We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.
Whether you’re just getting started in a new space or looking to complete (or maybe upgrade) your cleaning kit, we’ve put together a list of the most essential cleaning tools that we believe no home should be without. If you want to buy new, we’ve included some helpful links to guide you to what we believe are the best buys in housekeeping. But it’s just as good — and maybe more fulfilling — to collect these staples as you go. Invest in your favorite must-haves, borrow others from family members, and slowly build a collection of house cleaning tools you can depend on, starting with the picks below.
There are a huge variety of sponges out there. It’s nice to have a classic sponge around — especially something with an abrasive side to tackle any grimy, dirty surface. But if you want to explore your alternative side, you can try out sponge cloths that bridge the gap between sponge and towel, spaghetti sponges (they don’t require soap!), a Scrub Daddy that changes texture based on temperature, or silicone sponges that last almost forever.
I always keep a ton of white towels on hand. I picked up a couple of sets of cotton towels from Utopia, but you can find packs of these just about anywhere, even at the hardware store. They’ll always match, you’ll know when they’re dirty, and they can be easily bleached and disinfected without getting ruined. An eco-friendly alternative? Cut up old t-shirts.
Just like the white towels, getting a few of these to keep on hand can boost your cleaning power. Microfiber can often get surfaces clean on its own or with just a little water, and they shouldn’t scratch or leave streaks behind (which is why they’re great for windows).
These little tools are must-haves for keeping showers free from mold and mildew. They also work great on windows if that’s a part of your cleaning routine. To get the most life out of your squeegee, make sure you protect the blade from being damaged while you use and store it. If your squeegee is leaving streaks or just not performing as well as it once did, you’ll know it’s time to replace the blade.
A nice-sized bucket can do more than just stow your cleaning supplies; you can use it for mopping and a multitude of other household tasks, making it essential for sure. You can buy one online (this $20 option from OXO is great), but most people just pick ’em up from the local hardware store.
Keep spray bottles on hand if you ever need to rinse something off with water, or if you’ve been wanting to try your hand at making your own cleaners. Glass bottles will hold up to anything, and you can buy them one at a time for less than $16 or in multi-packs for a savings boost.
A sponge or cloth isn’t always going to work, so keep an all-purpose scrub brush on hand to use on tile, tubs, fixtures, and tough stains. You can use an old dish brush that you’ve retired from dish duty, or buy a heavy-duty cleaning scrubber. We love this one from OXO, and it’s only $10.
When you need something a little more refined than a scrub brush, a toothbrush is a great option. Disinfect some old toothbrushes and put them to work on grout, sink rims and all the other nooks and crannies in your house. You can even boil old toothbrushes in water to bend their heads and make them better at getting into tough-to-reach spots.
If you don’t have a spare toothbrush, you can buy a special detail cleaning brush that’ll do the same job (maybe even better!).
If you have any hard surfaces like wood, tile, cork, and linoleum, you’ll need tools to get them clean. You should check out the instructions for different types of floors before you start, but most people can get along with a broom and dustpan and/or a dust mop. If you have pets or kids, you may want to get a wet mop as well, which will give you more power to clean up after spills or scrub grime from the floor.
If you have a really small apartment and don’t make very large messes, you can trade in a big broom for a hand broom and dust pan, like this $6 set from Target’s Made by Design line.