With every walk down the housewares aisle of your local supermarket or home improvement store, you’ll see more: more products, more sizes, more colors, more solutions to your everyday household problems.
Look under your kitchen sink, or better still, empty the cabinet. You’re likely to find duplicates, unopened containers, products you forgot you even bought and surely forgot to try. Still, when you have a problem, you probably don’t know what to do about it.
Sometimes you have to think out of the box, work with off label solutions.
Anyone who has a clear glass shower door has tried at one time or another:
- Glass cleaner
- Vinegar and water
- Squeegee cleaning
- Drying after every use
If you’re really lucky and work hard enough, you may be successful. The one product that works every time is a room deodorizer called Pure Citrus. It’s citrus oil, nothing else, either orange or lemon. Spray it on, leave it for a few minutes, wipe it off, and everything comes off the shower door. The stuff is amazing, so amazing that even the manufacturer has no idea what it can do.
Pure Citrus will remove adhesive better than Goo Gone and sure does smell better. It will remove paint errors while you’re trying to paint within the guide lines. The only caveat is keep it away from wood—it will remove the finish and you’ll be left with a sticky mess until you take the time to sand and resurface it.
Back to the shower door: After you’ve removed the mess and the door is clear, use a silicone product like Rain-X made for automobile windshields so the water beads and doesn’t stain the glass as rapidly as it did. In addition to a few swipes of the squeegee, you don’t have to repeat the procedure very often.
Along with the glass cleaning problem comes the stainless appliance issue. Accept it. If you have weakened and populated your kitchen with stainless steel, maintenance is in your hands. There are a few solutions, all of which need constant repetition. Windex works, but you need patience. Spray furniture polish sometimes helps. Of course, there are stainless steel cleaners, but sometimes even they aren’t too effective. If you can find it, the best of all is something called Mela Magic, available on line or from individuals.
Mela Magic is also the go to product to clean a smooth top range. Along with a straight edge razor, it’s much easier than the polishes made for the ranges. While you’re cleaning the range top, you can clean the stainless range at the same time, and you don’t have to switch to the stainless product.
To switch from cleaning to odors, there is one solution that no one believes in until desperation sets in. If you are unlucky enough to spill milk in your car or forget to leave your unplugged refrigerator opened, you will try everything: Baking soda, deodorizers, shampoos for automobile carpets. When you get really depressed and think you’ll never succeed, buy a bag of charcoal, not briquettes but old fashioned charcoal. Lay the bag down, cut a large window in the top surface, put it in the car or in the offensive (stinky) refrigerator, close the door, and leave it. By the next day, you’ll realize that there’s a reason they use charcoal filters—charcoal works. Once the smells are gone, celebrate by having a barbecue.
After the barbecue, back to cleaning. The big three in the cleaning closet, Clorox, ammonia, and peroxide, all have their uses, just use them carefully.
Clorox is bleach. It will always kill mold and mildew. Don’t be afraid to use it full strength when you see black mold. It’s cheap and it works. It cleans showers, sinks, grout, plastic, and can be used in every room of the house as long as you are careful. Don't drip it on your clothes while you're using it--it takes the color right out.
Clorox clears clogs in drains. When you are finished with the sink for the day, pour a gallon of Clorox down the drain and let it sit for at least four hours. It can prevent expensive visits from the plumber.
But…and this is a big but…don’t use Clorox in the toilet. Clorox and ammonia form a deadly gas when mixed and urine is ammonia. Enough said.
Ammonia is the active ingredient in window cleaners or it can be used alone, mixed with water, if you can tolerate the smell. You can also use vinegar or antifreeze as a window cleaner--they all work--find the formulas on the net.
Windex in a spray bottle works fine but it’s expensive. The choice is yours.
Hydrogen peroxide is an interesting product that not many people think of as a cleaner. Peroxide, the same stuff that has been turning dark hair blonde for years, can also be a cleaning agent. It’s the primary ingredient in Clorox 2, the color safe bleach. When you have biological stains, primarily blood, a peroxide soak will remove them.
The Magic Eraser is another product that makes cleaning easy in many cases. The only caveat is that it does contain abrasives so don’t use it too aggressively. It’s like magic on painted surfaces, on Corian or other solid surface countertops, and all the other uses listed on the box. In addition, it will remove ink from leather (be careful), and will clean a porcelain sink or tub with very little effort.
Caring for countertops can be a challenge that is not always simple. Marble is the most delicate. Never ever let vinegar, wine or citrus of any kind come in contact with marble. Vinegar is the worst offender and will instantly take the finish of a marble countertop or even a marble floor, so be forewarned. It’s costly to refinish marble.
Granite, ceramic, Corian, and Formica are more resistant to the ravages of cleaning products. If you have any doubts, try the product in a hidden area. Clorox won’t harm any of the surfaces, it sanitizes and is usually the most effective at cleaning.
When you are using any of the cleaning agents, be sure to wear protective gloves, work in a ventilated area, and use either washable or disposable rags. Don’t mix products, and don’t breathe fumes and you’ll clean quickly and effectively.
On another subject, but still related to cleaning, how to clean silver. Sure, you can use silver polish and it will prevent some tarnish to reappear, but, if you're in hurry and your silver necklace or bracelet is unwearable or you want to use some silver flatware that you forgot to wrap, use the baking soda-aluminum solution. Just dump some baking soda in an aluminum pan or any dish or pan lined with aluminum foil, add hot water, and throw your silver in. Swish it around, watch it get shiny, rinse it, dry it, and you're on your way.
Don't be fooled by the people in the shopping mall who are trying to sell you a special kit to do the same thing. All it is is an aluminum plate and baking soda. And don't be fooled by the need for specialty products to clean everything. Sometimes you can use things that are already in your pantry or under your sink.