When I first learned that millions of people use TikTok to watch others clean areas such as bathrooms and sock drawers, I was incredulous. What are they going to hook us on next, watching paint dry?
I decided to do a cleaning-video deep dive to see why these snippets are so appealing. What I found was that the people making them are the real deal: They’re professional cleaners and organizers who have tremendous on-the-job know-how and useful tips for saving time and money. And, as with any makeover, there’s great satisfaction to be had by watching a sink go from slimy to spotless in seconds. With a newfound admiration for these squeaky-clean stars, I reached out to a few of them and asked them to share some of their best advice. Here’s what they had to say:
Auri Katariina Kananen
@aurikatariina, 4 million TikTok followers
This 28-year-old from Tampere, Finland, started cleaning houses at age 14 as part of her work duty for school. Now, she’s a manager of a cleaning company and has 30 employees.
Avoid clutter distraction: Kananen’s best advice is to clear the clutter, then clean. People get bogged down by rearranging, reminiscing and dealing with their stuff — and then the cleaning doesn’t happen, she says. She suggests putting clutter into a box or bag, then wiping down all surfaces before returning everything to its place.
Stains require patience: “Give some time for every stain,” Kananen told me. “Usually, people put their product on top of the stain, and then immediately start to scrub it.” She applies her solution, then waits five to 60 minutes, depending on the stain. “You need to be patient!” she says.
Kananen adds that stains fall into two categories: soft stains, such as oil, grease and soap residue, and hard stains, such as rust and calcium deposits. For soft stains, she recommends a strong alkaline solution with a pH of 11 to 14. For hard stains, choose a product with high acidity, or a pH of zero to three.
Oven-cleaning method: Kananen says to apply any oven cleaner to the walls of your oven, then put plastic wrap on top of it to keep the solution in place. Let that sit for at least an hour, then scrub the solution with a heavy-duty scouring pad. (Her favorite is the Scour Daddy, made by Scrub Daddy.) For the oven’s glass window, use a glass scraper. Finish by wiping everything away with a microfiber cloth.
@imagineitdone, 43,900 TikTok followers
After a successful career in the beauty and fashion world, Lisa Jacobs decided to turn her passion for organizing into a business with Imagine It Done, a New York-based company whose TikTok cleaning and organizing videos have attracted thousands of viewers. (It also has more than 84,000 followers on Instagram.) Rather than setting “unrealistic organizing goals that are all about the horrible ‘before’ and the pretty ‘after,’ ” Jacobs says, she focuses on “the during,” so her clients learn to become realistic long-term organizers.
Duvet-cover trick: Her most-watched TikTok, with 1.2 million views, shows how to easily insert a comforter into its duvet cover. The steps: Lay the cover inside out on your bed, with the open end at the top. Place the comforter on top of the cover, and make sure all corners and sides line up evenly. Starting at the bottom end of the bed, roll both the cover and the comforter together toward the other side of the bed. Once you finish rolling, invert the cover opening around both ends of the bundle, then close the cover opening. Unroll the bundle and fluff.
Caring for major appliances: Jacobs’s most popular cleaning videos focus on appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers. “People don’t know to clean the filters and other parts of their machines,” she says, “so when something goes wrong, they call a technician, who ends up often charging a ton of money for something the owner could have taken care of.”
To keep that from happening with your clothes washer, Jacobs suggests regularly cleaning the detergent compartment and checking for mildew. Remove the compartment, then soak it in hot water with a bit of dish soap or spray it with a disinfectant. Check the area around where the compartment sits for any mildew or soap residue, and scrub it with a paste made from baking soda, white vinegar and a bit of water.
The rubber gasket that seals the door in front-loading machines is where most of the mold and mildew collects, causing your machine and clothes to smell. Jacobs suggests cleaning it regularly with a rag or microfiber cloth.
Must-have products: Jacobs can’t live without her “magnetic” broom, which she says is “magic,” because the foam head acts like a magnet for dirt and dust. Another go-to for her is Stardrops’ Pink Stuff spray or paste, which cleans everything except natural stone, such as marble or granite countertops, she says.
@allisonscleanin, 1.1 million TikTok followers
Denver-based Allison Nelson started cleaning houses her senior year of high school to earn extra money. Eleven years later, she has her own cleaning business with a long waitlist of hopeful clients and is known on social media for her can-do attitude and snappy sayings. Her goal, she says, is to teach people to “work smarter, not harder.”
Strategize for efficiency: She always starts the cleaning process by dusting and vacuuming before doing a deep clean. Nelson says this saves rags and cuts cleaning time in half. She also warns against using too much product; product overload is unnecessary, wasteful and can create more work. A little spray goes a long way, she says. Another tip: Use your bathtub to soak items such as blinds, refrigerator shelving or anything that’s too large to fit in your kitchen sink.
Small task, big effect: Among her most-viewed videos are those about little details making big differences. One focuses on replacing the dirty water in a vase of flowers; her tip is to add bleach or baby aspirin to extend the life of flowers and keep the water clean. Another shows how to leave a decorative stamp on a roll of paper towels: Fold the sides of the end sheet into a triangle and roll tightly. Use the sprayer at the end of your faucet (it should be a little wet) to place an imprint at the tip of the triangle. As Nelson says: “Gorgeous, baby!”
Homemade air freshener: Nelson is a master of creating her own solutions. Her homemade air freshener, which she has dubbed #spritzoclock, is made by adding about an inch of bargain fabric softener (choose a scent you like) to a spray bottle, then filling the bottle with water and a touch of rubbing alcohol. To turn the same solution into a deodorizer, add a bit of baking soda. She sprays it on carpeting, rugs, couches and beds.
Elizabeth Mayhew is a “Today” show style expert, former magazine editor and the author of “Flip! for Decorating.”