Clean the air while you clean house
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Engage the furnace blower
Turn on the blower to your heating or air conditioning unit to move air through the filter.
With their beater brushes and exhaust, vacuums whip up a dust
storm. Later, all that dust settles on the surfaces you just cleaned.
But you can use your forced-air heating/cooling system to filter
the air while you clean. Just switch the thermostat to "fan" or
"fan on." The dust reduction you get depends on your furnace filter.
Standard fiberglass filters catch only the largest particles, while
a pleated filter with an electrostatic charge will catch almost all the
visible dust. Don't forget to switch back to "auto" when you're done.
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Extend your vacuum hose
Tape a length of plastic pipe to your vacuum hose to extend the reach.
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.
In the plumbing aisle, you'll also find
PVC and rubber "reducer" couplings that let
you connect your vacuum hose to a different-size
Get tough on glass stains
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Buff out tough stains
Use a small cloth buffing wheel plus a mild cleaner to clean off tough 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. 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).
Clean a vacuum with a vacuum
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Vacuum the filter
Use a shop vacuum to gently clean other vacuum filters.
The typical way to clean the filter of a bagless vacuum
is to tap it against the inside of a trash can
until most of the dust falls off. But that raises a
cloud of dust and doesn't get the filter completely
clean. For faster, neater, more effective filter
cleaning, use your shop vacuum. Clean prefilter
screens and post-filters the same way. Just remember
to be gentle with the shop vacuum's nozzle.
Some filters have a coating that you can scrape off if
you press too hard.
Speed-clean with a pressure washer
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Pressure wash outdoor areas
Use a pressure washer to clean siding to save a ton of time when preparing to paint.
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.
Minimize scum with synthetic soap
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Liquid and gel soaps are synthetic and don't leave scum behind. A few bar soaps are synthetic as well.
In terms of chemistry, some soaps aren't really soap. And
these "synthetic" soaps make cleaning your shower or
bath easier because they don't contain the ingredients
that create tough soap scum. So how do you know if
soap is synthetic or the real thing? Any liquid or gel soap
is synthetic. Most bar soaps are true soap, but a few, such
as Zest and Ivory, are synthetics. Synthetic soaps don't
leave tough scum on your sink or tub the way standard
Dissolve rust with acid
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Acid cleaners dissolve rust
Remove rust stains on porcelain by applying an acid cleaner and gently scrubbing.
To remove rust stains from a porcelain sink, tub or toilet,
skip the standard cleaners and go for a product that contains
acid. Don’t use any product that contains bleach—that
will just make the stains tougher. Look for ingredients like
"hydrochloric acid," "hydrogen chloride," "HCL" or "muriatic
acid" on the label. Read the whole label to make sure
the product won’t harm chrome or other finishes. If you're
cleaning a toilet, remove as much water as you can to avoid
diluting the cleaner. Scrub gently to avoid splatter that can
damage your floor, painted surfaces or your skin. Be sure to
flush the toilet a few times or rinse the tub thoroughly when
you're done so you don't leave any residue behind.
Beat the dust out of cushions
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Beat furniture cushions
Whack furniture cushions with a tennis racket outdoors to get the dust out.
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
Stop countertop stains
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Apply countertop polish
Apply countertop polish to older, worn laminate countertops to help prevent 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
Renew wood with mineral spirits
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Renew a dull finish
Clean dull wood finishes with mineral spirits to bring out the shine.
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
Easy-clean closet floors
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Clutter-free closet floor
Keep closet floors free of shoes, box and other obstacles for quick, easy vacuuming.
Household dust consists
mostly of tiny
fibers shed from
So a closet
clothes is a
time you open
the doors, you
whip up a dust
cloud. To make matters
worse, closet floors
are often bypassed by the
vacuum because they're cluttered
with shoes and other obstacles. The solution is a wire
shelf. Install a wire shelf a few inches above the
closet floor to clear off the clutter and make vacuuming
easy. Get one at a home center,
install it in a few minutes and you won’t be
tempted to skip the closet floor next time you