elbow grease

elbow grease

Meaning: physical effort put into doing something

Example: "You'll need to use a little elbow grease in order to clean the tub."

Note: This idiom is most often used in reference to cleaning something and that is what the difference is between this idiom and "to put your back into something". "To put your back into something" is also used in reference to other sorts of labor.

For instance:

Correct Usage: "You men are taking far too long to get this house built! From now on I want to see you put your backs into it!"
Incorrect Usage: "You men are taking far too long to get this house built! From now I want to see you use some elbow grease!"

One wouldn't use "elbow grease" in such context, one would only use it when referring to something being cleaned. :)