use (a little) (bit of) elbow grease

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use (a little) (bit of) elbow grease

1. To clean (something or some place) with a lot of effort, especially vigorous scrubbing. Come on, you're never going to get the gunk off the counter wiping it like that. Use a bit of elbow grease, for Pete's sake! I know it looks pretty gnarly right now, but if we use a little elbow grease, I bet we could get this old truck cleaned up real nice.
2. To exert a great deal of strenuous physical work (in order to do or accomplish something). I had to use a little bit of elbow grease, but I finally managed to tear down the entire wall with my sledgehammer. I know we're running out of time, but if we all use a bit of elbow grease, I think we'll be able to get the house built before the deadline.
See also: elbow, grease, use