25 Essential Tricks for Quick and Easy Cleaning

by Paul Michael on 27 January 2014 3 comments

Even though many of us are smack dab in the middle of winter, the stores are on a completely different schedule. They're all rolling out their spring clothing and organizing solutions in preparation for spring cleaning — which is still several months away. But that gives us all time to get a head start on the job at hand, so when it's de-cluttering and garage sale time, we can see the forest through the trees. (See also: Spring Cleaning on a Budget)

Here, then, are some quick cleaning tips and tricks that can save you time and money.

Kitchen

Let's start with the kitchen, the room that seems to need cleaning at least four times a day.

1. Easily Clean Your Dishwasher

Fill a dishwasher-safe cup with plain white vinegar, and put it on the top rack of an empty dishwasher; then, run it on the hottest cycle. The vinegar will help to wash away the loose, greasy grime, whilst also removing odor and sanitizing your machine. Afterwards, sprinkle a cupful of baking soda around the bottom of the tub, and run it through a short cycle using hot water. This removes the vinegary odor, and brightens up the inside, too. (See also: Make Your Dishwasher Last Forever)

2. Destink and Degunk Your Garbage Disposal

Run hot water through your garbage disposal for about a minute. Then, pour ¼ cup of baking soda into the drain. Turn on the disposal for two seconds to whirl the baking soda around inside. Leave it for 10 to 15 minutes, then follow with 1 cup of vinegar. The result is a bubbling, fizzing reaction that removes old food and nasty smells. Finish by rinsing through with very hot water and run the disposal for another five seconds.

3. Another Quick Tip for Disposal Odors

Fill an ice cube tray with vinegar and pop it in the freezer. The next time you detect foul odors from the garbage disposal, pop a vinegar ice cube down there turn it on; turn it off when the grinding sound stops. Following that with little baking soda and some water will get your disposal back to its former freshness. (See also: 27 Uses for Baking Soda)

4. Make Baking Sheets Look Good as New

Create a paste with ¼ cup baking soda and a few squirts of hydrogen peroxide. Rub it into the greasy stains using fingers or a sponge.

5. Remove Rust Spots From Your Knives

Soak your knives, handle up, in a cup of lemon juice for a few minutes (or more if you can spare). Then, scrub them with the abrasive side of a sponge for rust-free knives.

6. Remove Odors From Water Bottles

Fill your bottles with boiling water and let them sit overnight. Or use warm water mixed with two tablespoons of baking soda. Follow in the morning with a thorough scrub.

7. Clean Stainless Steel Appliances

They may start out looking good, but the grime builds up, and also the fingerprints! You can get them looking as good as new using Barkeepers Friend — it makes it so easy! If you don't have any on hand, then a little cream of tartar from the spice rack, mixed with a few drops of water, and a little elbow grease will get them looking good as new.

8. DIY Baby Bottle Dishwasher Trays and Containers

Skip the pricey bottle trays and use a lingerie or laundry bag instead. Just fill it with all the little pieces, from the nipples to the caps, and place it in the top rack. You can wash way more in one go, and you won't be scouring the bottom of the dishwasher afterwards. (See also: How to Have a Baby Without Going Broke)

9. Clean Skinny Balsamic Vinegar Bottles

You know the ones…they have that tiny opening at the top. Those are hard to wash since bottle brushes are usually not skinny or long enough. Try filling the bottle with rice and warm, soapy water, then shaking. The rice agitates the inside and easily pours out.

10. Remove Pantry and Fridge Smells Quickly

There's gotta be a rotten potato in there somewhere. But until you find it, get rid of odors in your fridge or pantry with newspaper. Either line the vegetable drawers with newspaper, or wad up newspaper, spritz it with a bit of water, and shove it in there for a day or two. It's cheap and good at absorbing odors. Then, find that stink! (See also: Ways to Use Old Newspaper)

11. Clean Your Vacuum Filters in Your Dishwasher

Those things are expensive and costly to replace, so why not give this a go? Run the filters through your dishwasher (being careful to hand wash any metal pieces…they can rust) and then let them air dry.

12. Make DIY Glassware Cleaner

Use a wad of tinfoil to scrub your glassware to remove stains and leave it so shiny and new!

Clothing and Fabrics

Let's move on to fabric tips and tricks.

13. Remove Ink Stains From Fabrics

Soak the stains in Purell for an hour or two before tossing them in with the rest of the laundry. The stain will be pulled out, and the wash completes the job. (See also: 14 Effective Stain Removal Tips)

14. Destroy Those Armpit Stains n Shirts

Mix one part dish soap (Dawn works well) with two parts hydrogen peroxide. Pour the mixture over the pit stain and let sit for an hour. Then, sprinkle baking soda on it and scrub lightly before tossing it into the wash.

15. Remove Lipstick From Shirts Using Hairspray

If the fabric is machine washable, saturate the lipstick spot with hairspray, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then dab with a damp sponge or cloth to remove. Launder as usual to remove the leftover stain and hairspray.

16. Easy Microfiber Couch Cleaning

Pour rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle and completely saturate the stain. Rubbing alcohol evaporates fast, so it won't leave a mark. Then use a WHITE sponge (so there's no color transfer) to scrub the area. Don't be afraid to use muscle, and let the areas dry. They will feel hard, but that's fine. Use a bristle brush or cleaning brush with WHITE bristles to fluff up the dry areas. It will look as good as new. (See also: Make a Crappy Couch Awesome Again)

17. Remove Permanent Marker Stains

There might be 100 washable markers in your house, but your kids will always find the Sharpies. But all is not lost. On clothing, use hand sanitizer. Walls can be cleaned with toothpaste or hairspray. White vinegar works best on carpet. Wood responds well to rubbing alcohol. And on your dry erase board — dry erase markers, used to draw over the Sharpie marks! That one's mind blowing.

The Bath

Now we turn to everyone's favorite room to clean.

18. Clean Foggy Shower Glass

Mix equal parts of white vinegar and dish soap in a spray bottle. Spray liberally over the shower, and let it sit for two hours. It will wipe clean to a glimmering shine. (See also: The Best All-Purpose Cleaners)

19. Unclog Your Shower Head

Put ⅓ cup baking soda + 1 cup white vinegar into a large plastic bag with a twisty tie. Attach to the showerhead, tie it tightly, and let it sit several hours, or overnight. The lime scale deposits will be dissolved, and you'll have a great shower again.

Miscellaneous Cleaning

And finally, a few other handy cleaning tips.

20. Repair Hardwood Floor Scratches

All you need is a walnut. By rubbing a walnut into the shallow scratches, their natural oils help hide the flaw. It's an age-old carpenter's trick.

21. Clean Dusty Fan Blades

Use a pillow case over the blades and agitate the fan. The dust will fall INTO the pillowcase so the dust isn't falling into your lungs and eyes. Then, simply throw it in the washing machine.

22. Clean Up Vomit Without, Well, Vomiting

It's not a pleasant job, but every parent has been there. If you ever have to clean up vomit, sprinkle ground coffee on it first. It takes away the smell and dehydrates it. You can then sweep it up without throwing up. (See also: 10 Natural Air Fresheners)

23. Clean Baseboards in a Flash

Simple dryer sheets, like Bounce, rubbed onto your baseboards will clean them up a treat. And as a bonus side effect, they coat them in a way that repels dust and pet hair.

24. Take a Tube Sock to Your Blinds

Use a tube sock on your hand, soaked in warm water, to wash your blinds. You can do both sides at once and balance the blind. Doing it any other way is a wobbly challenge.

25. Make a DIY Makeup Brush Cleaner

Take 1 part natural or clear dish soap and 1-½ parts extra virgin olive oil (this helps soften the bristles). Mix them together on a plate, and then stir the brush head in this concoction in a circular motion. Next, wipe back and forth on your hand. Lay this brush on a paper towel and continue with other brushes. Use warm water to remove the soap and oil from the cleaned brushes, and continue until the water turns clear. Hang the brushes brush side down (use a hanger and chip clips) to air dry. Don't dry bristle up; you'll ruin the bristles.

Got any handy, quick cleaning tips? Please share them in comments!

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Guest's picture

Great tips. We've had a Sharpie mark on the dining table that I can't get rid of. I have tried rubbing alcohol, as well as all sorts of other cleaners. I'm resigned to the mark being there until someone (me?) gets around to refinishing the table.

Guest's picture
Sabine

Alcohol almost always works on non-porous surfaces, even let it soak for a minute or so.

However, if your dining table is wood (or other porous surface), maybe GooGone will work. Since wood is porous, wet a rag scrap with GooGone and leave it on the spot for 10 seconds. If no better, no worse, leave the soaked rag over the mark for 10 minutes. And so on... WATCH the surrounding area, however, for darkening that could indicate too much GooGone is being absorbed into the wood.

Guest's picture
Jen

My tip is to stay single and don't have kids, LOL.