Fabulous Cleaning Tips
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For Faster, Better Cleaning...
Time-Saving Cleaning Gear
Cleaning Compounds From Your Pantry
Fresh and Clean Walls
Spotless Floors
Clean Carpets and Rugs
Gleaming Windows and Blinds
Those Hard-To-Clean Objects
Blemish-Free Furniture
A Sparkling Bathroom
An Immaculate Kitchen
Shiny Kitchen Appliances
Sparkling Dishes and Pans
Fresh-as-Daisies Laundry
Quick Tricks with Stains
Removing Common Stains
NOTICE: The information contained within has been carefully researched, and all
efforts have been made to ensure accuracy and safety. The author, assumes no
responsibility for any injuries suffered or damages or losses incurred
during or as a result of the use of the information. All information and advice contained within should be carefully studied and clearly understood before taking any
action based on it. Further, we recommend you test any new or unusual cleaning
method before applying it broadly, or on a highly visible or valuable space or item.
he tips on the following pages will show you some
clever ways to speed up your cleaning. But don’t
overlook these general rules:
➤ Eliminate clutter. Getting rid of clutter not only
makes it easier to clean; it also cuts down on the need to
clean because an uncluttered home, even though it’s not
spotless, looks better than one that is dust-free but
strewn with odds and ends.
➤ Start with rooms that go fast. If you want to see real
progress quickly when you are cleaning—and get a psychological boost—start with the areas that tend to go the
fastest—the living and dining rooms and the halls.
They’re usually less cluttered and less dirty.
➤ Clear out a room first. Before cleaning a room, go
through and get rid of all the trash and clutter. Carry a
plastic trash bag with you to catch the contents of
wastebaskets and other trash. Then follow up with a
laundry basket for out-of-place items. You can sort these
after you've finished cleaning.
➤ Cluster your activities. Do as many tasks as you can
in one place before you move on to the next. You’ll find
that you clean faster that way.
➤ Begin with dust-raising cleaning. This is just simple
logic: You don’t want dust floating back on surfaces that
you have already cleaned.
➤ Work systematically. To make sure that you don’t
miss anything when dusting a room, start at the door
and work around the room in one direction.
Time-Saving Cleaning Gear
Make a carry-all
Don’t keep running back to the cleaning closet every
time you need something. Carry all your supplies from
one room to the next in a “maid’s basket”—a plastic bin
with a handle—or cleaning cart.
Don’t spread dirt
To avoid redepositing dirt on the surface, always make
sure that your cleaning solution is not dirty. Mix up a
new bucket of cleaner and water as soon as the first
bucket becomes even moderately dirty.
Have paper towels handy
For spills and daily cleanup, install paper-towel racks in
key places—the garage, workbench, baby’s room, and
bathroom, as well as the kitchen.
Cleaning Compounds From Your Pantry
Keep it in the dustpan
To prevent dust from rolling out of your dustpan, dampen the pan before you start dusting.
BONUS TIP ➤ If the edge of your dustpan becomes
bent, take time to straighten it out, or you'll end up chasing dirt across the floor every time you use it.
Shaking out your dust mop
Once you’ve collected dirt and dust, you need to get rid
of it without redepositing it. If you can’t shake the dust
mop outdoors, try shaking it into a paper or plastic bag.
Make your cleanser last longer
Cover half the holes in the top of a can of scouring powder with masking tape, and the can will probably last
twice as long as it would normally.
Two-bucket technique
When mopping floors or washing walls, use a two-bucket technique to make your cleaning solution last longer.
Rinse and squeeze the dirt from your mop or sponge into
a bucket of plain water before dipping it into the bucket
with the cleaning solution.
Ammonia: Dilute ammonia with 3 parts of water in an
Dilute ammonia
water in an
empty pump-spray
can, and use
it to 3clean
can, andUse
it to clean
and countertops.
to removeand
wax countertops.
from floors or to
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an ammoly nia
when using
it fullgloves
make using
When using it full strength, make sure
the areasolution.
is well ventilated.
the area is well ventilated.
Vinegar: An excellent substitute for metal cleaner to
scour copper
and brass issubstitute
1/2 cup of vinegar
An excellent
for metal
1 tablespoon
of salt.
copper and
brass is 1/2 cup vinegar mixed with 1
tablespoon of salt.
Pine oil: Full-strength pine oil makes quick work of
cleaning and deodorizing garbage pails as well as bathPine oil: Full-strength pine oil makes quick work of cleanroom and kitchen floors. If you dilute the pine oil, you
ing and deodorizing garbage pails and bathroom and
won't have to rinse.
kitchen floors. If you dilute the pine oil, you won't have
to rinse.
Baking soda: This is milder than harsh scouring powders
for cleaning kitchen and bath fixtures. It also removes
This isstains
harsh scouring
and washes
and freezers,
for microwaves,
cleaning kitchen
coffeepots, teapots, and thermos bottles.
and freezers,
it toand
and refrigerators
kitty litter. A sprinkling
dry baking soda
before vacuuming
as well as any commercial carpet deodorizer. Half a raw
potato dipped in baking soda makes a great silver polish.
Fresh and Clean Walls
Cleaning nonwashable wallpaper
Is your nonwashable wallpaper soiled? Rub it gently
with an art-gum eraser, dough-type wallpaper cleaner
(found in paint and hardware stores), or crustless slices
of fresh, “doughy” bread.
BONUS TIP ➤ Transform regular wallpaper into washable wallpaper by giving it a coat of wallpaper sizing,
then one of clear shellac.
Cleaning washable wallpaper
Here's a novel way to clean washable wallpaper with dry
detergent suds. Mix 1/4 cup of liquid dishwashing detergent with 1 cup of warm water and beat it with a rotary
beater into a stiff foam. Scoop up only the dry suds and
apply with a cloth or sponge.
Crayon on wallpaper
Remove crayon marks on wallpaper by sponging them
with dry-cleaning solvent. If the dye remains on the wall,
mix 1 teaspoon of liquid bleach in 1 cup of water and
apply it to the stain. (Test an inconspicuous area first to
make sure the solution won’t damage the paper.)
BONUS TIP ➤ Silver polish, applied with a clean cloth,
will remove crayon marks on vinyl wall coverings.
Concentrated dishwashing detergent also works well.
Spots on wallpaper
Clean fresh spots on wallpaper as soon as possible. Blot
a new grease spot with a clean paper towel. Then, holding a fresh piece of absorbent paper on the spot, press
with a warm (not hot) iron. Change the paper when it
becomes greasy. To remove old grease spots, use a commercial stain remover (available at wallpaper stores).
Ink spots on wallpaper
Use chlorine bleach to remove ink spots on washable
wallpaper. Pat the spots with a cloth or a cotton swab
dampened with bleach, then rinse with a cloth or sponge
dipped in clear water. Test an inconspicuous spot first;
the bleach may remove color.
Hard-to-reach corners
To dust hard-to-reach corners, slip an old sock over a
yardstick and secure it with a rubber band.
Removing cobwebs
Cobwebs can be sticky and can stain surfaces if you
don’t remove them carefully. Use a vacuum cleaner tool
or a cloth-covered broom, and lift them away from the
wall rather than pushing them onto the surface.
Preventing vacuum scratches
When vacuuming trim, plasterwork, or woodwork, protect them from scratches by attaching a “bumper,” a
strip of foam rubber secured with a rubber band, to the
head of your vacuum’s crevice attachment.
Renewing painted walls
Washing painted walls is faster and cheaper than painting them. Begin at the bottom of the wall, and work rapidly in small areas with a well-wrung-out cloth or
sponge. Use only white, off-white, or colorfast cloths or
sponges. Wipe walls dry to prevent streaking.
BONUS TIP ➤ Before washing a painted surface, dust it
with a broom covered with a flannel cloth. Change the
cloth when it gets dirty. When washing, tie a washcloth
around your wrist to catch wall-washing drips. An athlete’s terry cloth wristband will work well too.
Spotless Floors
Dust-mopping tips
■ Dust mops pick up more dirt than brooms and are easier to use than vacuums. They are especially suited for
smooth, glassy wood and no-wax floors. To make the
work go faster, buy a commercial 18-inch dust mop at a
janitorial supply store.
■ On a waxed surface, use a dry dust mop or, if the room
is very dry, one slightly dampened with water (a few
sprays will do the trick). Never use an oiled dust mop.
Mopping floors
■ More floors are washed away than worn away, so
wring out your mop until it’s almost dry. Excess water
can penetrate vinyl seams, dissolve wax and paint, and
raise wood grain.
■ Use your kitchen trash container as your mop bucket;
that way you can clean it at the same time.
■ Keep one mop just for rinsing; it’s almost impossible to
get all the cleaning solution out of a mop.
Fast shine
For a quick shine between waxings, place a piece of wax
paper under your mop and work it around the room. (Be
sure to dust-mop thoroughly first, because grit under the
paper will scratch the waxed surface.)
Preventing wear
■ Stop dirt at the door to prevent floor wear and tear. A
pair of rough-textured mats—one on the outside, the
other inside the entryway—will catch a lot of it.
■ Use area rugs to protect carpets and waxed floors in
areas where traffic is heavy—the dining area, family
room, and hallways, for example.
■ To prevent worn spots on the polished floors in doorways or at the bottom of stairs, try this treatment once
or twice a month: Apply a thin coat of paste wax with
a cheesecloth, let it dry for 15 minutes, and then polish;
repeat the procedure an hour or two later.
Stop damage from furniture
■ Glue bunion pads on the feet of tables and chairs so
that they can be moved without scratching the floor.
■ When moving heavy furniture, slip a piece of plush carpet, pile side down, under the furniture legs. You'll protect the floor, and the furniture will slide easier.
■ Before moving furniture, slip heavy socks onto the legs,
or place each leg into a “shoe” made from the bottom
half of a clean milk carton.
Prevent rocking chair wear
To keep a rocking chair from wearing the finish off a
wood floor, place a strip of adhesive tape along the bottom of each rocker.
Mold on wood floors
Remove mold from wood floors with dry-cleaning fluid. If
the mold is deeply embedded in the wood, use bleach or
disinfectant. Rewax to restore the shine. Since mold
needs a damp environment to thrive, keep it from coming
back by making sure the area is well ventilated.
Cleaning dark wood floors
For a quick cleanup of a wood floor that’s naturally or
stained dark, try damp-mopping with cold tea instead of
water. Go over a small area at a time with a well-wrungout mop, wiping the area dry before moving on.
Alcohol stains on wood
Rub alcohol stains on a wood floor with silver polish or an
ammonia-dampened cloth; then rewax floor.
Clean Carpets and Rugs
Removing scuff marks
To remove a scuff mark from vinyl flooring, smear a drop
of baby oil over it, wait a few minutes, then wipe clean.
Remove black heel marks with a typewriter eraser.
Got white spots after waxing?
Get rid of white spots that show up on wood floors after
waxing: Pour liquid wax over them, rub gently with fine
steel wool, following the grain. Then polish with a cloth.
Down-and-out resilient floors
■ If your floor is in bad condition, apply two or more thin
coats of a self-polishing water-base wax, letting each
application dry at least 8 hours before recoating.
■ To restore pitted, rough asphalt tile, first smooth the
surface with very fine steel wool. Then wash with a
mild detergent solution, and wax with a self-polishing
water-base wax (use several coats if pitting is severe).
■ Disguise bad scratches in vinyl flooring by rubbing
them with a worn screwdriver blade and then waxing.
Easy masonry floor care
To make cleaning easier, seal stone, brick, and concrete
floors with a penetrating masonry sealer, available at
hardware stores and home centers. Left unsealed, a
masonry floor absorbs cleaning materials.
A quickie carpet-shampoo substitute
Here’s how to brighten a nonwool carpet without shampooing it. First, vacuum the carpet. Then mix 1/2 cup of
clear ammonia in 1 pint of water. Test the solution on an
inconspicuous part of the carpet. If there's no color
change, dip a sponge mop into the solution, wring it
almost dry, and lightly run it over the carpet’s surface.
How to stop fraying
■ Want to prevent carpet seams and edges from fraying?
Brush them with a liquid resin that locks the yarns in
place as it dries. It’s sold at fabric and craft shops.
■ The outermost braid of a braided rug usually wears out
first. Save the rug from this fate by sewing a strip of
bias binding around the edges of the rug.
Removing a discoloring spill
If a spill causes carpet discoloration, dip a clean, white
towel into a solution of 1 tablespoon of liquid hand-dishwashing detergent (or 1/2 cup white vinegar) in 1/2 cup
of warm water. Alternately dab the spot with the solution and then blot it with a clean, white towel. Repeat
until all of the spot’s color transfers to the towel. Then
cover the area with a clean, white towel until it’s dry. (If
this fails, consult the stain-removal chart on page 30.)
BONUS TIP ➤ After sealing your garage’s concrete floor,
wax it. Sounds crazy, but it makes sweeping easier and
reduces the dust that gets tracked into the house.
Removing furniture imprints
To remove deep indentations left in your carpet by furniture, lay a damp bath towel over the depression and
press lightly with an iron. When the towel area is dry,
the indentation will be gone.
Grease stains on the patio
To remove grease stains on concrete, wet them and
sprinkle with dishwasher detergent. Let stand a few
minutes before rinsing with boiling water.
BONUS TIP ➤ If you must replace furniture on a freshly
cleaned carpet before it has dried completely, place coasters under the legs to prevent stains and indentations.
Gleaming Windows and Blinds
All you really need is water
Cool, clear water is the choice of most professional window washers. If windows are very dirty, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of ammonia or vinegar per gallon of water. Use
only, one; if combined, they’ll neutralize each other.
BONUS TIP ➤ Never use sudsy ammonia on windows
and mirrors. It leaves streaks. Use clear ammonia instead.
But for really clean windows
One of the best window-cleaning solutions can be found
right in your medicine cabinet. Pure rubbing alcohol
removes dirt easily and leaves windows crystal clear.
Equip yourself
If you do a lot of window washing, invest in a professional-quality squeegee with a brass or stainless-steel
holder. When the rubber blade wears out, turn it over
and use the opposite edge.
Cleaning small window panes
To make washing small windows easier, custom-fit a
squeegee to the windowpane. Remove the rubber blade
from its holder and trim it to a length slightly wider than
the width of the windowpane. Then use a hacksaw to
cut the holder to the exact width of the pane.
BONUS TIP ➤ To clean the corners of small window
frames, use a cotton swab dipped in cleaning solution.
Which side of the glass is that spot on?
Here’s an easy way to tell whether the spots you’ve
missed are on the inside of the window or the outside.
Use horizontal strokes to clean one side of the window
and vertical strokes for the other.
Save those paper towels
For drying windows, a wad of crumpled newspaper
works just as well as expensive paper towels. Wear rubber gloves to keep your hands free of ink.
Keeping frost off windows
Want to prevent frost from forming on windows? Add 1/2
cup of rubbing alcohol or antifreeze to each quart of
wash water. Or moisten a cloth with glycerin, and rub it
across the insides of the windows.
Cleaning fiberglass curtains
Wash fiberglass curtains by hand in the bathtub. This
way you don't have the unpleasant task of removing the
tiny glass fibers from the washing machine, since you
simply rinse them from the tub.
Rehanging curtains with ease
■ If curtains must be rehung on specific windows, mark
them with colored thread inside the hem: one stitch for
the first panel, two for the second panel, and so on.
■ If just-washed curtains don’t hang well, slip a curtain
rod through the bottom hem of each panel and leave it
there for a few days.
■ When you wash curtains, wash the curtain rods as
well. Then apply wax to the rods, and the curtains will
slip on and move more easily.
Dusting Venetian blinds
If you don’t have a special duster for your Venetian
blinds, wear an old pair of thick absorbent cloth gloves
and wipe the slats by hand.
BONUS TIP ➤ Touch up soiled areas on white Venetian
blind tapes with liquid shoe polish.
Those Hard-to-Clean Objects
Vacuuming bric-brac
Take the risk out of vacuuming bric-brac. Place the foot
of an old nylon stocking or panty hose over the end of
your vacuum’s dusting tool. This way, only the dust will
be sucked in.
Cleaning knick knacks
Want an easy way to clean a lot of little glass and china
knick knacks? Place them in the kitchen sink and spray
them thoroughly with window cleaner. Move them to a
towel to air-dry. You can also clean glazed figurines and
ceramic lamps by spraying them with window cleaner.
Dry with paper or lintless cloth towels.
Dusting keyboards and louvers
To dust computer keyboards, louvered doors, carved furniture, or anything with lots of nooks and crannies, use a
clean, soft, ever so slightly dampened paintbrush.
Getting wax off candlesticks
Remove hardened wax from candlesticks the easy way.
Place them in the freezer for an hour or so; then peel off
the frozen wax, wash the candlesticks, and dry them. If
you don’t have time to freeze, run the candlesticks under
very hot water; then cover your finger with a soft cloth
and push the wax off.
Removing candle wax from a tablecloth
When candle wax drips onto the tablecloth, rub the wax
with an ice cube to harden it, then scrape it off with a
spatula. Put paper towels under and over any remaining
wax, and press with a warm iron, changing towels as the
wax is absorbed. Sponge off the residue with dry-cleaning solvent. Then rub gently with heavy duty liquid
detergent. Launder the tablecloth as soon as possible.
Removing fingerprints on shiny surfaces
To remove fingerprints from pianos and other wood surfaces with a high shine, clean first with a dampened
chamois. Then polish dry with a second, dry chamois.
Cleaning a crystal chandelier
When you don’t want to take a crystal chandelier apart,
here’s an easy, no-mess way to clean it: First, put a few
towels on the floor under the chandelier and spread several layers of newspaper over the towels. Next, to prevent any moisture from getting into the sockets, cover
each bulb with a small plastic bag and secure it with a
twist tie. Now, spray enough window cleaner on each
pendant so that the dirt runs off onto the newspaper.
The pendants can then dip-dry, or you can polish them
with a soft cloth for more shine.
Fireplace cleaning tips
■ Before removing ashes, sprinkle damp tea leaves over
them to keep down the dust.
■ Make your slate hearth gleam. Every 6 weeks or so,
wash and dry it, then coat it with lemon oil.
■ If iron fireplace tools feel sticky, rub them with a cloth
moistened with kerosene. Dry them thoroughly before
replacing. Wash brass tools in warm sudsy water.
Brightening piano keys
Whiten yellowed piano keys by rubbing them with a soft
cloth and a tiny amount of toothpaste. Wipe the paste off
with a damp cloth, being careful not to get it into the
cracks between the keys. Then buff with a dry cloth.
BONUS TIP ➤ When a piano is not in use, close its top,
but expose the keyboard to light. Ivory turns yellow if
continuously kept from the light.
Blemish-Free Furniture
Furniture polish tricks
■ You won’t have to polish as often if you dust your wood
furniture regularly with a slightly dampened lint-free
cloth containing a little furniture polish.
■ Apply polish sparingly. The real secret to a good shine
is more rubbing, not more polish.
■ Avoid switching back and forth from a polish containing oil to one containing wax. Applying both kinds to
the same surface can cause blotches or smudges.
■ To remove wax buildup, wipe the surface with a soft
cloth dampened with synthetic turpentine or mineral
spirits. Or clean the area with liquid polish.
Water stains on wood
To remove a water stain from wood, lay a thick blotter
over the spot and press it with a warm iron until the
stain is gone. If that doesn’t work, rub lemon oil into the
area and let it set overnight. Wipe off the excess oil the
following morning.
Alcohol stains
Left untreated, alcohol can dissolve wood finishes. Clean
up spills from drinks, medicines, and cosmetics immediately. Then rub the spot with a cloth moistened with
lemon oil. Treat a dried stain as you would light burns
(see hint, facing page).
Ways to hide scratches
■ Hide scratches on mahogany or dark cherry by rubbing
them with a cotton swab dipped in iodine. For unshellacked maple and light cherry, dilute the iodine by 50
percent with denatured alcohol.
■ To darken a scratch, rub it gently with the meat of a
walnut. Rub the kernel of the nut directly into the
scratch to avoid darkening the surrounding wood.
For scratches in oiled finishes, rub in the direction of
the grain with fine (0) steel wool and lightweight mineral oil or boiled linseed oil. Let the oil soak in; then
wipe the area dry with a clean cloth.
Burns on wood
Here's how to remove a light burn from the surface of finished wood. Form a thin paste by mixing rottenstone or
finely powdered pumice (available from woodworking
suppliers) with linseed oil. Using a soft cloth, rub the
paste with the grain. Repeat until the burn disappears.
Spilt milk
Because milk products can damage wood finishes, wipe
up spills promptly. Rub stains with a damp cloth dipped
in ammonia or with a finger dipped in silver polish or fine
wet ashes. Then wipe with a dry cloth.
Removing glass rings
Forgot to protect your mahogany table with coasters?
Rub glass rings with mayonnaise and white toothpaste.
Wipe the area dry, then polish the entire surface.
Cleaning leather furniture
Time to clean your leather chair or sofa? First remove
wax buildup with a mixture of 1/4 cup vinegar and 1/2
cup water. Then wash the piece with water and saddle
soap, available at hardware stores and shoe shops. Rub
briskly with a soft cloth to restore the shine.
Wicker furniture
Without adequate moisture, wicker cracks or splits. If a
piece becomes brittle, put it in a tub and drench it with
water. Keep wicker well away from a fireplace, stove, or
radiator. Bring it indoors during freezing weather.
A Sparkling Bathroom
When to clean your bathroom
The best time for cleaning a bathroom is right after you
take a shower, when steam has loosened all the dirt. Just
wipe off the damp surfaces with a paper towel.
Dull glass shower doors
If glass shower doors are dull and filmy, wipe them with
a soft cloth saturated with distilled white vinegar or
water softener solution; shine with a dry cloth.
Speed floor cleaning
There’s no need to fill the mop bucket just to clean the
bathroom floor. Simply spray the floor with a spray disinfectant and wipe with a clean cloth or paper towels.
Clogged showerhead
Mineral deposits frequently clog showerheads. To remedy this, unscrew the head, take the pieces apart, and
soak them in a bowl of vinegar; brush out any stubborn
sediment. Reassemble the showerhead and reattach.
Spot-free tile walls
Wipe away soap spots or film on ceramic tile with a solution of water and water conditioner or use 1 part vinegar
and 4 parts water. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.
Then dry with a soft cloth and buff to prevent streaking.
Spots on your chrome?
Use a cloth moistened with vinegar to rub away hardwater spots and soap scum from chrome faucet handles
and drains. Dry and polish with a soft cloth.
Cleaning grout lines
Clean grungy tile grout with full-strength vinegar. For
stained or mildewed grout, mix 3/4 cup of liquid chlorine
bleach in 1 gallon of water and, wearing rubber gloves,
apply the solution with a toothbrush; rinse well.
Washing plastic shower curtains
Machine-wash (gentle cycle) colorfast plastic shower
curtains in warm water. Add water conditioner to
remove soap curd. Hang to dry. If the curtains are
mildewed, add 3/4 cup of chlorine bleach to wash cycle.
BONUS TIP ➤ Try running a typewriter eraser over
grout to make it come clean.
Removing tub and sink stains
Tub and sink stains come clean with a paste of cream of
tartar and hydrogen peroxide. Spread it over the stain
and scrub lightly with a brush. Let it dry; then rinse.
Cleaning a fiberglass tub
Fiberglass tub tough to clean? Use a water conditioner,
such as Calgon, or a commercial bathroom cleaner containing EDTA (ethylene diamine tetraacetate).
Removing nonskid decals
If you're tired of nonskid decals in your porcelain tub or
shower, scrape them off with a straightedge razor blade
(in a holder) dipped in soapy water. Remove adhesive
residue with acetone or nail-polish remover.
Ring around the toilet?
Undiluted chlorine bleach, allowed to stand just a few
minutes, will frequently do just as good a job as commercial toilet-bowl cleaners.
BONUS TIP ➤ To remove old mineral buildup in the toilet, sprinkle 1/2 cup of water softener around the bowl
(above the waterline), immediately after flushing.
An Immaculate Kitchen
Clean your cleaning tools!
Keep sponges, plastic scrubbers, and dish mops clean
and fresh smelling: Every now and then, run them
through a dishwasher load in the top rack.
Getting up old hardened food spills
Soak-and-dissolve is still the easiest way to loosen driedon foods on the floor, table, and counters. But if you’re
the impatient type, a plastic windshield ice scraper is
good for prying them off.
Cleaning a wood countertop
To keep a butcher block countertop clean and fresh,
scrape off all waste after each use and rub it with salt or
a baking soda paste every now and then.
BONUS TIP ➤ To remove deep scratches on wood surfaces, sand with fine sandpaper and then reoil.
Keeping a cutting board fresh smelling
After cutting onions or garlic on a wood surface, rub it
with a slice of freshly cut lemon. Rinse and wipe dry.
A simple kitchen safety measure
Every few days—or immediately after cutting meat or
poultry—wipe down your food preparation surfaces with
hot soapy water to discourage bacteria. Rinse thoroughly and wipe dry.
Eliminating countertop stains
■ Get rid of those pesky purple price marks that transfer
from containers onto countertops. Rubbing alcohol
quickly erases them.
■ Rub countertop stains, such as mustard, tea, or fruit
juice, with baking soda and a damp cloth or sponge. If
the stain persists, wipe it with a cloth moistened with
a little chlorine bleach.
Removing sink stains
■ To remove stains from a porcelain sink, fill it with lukewarm water, add a few ounces of chlorine bleach, and
let stand for an hour or so.
■ For stubborn stains, line the sink with paper towels
saturated with chlorine bleach and let stand 8 to 10
hours. But don’t use chlorine bleach on an old, porous,
or cracked porcelain surface. The bleach can penetrate
to the iron base and cause rusting.
Cleaning a steel sink
■ Avoid abrasive cleansers when cleaning a stainless
steel sink. Simply wash it with hot sudsy water. Dry it
to remove finger marks and water spots.
■ To give a stainless steel sink extra sparkle, clean and
polish it occasionally with glass cleaner.
■ Has your stainless steel sink become scratched or
slightly pitted? Rub it gently with very fine steel wool,
then buff to a sheen with a soft cloth.
Controlling drain odor
Keep a drain odor-free by running very hot tap water
through it after each use. About once a week, throw in a
handful of baking soda, followed by hot water. Or pour in
1 cup of vinegar, let it stand for 30 minutes, then run very
hot water through the drain.
Avoiding drain clogs
It’s easier to avoid a clogged drain than to clear one. Pour
cooking grease into an empty can or a milk carton—
never into the sink. The same applies to coffee grounds
and other bits of garbage.
Spotless Kitchen Appliances
Removing rust on kitchen chrome
Here’s a remarkably easy way to remove rust from
kitchen chrome: Wrap aluminum foil around your finger,
shiny side out, and rub the rust until it disappears. Then
wipe the surface with a damp cloth.
Keeping your microwave fresh smelling
Deodorize and clean your microwave every now and
then. When the oven is turned off and cold, wash its
inside surfaces with a solution of 4 tablespoons baking
soda per 1 quart warm water.
BONUS TIP ➤ You can give the chrome trim on your
appliances a quick shine by using a soft cloth moistened
with rubbing alcohol.
Magic Marker on fridge door?
If your artistic youngster uses your refrigerator door as a
canvas for his permanent marker, try a little lighter fluid
to remove the artwork. Then wash the door with soap
and water and rinse completely.
Cleaning under appliances
■ To clean under and behind an appliance, take your car’s
snow brush and whisk the dirt out in a flash. Make sure
that you unplug the appliance before poking around
behind it.
■ To clean under an electric range that has a storage
drawer at the bottom, remove the drawer to get at the
floor easily. For a gas range with a broiler below the
oven, remove the broiler drawer.
Cleaning oven racks
Clean oven racks by placing them on an old bath towel in
the bathtub and soaking them in a solution of ammonia
and hot water.
Easier broiler cleaning
To make cleaning your stove’s broiler less of a chore, put
a few cups of water in the bottom of the pan before you
broil next time.
Cleaning your outdoor grill
Before your next cookout, clean the grill with a wire
brush dipped in warm sudsy water or a baking soda solution. Rinse, dry, and coat the grill with cooking oil to keep
food from sticking to it.
Cleaning your coffeemaker
If you use a drip coffee machine daily, clean it thoroughly at least once a month to keep your brew tasting fresh.
Pour a solution of equal parts water and distilled vinegar
into the water reservoir and run it through the brew
cycle. Rinse your machine by running clean water
through the cycle.
Easy blender cleaning
Here’s an easy way to clean your blender: Partly fill it
with a solution of warm water and hand-dishwashing
detergent. Then cover and run it for a few seconds.
Empty the blender, rinse, and air-dry.
Getting rid of toaster crumbs
If there are any sticky crumbs left after you’ve shaken
the toaster, gently blow compressed air (available in
cans in photography supply stores) inside the appliance.
Sweet-smelling garbage disposer
Eliminate odor from your garbage disposer by grinding
cutup orange, grapefruit, or lemon rinds while flushing
the disposer with hot water.
Sparkling Dishes and Pans
Getting off caked-on food
Remove eggs and other dried-on foods from dishes by
soaking them in cold water. Or leave them overnight in a
solution of dishwasher detergent and water; then lift off
the food with a rubber scraper.
Restoring plastic ware
Ugly stains on your plastic dishes or utensils? Combine
3/4 cup chlorine bleach and 3/4 cup baking soda and let
the mixture remain on the stained utensil for 5 minutes.
Wash and rinse thoroughly.
Lighten that dark aluminum pot
To brighten darkened aluminum, cook an acidic substance, such as tomatoes, rhubarb, apples, or vinegar, in
the pan. Try removing discoloration by boiling 2 tablespoons cream of tartar in 1 quart water in the pan.
Coffee and tea stains
To remove coffee and tea stains from ceramic pots, soak
them in 2 tablespoons chlorine bleach per cup water. Or
soak the stained cookware overnight in 2 tablespoons
automatic dishwasher detergent in 1 pot warm water.
Stains on a nonstick pan
Remove stains from a pan with a nonstick surface by
boiling a solution of 1 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of
baking soda in it. Wipe the surface lightly with cooking
oil or shortening before using again.
Freshening a vacuum bottle
Before filling a vacuum bottle that has absorbed beverage odors or that has been stored for a while, freshen it
with 1 tablespoon of baking soda and warm water. Let
stand 20 minutes, scrub out, rinse, and air-dry.
Fresh-as-Daisies Laundry
Washing time matters
Detergents can only hold soil in suspension for a limited
time before finer particles that are much harder to
remove settle on clothes. To avoid this, use wash periods
of 10 to 12 minutes for cotton, 7 to 9 minutes for synthetics, and 3 to 4 minutes for delicate fabrics or wool.
Ring around the collar
To clean a stained collar, rub some heavy-duty liquid
detergent into it with a toothbrush or a small, clean
paintbrush. Then wash as usual.
BONUS TIP ➤ When you pretreat spots with liquid
detergent, it’s easier to control the amount of detergent if
you pour it from an old squeeze bottle.
Homemade prewash
To make your own prewash, mix 1 teaspoon liquid detergent and 2 tablespoons household ammonia with 1 pint
warm water; pour into a clean spray bottle. Apply to
stains and let stand for 15 minutes. Then wash as usual.
Protect your washer
When you use prewash sprays, avoid getting them on
the washer or dryer. Some of the ingredients can damage
the plastic and painted finishes of your appliances.
Washing delicate items
■ Want a soft, gentle soap for handwashing delicate
items? Mix 1/4 cup soap flakes and 1/4 cup borax in a
saucepan with 1 cup water. Simmer, while stirring, to
uniform consistency, let cool, and strain into container.
■ Protect small or delicate items that you can machinewash by putting them in a pillowcase. Tie the pillowcase with a cord.
For white silk and other delicate fabrics that require a
very gentle bleach, mix 1 part of hydrogen peroxide to
8 parts of water. Immerse the garment in the solution
for 5 to 30 minutes, as necessary. Rinse in clear water.
■ Try washing delicate items by shaking them in a jar
filled with warm, mild, soapy water.
Garment-washing tricks
■ To help prevent tangling in the machine, button shirt
and blouse sleeves to front buttons.
■ Washing an item with a drawstring? Tie both ends
together so that the drawstring won’t slip out.
■ Before washing a knitted, permanent-press, napped,
quilted, or highly textured fabric, turn the garment
inside out. This helps prevent wear, fading, or pilling.
Be careful how you add detergent
Don’t dump detergent on top of clothes in the washer.
This can cause dyes to fade. Instead, add the detergent
as the washer fills; then add the clothing. With cold
water, dissolve the detergent in some hot water first,
and add it to the wash water before adding the clothing.
BONUS TIP ➤ Always dilute fabric softener before
adding it to the wash; otherwise it can cause greasy
stains. To remove such stains, pretreat them with a paste
of water and detergent or with a prewash stain remover.
Gentler bleach
Liquid oxygen bleach is gentler than chlorine bleach, but
it’s slower acting. Always use it in warm or hot water.
BONUS TIP ➤ If you have no liquid oxygen bleach, substitute hydrogen peroxide (antiseptic, not hair bleach),
available in most drugstores.
Washing an electric blanket
Before laundering a washable electric blanket, protect
the plug: Tuck it into a blanket corner and pin it in place.
Laundering feather pillows
Wash feather pillows two at a time for a balanced load.
Put them in pillow cases. Fill the washer with warm
water and push the pillows in until soaked. Use the gentle cycle, and halfway through, turn the machine off and
turn the pillows over. When they’re done, put them in
the dryer on Low with a clean sneaker for even drying.
BONUS TIP ➤ If your feather pillow is getting flat, after
washing it, shake the filling to one end, open the seam on
the other end, and insert new feathers or down a bit at a
time. Stitch the opening closed.
Washing jeans
To soften new jeans, soak them for 12 hours in a small
tub filled with cold water and plenty of fabric softener.
Then wash them, turned inside out to prevent streaking.
Dirty buttons
If cloth-covered buttons are still dirty after laundering,
brush them with liquid detergent and a soft toothbrush.
Too many suds?
If your washer has an excess of suds, get rid of them by
sprinkling them with table salt from a shaker. Next time
use less detergent or use a low-suds product.
Giving your washer a wash
To remove detergent scum from your washer and hoses,
fill it with warm water, add 1 gallon of white vinegar, and
run the solution through an entire cycle.
Quick Tricks with Stains
Get rid of persistent B.O.
If perspiration odor remains after laundering, try this:
Sponge the area with a mixture of 1 teaspoon white vinegar and 1 cup water, then rinse. If the odor persists, work
a paste of enzyme or other presoak product into the area,
keep it moist for 20 minutes, then rinse well.
BONUS TIP ➤ Had a close encounter with a skunk?
Don't bury your clothes; soak them for several hours in a
1/2 cup baking soda and 1 gallon water before washing.
Recycle fabric-softener sheets!
Use fabric-softener sheets twice, then store them in a jar
with liquid softener. When drying clothes, pull out a
sheet, squeeze out the solution, and toss it in the dryer.
The right way to hand-wash
To hand-wash articles, pretreat spots and stains.
Dissolve detergent in water before adding laundry. Now,
here’s the way to not damaging the clothes: Let the
items soak for 15 minutes. Then swish them through the
solution rather than twisting and wringing them. Rinse
at least twice with cool water.
BONUS TIP ➤ Soak items in a small, plastic bucket that
can be removed easily if someone needs to use the sink.
Washing a wool sweater
Lay the sweater on a sheet of clean paper and trace its
outline. After washing and rolling the sweater in a towel
to absorb most of the moisture, lay it on the paper and
gently stretch it to fit the outline. Then lay it flat to dry.
BONUS TIP ➤ Make sweaters soft by adding a capful of
cream hair rinse to the rinse water.
Neat reminder
To remind yourself that a garment is stained and needs
pretreating, tie a loose knot in its sleeve or leg before
tossing it into the hamper. Remember, though, that the
longer a stain remains, the more difficult it is to remove.
Substitute spot remover
When no spot remover is available, try using automatic
dishwashing detergent. Apply a paste of it with an old
toothbrush, then rinse thoroughly.
Disguising a stain
All dressed and ready to go when you find a spot on your
white garment? Rub in some baby powder to mask it.
Dab it off immediately
If you spill something on your clothes while eating out,
dip a clean, white cloth napkin or handkerchief into a
glass of club soda and sponge off the spot.
Red-wine stains
To remove a wet red-wine stain, quickly sprinkle salt on
it. Then put the item in cold water and try to rub out the
stain before washing the fabric.
Ball-point on silk
Use hair spray to remove ballpoint-ink stains. But on silk
or acetate, test spray a hidden area for bleeding dye.
Afterwards, flush with water to remove the hair spray;
then wash or dry-clean the garment.
On-the-road stain treatment
If you need to pretreat greasy or oily stains while traveling, try using a clear gel or liquid shampoo that doesn’t
contain oxides.
Removing Common Stains
These instructions are for removing stains on washable
fabrics. Take nonwashable fabrics to a dry cleaner.
DYES: Beets, bluing, carrots,
cherries, color bleeding, felt-tip
pens, grass, green vegetables,
mustard, soft drinks containing
food dye, tempera paint
Rub liquid detergent gently
into stain. Rinse thoroughly.
Soak in solution of all-fabric
powdered bleach and water. If
stain remains, try liquid chlorine
bleach solution, if safe for fabric. Wash normally.
OILS: Automotive oil, bacon fat,
body oil, butter, cooking oil, face
cream, grease, hair lotion, hand
lotion, lard, margarine, mayonnaise, ointment colorless salad
dressing, suntan lotion
Rub heavy-duty liquid detergent gently into stain. Rinse
thoroughly. Wash in hot water.
PROTEINS: Baby formula, baby
food, blood, cheese sauce,
cream, egg, feces, gelatin, ice
cream, milk, mud, mucus, pudding, school paste, urine, vomit
DON’T use hot water (it sets
stain). Soak and rub in cold
water. Wash in warm water. If
stain is old, treat with detergent or enzyme presoak.
TANNINS: Alcoholic beverages,
beer, berries, coffee, cola drinks,
fruit juices, preserves, jellies, soft
drinks without dye, tea, tomato
juice, washable ink, wine
DON’T use soap bars or flakes
(they set stain). Wash normally,
using detergent. If you can’t
wash immediately, blot up as
much stain as possible. Sponge
with water. Wipe with dry cloth.
causes permanent damage.
Avoid storing clothes in damp,
dark, warm places.
Shake or brush garment outdoors. Pretreat darkest stains
with heavy-duty liquid detergent.
Wash in hot water with heavyduty detergent and bleach.
and dye; wax and dye):
Group A: Ballpoint pen ink, candle wax, crayon, eye makeup,
floor wax, furniture polish, lipstick, pine resin, shoe polish, tar
To remove oily or waxy part of
stain, spray or sponge with drycleaning solvent, then rub gently with heavy-duty liquid
detergent. Treat dye part with
solution of 1 tablespoon chlorine bleach in 1/4 cup water, if
safe for fabric. Wash normally.
Group B: Barbecue sauce,
ketchup, chocolate, cocoa, face
makeup, gravy, hair spray, salad
dressing containing food dye,
tomato sauce
To remove oily or waxy part of
stain, rub gently with heavyduty liquid detergent. Treat dye
part with bleach solution (see
above), if safe. Wash normally.
Apply ice to harden gum. Scrape
off excess. Rub heavy-duty liquid detergent into stain. Rinse
with hot water. Wash normally.
COFFEE OR TEA (with cream
or milk):
Soak in cold water. Wash normally, using detergent, not soap.
PAINT, ALKYD (oil base):
WARNING: If paint has dried,
removal may be impossible.
Treat while wet. Rub paint thinner into stain until paint is softened. Wash, using heavy-duty
PAINT, LATEX (water base):
WARNING: If paint has dried,
removal may be impossible.
Treat while wet. Soak in cold
water. Wash in cool water with
heavy-duty detergent. If paint
has been allowed to dry 6 or
more hours, follow instructions
for Combination stains, Group
A. Wash in hot water, rinse;
repeat treatment.
Apply heavy-duty liquid detergent. Wash in warm water.
(Buildup of aluminum or zinc
salts may be hard to remove.)
Apply heavy-duty liquid detergent or soak in warm water
with presoak product 15 to 30
minutes. Wash.
Use a commercial rust remover.
WARNING: Rust removers are
highly toxic and can damage
the finish on appliances. Wear
rubber gloves, and rinse garment before washing. Do not
use on metallic or glass fabrics.
fabrics may be weakened, and
stain-removal treatment may
cause further damage
If fabric is thick and fuzzy,
brush to remove charring.
Gently rub heavy-duty liquid
detergent (if fabric is delicate,
use mild detergent) into stain.
If stain remains, use all-fabric
bleach. Wash normally.
Use art-gum eraser to lift off
excess, but avoid hard rubbing.
Spray with prewash aerosol
product, rub with heavy-duty
liquid detergent, and rinse in
warm water. Wash normally.
NOTE: Because of dyes, invisible finishes, or previous stain treatments, these methods may not work perfectly or completely.
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