How to clean your cleaning tools (, we’re not usually this compulsive)

Though we'd hardly call ourselves neat freaks, there comes a point when there are so many dust bunnies clinging to your broom you're probably doing a disservice to your floor by sweeping with it. Here are a few simple shortcuts to keep brooms-and other cleaning tools-doing what they do best.

1. Every few weeks (or months, if you share our slacker tendencies) take brooms outside to hose them off and dry. If you're feeling especially industrious, sprinkle a few drops of mild soap on the bristles as you're washing to get them dirt-free. Grimy dustpans can get the same treatment in the sink or tub.

2. Instead of waiting for a sponge to get filthy, throw it in the dishwasher once a week or so to keep it sterile and smelling fresh. Just lay it on the top rack of the machine and run your usual cycle along with a load of dishes. Or opt for this microwave technique: Soak your kitchen sponge (the ones with the scrubby pads are fine, though don't try this with metal) in clean water and place it in the microwave on high for two minutes to kill lingering bacteria (and Captain Obvious advice: Take care removing it since it's going to be really hot!).

3. Though a garbage disposal isn't technically a cleaning product, we couldn't resist passing on our favorite maintenance trick. Every so often, grind up a few lemon wedges (we usually wait til we have leftovers so we don't have to waste a whole piece of fruit) to disinfect the machine. This trick also fills your kitchen with the loveliest, super-refreshing citrus scent.