Whether you've seen a hack on scenting your mattress or even adding essential oil on the inside of your toilet rolls, we advise staying clear. 

Essential oils are very potent, with some even being poisonous to pets. So applying them undiluted to fabrics and other soft absorbent materials can cause more harm than good. It's always best to dilute the oils, check which scents are appropriate for the potential pets in your house, and leave your toilet rolls as they are. 

6. Cleaning an oven with dishwasher tablets

TikTok 'Cleanfluencers' have begun using dishwashing tablets to tackle the messiest and arguably one of the toughest cleaning jobs in the kitchen: cleaning the inside of the oven

We wouldn't recommend this method as the results were not particularly effective, not even comparable to cleaning with some soapy water and a microfibre cloth. That's not to mention there can be some skin-irritating chemicals within the tablets and depending on the brand you're using, it’ll be easier to hold the tablet with the flat side facing down towards the surface you're cleaning. In conclusion, it's too much effort for not a great gain.

7. A tennis ball to remove scuff marks on floors

This one may seem a little wacky but there was word that it works like magic for rubber scuffs on tile or wood flooring. 

The advice is to simply get a fresh tennis ball and rub it over the scuff mark. It's claimed that the tennis ball’s friction works against the rubber mark and lifts it off the wood or tile. We really wanted this to work to tackle those annoying black scuffs and sneaker marks, but alas it didn't deliver.

Despite giving a tennis ball a good rub on a wooden floor with scuffs the marks remained. It's far more beneficial to get on your hands and knees and gently scrub the stain with a splash of vinegar on a microfibre cloth.

Emily Smith
Digital lifestyle writer

Emily joined woman&home as a staff writer after finishing her MA in Magazine Journalism from City University in 2023. After writing various health and news content, she now specialises in lifestyle and home writing where she covers all things cleaning, interiors and homeowning. 

With contributions from