Cleaning Tips/Hacks For The Home
Sometimes you just don’t know how to deal with an issue in your home like hard water stains, heat marks, pesky insects, bugs, odors, candle wax and more.
I’m tackling the weird ones with these cleaning tips below. They’re in alphabetic order for easy reference. I like natural home remedies and items but it’s not always possible. I prefer leaving the fancy, expensive cleaners out if I can.
I’m a fan of vinegar, baking soda, lemons, rubbing alcohol, peroxide, essential oils, spices, salt and yes, I do love bleach…
If you have any additional ideas, I’d love to hear them! Please leave them in the comments section so I can add them to the list!
I’m always looking for new cleaning and home ideas that are safe for kids and pets.
AIR/ROOM FRESHENER – ODOR ABSORBENT: This is a great, natural way to keep a room smelling fresh and keeping odors at bay. Perfect for any space. Fill any bowl or jar with a cup of baking soda. Add your favorite essential oil like lavender or orange. Add 20-30 drops and mix gently. You can keep it open, or cover it with a thin material and a rubber band to make it look decorative. Mix it up again once a week or so. This will last at least 60 days. My new favorite air freshener isn’t a toxic spray from the drug store, it’s a bottle of Rose Water! Not only is this amazing ingredient used in recipes and as an incredible facial toner, it also makes a fantastic air freshener. I fill a spray bottle with half rose water, half water. Freshens everything from curtains, rugs, pillows, pet areas, you name it. Try spraying your shower curtain for a lasting scent.
ANT REPELLENT: Keeping ants away can be a challenge. They’re smart and when they make roots, they tend to stay there. To keep ants of all kinds away, there are some helpful and natural ways to do it. First find their entry point if possible. You can use spices to keep them out! Try cinnamon, black pepper or even cayenne pepper. They won’t cross the line! Also see below, “Insects, Mice and Roach Problem” to learn about using essential oils.
BATHROOM ODORS: Place a small dish or jar of baking soda behind the toilet or anywhere in the bathroom to absorb odors. If you have any essential oils, you can add a dozen or so drops to the baking soda, mix and it will absorb odors as well as become an air freshener.
CANDLE WAX: What an annoying thing to deal with, but sometimes drips happen. If you have candle wax on your carpet or wood tables, gently scrape off what you can, don’t scrape too hard as it may damage the wood. Try heating it up by using a hair dryer, iron over a paper bag or over a cloth or soak with a wet hot cloth. If a mark has been left, try using a little baking soda. Let it stand for a day or two and then gently wipe off.
CHIMNEY: Adding a cup of salt to your fire will help keep your chimney clean!
CHROME: Having a rust issue on your chrome? There are a few home remedies for this one. Try first wiping the rusted area with aluminum foil. You can dip it in soda to give it a boost. You can also add toothpaste to the foil and rub vigorously. Toothpaste is actually the preferred way to clean your bathroom hardware!
CLOUDY DRINKING GLASSES: Vinegar. One of the Earth’s best cleaners. Try soaking your cloudy glass in warm, white vinegar and gently scrubbing with a cloth or plastic dish scrubber. Sadly, the dishwasher causes most of problem. Upgrading your detergent may often help. I find the cheaper stuff just isn’t worth the savings. If you’re still seeing cloudy glass, it may just be a permanent etching caused by the dishwasher. Sometimes cleaning fragile glass is best by hand.
COFFEE GRINDER: To clean your coffee grinder and remove build-up, try grinding rice. You can also add salt to the grinder. You will clean your grinder, and possibly aid in sharpening the blades.
COPPER: This one is pretty cool. To polish your copper, try adding ketchup! Leave it on for a few minutes or so and then wipe off with a hot cloth. Notice the new shine!
CRAYON ON WALLS OR WASHABLE WALLPAPER: You can try removing it with oil. Any oil should do the trick. Make sure you use a white, clean cloth to remove it and stay right where the crayon spot is as to not spread it. If it’s still not coming off, add a baking soda to a damn cloth, sponge or paper towel and gently rub. If your problem is still there, try heating up the area with a hair dryer and then adding a little dish detergent and water and scrub again. If all else fails, or it has left a discolored mark, try using a 50/50 bleach solution and wiping clean.
DEODORIZE: Lemons! They’re so great for so many reasons. If you have any odors coming from your dishwasher or drains use lemon juice. Add it to the next dishwasher cycle or to your sink drains at night.
DOG/CAT HAIR: Likely one of your worst enemies if you have pets. It’s on the seats of your car, pillows and sofa. The cheapest way I’ve found to get rid of it is Duct Tape. Buy a large roll and you’ll have it for a long time. Wrap it backwards around your entire hand and wrist area. Go to town. You can also wrap it around the end of your Swiffer stick! It’s better than a lint roller and vacuums can actually be more work!
FIREPLACE SOOT ODOR: Does your fireplace have “soot” odor? Add baking soda to your fireplace in the evening. You can also add jars of baking soda around the living room with essential oils mixed in. This will help absorb any unwanted smells that may linger.
FISH OR OTHER SPOILED FOOD ODOR: White vinegar! Add a cup or so to a bowl and just leave it on your kitchen counter. You can do this overnight. It will eliminate the odors for good!
FLEAS, TICKS AND INSECTS: This is also below under “Mice” and “Roach Problem” but make a spray bottle (empty Windex size) with water and a teaspoon of dish soap. Add essential oils, I use four: peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus and tea tree. Approximately 10-15 drops of each. Spray your base boards, screens, doorways and outside perimeter. This acts as a serious repellent. I also have a spray with just essential oils I use on my dog before he goes outside and after his baths. Use caution on cats as some oils can be toxic to them. Another way to combat bugs of all kinds including fleas is Boric Acid with a little sugar. The sugar isn’t necessary but it helps to attract them to their doom. You can pick it up cheaply at the big box stores. Make a line of it around the same areas as above. When insects crawl over it, then lick their legs, it will kill them.
FRESHEN A GARBAGE DISPOSAL: So many ways to eliminate garbage disposal odors naturally. Try using any of these methods overnight. Adding a cup of lemon juice, white vinegar, baking soda with a little dish detergent or even a 50/50 bleach solution. Scrub with a toilet brush. You can also just add cut lemons or limes and turn your garbage disposal on. Make sure you rinse well with lots of water.
FRESHEN LAUNDRY BASKET: Does your laundry basket collect odors throughout the week? Try placing a couple of fabric softener/dryer sheets in the bottom! You can also add some baking soda to the basket to help eliminate odors. It won’t hurt the clothes when they’re washed, it will only help!
FRESHEN LINEN CLOSET: I love this one. Any closet on your home can be freshened up by placing a few cotton balls or even a wash cloth inside. Add your favorite scent or use essential oils to the cotton or cloth and put them in the corner of the closet. This also works well in drawers. Great way to get rid of any lingering odors caused by household chemicals, moth balls, sneakers, etc.
FRUIT FLIES GONE! I have the remedy! Get a small bowl, add apple cider vinegar and a little dish liquid (Lemon Joy) is the best, but any will do. You can simply leave it out on the sink or counter, or you can place a little saran wrap over the top and poke a bunch of holes in it. This will trap the fruit flies and they will sink to the bottom. Give it a couple of days and they’ll be gone! Another option is a cup of coffee! You have to make it with lots of Coffee-Mate and sugar. Cover it the same way with Saran.
INK STAINS: I found the best remedy for removing ink. Ever get ink on your laptop? It’s happened to me. Spray a little hairspray on it and it wipes right off! You can also use rubbing alcohol. It will disappear. Use alcohol on clothing before washing it. If you have ink on your wall, try the alcohol first and then bleach as a last resort.
KITTY LITTER: Baby powder is a great way to keep cat litter fresh. You can also sprinkle baking soda at the bottom of a clean box before adding the litter. The cat will mix if up for you, don’t worry… Some litters come with odor blocking baking soda mixed in. You may be able to add your own and just buy the cheaper litter. Avoid using other powders designed for carpets, etc. Some cats may get a little angry at the harsh smells and avoid their box! Stick with a natural remedy.
MICE: Walk your property and stuff any holes with Brillo pads and caulk or expandable foam. They can chew through the caulk, but not the Brillo pads! Fill a spray bottle with water and essential oils. Mice dislike peppermint and other oils. I use four in my bottle; peppermint, lavender, tea tree and eucalyptus oils. Approx 15 drops of each. It’s potent! (This also prevents bugs including fleas as they don’t like these smells either.) This is my new non-toxic “Home Defense”. Works great!
MICROWAVE ODORS: Don’t use vinegar in the microwave. Try microwaving a cup up lemon in water for a few minutes. Stuck on food and odors will be removed easily. You can also keep a cup of baking soda in there when you’re not using the microwave. This will keep odors at bay. Here’s an off-topic trick: Always keep a coffee cup full of water in your microwave. You will be amazed how it helps re-heat breads especially leftover pizza. It won’t make the crust rubbery or soggy!
MOTHBALL SUBSTITUTE: Collect all your leftover soap from the bathroom and place them in a plastic baggie. Cut holes in it for ventilation. Use these baggies in your closets, drawers or when packing your clothes away. It will repel moths and make your clothes smell good at the same time. You can also buy chunks of cedar wood at your local big box store. Place the wood pieces in your closets. It’s a natural moth repellent!
PAINT ON CARPET: Try using windex or vinegar and wipe with a clean cloth.
PERMANENT MARKER ON CARPET: Soak a cloth in rubbing alcohol. Blot it on the stain. Keep doing this until the market is gone.
PET URINE ON CARPET: Nothing worse than pet smells and stains! Get up what you can without rubbing too much into the carpeting. Make a solution of dish soap and warm water. Work from the outside in. Don’t get the carpet too wet, it it will help push it down further into the padding. Get up as much as you can and then use white vinegar and water to clean again. Let this thoroughly dry overnight. The next day add baking soda or a little carpet powder (Both combined would be great) and apply generously. Let it stay for at least a couple hours if not a day and then vacuum it up! You may want to make a spray bottle with a little peppermint oil and water to spray afterwards so your little guy avoids the spot again.
PHOTOS STUCK TOGETHER: Get out the hair dryer and put it on the cool/warm setting first. Be patient and watch the photos slowly separate! If you need to add a little more heat, do it in small bursts.
ROACH PROBLEM: To get rid of cockroaches, combine equal parts boric acid (a powder sold in hardware stores and drugstores) and sugar, mix well. Sprinkle in crevices, along baseboards, doorways, window sills and around the perimeter of your home to go full force. If building or remodeling, put between walls before putting up drywall. Put the powder in jar lids; place lids behind the fridge and under sinks. Caution: Keep mixture away from children and pets. If ingested in large quantities, or even in small amounts over several days, boric acid can be harmful. (This remedy also works for all types of insects and fleas!
SHOWER DOORS: This may sound a bit unusual but the remedy for cloudy shower doors is Resolve carpet cleaner! Spray it on and wipe off. You’ll be amazed at how clean your shower doors are!
SMELLY COOKING HANDS: Between garlic, onions and seafood, our hands can really take a hit after cooking. Run water in the sink and rub your hands with a stainless steel utensil. It works!
SMELLY SNEAKERS: Try making sachets! Take unused stockings and fill them with cat litter and baking soda. Put these in your sneakers overnight or hang them in the closet as well. You can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the mix also! Adding a dryer sheet rubbed with a little baking soda also acts as a good remedy. If you don’t have all those ingredients, try taking a few cotton balls and dipping them in vinegar or adding essential oils to them and put them in your shoes nightly.
SOUR SPONGE: You can keep your sponges longer if you keep the bacteria away. Try running them through your dishwasher cycle daily. You can microwave them and they’ll come out like new. You can also soak with a bleach solution or lemon juice. It’s important to keep them as dry as possible after cleaning so they don’t grow mildew and bacteria.
STAINS IN PLASTIC STORAGE CONTAINERS: Nothing worse than seeing your plastic bowls orange after storing spaghetti! Making a baking soda paste by just adding water. Apply it to the ring or stain and wash normally. You can also set it out in a sunny spot to naturally bleach away the stains. Hot, hot water is best used when cleaning plastic to penetrate the detergent or cleaner used. Here’s a great tip to avoid it altogether, just spray your bowls first with a little cooking spray oil before adding your leftovers. It will act as a barrier against stains!
STICKERS, DECALS, AND GLUE: They sell a product in the stores to remove stickers and decals, buy you can make your own. Just saturate a cloth or cotton ball with vegetable oil and rub. This works on all hard surfaces.
TARNISHED SILVERWARE: This is a neat little natural remedy for tarnished silverware. Line a lasagna pan or similar kitchen dish with aluminum foil. Fill it up with water and baking soda. A few tablespoons will work with a couple cups of water. Heat it up! Put in the oven and heat it to 200 degrees. Add your tarnished silverware and make sure it touches the aluminum foil. The stains will vanish right before your eyes!
TRASH BAG IDEA: Make sure you save your grocery store bags. They are great for lining trash cans in your home or removing smelly items quickly without adding them to your large kitchen can. You can use clothes pins or chip clips to either hang them from or clamp them on with so they don’t slip down. Grocery bags are expensive and this is also a great way to be green and recycle!
WHITE HEAT MARKS AND WATER RINGS ON WOOD: Oh, no, someone didn’t use the coaster. If you find a white heat mark or white water ring on your wood, try this natural remedy. Mix equal parts baking soda and white toothpaste. Use a rag and go in a circular motion. You may need to rub for a few minutes. If the marks are still there try vegetable oil on a cloth and do the same. Another trick for a stubborn stain is add mayonnaise to the area and leave overnight. If none of these have worked, you may need to refinish the wood, sadly. And make sure you’re not adding any of these to natural wood. Make sure your wood has a good finish on it or test a spot in an inconspicuous area.
Do you have any great cleaning tips for the home? Please share them below in the comments section. I’d love to add them to the list above!