Monday, November 19, 2012

Top Ten Cleaning Tricks & Tips

The past few days have been spent trying to get my house clean. Not just a wipe-off-the-counters clean. More of a semi-deep clean. Maybe it's the nesting instinct kicking in a little early, but the littlest things make me cringe. From dust and fur on the baseboards to the layer of lint coating the floor underneath the washer. I still have a long way to go, but soon I'll be finished. Probably just in time to start all over again.

So, with cleaning on my mind, I decided to dedicate this post to my top ten favorite tips & tricks I've learned thus far.

FYI: I consider laundry a "cleaning" chore.

1. Baking soda to get whites whiter.

I read this in a magazine ages ago, but didn't try it until just a few months ago. We used to have a white duvet cover that just kept looking dingier and dingier as time went by. Even after being washed all on it's own. I gave this trick a try and it really worked!

I sprinkle approximately 1/4 cup, maybe a little less, into a large load of whites and it brightens them right up.

2. Shaving cream as a stain remover.

This I hijacked from the book Talking Dirty Laundry with the Queen of Clean.

A few weeks ago I was driving the kids to Storytime at our local library after stopping my Starbucks for a Pumpkin Spice Soy Steamer. So, I'm driving along when I pick up my drink to take a sip of it. Little did I know that the lid wasn't placed on securely. As I tipped the cup towards my mouth, Pumpkin Spice Steamer poured right down my white shirt and tan cardigan.

Soon after Storytime, we went home and I immediately treated the stains with Resolve laundry stain remover. It didn't work. I used bleach on my white shirt and it did the trick on my white shirt, but I couldn't bleach my cardigan. I pulled down Talking Dirty Laundry with the Queen of Clean and tried her trick with dish soap. I washed the cardigan, but that didn't work either. That's when I moved on to the shaving cream tip. While you can still faintly see the stain, it's only noticeable if you know to look for it.

3. Dish soap & white vinegar as a bathtub cleaner.

A little advice I received from a friend who heard about it through Pinterest.

One part vinegar to one part dish soap. My friend puts it in a spray bottle and just sprays her shower with it, let's it sit for a couple hours, and then washes it away with the detachable shower head. I, however, knew that my shower would need a little scrub in addition to this concoction. Instead of using a spray bottle, I bought myself one of those dish scrubbers that allows you to fill the handle with dish soap. I added the mixture into the handle and began scrubbing. I let it sit for approximately one hour and then rinsed every surface with water. Worked like a charm. The best part about it: it's safer than store-bought cleaning agents jam packed with chemicals. Especially since I am pregnant.

4. Lemons as a stain lifter for grout.

Our kitchen has nasty tiled countertops. I would like to know which genius thought it would be a great idea to use white tiles with white grout as the countertops in our kitchen and bathrooms, because he needs a good slap in the face. It's not just the fact that it's all white, but the tiles make it impossible to roll out dough for cookies.

I knew lemon juice could be used as a home cleanser and disinfectant, but I had no idea how amazing they really were until I saw how well and fast they pulled various food stains out of the white grout in the kitchen, and toothpaste stains out of the grout in the bathroom.

5. Baking soda as a carpet powder.

With two dogs sharing our living quarters with us, what little carpet we have in our house begins to stink like dog after a while. Especially our bedroom, which is where they sleep. Instead of buying over-priced and chemical-ridden carpet powder to sprinkle on our carpeted floors I instead use plain ol' baking soda (which is an ingredient in the pet carpet powder anyway). I sprinkle it onto our carpets, let it sit for an hour or so, then vacuum. It absorbs the most invasive odors fairly well, and it isn't loaded with perfumes that clash with the scent of my candles and pillow spray.

6. Newspaper as a container deodorizer.

I learned about this months ago at a Tupperware party. Simply put some old newspaper into your stinky food containers, or garbage can, and it will absorb any odors leftover from foods that were previously stored in it. One of my pet peeves is going to use a clean container to store that evenings dinner in, but when I crack open the lid I can still smell last weeks dinner in it. Yuck!

7. Vinegar water for...well...just about anything.

One part vinegar, one part water. Dip your rag into the mixture and use it when cleaning the baseboards or wiping down doors. Use the warmest water your hands can stand in the mixture and use it to clean the shelves in you refrigerator. Poor the solution in a microwave-safe bowl and nuke it for 30-60 seconds. Everything crusted onto the walls of your microwave will wipe right off. Anything really. It may be stinky for a little while, but vinegar is awesome at killing germs and bacteria. It's also not a harsh chemical, making it a safe cleaning agent for the environment.

8. Disposable non-latex gloves.

I personally cannot stand reusable rubber gloves. I wash my dishes with my bare hands. Sure, they feel a little dry afterwards, but I just keep applying lotion for about an hour. When cleaning, especially when I'm using cleaners which contain bleach (I'm trying to use up all that I have left, and once it's gone I don't plan on buying more), I wear disposable non-latex gloves instead. Yes, the kind you find in the doctors office used to examine the human body. I buy them in bulk at Costco and they last us months. Vada also uses them to pick up dog poo.

9. Baking soda & vinegar as a toilet bowl cleaner.

One part vinegar and one part baking soda poured into the toilet bowl. Works just as well as the Clorox toilet bowl cleaner I had been spending precious money on. Once again, much safer for you and the environment than chemicals. It is also less frustrating for me to use than those pesky toilet cleaner bottles. Only a handful of times has it actually come out of the spout correctly. Instead, it would pour out from the underside of the twist cap, making a mess all down the side of the bottle.

10. Tea Tree oil as a Goo Gone substitute.

I confess, I haven't actually tried this one yet, but when I read about it here I knew I would use this eventually. I am saver of glass food jars. Spaghetti sauce jars, jelly jars, salad dressing jars, wine bottles, etc. I just can't bring myself to put these jars into our glass recycling bin. They have so many good uses left in them! I frequently use Goo Gone to remove the glue leftover from the labels. Some glues are rather strong and require the Goo Gone process two or three times. If I can use Tea Tree oil instead for a more environmentally-friendly solution to removing stubborn glue then I'm all for it.

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