Ah the pleasures of being a grown-up: You can rent a car, stay up as late as you want and you really can eat ice cream for dinner. But being an adult comes with its responsibilities… like cleaning. And while that’s no fun at all, there are a few key tricks to help you feel like you’re totally pulling it off. Memorize these tricks, and you’ll never have to waste time or money on a cleaning dilemma again. Red wine stains? Stubborn soap scum? A stained sink? No problem: The quickest ways to clean them up are all right here.
1. Stubborn Soap Scum: You can buy a hundred and one products that claim to dissolve soap scum for good. But if you’ve got scum that’s built up over time, it’s unlikely a bottled spray will actually work. If your shower tile and doors are covered with a dull, white soap scum glaze, try this solution instead. Warm up a cup of vinegar in the microwave. Add a cup of blue Dawn dish soap, then mix and pour into a spray bottle. Spritz your scummy area with the soap-and-vinegar solution, then let it stand overnight. In the morning, wipe the solution off of the surface with warm water. You won’t believe how new your tiles and shower door will look. (Photo via Alexandra Immel)
2. Coffee, Wine and Juice Stains: You love to entertain but there’s always a risk of spillage. White carpets and upholstery seem to attract dark, quick-staining liquids like red wine, grape juice and coffee. But don’t panic if a bit spills on your pristine whites. Just blot up the excess liquid, dab the stain with a paste of baking soda and water, then blot with a warm soaking wet cloth. The baking soda will magically lighten the stain and the wet cloth will slowly dab it all away. Once the stain has disappeared, blot again with a dry cloth and leave to air dry.
3. Oil Spots: The occasional oil spot from cooking, cleaning or the errant french fry is hard to avoid. Though it might seem like there’s nothing that you can do once a garment gets stained with oil, there is a hack out there. Just sprinkle the stain with cornstarch, let sit for 10 minutes, then shake the powder off. Dab at any mark that remains with white vinegar, then wash or dry clean and kiss that formerly-fatal stain goodbye.
4. Streaky Windows: If you’ve ever tried to clean your windows with the same cleaner you use to wipe the counters, you may have noticed that it doesn’t work very well. All-purpose cleaners can make windows streaky and washcloths that work great for other purposes cover glass with lint. Cleaners made just for glass, when used with paper towels, will leave windows and mirrors cleaner than other solutions will. But the best window cleaner is the same one your grandfather used: plain white vinegar and dry newspapers. Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar, grab a paper from your local coffee shop, then clean the windows on both sides. You’ll be amazed at how shiny and streak-free they’ll get. (Photo via Lavallee Construction)
5. Spilled Wax: Candles are a beautiful way to create warmth around the house — until one of them spills wax. If you rub the wax with cleaners, it will only make the stain stick. So what do you do? If you spill melted wax on upholstery or carpets, place a clean paper towel over the stain, run a hot iron over the back of the towel and lift away. The stubborn wax will re-melt, the paper towel will soak up the hot wax and you’ll end up with a surface that looks like the stain never happened. Repeat until the paper towel comes away clean, then treat any remaining oil spot with fabric cleaner.
6. Plugged Drain: Chemical drain cleaners don’t always work, and they’re harsh on drains and pipes. Don’t spend time and effort fruitlessly pouring stinky chemicals down the drain. For a more effective drain cleaner that comes with the added bonus of being non-toxic, try this trick. Sprinkle a cup of baking soda down the drain, follow with a cup or two of white vinegar, cover and allow to sit for five minutes. Rinse the mixture down the drain with a gallon of boiling water, then plunge for a minute or two. Your drain will clear right up.
7. Clogged Showerhead: Over time showerheads can become clogged with mineral deposits, leaving your shower more of a trickle. Spraying the showerhead and wiping it off won’t remove the buildup inside. For an instant increase in water pressure, unscrew the whole shower head and soak it overnight in a bowl with a solution of one part calcium, lime and rust remover and one part water (make sure to always wear gloves when handling the remover, as it can be harmful to skin and eyes). In the morning, reattach the shower head, run the water through it for a few minutes and enjoy your renewed water pressure. (Photo via HOUSEplay Interiors)
8. Burned Cooking Pans: Pans that you use to cook will develop spots of black, burned-on gunk that won’t come off with soaking or scrubbing. But does that mean that your pans are doomed to look shabby forever? Nope. Fill metal pots and pans with a solution of one part vinegar and one part water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, then add two tablespoons of baking soda. After the liquid is done fizzing, pour it out and scrub. Those blackened spots will melt off like magic. For glass dishes and cook pans, just crumple up some tin foil and use it like a sponge with regular dish soap. The aluminum will help dislodge stubborn stains.
9. Stained Sink: Sometimes no amount of scrubbing will make the sink look sparkling clean. If your stained steel, porcelain or plastic sink is making you go ick, try this unconventional trick. Fill the sink with water, pour in a packet of lemon Kool-Aid powder and allow to sit overnight. The citric acid in the soft drink will go to work on stubborn stains and yellowing. After you’ve let it work its magic for a while, just scrub and rinse. Your sink will look sparkling new. This trick also works on toilet bowls and septic tanks.
10. Dust, Dust Everywhere: It’s amazing how quickly surfaces in your home can get dusty, especially if you have pets. You can easily wipe dust from bookshelves, baseboards and blinds with a damp rag. But the next day, the dust will be back. How do you make it stop? Instead of cleaning surfaces with a damp rag or a paper towel, use a dry fabric softener sheet, which repel dust and debris. Run it over counters, coffee tables, mantels, vents, baseboards and blinds to pick up dust and leave a light coating of dust-fighting stuff behind. You can even attach a dryer sheet to the bottom of your Swiffer and run it over floors and into dust-magnet corners. Bonus: The laundry-fresh scent will make your house smell great.
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