Speed up home cleaning by putting into practice some of these 100 essential cleaning hacks for your home. You won’t believe what a dryer sheet can do.
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Don’t Forget the Doormat
Doormats are your best friend when it comes to trapping dirt, so make sure you have two—one outside the house and one inside. This cleaning hack is especially helpful in the winter when you have salty and snowy boots going in and out of the house. Just be sure to clean the mats regularly as dirty mats contribute to the mess.
Kill two birds with one stone by doing similar cleaning tasks at the same time. “Clean your baseboards when you are vacuuming or washing floors, clean blinds when you are cleaning windows, etc.,” suggests Becky Rapinchuk, owner of CleanMama.net.
Skip the Bucket
Sometimes moving around the mop bucket only makes more of a mess thanks to the dirty water splashing around. Leslie Reichert, founder of The Green Cleaning Coach and author of The Joy Of Green Cleaning, has a bucket-less mopping technique that works wonders: a spray bottle filled with diluted cleaning solution and a microfiber mop.
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Stock Up on Products
No, a bathroom tile cleaner shouldn’t be used to wipe down your mirrors. “The right products that actually clean go a long way to getting the job done more effectively and efficiently for you,” says McGee. Scared to clean your house because of all the chemicals in cleaning products? Try these 15
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Buy a Soap Dispenser Dish Brush
According to Dana White, founder of A Slob Comes Clean, you can use a soap dispenser dish brush in your shower. “Mark it for the bathroom only with a permanent marker, and fill it with your favorite dish soap,” she says. “Hang it in the shower, and you can scrub the shower while you’re in it anyway. Dish soap does a great job cleaning the bathroom!” Be sure to read up on the ways you might be cleaning your bathroom wrong, too.
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Vacuum the Right Way
Rapinchuk recommends first vacuuming a room horizontally and then vertically to get all of the trapped dirt. Most cleaning experts agree that vacuuming slowly is also important to ensure that vacuum picks up all the dirt particles. Need an extra-long extension for your vacuum?
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Everyone has a different idea of what “clean” actually means. Some think a sparkling floor is clean, while others are happy with just doing a load of laundry. Beth McGee, author of Get Your House Clean Now: The Home Cleaning Method Anyone Can Master, suggests asking yourself questions like, how much stuff do I have and what type of home do I have to determine what clean and organized really means to you.
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A Pillowcase Can Be a Cleaner
Obviously, you don’t want to use the pillowcase you sleep on every night, but using a pillowcase to clean your ceiling fans is a hack that you need to try ASAP. “The pillowcase holds the dust so it doesn’t fall on a table or bed,” says Reichert. “A very clean way to dust a fan.” Learn the the cleaning hack you wish you knew earlier to keep pillowcases smelling fresh.
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Create a Cleaning Plan
We all have those random cleaning bursts, but having a plan beforehand will make your cleaning hacks process smoother. “Cleaning is really like a dance. You start high, work down and around, and carefully observe anything that needs attention,” says McGee. “As you move around, wipe light switches, door frames, baseboards, walls, working in a circle around a room and not back and forth from one thing across the room to another. Don’t get distracted, keep a smooth motion around your home.”
Use Your Dishwasher
Dishwashers are for so much more than just washing dishes. Reichert recommends using yours to dust off knickknacks like mason jars and glass candle globes. Pretty much anything glass or ceramic should be fine going in the dishwasher, but you do want to stay away from putting meltable plastics. If your dishwasher has developed a nasty smell, see how to get rid of dishwasher smells in one step with this cleaning hack.
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DIY Cleaning Solutions
Want to know the secret to streak-free mirrors and windows? Well, it’s an easy at-home solution you can make yourself. According to Rapinchuk, all you need is:
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 3 drops peppermint essential oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons rubbing alcohol
Washing windows and mirrors is probably the least favorite cleaning tasks. Clean windows like a pro with 10 cleaning hacks.
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Clean the Toilet Daily
If you swish your toilet every day with your cleaning hacks brush, you’ll keep it relatively clean without a ton of hard labor. Use the water already in the toilet to swish the entire toilet bowl. Your bathroom probably gets dirtiest the fastest and is the hardest to clean. You probably don’t clean the toilet every day but there are several things you need to clean more often. Find out the cleaning hacks.
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Skip the Polish
Of course, you need to polish your wooden furniture and hardwood floors every once in a while (once or twice a year, or when they begin to look foggy), but all you really need to keep them shiny is a dry microfiber cloth. “Your furniture will actually get less dusty without using furniture polish,” says Reichert.
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“[Start] with scrubbing areas such as kitchens and baths, then moving on to de-cluttering, dusting, bedding, and finally floors,” McGee advises. “Look at your home carefully to determine what needs most attention to bring it to your idea of clean.”
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Maybe you just found out your in-laws are coming over and you need to quickly tidy up the place—knowing how to speed clean will be your savior. Make sure you hit the places that are most visible first like kitchen countertops and the bathroom. You can skimp on things like the top of the fridge and behind the coffee maker. Here’s how to clean your kitchen in basically five minutes.
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Purchase a Paintbrush
Reichert uses a stiff paintbrush around her furniture to pull the dirt out without having to move all the furniture around. “You are brushing it out away from the furniture so the vacuum can suck it up,” she says.
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Pie Plate Dustpan
Create a quick disposable dustpan out of an aluminum pie plate. Use tin snips or heavy-duty scissors to cut the pie plate in half. Sweep up the mess and toss it in the trash
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Garden Gloves to Dust Knickknacks
Slip on a pair of cotton garden gloves and turn your fingers into cleaning tools for knickknacks and other small accessories throughout your home and office. Add a spritz of antibacterial cleaning solution and get rid of germs, too!
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Scuff Mark Eraser
Clean off shoe scuff marks from vinyl flooring with a clean, dry tennis ball. A light rub and heel marks are ‘erased.’ Click here to get more ingenious cleaning tips like this one.
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Use Sawdust to Soak Up Spills
Pick up used oil spills on the driveway or in the garage using sawdust. The material is readily available in most home workshops—just open up the dust-collection bags on your orbital sander, miter saw, etc. Pour sawdust over the spill, let it soak up the liquid for about 20 minutes, and then sweep it up. the bench outdoors
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Floor Swiffer for Walls
A Swiffer Sweeper floor mop is useful for more than just cleaning hard floors. Use it to dust interior walls and trim, too! Attach a dry cloth to the rectangle end and press it along walls and trim. You can pick up dust, cobwebs and dirt safely, without having to step on a ladder.
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Use Tongs to Clean Blinds
Make quick work of cleaning your window blinds by using kitchen tongs! Secure rags to the ends of the tongs with twist ties, and then clamp the tongs on each blade to clean both sides of the window blinds at once.
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Remove Hard-Water Buildup with a Lemon
Remove hard-water buildup on your faucet with this simple, natural solution: Place half of a fresh lemon on the end of the faucet, wrap a small plastic bag around the lemon and secure it to the faucet with a rubber band. After a few hours, remove the lemon and wipe the faucet clean.
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Move Heavy Furniture Yourself
You can move heavy furniture yourself without scratching wood floors. First, jack up the furniture piece, one side at a time, using a long 2×4 and a sturdy resting block. Then slip socks onto the legs of the furniture. Remove the jack and slide the furniture across the floor.
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Remove Pet Hair with Duct Tape
That’s right. We’ve found another use for duct tape—cleaning. The stickiness of duct tape makes it perfect for a makeshift pet hair remover and this method is faster than vacuuming. It also works on seats in vehicles. A sponge or cloth wrapped with duct tape works great for getting into corners. Wrap duct tape around a paint roller cover, sticky side out. Roll the paint cover over furniture or carpet to pick up the pet hair. Add more tape as the surface gets full of hair. Once you’re done removing hair, learn how to clean a microfiber couch here. Plus: Kitchen Cleaning Checklist: 11 Tips for a Clean Kitchen
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Paint Stick to Clean Lint Buildup
Once in a while it’s important to clean the area around your dryer’s lint trap, as the screen doesn’t always catch all of the debris. A paint stir stick with a clean rag wrapped around one end makes a great tool for this task.
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Coffee Filters for Dusting
The next time you clean your computer monitor or TV screen, use a coffee filter. The thin, cloth-like paper catches a lot of dust and can cover a large area. You can use a coffee filter for dusting other household accessories, too.
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Clean the Exhaust Fan
If the grille on your bathroom exhaust fan is clogged with dust, try a trick that’s faster and more effective than vacuuming. Here’s how to clean a bathroom fan: Turn on the fan and blast out the dust with “canned air.” The fan will blow the dust outside. This works on the return air grilles of your central heating/cooling system too. Run the system so that the return airflow will carry the dust to the filter. You’ll find canned air at home centers and hardware stores, usually in the electrical supplies aisle. Caution: The cans contain chemical propellants, not just air. Don’t let children play with them.
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Dust with Your Dryer
Blankets, pillows, slipcovers, drapes and other textiles not only trap household dust, but they create it as they shed and disintegrate. Curtains and drapes, in particular, get dusty because they absorb moisture and dirt from the outside and act as a landing pad for dust from ceiling fans and air vents. The best idea for how to clean dust is to buy machine-washable items and launder them twice a year (OK, at least once). For non-machine-washable textiles, throw them in the dryer on the air-fluff setting (no heat) for 20 minutes with a damp towel. The damp towel will attract pet hair, and the tumbling movement and airflow will remove the smaller particles for you. Keep towels out of the way with a space-saving towel rack on a cabinet door.
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Synthetic Soap Simplifies Bathroom Cleaning
In terms of chemistry, some soaps aren’t really true soap. Any soap in a liquid or gel form and some bar soaps, such as Zest and Ivory, are synthetic soap. These non-soap soaps are much less likely to form that dreaded layer of tough scum on your sink or tub and will allow you to clean house fast. Learn more about the best cleaning supplies for your home.
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Buff Off Heavy Grime
If you have glass shower doors in your bathroom and don’t keep on top of the cleaning, you can end up with soap scum so tough that it’s nearly impossible to remove. Here’s how to clean your bathroom better — bring out the heavy equipment. Pick up some polishing compound at a home center or an auto parts store and use an auto buffer to polish off the offending scum. If you don’t own a buffer, you can buy one for as little as $20 or borrow one from a gearhead friend. If possible, remove the doors and take them out to the garage to avoid messing up the bathroom. Find out why brass polish is the surefire method to cleaning glass scratches.
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Duster for the Vertically Challenged
Unless you play in the NBA, dusting ceiling fans and other high, out-of-reach objects is a real chore. Wrap a dryer sheet around a clean painting roller and secure the ends with rubber bands. Attach an extension handle to the roller and dust away for the fastest way to clean house.
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Clean Grout with a Bleach Pen
Associate editor Elisa Bernick recommends using a bleach pen to transform your grout from grungy to great. This method is tedious, but the payoff is crisp, clean grout lines. Use the pen to ‘draw’ bleach across the grout lines. The pen allows you to target the grout without getting bleach all over the tile. Wait 10 minutes and then rinse. For really mildewed grout, you may need a second application, and it can help to gently scrub the bleach into the grout with a toothbrush before allowing it to work for 10 minutes. Make sure to run the fan in the bathroom and to avoid skin contact. This method is best for light or white grout. If you have colored grout, test a small area first. It might fade. Instead of trying to find a bleach pen at the store, the cleaning solution to grout might already be in the bathroom.
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Clean with Microfiber Products
Microfiber products attract and hold dust with an electrostatic charge which make them one of the best tools for how to clean dust. Microfiber cloths are unlike dry rags and feather dusters, which just spread dust around. Machine washable microfiber products can save you money over disposable brands because you can use them over and over. Just make sure to let them air dry (so they’ll stay soft), and don’t use bleach or fabric softener, which degrades the fibers and reduces their ability to attract and hold dust. Microfiber dusting tools for blinds, ceiling fans, floors and general cleaning are available online and at many stores. Buy your microfiber cloths in the automotive section. ‘Cleaning’ and ‘detailing’ towels are the same as ‘dusting’ cloths, and they’re often a lot cheaper. Get Microfiber Cloths on Amazon
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Make Your Own Greener Cleaning Solution
Professional housecleaner Maggie Orth likes to make her own cleaning products. Here’s her recipe for an all-purpose cleaning solution, modified from a recipe she found in the book Clean House, Clean Planet by Karen Logan. In a 5-quart bucket, mix: 1 cup of distilled vinegar, 3 tablespoons of borax, 1 gallon of hot water and 1/2 cup of soap (Maggie uses Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds). Maggie likes to add 10 or 15 drops of tea tree, lavender or lemon oil for a nice fragrance. Mix the ingredients and then pour some of the mixture into a spray bottle. Save the rest in a gallon jug. This is enough all-purpose cleaner to last for years! Use this mixture to clean tile, countertops and painted woodwork. It’s a good all-purpose cleaner, but it’s not the best for cleaning glass. Maggie uses club soda to clean glass. Sometimes home remedies are great at keeping pests out of the garden as well.
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Put your car-washing sponge inside a pair of old pantyhose for a great nonabrasive, paint-friendly scrubber. The threads act like thousands of little scrapers that rub off insects and gunk with every swipe. Get more car cleaning tips and tricks to speed up the whole process.
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Clean a Sluggish Toilet
If your toilet flushes slowly, the rinse holes under the rim may be clogged with mineral deposits. (Get a refresher on the parts of a toilet.) Use a hand mirror to see the holes under the rim of the toilet. Bend a coat hanger flat and probe the tip into the holes to poke out any deposits. You can clean out those clogged holes without ever getting your hands dirty.
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Easier Bottle Cleaning
Clean those narrow-necked jars and vases with small gravel (aquarium gravel works the best). Fill one-third of the jar with water. Add a handful of gravel, and then stir and shake the jar. The gravel will scour the inside of the jar clean. Dump the gravel into a strainer, give it a quick rinse (so it doesn’t stink!) and save it for next time. You’ll wonder why you didn’t think of that yourself!
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Vacuum First, Then Scrub
Do you ever find yourself chasing strands of wet hair or running into dust balls in the corners with your sponge or cleaning rag? You can learn how to clean your bathroom better and eliminate this nuisance by vacuuming the bathroom before you get out your cleaning solutions. For a really thorough cleaning, start at the top, vacuuming the dust from light fixtures and the top of window casings. Then work your way down. And finally, vacuum the floor methodically so you cover every inch. You don’t want to leave any stray hair or dust bunnies to muck up your cleaning water. A soft-bristle upholstery brush works best for this type of vacuuming. Figure out what vacuum to use here.
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Protect Your Shower Doors from Mineral Buildup
When the beads of water left on your glass shower door dry out, they leave minerals behind that are at best unsightly, and at worst can be tough as nails to remove if you let them build up. You can avoid beading water altogether by coating the glass with an auto-glass treatment. Two brands are Aquapel and Rain-X. Follow the instructions on the package to apply the treatment to your shower door glass. You can buy Aquapel or find a local dealer online. You’ll find Rain-X at any auto parts store. Let a showerhead amaze you with the comfort it can provide and check out 10 showerheads for a better shower experience.
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Trash Can Cleanup
Try using a liquid toilet bowl cleaner to wash the inside of a dirty trash can. It will cling to the sides for better cleaning. A toilet brush will help you reach down inside. Rinse well for a clean can. Get rid of a lot of trash after a project in one fell swoop with oe giant bag.
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Clean Your Bagless Vacuum Filter
‘Bagless vacuums are good for business,’ according to one vacuum repairman. The problem isn’t design or manufacturing but user negligence. Vacuum owners empty the dirt canister but often don’t clean the filters. Plugged filters lead to an overworked motor. And sooner or later, the motor burns out. Motor replacement costs at least $100. People avoid cleaning filters because it’s a messy job. The typical method is to tap the filter against the inside of a trash can until most of the dust falls off. But this raises a thick cloud of dust and doesn’t get the filter completely clean. Here’s a faster, neater, more thorough approach: Take the vacuum out to the garage and clean the pleated filter with a shop vacuum. Some pleated filters have a special coating that you can damage, so be gentle with the shop vacuum nozzle. Clean prefilter screens and post-filters the same way. Learn what the experts say on how often to change filters on bagless vacuums.
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Citrus Peels and Ice Cubes for a Stinky Disposer
If your disposer has developed an odor, it may contain bits of rotted food. Here’s how to clean them out:
- With the water running at about half throttle, drop in orange or lemon peels. Run the disposer for five seconds. Citric acid from the peels softens crusty waste and attacks smelly bacteria. Give the acid about 15 minutes to do its work.
- Turn on the water and the disposer and drop in a few ice cubes. Flying shards of ice work like a sandblaster inside the disposer.
- Run the water until the bowl is about half full. Then pull the stopper and turn on the disposer to flush it out.
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Garbage Bag Holder-Upper
Tired of the garbage bag slipping down into the trash can? Cut out the middle of the lid with a utility knife and just snap the outer rim over the bag to keep it in place. This works great for recycling, not so great for stinky stuff! Check out another garbage hack that involves poking holes in the trash can.
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Flashlight Glass Finder
Cleaning up broken glass is a real pain, but it’s nothing compared with a glass shard in the foot. Get a flashlight and turn off the overhead lights. Scan the floor with the flashlight from a low angle and the shards will glisten, making even the littlest piece stand out. Besides being an all-time great Parliament song, a glow-in-the-dark flashlight might be a light saver in a blackout
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A PVC pipe connected to a vacuum hose lets you reach up to high spots or into narrow crannies, so you can suck up those cobwebs around skylights or exterminate dust bunnies behind radiators. A 10-ft. piece of PVC pipe is inexpensive. Here’s another vacuum attachment hack. In the plumbing aisle, you’ll also find PVC and rubber ‘reducer’ couplings that let you connect your vacuum hose to a different-size pipe.
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Beat the Dust out of Cushions
Upholstery absorbs lots of dust?and then sends it airborne every time you sit down. Routine vacuuming reduces the problem, but can’t suck out the deep-down dust. So take cushions outside a couple times each year, preferably on a windy day, and spank the dust out of them. An old tennis racket makes a great upholstery beater (and improves your swing)
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Renew Wood with Mineral Spirits
If the finish on your furniture or woodwork is dull and murky, it may need refinishing. But before you take on that project, take a tip from furniture restorers and clean it with mineral spirits. Mineral spirits—sometimes labeled “paint thinner”—is a gentle solvent that dissolves years of grime and residue from cleaners or polishes without harming wood finishes. Get it at a home center or paint store. Just soak a soft cloth and keep rubbing until the cloth no longer picks up grime. Work in a well-ventilated area and remember that the fumes are flammable. Hang the cloth outdoors to dry before throwing it in the trash.
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It’s easy to clean baked-on food and spills from your microwave Here’s how: Partially fill a measuring or coffee cup with water and add a slice of lemon. Boil the water for a minute, and then leave the door closed and let the steam loosen the mess. After 10 minutes, open the door and wipe away the grime. Plus: Best Household Cleaning Supplies & Products
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Beat and Shake Area Rugs
Vacuum large area rugs at least once a week. But also take them outside three or four times a year for a more thorough cleaning and forhow to clean dust. Drape them over a fence or clothesline and beat them with a broom or tennis racket. A good beating removes much more dust than vacuuming. Take smaller rugs outside to for a vigorous shaking every week.
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Do Air Cleaners Reduce Dusting?
An effective air cleaner removes large and small particles from the air in a single room. Within that space, it can relieve allergy or asthma symptoms and even reduce smoke and cooking odors. But don’t expect it to relieve you of dusting duty. Air cleaners are sized to filter a small area, so only a small portion of the airborne dust in your home will ever reach the unit. For air cleaners to have a real effect on overall dust levels, you would need one unit in every room. Buy an air cleaner on Amazon. While you’re debating the value of an air cleaner, take care of cleaning your air conditioner, it’s easier than you think.
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Rotate Bedding Weekly
Your cozy bed is a major dust distributor. The bedding collects skin flakes, sheds its own fibers and sends out a puff of dust every time you roll over. To minimize the fallout, wash sheets and pillowcases weekly. Items that aren’t machine washable don’t need weekly trips to the dry cleaners—just take blankets and bedspreads outside and shake them. You can spank some of the dust out of pillows, but for a thorough cleaning, wash or dry-clean them. When you change bedding, don’t whip up a dust storm. Gently roll up the old sheets and spread out the new ones; even clean bedding sheds fibers. Washing your bedding weekly can help you identify any pests like bed bugs, too.
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Clean the Air While You Clean the House
Your vacuum’s agitator brush and exhaust whip up dust that eventually settles on the surfaces you’ve just cleaned. Filter out some of that dust before it settles by switching your thermostat to ‘fan on.’ This turns on the blower inside your furnace and filters the air even while the system isn’t heating or cooling. Leave the blower on for about 15 minutes after you’re done cleaning forhow to remove dust from air. But don’t forget to switch it back to ‘auto.’ Most blowers aren’t designed to run constantly. Plus: Here are 8 simple furnace fixes you can do yourself.
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Countertop Gap Filler
If crumbs, papers or even flatware falls into the gap between your countertop and refrigerator, fill the void with nearly invisible plastic tubing. Clear tubing is available at home centers in several widths starting at 1/8 in and will help you clean house fast since you won’t be searching for crumbs. Save headaches and money by following six steps to keep your fridge running.
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Remove Tough Grime with Less Scrubbing
Whether it’s built-up soap scum on the shower walls, ground-in dirt on the floor tile, or dried toothpaste on the vanity top, a Magic Eraser sponge will make short work of it. Just dampen it and rub it on the offending mess. In most cases, the mess will come right off. These sponges are especially useful for removing ground-in dirt from porous floor tile and getting those pesky nonslip strips in the bottom of your tub clean. Magic Eraser sponges are available at grocery stores, hardware stores and wherever cleaning supplies are sold. Unlike regular sponges, they wear out pretty fast, so stock up. While you’re out, look for these other very useful household cleaning supplies.
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Capture Dust – Don’t Just Spread It Around
Feather dusters and dry rags pick up some of the dust they disturb, but most of it just settles elsewhere. Damp rags or disposable cloths that attract and hold dust with an electrostatic charge (like Swiffer or Grab-it) work much better. Cloths that attract dust with oils or waxes also work well but can leave residue on furniture. Use vacuum attachments only on surfaces that are hard to dust with a cloth, such as rough surfaces and intricate woodwork, because the exhaust stream from a vacuum whips up a dust storm. Buy Swiffer Cloths on Amazon.Tried of trying to think up a way to clean a chandelier? Check out one easy solution.
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Ban Shoes Inside (But Offer Slippers)
More than half of household dust enters your home through windows, doors, vents and on the soles of your shoes. Think about where you walk all day long (restrooms, city streets, construction sites, etc.) and all the bacteria and debris your shoes collect. Do you really want to track that inside? An EPA study of homes where a doormat was added at the entrance and shoes were banned indoors showed a 60 percent reduction of lead dust and other contaminants in the home, as well as a significant reduction of allergens and bacteria. Your first line of defense for how to remove dust from air should be a coarse-fiber heavy-duty doormat placed outside exterior doors. Inside, have everyone remove shoes at the door. Keep a bench, a shoe rack and a basket of cheap slippers available so no one has to walk around in their stocking feet on chilly floors. Buy a heavy-duty doormat on Amazon.
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Bleach Away Stains
Remove stubborn stains from marble, cultured marble or plastic laminate with a bleach-soaked paper towel. Cover the towel with a cup to contain the bleach odor, and leave it in place overnight. If the stain has faded but not disappeared, just repeat the process. Test this trick in a hidden area first; it could discolor the surface. Dealing with a whole countertop? You can renew it yourself. Warning: If you have quartz countertops in your bathroom, it’s recommended you NOT use bleach. Learn how to clean quartz countertops the best way here.
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Polish with a Microfiber Cloth
Microfiber cloths excel at putting the finishing touches on mirrors, countertops, and even tile and fixtures. After cleaning surfaces with your favorite cleaning solution and drying them off with a terry cloth rag or a separate microfiber cloth, polish them to a mirror finish with a dry microfiber cloth. Microfiber cloths are perfect for this because they pick up dust, wipe off smudges and don’t shed any fibers. You’ll find microfiber cloths wherever cleaning supplies are sold and they’ll help you know how to clean your bathroom better. You can also buy them in bulk at wholesale clubs and use them throughout your house for all kinds of other cleaning chores. They’re one of the best home cleaning products you can get. If you have laminate countertops, follow these steps for a perfectly clean surface.
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Keep Closets Clear for Easy Cleaning
Closets are dust reservoirs, full of tiny fibers from clothes, towels and bedding. Every time you open the door, you whip up an invisible dust storm. You can’t prevent clothes from shedding fibers, but you can make closets easier to keep clean and vastly cut down on dust.
- Box or bag items on closet shelves. Clear plastic containers are best—they lock fibers in and dust out and let you see what’s inside. When you dust, they’re easy to pull off the shelves and wipe clean.
- Enclose the clothes you rarely wear. Those coats you wear only in winter shed fibers year-round. Slip garment bags or large garbage bags over them. They help to contain fibers and keep the clothes themselves from becoming coated with dust.
- Keep closet floors clear. If the floor is cluttered, chances are you’ll just bypass it while vacuuming. But a wide-open floor adds only a few seconds to the vacuuming chore. And a wire shelf lets you clear all those shoes off the floor without losing storage space.
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Microfiber Products Clean Faster, Easier and Better
Microfibers are tiny strands (usually less than one-tenth the thickness of a human hair) that are sliced into even smaller strands and then woven into fabric. Those tiny strands reach into crevices and provide millions of little pockets within the fabric to hold dirt particles. The strands also have sharp scouring edges, so microfiber cloths often clean effectively without chemicals or even water (you can use cleansers or water if you choose). Learn more about the science behind cleaning with microfiber cloths.
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Make Cleaning Easier
One-piece toilets are easier to clean (fewer nooks and crannies), but they’re also more expensive and can be harder to install than a two-piece unit (they’re a lot heavier than a separate bowl and tank). If you’re feeling flush and want truly easy cleaning, consider a wall-mounted toilet. Find the perfect toilet for you with expert advice. Photo: Courtesy of Toto USA, Inc.
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Remove Tree Sap from Vinyl Siding
If drippy trees or deck lumber deposit sap on your vinyl siding, don’t delay cleanup. The longer you wait, the more stubborn the sap will become. If you wait too long, you might have to use a pressure washer. If you attack the fresh sap within a week or so, a common kitchen cleaner such as Formula 409 or Fantastik will likely remove the goo. You can also use a biodegradable product such as Simple Green. If standard cleaners won’t dissolve the sap, use a citrus cleaner such as Goo Gone ($5 at home centers or on Amazon). Check the label of any product you use to make sure it’s recommended for vinyl and test it in an inconspicuous spot for discoloration. Apply the cleaner with a rag or sponge. Scrub tough spots with a soft-bristle brush for the fastest way to clean house.
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A Scrub and a Wax
Field Editor Joe Stiles writes: ‘Every three months, I use CLR Calcium, Lime and Rust Remover and an old toothbrush to clean all the faucets and lavatories. Then I apply an automotive car wax like Turtle Wax and buff after the wax hazes. Our fixtures look like new.’ See why keeping an old toothbrush is great for your computer.
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Make the Most of Your Vacuuming
The right vacuuming technique, combined with the right filters, bags and machine, has a significant impact on how much dust remains in your carpeting. Keep the following tips for how to clean dust in mind:
- Vacuum high-traffic areas twice a week and the rest of the carpeting and large area rugs at least weekly.
- Make numerous slow passes over the same area in all directions (fast passes stir up more dust than is being sucked up).
- Use certified True High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters to remove invisible particles and allergens. Look for the word ‘True” on the label.
- If you have allergies, upgrade to a sealed-body bagged vacuum with an airtight ‘sealed filtration’ system that works together with a True HEPA filter. This means all of the exhaust will exit through the HEPA filter instead of leaking dust back into your house through the machine’s housing. Sealed-body vacuums have rubber seals or gaskets around the lid and filter and will last 10 to 20 years. Brands include Riccar, Miele and Sanitaire.
- Buy high-quality vacuum bags. Inexpensive 2- or 3-ply paper bags leak more dust. Higher-quality cotton-lined paper bags are better, and top-quality synthetic cotton HEPA bags are the best. Bag capacity matters too. Higher-capacity bags capture more, smaller particles that would have otherwise clogged the filter.
- Buy synthetic cotton HEPA bags on Amazon.
- Clean all your bagless vacuum filters regularly and replace them every three months.
- Turn off the agitator brush on hard flooring so you’re not blowing dust into the air.
- Maintain your vacuum: Empty the canister frequently (always outside) and change bags and belts when needed. Keep the agitator brush free of hair and other material, and check the vacuum for cracks and loose hinges and get it serviced every so often to keep it running smoothly.
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Install a Detachable Toilet Seat
It seems like no matter how hard you try, you can never get the hinges on the toilet seat clean. There’s always a bit of cleaning solution that seeps underneath and creeps out later. Installing a detachable toilet seat solves the problem. This Bemis brand seat is easy to remove by just twisting two hinge caps about a quarter of a turn. Then you have easy access to clean under the hinges. Detachable seats cost about $20. Installation is straightforward and only requires a wrench. Are your bolts rusted and stuck? Learn how to remove rusted toilet seat bolts here.
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Remove Stubborn Rust Stains with Acid Magic
If you have a lot of iron in your water and struggle with rust stains in your toilet or bathtub, here’s a perfect solution. Acid Magic dissolves rust. It’s as powerful as muriatic acid but much safer and more pleasant to use. You should still take all the precautions you would with any strong cleaning solution, like wearing gloves and safety glasses when you’re using it. But it’s better than regular acid because there are no noxious fumes, and it won’t burn your skin. To clean rust from toilets and other porcelain surfaces, add one part Acid Magic to three parts water. Apply the mixture to the rust stains with a sprayer, brush or foam pad and watch the stain dissolve. Rinse with clear water. You can also use it full strength for stubborn stains. Avoid getting the acid on metal parts because they can discolor. Acid Magic is available online and at Ace and True Value stores. Do you have toilet leaks? Learn how to repair them here. If you have rust on chrome fixtures, check out three surprising solutions for how to clean rust from chrome bathroom fittings.
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Remove Tough Stains from Vinyl Flooring
Sheet vinyl “resilient” flooring is so easy to clean that it may never require anything beyond damp mopping with a cleaner intended for vinyl floors. But if your floor has marks or stains that still won’t come off, you can use stronger stuff. Isopropyl alcohol, sold as a disinfectant at drugstores, is a mild solvent. It’s the best cleaner for heel marks and works on other tough stains too. You can also use lighter fluid or mineral spirits. Remember that all these products are flammable; turn off any nearby pilot lights and hang rags out to dry before throwing them away. Learn how to use it to remove tough stains from vinyl flooring.
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Upgrade Your Furnace Filter
Your home’s forced-air heating or cooling system helps to control dust by filtering the air. A standard cheap fiberglass filter protects your furnace from large dust particles and provides maximum airflow, but it does little to reduce household dust. More expensive pleated filters usually provide a good balance between cost and filtration efficiency. These filters trap 80 to 95 percent of particles 5 microns and larger. Here are the best furnace filters to buy. But if you have family members with allergies, consider spending more on high-efficiency filters, which capture 99 percent of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns (bacteria and viruses, fumes and pollen). These furnace filters are one of the best for how to remove dust from air. Be aware that you’ll have to run your furnace fan full time to get the maximum benefit from a high-efficiency filter, and you’ll have to change the filter frequently to prevent damage to your furnace from the reduced airflow. If you go the high-efficiency route, install a filter monitor such as FilterScan, which automatically alerts you when your furnace filter needs changing, or the GeneralAire G99 Filter Gage, which requires you to manually check it. Get the GeneralAire G99 Filter Gage from Amazon.
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Purify the Air
Here are four things you can do to cleanse the dusty air in your home and how to remove dust from air:
- Place air purifiers in your most-used rooms to help suck up dust before it settles. Choose air purifier units with True HEPA filters rather than ionic cleaners, which release ozone, a respiratory irritant.
- Buy a True HEPA air purifier unit on Amazon.
- Add a plant to every room. Plants naturally absorb common indoor pollutants like benzene and formaldehyde. NASA studies have shown that many plants, including aloes, palms and ferns, can absorb as much as 80 percent of the formaldehyde in a room in 24 hours.
- Keep the humidity in your house between 40 and 50 percent to help lower static electricity, which can cause dust to stick to surfaces and make them harder to clean. A humidifier (cleaned regularly) and leafy indoor plants will both increase humidity levels. Just don’t increase the level to more than 50 percent. This will promote the growth of mold, a far more dangerous condition than dust. You can monitor humidity levels with a cheap hydrometer from a gardening store.
- Keep your windows closed on windy days. Dust enters through doors and windows in the form of pollen, mold spores and airborne pollutants.
Keep the air pure and keep out allergens as well.
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Easier Grout Haze Cleanup
The thousands of microscopic fabric hooks on a microfiber cloth (available at discount stores) make it perfect to cut through the dried grout haze left after a tiling project. You’ll still have to rinse and repeat, but the haze will clean up faster than it would with an ordinary rag.
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First spread a plastic tarp on the floor under the chandelier to catch the drips. Then turn off the light and spray the solution on the chandelier until liquid beads start to run (you’ll use a lot of spray, but it beats wiping). The spray rinses off the dust. The solution that’s left evaporates quickly and doesn’t leave water spots. The spray works well on hanging crystals, but don’t expect it to remove dust from crevices. Buy it from nancysilver.com or chandelierparts.com. If you’re tired of cleaning you chandelier and would like to replace it, here’s how you can do it yourself.
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Cut Grease With a Hot Rag
Grease and dirt build up on kitchen cabinets over time. To clean your cabinets, first heat a slightly damp sponge or cloth in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds until it’s hot. Put on a pair of rubber gloves, spray the cabinets with an all-purpose cleaner containing orange oil, then wipe off the cleaner with the hot sponge. For stubborn spots, let the cleaner sit for five minutes first. Wipe in the direction of the wood grain. Rinse and reheat the sponge as it becomes saturated. Then wipe the cabinets with a cool, damp cloth. The orange oil leaves a shiny coating. This works for any wood or metal surface.
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Clean Hard Floors Faster
If you’re still using a regular old mop for everyday cleanup of your hard-surface floors, there’s a better way. Save the mop for really dirty or muddy floors and simply spot-clean using the tool the pros use.
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Blow Out the Garage
Forget the broom—clean out the garage with a leaf blower. It’s fast (about five minutes), you don’t have to move heavy stuff, and you can clean work surfaces and shelves along with the floor. First put away papers or anything else that you don’t want blown away. Open the overhead door. Put on a dust mask, earplugs and safety glasses, then turn on the leaf blower and blow out the dust and debris. Use the leaf blower to get under workbenches and to clean off the benches themselves. If you don’t own a leaf blower, you may be able to use your shop vacuum by connecting the hose to the exhaust port. This cleaning method works great for screen porches, too. No leaf blower? Our buyer’s guide can help you decide which one is best for you.
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The Right Stuff for Rust
All-purpose cleaners won’t remove rust stains from sinks, tubs and toilets, even with a lot of elbow grease. The trick is to use a stain remover like Super Iron Out. Look for a rust stain remover or a product that contains diluted hydrochloric acid (also listed on product labels as hydrogen chloride, HCL or muriatic acid). Be careful not to use a product containing bleach—it’ll set the stain. For toilets, add Super Iron Out to the water in the bowl, then clean with a stiff nylon-bristled brush. For sinks and tubs, first wet the surface with water. Apply Super Iron Out to a damp sponge (wear rubber gloves and a mask—this stuff is powerful!). Wipe the stain with the sponge until it’s gone. Rinse the surface with plain water to completely remove the Super Iron Out. Know the dangerous side of some cleaning products before using them.
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Remove Bathroom Soap Scum
Soap has a nasty way of forming a hard-to-remove film on tile in tubs and showers. You won’t get rid of it by rubbing. Instead, wait for the surface to dry, then scrape off the scum with a 4-in. plastic putty knife. For grout lines and textured surfaces, use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Find out the 10 things you shouldn’t use a Magic Eraser on and what makes them so magical. To prevent soap scum buildup, stop using real soap and start using a synthetic. Chemically speaking, any soap in a liquid or gel form, and some bar soaps (Zest and Ivory), are actually synthetic soaps and much less likely to leave a tough film in your sink, shower or tub.
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Scum-Proof Your Shower Doors
Keeping shower doors clean and streak free is a challenge—unless you know the pros’ secrets. Start by cleaning any mold, mildew or streaks off the glass with a glass cleaner. Use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to get into the cracks in textured glass. Scrape off tough buildup with a razor blade. Dry the doors with a cloth. To prevent soap scum buildup, stop using real soap and start using a synthetic. Chemically speaking, any soap in liquid or gel form is actually synthetic soap and much less likely to leave a tough film in your sink, shower or tub. Plus: How to Clean a Bathroom Faster and Better
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Spot-Clean Food and Drink Spills
The best way to prevent stains is to treat spills immediately. That’s why pros love stain pens, like Tide to Go and the Clorox Bleach Pen Gel, which are designed to remove small stains from upholstery, grout, caulk, porcelain and clothing (avoid the bleach pens for colored fabric). Just press the tip into the stain to release the solution, then rub the tip across the stain to remove it. Inexpensive and portable, they’re great at removing food and drink spills. Before applying a cleaning solution to an entire surface or fixture, first test it on a tiny area to make sure it won’t damage or discolor the finish.
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Get Tough on Glass Stains
If your usual glass cleaner won’t remove tough stains, apply a mild abrasive cleaner such as Soft Scrub, Bar Keepers Friend or Bon Ami and scrub with a soft cloth. (Here’s a tip for washing windows.) These abrasives usually won’t scratch glass, but test a small area first just to make sure. If elbow grease alone won’t do the job or if you have large areas to cover, use a drill and a small buffing wheel (find one at home centers).
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Speed-Clean with a Pressure Washer
Once you get your hands on a pressure washer, you’ll find endless uses for it: Blast that dingy coat of dirt off your siding and trim, deep-clean embedded grime from your driveway or patio, wash down a deck or fence. While you’re at it, don’t forget the car, mower, bikes and patio furniture. You may discover so many jobs for a pressure washer that you want to own one. Electric versions usually cost less, but you may want to spend more for a more powerful gas model. Renting first is a good way to find out how much pressure and which features you really need. You can rent a pressure washer and do a week’s worth of cleaning in one day. Before you rent, gather some tarps to protect plants and make sure your garden hose will reach all the areas you plan to clean. Good preparation lets you get more cleaning done during the rental period.
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Stop Countertop Stains
If you have an older plastic laminate countertop, you’ve probably noticed that it doesn’t repel stains like it used to. That’s because years of wear have left the surface lightly scratched and porous. The best way to prevent stains is to wipe up spills immediately. But a protective coating of countertop polish can also help. Plus it will restore the shine to dull countertops. All you have to do is spray it on and wipe it off every few weeks. Most home centers and discount stores carry countertop polish such as Countertop Magic or Hope’s Counter Top Polish. If you don’t find it in a store, search for ‘countertop polish’ online to find a supplier and a great cleaner.
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How to Remove Stains From Plastic Laminate Countertops
Got tough stains on your plastic laminate countertops? Using the right cleaner and having some patience will make even the most stubborn stains go away. Follow our advice and you’ll get rid of those ugly stains for good. Plus: Secret Cleaning Tips From the Pros
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Clean Range Hood Grease Filters With a Degreaser
Running your vent hood grease filter through the dishwasher can yield disappointing results. Likewise with ‘grease cutting’ household cleaners. Get great results with a water-based degreaser from the auto parts store. Fill the sink with hot water and degreaser, drop in the filter and let the degreaser do all the work. The filter will come out sparkling clean in just a few minutes. Then just rinse it off. Do you have a glass stove top? Learn how to clean a glass stove top the best way.
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Scour Off Grime with an Electric Toothbrush
Now that discount and dollar stores carry cheap electric toothbrushes, you can add a modern twist to routine cleaning. Rapid vibration will quickly scrub out stubborn dirt, while the long handle can get to hard-to-reach places without all the elbow grease. Plus: How to Clean a Bathroom Faster and Better
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Clean Out Disposer Crud
Your disposer will smell better if you clean the splash guard. Lift the flaps and scrub them (especially the under side) with a toothbrush and grease-cutting cleaner.
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How to Clean Oven Door Glass
It’s a mystery how baking slop gets deposited between oven door glass panels. But it’s clear that you can’t remove it without disassembling the door. Get the instructions for removing the door and clean that grungy glass in less than an hour.
Plus: Appliance Care and Maintenance Tips to Make Appliances Last
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When the permanent marker has ended up in the wrong hands, vegetable oil can clean it off lots of surfaces—even skin! Then just wipe up with a damp cloth and you’re done. See why lemon is such a popular scent with cleaning products.
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Clean a Stinky Fridge
You don’t have to live with a stinky fridge. Follow these instructions for using newspaper and charcoal and the odors will be gone within several days.
Plus: 14 Cleaning Tips Every Dog or Cat Owner Should Know
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Enzymes Eliminate Pet Stains and Odors
Enzyme products are easy to use on pet stains—just spray or blot them on the stain according to the directions. The products contain harmless bacteria that ‘eat’ the organic matter that causes the odor. When the organic matter is gone, the bacteria run out of food and die. The whole process will take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Some manufacturers recommend covering the area with plastic or a wet cloth to keep the bacteria moist and healthy. Get rid of other bad smells in the house.Buy some Petzyme now on Amazon.
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Quick Cleanup Cat Litter
Cut your litter cleanup time in half with this nifty trick. Line your litter pan with a plastic kitchen garbage bag before adding the litter. Get the best household cleaning supplies and products here.
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Pet Repellent for Furniture
To train your pets to stay off furniture, place plastic carpet protectors—prickly side up—on their favorite perch. Available in office supply stores and the carpet/flooring department of home centers, the protectors can be cut to the size you need with a scissors or a utility knife. The plastic teeth will train your pet to associate the couch with ‘uncomfortable.’ Soon they will seek cozier spots to relax on and leave the easy chair to you. Just remember to remove the protector before you sit down.
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A Fast Way to Remove Pet Hair
If you have a shedding pet, StickySheets can make cleaning up after it a lot easier. Just peel off the backing, press the sheet against the furniture, then pull it up. The hair sticks to the sheet, but the 24 x 36-in. sheets won’t stick to each other, making application easier. The sheets can be reused up to three times. The manufacturer claims that Americans spend more than 200 million hours cleaning up more than 25,000 tons of pet hair each year. If that’s true, then StickySheets can save a lot of time. Buy StickySheets now on Amazon.
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Mask Pet Claw Scratches
Mask shallow claw marks and scratches in wood doors with stain and varnish. Gel stains work well for matching the existing finish. Here’s how to easily repair pet claw marks.
Plus: Best Car Cleaning Tips and Tricks
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Don’t Brush the Dog — Use a Vacuum Instead!
Instead of brushing your pet and then cleaning up the fur with a vacuum, use the vacuum with an upholstery attachment to brush the dog. The vacuum sucks up all the loose fur so you don’t spend any extra time cleaning. When it comes to bath time for Fido, check out this awesome dog washing station that got built from an old washtub.
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No-Mess Litter Box
It’s not fancy, but it’s a cheap way to keep litter in the litter box where it belongs. Trace an opening on one end of a plastic storage container, then push a sharp razor knife into the plastic and cut out the opening. Pour in the litter and your cat will figure out the rest.
Plus: How to Clean a Bathroom Faster and Better
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Neat and Tidy Pet Food Dispenser
Build this bin and you can fill the dog dish with the flick of a finger and do away with that crumpled bag of dog food lying on the garage floor. This bin easily holds two 20-lb. bags of food and allows you to dispense it right into the dish. And you can store two types of food so the cat won’t get jealous. Slide open the ‘blast gate’ and food falls into the dish. A hinged top allows easy refilling. Get the instructions to make your own pet food dispenser. Check out these 10 really cool pet products you’ll want to pick up.
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Getting burnt food off cookware is no easy feat. But here’s a clever trick: put a new dryer sheet at the bottom of the dirty pan, add water and let it soak overnight. The next day, wipe out the pan and you’re good to go. Once all of your pots and pans are sparkly clean, you can build these helpful rollouts to keep everything organized.
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Ditch Your Carpeting
In most homes, carpet is by far the biggest dust reservoir. It’s a huge source of fibers and absorbs dust like a giant sponge. Even the padding underneath holds dust, which goes airborne with each footstep. Although ripping out your wall-to-wall carpet may sound radical, it’s the best thing you can do if you suffer from serious allergies. For how to remove dust from air the best thing you can do is to replace carpeting with hard floorings like laminate, wood or tile, and wet mop it regularly (with a microfiber cloth) instead of sweeping. Sweeping is more likely to stir up dust than to remove it. Keeping it? Here are some carpet cleaning tips for long-lasting carpet.
Up next, check out these money saving vinegar cleaning hacks.