Whether it’s your first or seventh year in Japan, you’ve likely faced the daunting task of procuring cleaning supplies for your home. Regardless of if you’re just looking for some new product recommendations or need a quick refresher, I’ve found that it’s essential to keep your home stocked with the correct cleaning supplies and the tools to use them. Through trial and error, I’ve compiled my best advice on what products to buy, and simple tips on how to use them effectively.

The Basics

In my experience, I’ve noticed most people prioritize buying unnecessary apartment goodies like decorations and overpriced kitchen gadgets before buying the much-needed cleaning basics. To avoid making the same mistakes, stock your home with these essential cleaning and household supplies.

List of Basics
• Trash bags
• Cleaning rags
• Hand soap for each sink in your house
• Dish soap
• Rubber gloves (one pair for dishes, another pair for cleaning)
• Kitchen sink drain nets or drain covers
• Broom with dustpan
• Sponges
• Collapsable mop

Drain covers are one item you may not have come across in your home country but are vital in keeping your kitchen sink clog-free. They come in various sizes and fit over the metal food catcher sitting above the drain in most kitchen sinks. As you do the dishes, the drain cover will catch all the extra food particles, then once the drain starts to fill up (or starts to stink), throw it out and replace it with a new one. Using just the metal food catcher without the net doesn’t guarantee all the food won’t go down your drain, which could lead to clogs or an unsavory smell in the future. Find drain covers in discount shops like Daiso or at your local drugstore or supermarket.

Bathroom Beautifying

You might be surprised and mildly disgusted when you discover that cleaning the bathroom, or in Japan’s case, the “toilet room,” is my favorite cleaning task. The room itself is tiny, which results in minimal cleaning time and after a good scrub, you can usually see a noticeable difference. Regardless of if you look forward to cleaning your bathroom or not, to make this task as speedy as possible, I recommend making sure you are equipt with these items:

• Toilet brush
• Toilet cleaner or spray
• Toilet wipes or multi-purpose wipes
• Aroma diffuser

My go-to toilet cleaner is the Scrubbing Bubbles toilet cleaner, which only requires a quick squirt around the toilet rim. Once the cleaner drips into the bowl, you can have a go with your brush for sparkling clean results. For surfaces like the toilet seat, cover, and mini sink on the top of the toilet, I usually recommend multi-purpose wipes or toilet wipes. For an extra touch, add an aroma diffuser in your favorite scent to make your toilet room smell as clean as it looks.

Shower & Bath Maintenence

Unless you’re living in an apartment from the Showa era, cleaning your “ofuroba” or bathroom, isn’t as difficult as it looks. Here’s what you’ll need:

• Bath cleaning brush
• Bath cleaning spray
• Kabi Killer
• Drain stickers

Everyone’s family is somewhat different in how often they clean their tub, but for my family, after draining the bathwater from the previous night (or days) we use Bath Magic Clean spray and scrub with a long cleaning brush like this one. After scrubbing, rinse a few times and your bath is ready for use! To protect the drain from clogs, use these drain stickers to shield your pipes from hair getting lodged in the drain. During summer, when humidity is rampant, mold tends to start springing up between floor tiles and the hard-to-clean nooks and crannies. No matter how stubborn the mold is, the most recommended solution is a bottle of Kabi Killer and a hard-bristled brush.

Kitchen Cleaning

One positive about kitchens in Japan is that they tend to be much smaller than their western counterparts. So even if you don’t regularly clean your kitchen, the time it takes to do a deep clean won’t take nearly as long as you think, especially when you use the below-mentioned fast-acting cleaning supplies.

For the counters and the walls surrounding the stove and the stove itself, I like to use an all-purpose cleaner like this one, which also does a great job cleaning kitchen and bathroom sinks. However, if you tend to let your stove go unscrubbed for long periods and grease and grime have built up to an unreasonable level, don’t sweat it, this cleaner is specifically made to fight hard to remove grease from your stove and kitchen fan! For cleaning your microwave, check out these microwavable cleaning wipes that make an otherwise dreaded task into a fun activity, just make sure to use these only in the microwave setting.

All-Purpose Supplies

As mentioned in the previous kitchen cleaning section, I often use a multi-purpose spray for various cleaning tasks. Multi-purpose wipes and sprays are great for all kinds of surfaces, however, when using multi-purpose sprays or wipes, make sure to pay attention to the directions and what surfaces are safe to use them on. For example, I was using these cleaning wipes from Costco on my wooden table and over time I ended up stripping the varnish! At this moment I realized I should have paid closer attention to the directions.

Last but not least, try to have fun on your next cleaning day. I know that cleaning doesn’t have the best reputation, but if you throw on your favorite movie in the background or listen to an audiobook or podcast while scrubbing away, you may find cleaning quite therapeutic!