I spent the weekend digging through the nearly 1400 posts here on Home Ec 101, tagging, sorting, and doing other fun maintenance. While doing so, I stumbled on a post from 2008 asking readers for their best cleaning tips. I thought it would fun to share their knowledge in a conveniently packaged formatt.
When I have guests or well-intentioned, pushy family for dinner, I quickly clear the table into a dollar store dish tray. I have it pre-filled with warm soapy water and stow it beneath the sink for washing up later. I even slip back on the child-lock in case Gramma gets any ideas. This keeps the party going, keeps people out of my kitchen and keeps the sink clear! It’s the best one-dolla-trick to save a bit of sanity. Plus the dishes are an absolute breeze after they’ve been soaking.
I used to drag my heavy canister vacuum cleaner up and down my painted wood steps to vacuum them clean. Now I DUST them! It’s fast (just get out and dampen some rags), quiet (I do it while the kids nap), and less hassle (no outlet to search for, no worries about the vacuum falling down the steps, no odd angles to contort the hose into).
Almost no-fail stain remover is Goop hand cleaner in the tub with the white top. Works well for grease stains that show up after they come out of the dryer–the bane of my existence.Use for those free toothbrushes that come with toothpaste sometimes but are too hard to use on a regular basis–great for scrubbing that grotty little area behind the faucet that a sponge won’t scour, around the handles, grout, under the rim in the toilet, and even cleaning some jewelry (not after the toilet, obviously, and not soft stuff–platinum and diamonds would likely handle it fine.) Much greener than nasty chemicals and does a better job!Great microfiber cleaning rags can be found by the huge bagful in the automotive section at Wal-Mart . 4 bucks for a big bag, and they are wonderful for cleaning just about anything. I even cut them in 1/4’s and use them as cloth baby wipes. Super soft, and very absorbent, and you’re not paying for the ‘miracle cloth’ label.
Polish shower walls with car wax. Keeps the mildew down for a long time. Be careful not to do the floor of the tub/stall unless you like broken hips.
Baby powder or corn starch will remove oil stains from clothing. Just sprinkle it on and it will wick the oil right out of the fibers. Shake off the excess, scrape off the caked powder and repeat until the stain is gone! Yay!
Have you ever seen those little yellow bottles called “Stain Devils”? They have all kinds of different formulas, grass, blood, grease, ink… I love them! I used to buy them at Jo-Ann fabric but I am not sure where to buy them around here.
You can clean leather sneakers with a magic eraser. It is amazing. (It also cleans soap scum off the shower — even the glass door)
I use the small cheap paint brushes (the kind that the kids would paint with) to clean the inside of the top of my sippy cups and all the small suction parts. Also works great if you have something stuck into crevices of plastic tops for food storage.
I use the brush attachment to vacuum every surface in my bathroom before cleaning it. I used to hate how sponges and rags just pushed lint/hair/dust around.
6 people, one toilet.
I keep “wet wipes” on the back of the toilet. They aren’t free, but I don’t know. I spend maybe $5 a month for them. Once a day, I wipe down the dirtiest area in there (the seat, or under the seat, or around the base, or whatever). Then flush the wipe. My toilet is ALWAYS clean.
I’m a complete convert to just using a half water/half vinegar mix in a spray bottle to clean everything. It’s cheap, it’s easy, there are no toxic chemicals, no fake smells, and it really works.
My best cleaning tip is to hire someone else to do it for you, but since I don’t have the money for that I’d have to say what works for me is not putting anything off and just doing it as soon as I see it needs getting done. I have to kick myself in the butt a lot during the day. Sometimes I have to put encouraging little notes around the house to get myself going!
Mine is a bit of a cheat, but with it being shedding season for both of my dogs, some times it’s hard to keep up with all the hair, and that’s always when the mother in law calls to say she’s stopping by. So, when there are tumbleweeds of dog hair floating around on my hard floors and I don’t have time to vacuum, I pull out one of our fleece blankets (the ones that the dogs sleep with) and just drag it around the room really quickly, it doesn’t get everything, but the static picks up most of the dog hair and then it can just be washed after a quick shake in the yard. If you use fabric softener on your fleece blankets, this won’t work. And we only do it with the dog blankets. I wouldn’t suggest doing it with your own bedding.
Another anti-shedding tip–my dogs are great about staying off the couch and chairs when I’m home, but as soon as the garage door closes, I know they’re back up on the couch leaving their fur all over it! I’ve found that if I pick up a few of the cheap old-fashioned spring mouse traps, set them and then lay them MECHANISM DOWN on the couch, if the dogs try to jump up on the couch, it springs the trap (it’s harmless since it’s mechanism down, the trap just makes a noise and jumps up into the air, it doesn’t catch the dog) and the dog will leave the couch alone. This also works for dogs who try to get their noses up on the counters. I have big dogs though, this might be a bit much for a little guy.
I recently ran out of dryer sheets, & had a load of laundry that required them (I don’t use any kind of treatment, either in the wash cycle or the dryer, for a load of towels). I grabbed a bottle of hair conditioner, mixed a little bit with some water, & put some of this mixture on a clean rag and into the dryer it all went. Everything came out fine, & static free. I will say I prefer the ease of dryer sheets, but I was happy to have this method to see me through until I made my next shopping trip to town.
My tip is for microwaves: Place a bowl half full of water with about half a lemon (or lemon juice, I have a lemon tree in my backyard so I always use that) in the microwave for 6-10 minutes or so. The dirt just wipes away and doesn’t leave any chemicals to cook into your food later (plus it smells like lemons!)