The 7 essential cleaning tools everyone needs in their cleaning kits

These are the only essential cleaning tools you’ll ever need, according to professional cleaners

A woven basket of amber glass cleaning bottles and a white rag on a wooden kitchen counter top, blurry white cabinets and a kitchen sink in the background
(Image credit: Getty Images)

With so many tools and products on the market, it is easy to fall into the trap of buying unnecessary gadgets to help clean our homes. But how do you sort the good from the gimmicks? 

Stocking up your cabinet with high-quality cleaning supplies that will last for years without compromising on cleanliness means you are always ready to clean up a spill or get rid of dust to make a home smell nice, removing one of the biggest barriers to cleaning, experts say. 

These are the seven essential cleaning tools everyone needs in their cleaning kits, and why these essentials are all you’ll ever need for a clean space.

Essential cleaning tools

Much like putting together your essential cleaning supplies kit, picking out your cleaning tools should be done based on your needs and the needs of your home. Everyone needs a good quality microfiber cloth, for instance, but not every home has radiators – meaning a duster on an extendable handle isn't necessary for everyone. 

With that in mind, these are the seven essential cleaning tools to start with to easily maintain your home. 

1. Microfiber cloths

A lasy using a cloth and spray to wipe down a make up desk

(Image credit: Getty Images)

'If they could only live with one cleaning tool, experts would almost always pick a microfiber cloth, and for a good reason,' begins Angela Rubin, cleaning expert and owner of Hellamaid. ‘Microfiber cloths are a game-changer when it comes to cleaning. Their ultra-fine fibers are effective at trapping dust, dirt, and bacteria, making them perfect for various surfaces.'

She recommends color-coding your cleaning and microfiber cloths to avoid cross-contamination, assigning different colors for specific areas like bathrooms, kitchens, and general cleaning.

Knowing how to wash a microfiber cloth is essential to ensuring that it continues to work as intended. Cleaning them between uses is a must to avoid spreading dust and germs around your home, but using the wrong products can make it harder for them to collect dirt.  

12 Microfiber cloths | View at Amazon

12 Microfiber cloths | View at Amazon
A good microfiber cloth is the most important tool in a cleaning arsenal. Keep a few to hand, and you'll rarely need anything else. Their electromagnetic fibers will pick up dust effectively.

Angela Rubin
Angela Rubin

Hellamaid is an award-winning cleaning company in Canada that's been featured on multiple global media brands.

2. A washable mop

A mop standing in a metal bucked against a wall

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

If you have any hard floors in your home, you need a good mop to remove grease and grime. However, traditional mops tend to gather dirt, hold onto bacteria, and be very hard to clean, leading to strange smells. As such, it is important to select a mop that has a removable and washable mop head, such as the washable Elyiden Mop from Amazon. This way, you can throw the mop head into your washing machine after use and hang it out in fresh air to dry and remove lingering odors. 

Like microfiber cloths, be sure to avoid washing mop heads with fabric softener to maintain their absorbency. 

3. A steam cleaner

Although steam mops and cleaners may not seem essential, there are so many things you can clean with a steam cleaner that they are quickly becoming some of the most efficient cleaning tools – and experts love them for everything from cleaning upholstery to cleaning grout

'Not only are they allergen-free and good for the environment, but they work on practically every surface (be sure to check the care label first, however), helping to melt away grease and lift tough, stubborn stains,' says Alex Cortez, manager of Denton Maids.

Picking a multi-functional model with attachments for mopping hardwood floors and steaming carpets, tiles, and furniture makes this an ideal investment for your whole home.  

Black+Decker 7-in-1 Steam-Mop | $199.99 at Amazon

Black+Decker 7-in-1 Steam-Mop | $199.99 at Amazon
Rated H&G's favorite steam cleaner, I love this for cleaning everything in my home, from tiles and grout to soft furnishings and carpets. There is nothing it can't do.

4. Empty spray bottles

amber glass bottles in a basket

(Image credit: Getty Images)

'Even if you are not one for making your own DIY cleaning solutions, having some clean empty spray bottles to hand helps if you need a little bit of water or are cleaning with white vinegar and don’t want to soak a rag through,' says Gabriella Dyson, Solved Section Editor for Homes & Gardens. 'They are also great if you are looking for cleaning tricks to reduce plastic use at home.' 

While you can buy new bottles from your local store, reused bottles that have been thoroughly cleaned out can also be used if you want to be more eco-friendly. 

Gabriella Dyson
Gabriella Dyson

Gabriella Dyson is Head of Solved at Homes & Gardens, editing and writing practical advice for homeowners in the process of cleaning, decluttering, or attempting home improvements and DIY projects. Gabriella previously worked on, writing features about issues surrounding historic and listed building projects.

5. A good quality vacuum

A dog looking at a vacuum cleaning a carpet.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A good vacuum cleaner is an absolute must in every home, and you should pick one that not only has good suction but is designed for every floor type too, says Angela Rubin, cleaning expert:

‘A quality vacuum cleaner is crucial for maintaining clean carpets and floors. Vacuum high-traffic areas frequently and use attachments for corners and edges to ensure a thorough clean.’

6. Heavy duty gloves

No matter if you use commercial cleaners or green cleaning, some good cleaning gloves can help to protect your skin from irritation and dryness when cleaning your home – even if you are just using basic soap and water. Picking gloves specifically designed for household cleaning means that they will not interact with chemical cleaners or rip or tear easily when scrubbing.  

7. A scrubbing brush

Someone scrubbing the carpet with a brush

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Not everything is damaged by an abrasive cleaner, so having a good scrubbing brush or sponge to hand is a must – just be sure you know what you can and cannot use it on. Cleaning expert Matthew Baratta from Daimer Industries suggests having a scrubbing brush to hand for sinks and tubs, especially to help remove limescale and soap scum with ease.  


How often should you clean your cleaning tools? 

You should clean your cleaning tools every time you use them to ensure you are not spreading dirt or bacteria around your home. Throw microfiber cloths and mop pads in the washing machine (without fabric softener) to freshen them up. Empty your vacuum and ensure the beater brush is free from clogs, and bang the dust out of any brooms or feather dusters. 

What are the 5 golden rules of cleaning?  

The five essential golden rules of cleaning help you to keep your home neat without extra effort. They are as follows: always clean from top to bottom, never procrastinate, start with dusting, begin easy and work up to bigger tasks, and divide the work up to prevent burnout.  

Once you have your cleaning tools and products, it is important to organize your cleaning supplies so that they are easy to grab (such as keeping them in the rooms you use them in) and are not damaged by fluctuating moisture levels.  

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.