If you're an avid chef, you'll likely agree.

By Lauren Wellbank
March 03, 2021
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Credit: Andrew Eccles

If you're curious about how natural cleaning products work or why baking soda is such a powerful ingredient, you've come to the right place. We'll explain the science behind some of the most popular cleaning methods and tools, so you can you clean smarter—not harder. Follow along with Clean Science to see which technique we break down next.

Staying on top of your home's cleaning schedule is a good way to prevent dirt and grime from building up over time. Unfortunately, some messes are simply more difficult to remove than others—even when you perform those regular maintenance cleanings (and the occasional deep dive). Ahead, we spoke to two cleaning experts to find out which type of dirt is the most challenging to remove, why it has such staying power, and how you can get rid of it for good.

The Worst of the Worst

It's probably no surprise that our experts believe that the worst type of grime is kitchen grease. "Hands down—food grease on cabinets, the backsplash area, and stovetops," affirms Rochelle Wilkinson, the owner of Dirt Detectives Cleaning. "What makes it so difficult to clean is once it cools down, it hardens." Over time, that hardened grease can build up on those aforementioned surfaces, which is why she suggests wiping them down before the splatters cool. Otherwise, you'll end up with layers up layers of grease, which can compound the difficulty of the removal process.

A Close Second

Of course, kitchen grease isn't the only challenging form of grime you will find in your home. Wilkinson says that soap scum is a close second. "You can tackle most soap scum with a spray bottle filled with 10-percent Dawn Platinum Dish Soap ($3.74, walmart.com), 30-percent hot water, and 60-percent cleaning vinegar (which will work best if you warm that up in the microwave, too)," she notes. If that doesn't work, Wilkinson advises (carefully) taking a straight razor to the surface and literally shaving the scum off your shower's surrounding tiles.

Honorable Mention

Your bathroom and kitchen spaces see a lot of action—which is why it isn't surprising that Trisha Lake, of TLC Cleaning Experts, says that the mold and mildew that develops in the grout in these spaces can also be hard to remove. "Grout on a tile shower, as an example, is made up of little tiny porous sand particles," she says. "The problem with this is that once bacteria gets into the grout, it is very difficult to prevent it from coming back." Sure, you can scrub it clean, but you may find it moldy again the following week thanks to the bacteria that has embedded deeply within. Ultimately, tackling the surface won't make it go away for good. "What you will need to do is spray the grout daily with bleach and let it sit for 20 minutes," Lake shares. "Do this every day for one week and it should help prevent that mold from growing back and returning." You need to kill the root of the bacteria, she says—not just the germs on the top layer.

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