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25 Quickie-Cheapie Clean-ups
Compiled by Vicki McClure Davidson
Rather than spend more money on assorted chemical-based cleaners for your home and garage, try these 25 cheaper cleaners and cleaning methods.
Not only do they cost a heck of a lot less than buying a bottle or spray of a manufactured cleaner, but are generally safer to use. Cheaper is often better in this arena.
Crayon Marks on Walls — For a cheap and quick clean-up, dip an old toothbrush in distilled white vinegar and use it to scrub away at the crayon marks. The marks will vanish almost instantly. Be sure to test a small area of the wall before fully applying. Vinegar can be too strong for some finishes and paints.
- Stains on Stainless Steel Sinks — Apply some WD-40® on the stainless steel sink stains, rub the areas, and the stains should diminish or totally disappear.
- Food-Encrusted Microwave Oven Interior — Chop or slice up a lemon or two, place the lemon pieces in a 4-cup microwave-safe bowl filled with 1 cup water. Set the microwave timer on high for 2 to 3 minutes (until the water boils). To prevent being scalded, let the water cool for at least 15 minutes before opening the door to wipe out the microwave. Remove the bowl and lemons and with a wet sponge or rag, wipe the inside clean. The lemon combines with the steam and gently and safely softens dried residual food splatters. Unless your microwave has a lot of cooked-on food build up, it should be effortless to clean. If you can't clean all of the interior mess, put the bowl and lemons back into the microwave and run on high for another minute or two.
- Greasy Stovetop — You can use the heated lemon water from the above hint to cut through the grease on your stovetop. After you're done, be sure to remove any lemon juice residue with a rag soaked in regular water. When done, pour the lemon water down the kitchen drain to help cut through the greasy gunk that is stuck inside the pipes.
- Gooky Bicycle Parts — WD-40® will clean your bike and bike tools, remove grease, and lubricate locks, hinges, and all moving parts of the bicycle.
- Dirty Baby Bottles — To quickly loosen and remove dried milk from inside a baby bottle, add a little uncooked rice or some coffee grounds with a little warm water and liquid dishwashing soap. Put the top on the bottle and shake until clean. This doesn't eliminate the need to sterilize the bottle, but it will do a faster job removing residual dried milk than a bottle brush.
- Smelly Hands from Cutting Fish — To easily remove fish odor from your hands, wet your hands, take a small amount of non-iodized salt or baking soda, massage it in, then rinse. You can also apply and massage in a small amount of full-strength lemon juice. Your hands should be free of the fishy odor.
- Black Streaks and Rollerblade Marks on Kitchen Floors — A little bit of WD-40 will quickly and safely remove the marks. Be sure to wipe the floor clean after using WD-40.
- Streaky TV or Computur Monitor Screen — Use an old dryer sheet to safely remove smudges, dust, and grime.
- Room Freshener — Pour a small amount of distilled white vinegar in a bowl and leave out overnight in the room that has an undesired odor (for example, the kitchen with a fishy smell, the living room with cigarette smoke, etc.). The air will be freshened by morning.
- Dirty or Smelly Dishwasher — Run the dishwasher with baking soda in it instead of dishwasher detergent to clean and deoderize it.
- Washing Dishes by Hand — When washing dishes, a teaspoon of lemon juice added to your dishwashing detergent can boost the grease-cutting power.
- Old Sponges — Revive and freshen old sponges by soaking them in cold saltwater (use non-iodized) after they are washed.
- Common Doggie Odors in Carpet or Furniture — Sprinkle baking soda, which absorbs odors, on the area of carpet or furniture where your dog lies. Leave the baking soda on area for about a half hour, then vacuum. The canine odor should be gone. If it isn't, reapply more baking soda and let it set for another half hour, then vacuum.
- Clean Chrome, Copper, or Brass — Create a paste using lemon juice and baking soda. Rub the paste onto chrome, copper, or brass, rinse, and then wipe or buff it with a soft cloth or paper towel.
- Water Marks on Wood Furniture — Rub toothpaste on the water marks on wood furniture to remove them.
- Dirty Bathtub — Instead of using chemicals to clean your bathtub, try using vinegar and baking soda. Spray vinegar heavily on the tub, then put baking soda on a cleaning rag and rub over the vinegar. Rinse with warm water. While the smell of vinegar will be strong at first, it will fade, and will make the air fresher. It also keeps harmful chemicals from damaging the finish on your tub.
- Dirty George Foreman Grill — While the grill is still hot, place a wet paper towel on the grill. Close the grill top, wait until the rising steam dies down, lift the lid, and most of the grilled bits that are clinging to it will have been steamed off or can be easily dislodged. Wipe with another paper towel or the plastic scraper that comes with the grill (never use metal, as it will mar the cooking surface.) Repeat until the grill is totally clean. You can also try using a little white vinegar on the paper towel.
- Coffee Pot Bitterness — Remove bitterness from a percolator or other coffee pot by filling it with water, adding 4 tablespoons of salt, and percolating or boiling as usual.
- Spilled Candle Wax on Carpet — Wait for the spilled candle wax to cool down. Take a paper towel or paper napkin and lay it across the wax. Lay a bath towel over the paper towel. Get an electric hand hair blower and, on the high setting, go back and forth over the wax area, just a few inches above it, for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Press the towel down a few times, then lift. If there is still wax on the carpet, repeat, shifting the paper towel so that a fresh section is over the remaining wax. Wax can also be removed by using an iron on a low setting, instead of the hair blower. Just be careful to not have the setting too high or the carpet could be damaged. Some hints suggest using old newspaper instead of paper towels. The ink/dye used in the newspaper print could be transferred to the carpet, so I discourage using newspaper.
- Another Candle Wax-Removal Suggestion: I've not ever used this method, but it sounds like it would work. Put ice cubes into a metal pan. Place it right on top of the candle wax until the wax is frozen solid. With a small hammer, hit the wax to break it up. Pick up the pieces. Then, apply dry-cleaning solvent on a clean cloth to remove any leftover residue.
- Mildew or Rust Stains on Clothing — Moisten the stained spots with a mixture of lemon juice and salt, then spread the item in the sun for bleaching; and finally, rinse and dry.
- General Purpose Cleaner — Non-iodized salt can be mixed with white distilled vinegar to create a good general purpose cleaner. Don't use it on waxed surfaces, marble, or linoleum because the vinegar may be too strong for the surface and cause damage. This vinegar-and-salt mix can be used for general cleaning about the house. Swab down surfaces and clean inside the fridge and cupboards with it.
- Dirty, Smelly Drains — Pour one-quarter cup baking soda down the drain, followed by one-half cup white distilled vinegar. Cover the drain and let it sit for 15 minutes as it bubbles. Follow with 2 quarts boiling water.
- Cleaning Wipes — Take a cloth and soak it with undiluted white vinegar. Use it for sanitizing kitchen counters, stove, and bathroom surfaces. This is just as effective as the anti-bacterial products and does not promote resistant strains of germs like the commercial products can. It's a much cheaper and more environmental-friendly way to protect your loved ones.
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