Category Archives: Around the House

Cleaners that Work

Over the past year, Pinterest has led me to so many interesting blogs and ideas that I would have never come across otherwise.  So many of these ideas have been so helpful around the house.  I thought I would share my very favorite finds.

Magic Shower Cleaner (source here)

I used this last night for the first time, and I am converted.  We have a tub with a textured bottom and it always looks so dirty.  The only thing that has remotely worked in the past is a magic eraser, but I had to scrub so hard, I would be sore all over.  This recipe just calls for a cup of vinegar, heated in the microwave for a couple of minutes and a cup of blue Dawn dish soap.  I sprayed the shower down and let it sit for a few hours.  When I started wiping it down with a wet sponge, the grime lifted off without any effort.  It was really astonishing!

Miracle Carpet Spot Cleaner (source here)

I hate carpet.  I wish I had hard-surface floors in every room of my house – like my parents home – where you can see every bit of dirt or dust instead of it hiding down in layers of carpet and rug pads.  That said, I do have carpet and I do have cats, one of which is broken and doesn’t always find the litter box to be convenient.   I have tried tons of different carpet spot cleaners, all of which leave a residue that then attracts more dust/dirt.  My carpet cleaner does an okay job and makes me feel better about pulling the dirty water back out of the carpet.  But this trick seems to be where it’s at – even if it is by far the stinkiest remedy.

I just fill a spray bottle with one part hot water and one part ammonia. Spray the spot and lay a white towel over the sprayed area.  Use a hot iron over the towel and the spray turns to steam and is absorbed by the towel, stain and all.  The ammonia smell dissipates very quickly and I have had no problems with the cats being interested in the spots I clean.  The spots are gone and there is no residue left to attract more dirt so the spot doesn’t reappear after a few days like they have when I’ve used store-bought cleaners.

To remove dust and hair on lampshades, I use a lint roller.  It wouldn’t work well on pleated shades I am guessing, but all of our shades are straight-sided and this trick works wonderfully!

Stainless Steel Cleaner (source here)

I don’t have stainless steel appliances, but I tried this trick on my Simple Human trash can.  It gets pretty spotty from things inevitably spilling down or splattering from items we throw away.  My all-purpose spray never gets all of that off of it.  I mixed a tablespoon of Cream of Tartar with a few drops of water and coated the sides of the trash can.  I used a sponge to rub it in and then washed it off with a wet rag.  All of the spots and streaks were gone!

Garbage Disposal Cleaner (source here)

This house is the first place I have lived with a garbage disposal.  I am still a little shy of putting things down it sometimes.  I usually clean it with vinegar and baking soda or occasionally squirt some cleaner down the drain that is specifically for the disposal.  Then I read about sharpening the disposal blades by putting ice through it.  This recipe accomplishes both at the same time.  I filled an ice tray with a small slice of lemon and vinegar and froze it.  When they were frozen, I put the cubes in a freezer bag because the vinegar is strong smelling.  Now I can just pull out a cube and send it down the disposal for a quick refresher.

Self-Disinfecting Toilet Brush (source here)

I have written about this before, but it is worth including.  I hate having to leave the toilet wand under the seat  to dry, so when I saw this idea, I knew I had to make it.  I used a Marvicide jar with diluted Barbicide from Sally’s Beauty Supply for the base.  The toilet wand came from Target and perfectly fit the jar without any modifications.  No more nasty toilet wand floating around in the bathroom cabinets.

Laundry Cleaning Tricks

I’m not obsessive about our laundry, but I have picked up a few helpful tricks.  The first is using peroxide to remove blood from clothing.  It is amazing how well this works.

Another is using dish detergent to remove grease stains.  Someone in our house has a penchant for getting food stains on his shirts a lot and this trick works even if it has accidentally made it through the washer and dryer undetected.

I also never use fabric softener when I wash our towels.  Evidently it builds up on the towels and makes them less absorbant and a little funky even.  I have started using straight vinegar in the fabric softener compartment in the washer.  I also add a couple dozen drops of lavender essential oil to the bottle of vinegar to add a hint of the fresh scent to our laundry.

Now for a few tricks that I did not find to be all that useful for me:

  1. Using car wax on the stove top to make cleanup easier.  I didn’t really experience any difference after the wax, but maybe I did something wrong. (source here)
  2. Homemade ring cleaner using powdered laundry detergent.  I have yet to try other homemade recipes, but for whatever reason this one did not work for me.  (source here)

Bamboo Towels

Recently I came across a blog about running your bath towels through the wash with vinegar and then again with baking soda to help get rid of any smells or residual soap.  I tried it out and felt like it did help freshen them, but it seems that nothing will bring back the softness that our towels had over six years ago.  So I started the search for new towels.

After realizing the amazing qualities of bamboo sheets – anti-microbial, softness, moisture wicking – I thought bamboo towels might be the way to go.  Turns out, from what I can tell, towels are not made from 100% rayon from bamboo.  The ratio seems to fall right around 25% bamboo/75% cotton.  This gives the towels the softness and absorption expected from bamboo but the durability of cotton.

I purchased a set of towels by the same company that made our sheets at Tuesday Morning.  Initially, I am very excited about these towels.  They are really soft, but not in the way our cotton towels were when new.  It is kind of a silky soft rather than a fluffy soft – and supposedly will get softer over time like the sheet sets (although initially Bradley is not 100% convinced – he likes the fluffiness of nice cotton towels).  They seem to be very absorbent even though they aren’t as thick as high-end cotton towels.  Also, they seem to hold the heat from our towel warmer much better than our old cotton ones.  I plan to be diligent about washing them as recommended: wash in cold water and dry on low heat, use no bleach or fabric softener.  Time will tell.