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We Tested Gadgets For People Who Suck At Cleaning, And Here's What Actually Worked

They all seemed too good to be true. But some of 'em were actually worth the money.

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Hi! We're Natalie and Emily from BuzzFeed's Nifty team, and we're constantly on the lookout for ways to make life a little bit easier.

Natalie Brown / BuzzFeed, Emily Shwake / BuzzFeed

We also like to have clean clothes, dishes, and apartments. But when it comes to ACTUALLY cleaning?

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Wellllll.... *cue procrastination*

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And TBH there are some cleaning jobs that are the MOST annoying — or basically impossible.

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Have you ever tried *really* getting your grout clean?

That's why we decided to test eight ~miracle~ products that claim to make those jobs easier, faster, or less of a chore. Here's how everything went:

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1. This wine stain remover that removes both fresh and dried red wine stains.

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HOW DOES IT WORK? Spraying the Wine Away onto a wet or dry stain will remove a stain from carpet, fabric, or upholstery within one to five minutes. It supposedly works on coffee, blood, juice, and ink stains, but I tested it only on wine.

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DOES IT WORK? Yup.

RESULTS: My first experiment involved a fresh red wine spill on a bright white shirt. I really did a number on this shirt so I drenched it in WineAway. The wine didn't disappear in the allotted one to five minutes, but after letting it dry overnight, the stain was almost completely gone.

For fair measure, I used a carpet square that had both new and old wine stains in my second experiment. I wasn't quite as generous with the pour on the carpet, so both the old and new stains vanished in about a minute.

Afterward, there was still a faint outline of a stain on both the shirt and the carpet, so a few more applications might be necessary, but I definitely preferred this to any heavy-duty scrubbing that I would have otherwise had to do.

Get it from Amazon for $5.18.

2. This automatic scrubbing brush — with 1/2-inch head and detachable grout brush — that's supposed to make cleaning tough spots easy.

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HOW DOES IT WORK? It's basically the superhero version of an electric toothbrush: You turn it on and its oscillating head, packed with tough, long bristles that you wouldn't want anywhere near your mouth, scrubs like crazy. The default brush head is round, and the grout brush tapers to a point, to help with cracks, crevices, and corners.

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DID IT WORK? On grout? ASTOUNDINGLY well. On everything else? Yes, but...

RESULTS: The BEST use of this baby is on tile grout, hands down. I cleaned half of my bathroom's grout (using the grout brush) in about 40 minutes, and days later I'm still marveling over it every time I open the door. I dipped the bristles in a Castile soap dilution (2 drops of soap + 1/2 cup of water), then lazily ran the scrubber back and forth over a 6-inch section of grimy, dark-gray grout — and it only took about 30 seconds for that grout to go from dingy to bright.

This brush can clean other surfaces too, but that's where its usefulness is kind of lost on me. Usually a cleaning wipe or all-purpose cleaner can do the same job with less mess as scrubbing with the bigger brush head. BUT if you live somewhere with hard water stains that drive you nuts, Amazon reviews attest to its power with buildup, and the larger head could be totally worth it for the time you'd save.

Get them on Amazon: the brush + regular scrubber is $14.03, and the grout brush is $7.

3. This robotic fur ball duster rolls around collecting dust and dirt with its washable microfiber cover.

Emily Shwake / BuzzFeed

HOW DOES IT WORK? I was honestly so confused about how to use this at first because all of the instructions are in Japanese, but you just need to hold the button to turn on the fur ball, and double click to turn the sounds on or off. This adorable little guy is supposed to automatically sense dirt and roll over it to pick it up. It rolls around for 15 minutes before switching off.

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DID IT WORK? Kinda!

RESULTS: It definitely works but I wouldn't say it completely solves my problem. You can tell that it actually "senses" the dirt because it will spend some time in an especially linty spot. While it did pick up some lint and even a few pieces of plastic, there was still visible dirt left on my floors. It makes a whirring sound that is pretty innocent, but I turned the sound effects off in a heartbeat because it beeped and whistled every three seconds 😡. Also, the brush it came with for cleaning the dirt off the ball doesn't work very well, so I just ended up picking lint off of the ball with my fingers.

After using it for a few days, I think that the value of the ball lies in maintenance between cleanings. I still have to sweep up, but if I use it regularly, I can stretch the time in between cleanings by a day or two.

Get it from Japan Trend Shop for $56.

4. This gap-cleaning tool that's supposed to reach the stubborn dirt in window or sliding-door tracks.

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HOW DOES IT WORK? The small, narrow brush is supposed to gather loose dirt and dust from window or sliding-door tracks, and the plastic end is supposed to pick dirt out of the corners.

Emily Shwake / BuzzFeed

DOES IT WORK? Eh, not really.

RESULTS: Though it did sweep up a bit, I'm pretty sure one of those foam paintbrushes would do a better job. The tool just wasn't flexible enough to reach all the nooks and crannies in my windowsill. However, it did do a hell of a job cleaning out my air conditioner. It got the dust out of all the vents and even helped scrub down the filter, so if you've got any vents that need cleaning, this might be your guy.

Get it from Amazon for $5.98.

5. This makeup-brush cleaning mat that's supposed to give your makeup brushes a ~deep clean~ with very little effort.

HOW DOES IT WORK? The left side of the mat is for cleaning your eye makeup and smaller brushes, and the right side is for cleaning bigger face brushes. You suction-cup it to the bottom of your sink, put a dab of soap in the middle, and go! (It also comes with a handheld cleaning pad, not pictured.) But it didn't come with any instructions — I had to read Amazon commenters' directions to figure it out.
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HOW DOES IT WORK? The left side of the mat is for cleaning your eye makeup and smaller brushes, and the right side is for cleaning bigger face brushes. You suction-cup it to the bottom of your sink, put a dab of soap in the middle, and go! (It also comes with a handheld cleaning pad, not pictured.) But it didn't come with any instructions — I had to read Amazon commenters' directions to figure it out.

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Natalie Brown / BuzzFeed

DID IT WORK? It did!

THE RESULTS: I hadn't cleaned my brushes in maybe six months — I know, I know — and I think this mat is going to break me of that bad habit. It's just so ~satisfying~ to see all the old makeup come off in the sink! It is kind of small, so I couldn't leave the water running the whole time, or it would have washed the soap away. I rinsed the mat between brushes to get all the extra makeup off, and next time I'm going to clean the least-dirty brushes first — it took some baby oil to get all of the foundation off the mat, and I didn't want it to come off on my blush and powder brushes.

I also tried the Pinterest hack where you hang your brushes on your towel rack, using ponytail holders — worked like a charm!

Get the mat on Amazon for $7.99.

6. This three-brush water-bottle cleaning set that gets the gunk out of straws and awkward crevices.

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HOW DOES IT WORK? The largest brush has a long, sturdy handle with sharp bristles at the end to clean out bottles with narrow necks. The long, skinny guy is made out of strong but flexible wire that lets you bend through straws. Finally, the loop is for detail cleaning around the screw threads.

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DID IT WORK? Yep.

THE RESULTS: This thing is awesome. I've dropped my water bottle numerous times in the streets of New York City, aka the dirtiest place in the entire universe. I wash it but definitely not enough for the amount that I use it, because it was such a pain to do. I actually used to use my roommate's brush cleaner. That one was great, but isn't at all helpful with the weird straw on my Contigo water bottle. The brushes on this cleaning set definitely get into all the nooks and crannies of my water bottle, and they are sturdy enough to withstand really putting some elbow grease into a scrubbing. The only complaint I might have is that the bristles already started falling out after the first try. But hey, if the brushes start to look a little bare, I wouldn't mind spending the money on a replacement.

Get it from Amazon for $9.99.

7. This "Angry Mama" microwave cleaner that supposedly makes it easy to wipe out cooked-on gunk (and is tbh sexist).

Natalie Brown / BuzzFeed

HOW DOES IT WORK? You fill it with white vinegar and water (there are two lines telling you how far to go), put the lid on, and microwave for seven minutes. After the microwave's done, it sits for two more minutes, then you pour the excess liquid onto your sponge, and wipe up the grime.

DID IT WORK? Nope.

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THE RESULTS: First, I don't understand why it has to be called "Angry Mama" and why there's no "Angry Papa" or really why a plastic microwave cleaner needs to be gendered. Second, I've cleaned grosser microwaves using just a water + vinegar + lemons (for scent) in a bowl — and THAT WORKS SO MUCH BETTER than this contraption. Don't spend your money.

Y'all, the bowl method has more surface area to let the water ~evaporate~, so more steam ends up actually loosening the gunk in your microwave. This contraption has just a few little holes on the top. So the top, some of the door, and top-back of my microwave was steamed, but it took serious scrubbing to get the gunk off of the sides, bottom, and corners. With the bowl method, I know it sounds too good to be true, you can literally run a damp paper towel over the gunk *once* and get 98% of it up.

It's available on Amazon for $6.99.

8. These sweeper slippers that seem like they can clean your floors while you just go about your everyday tasks.

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HOW DO THEY WORK? You put 'em on your feet, and the microfiber nubs on the soles pick up dust, dirt, and hair as you walk around. You can also pull off the microfiber soles to stick 'em in the washing machine if they get ~too~ dirty.

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DID THEY WORK? Yup!

THE RESULTS: Okay, you can't just expect to walk around your home in these slippers and end up with no dirt on the floor. That's just not how the world works. And while they are a soft terry cotton, have a little cushion from the microfiber sweepers, and let you walk around normally (you don't feel like you're sliding, unless you want to), they're not the *most* comfortable slippers I've ever worn. But I'm not pulling my broom or dust mop out every night, and these slippers are something easy to have on while I cook dinner and move around the kitchen — which means the floor is cleaner than it would be otherwise!

Some nights I want to get the floors ~actually~ clean, though. So I run my toes around the baseboards, and do a scoot-walk to sweep all the fuzz, crumbs, and dirt to a pile in the center of the room, to sweep into a dust pan. While this is more work than pulling out the broom would be, I'm doing this twice a week simply because I already have the slippers on. (And trust me, I would NOT sweep twice a week.)

Get a pair on Amazon for $11.99.