We all like to get something new once in a while. Sometimes just updating my cleaning "toys" motivates me to do a better job cleaning, for a while anyway, as well as getting rid of clutter, including old cleaning tools and products that don’t work so well. I am a guppy for new technology, and technology does improve over time. Let's come clean (pun intended) about what newer cleaning tools work and what tools don’t work. Here are the results of my recent cleaning product shopping and home trials.

Wet wipes for bathroom and kitchen swiping. The ease and simplicity makes sense. Last time I checked, I thought wet wipes were just for cleaning baby's posterior. I thought wrong. Though a little on the pricey side, I can keep a container in each bathroom to give it a quick wipe every once in a while that also kills germs. I am more inclined to keep up on bathroom grime because I don't have to run to the basement for a mop and a bucket.

Speaking of bathrooms, have you seen the bleach pens for fabric, grout, and caulked areas around sinks and tubs? Though they are convenient and very easy to use, I am not sold on them. I had previously dealt with mold and mildew stains by soaking a small tissue or piece of toilet paper with bleach and letting it sit on the mold spot until it faded away. The bleach pen is easy to apply, but I could have purchased three large bottles of bleach for what I paid for one small pen.

One of the new products I tried didn’t work out. The product, which promised easy cleaning and easy breathing, still had an odor and it didn't do any better job than the bathroom spray that I had used for years. I could have saved myself money and time by checking out the product review (only 3 out of 5 stars) at www.epinions.com or at www.amazon.com. Oh well. Live and learn. Tip: Go to websites and check out reviews for the best reviewed products to accomplish specific cleaning tasks.

What do you think about those disposable dust wipes you can use to dust anywhere in the home? They seem a little expensive, but after wiping off all blades of all the ceiling fans in our home that had run continuously all summer, I was ecstatic to throw that grime away rather than run it through my laundry. I also like the microfiber dust clothes that do need to be washed periodically with just themselves so they don’t pick up dirt from other fabrics.

In the fall, it was time to close the windows. That usually gets me thinking about household odors. I have discovered the spray-on fabric deodorizers. They really work! I was able to get all of the cigarette odor out of a used sleeper sofa I purchased. I also found that it worked great on clothing in closets and upholstered furnishings. Whatever this product is, chemically speaking, it seems to eliminate rather than just mask odor.

I am less impressed with the odor eliminators made of volcanic materials that are to be hung in closets. Honestly, I couldn't tell much difference, but some people are happy with them. The biggest thing that has helped our closets smell better has been weeding them out so there is less crowding!

And, as far as cleaning products go, I am also less than impressed with the "professional" style dry sponges that are now available. I can see where they might work just fine for wiping off a lampshade, but they didn't do much for pencil marks and other smudges in my home. Maybe I expect too much. I do like the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Pads for getting marks off of walls and other surfaces a lot. As far as I am concerned, they are a great product.

If you get really interested in cleaning products, Don Aslett, a well-known cleaning and clutter control author, has a catalog for professional and household cleaners. I like looking in his catalog periodically to see what he thinks are the latest and greatest products. He is right on target with micro fiber cleaning cloths. To get a copy of his catalog, call 1-800-451-2402 or check out his website at www.cleanreport.com.

After my research and home trials, I decided it is worth it to check the catalogs and cleaning product aisles now and again because some things have been improved upon and because it is fun to have new toys to help me stay motivated to do these tedious tasks. I also wondered why, in casual conversation, these tasks are rarely discussed.

Why is it taboo to ask someone how they dust their home or clean their toilet or wash their clothes? After all, we all have to do this stuff, and maybe if we put our heads together more often, we could simplify our lives by using better products and methods. Better products and methods will help us save time for things that are more important to us!

Barbara Tako is a clutter clearing motivational speaker and author of Clutter Clearing Choices: Clear Clutter, Organize Your Home, & Reclaim Your Life (O Books, 2010), a seasonally organized book of clutter clearing tips that readers can pick and choose from to fit their personal style and needs. Sign up for her free monthly clutter clearing tips newsletter at http://www.clutterclearingchoices.com.