50 Unusual Cleaning Solutions That Actually Work
Ever use Coca-Cola to clean oil stains in your garage? It works! Check out 49 more unusual yet effective cleaning solutions that will make your home sparkle.
Clean Safety Glasses in the Dishwasher
If your safety glasses have picked up too much gunk to be cleaned with a simple damp cloth, toss them on the top rack of your dishwasher and run them through a wash. Most safety glasses are durable enough to take the heat and spray of a dishwasher cycle, and they’ll come out sparkling clean with minimal effort by you. Next, check out all of the safety gear every DIYer should own here.
Clean a Vacuum with a Vacuum
You can clean off the residue quickly with a simple solution that you can make at home. Fill a spray bottle with water and add a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar. Shake it up a bit and spritz the mixture onto a clean paper towel. Gently wipe your shoes, and watch the salt residue disappear. Keep the spray bottle near your shoe collection, so you can clean off your shoes as the season goes. Keep that mudroom straight with some brilliant tips that will keep it clean.
The Baking Soda and Vacuum Trick
Baking soda is a natural adsorbent, which means it has the ability to absorb odors when used correctly. If you have fabric-covered furniture, then put some baking soda in a salt shaker or similar dispenser and sprinkle it liberally on the furniture you want to freshen up.
Baking soda doesn’t do its work all at once, so give it time to neutralize as many odor-causing particles as possible. An hour or so is ideal, and for bad situations you may just want to leave the baking soda on overnight (as long as it won’t get tracked everywhere by pets). When the time has elapsed, get out the vacuum cleaner and thoroughly vacuum up all the baking soda. This should freshen up most fabrics.
Note: Baking soda may have varying effects based on what is causing the odor or general “staleness” of your furniture. It neutralizes acidic compounds very easily, but may not be effective for all problems.
Did you know that you can clean and protect your manual can opener with simple wax paper? It’s that easy! Here’s how to do it:
Fold a sheet of wax paper a few times; then clamp the can opener onto an edge of the wax paper and turn the handle several times—the same action you would use to open a can. The stiff sheet will break off bits of food and grime from the wheels of the can opener, and the wax residue will lightly lubricate the parts at the same time for smoother operation.
Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner
Try using a homemade all-purpose cleaner on counter tops and surfaces to disinfect and freshen your home. This recipe includes vinegar, which removes stains and odors, and anti-microbial essential oils to keep your home germ free. Check out the complete step-by-step process to make it and learn about some home care myths that have been busted.
Simple Soft Scrub
Industrial soft scrub cleaners can contain strong chemical ingredients, but you can get your tub and shower just as clean with homemade cleaner. This simple soft scrub recipe will clean a bathroom faster and better, and uses a mixture of baking soda and vinegar, which will dissolve hard mineral deposits and easily cut through soap scum. Get the complete recipe here.
To prevent rust and extend the life of a cast iron skillet, it’s best not to use soap to clean it. Instead, use a about a tablespoon of coarse salt to scrub the pan after a meal.
The salt breaks up bits of stuck food and residue on the skillet. Then you can toss the dirty salt in the trash, rinse the pan with hot water and dry it with a clean towel. To further protect a cast iron skillet, rub a few drops of vegetable oil over the entire cooking surface. Check out more of our favorite cleaning tips.
Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Many commercial toilet bowl cleaners use chlorine bleach, but not this natural toilet bowl cleaner. Instead, castile soap and baking soda get the job done. Plus, you won’t have to worry about accidentally exposing your pets or children to toxic toilet water. See the complete instructions here.
Garden Gloves to Dust Knickknacks
Remove Tough Stains from Vinyl Flooring
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.
Advanced Baking Soda Spray
If you don’t have time to apply baking soda to your furniture’s upholstery and clean it up, you may want to try a spray solution instead. Grab a small spray bottle and mix in:
- 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda
- A couple drops of scented oil, like lavender
- Warm water
Shake it up thoroughly and then spray the mix on your fabrics for a quick, safe freshener. The addition of the scented oil helps mask odors while the light film of baking soda gets to work. The trick is to mix the right amount in so that the oil isn’t overpowering and the baking soda doesn’t leave any noticeable residue, so you may need to experiment.
Not a Coke drinker? Check out other ideas on how to remove oil stains from concrete or plaster.
Citrus Enzyme Cleaners
Enzymes are protein compounds that are used to break down other molecules – which makes them a useful tool in all-natural cleaning and freshening. Enzymes can help clean furniture and destroy odor-causing particles, and are especially popular when dealing with problems like urine stains that have soaked into wood. However, you will need living enzymes to make it work.
Dust with Your Dryer
Vinegar Spray for a Deeper Clean
If your furniture is starting to smell because of serious stain or dirt problems, a little baking soda won’t be enough. You will need to deep-clean the fabric and get rid of the source. Mix together:
- 1/2 tablespoon of liquid soap (dish soap is fine)
- 1/4 cup of white vinegar
- 3/4 cup of water
Here’s how to clean furniture fabric with this mix: Spray the solution on your fabric and rub it in thoroughly with a scrubbing brush. Switch to a pail of clean water and scrub until the soap suds are gone. Leave the area to dry or move that section of the furniture outside for faster drying.
Note that vinegar is acidic and can damage delicate fabrics. Use this method on durable fabrics and always test a small, inconspicuous spot to make sure the fabric will hold up.
Trash Can Cleanup
Activated charcoal is an even better adsorbent and odor-killer than baking soda, and can deal with a wider variety of particles. However, this highly purified charcoal dust isn’t the best thing to put on your furniture, where it can stain. Instead, consider getting freshener bags of activated charcoal, like these, and hide them in the corners of your furniture to help reduce odors.
The space between your fridge and the floor is a magnet for pet hair, dust, food crumbs and other small trinkets. And if gone too long without cleaning, it can attract ants and other pests.
To make this cleaning task less difficult, use a hair trap cleaner (also called a drain cleaning zip tool), which sells at home improvement stores for under $5. This hair trap won’t leave scratches on the floor and can reach further than a vacuum cleaner attachment.
This tool will also help you when your bathroom sinks inevitably clog with hair. Here’s how to unclog a sink.
Make Your Appliances Smudge-Free
If you own stainless steel kitchen appliances, you may want to consider using car wax to clean them rather than a surface cleaner.
Simply apply a light coat of car wax to the appliance, allow time to dry and buff clean to resist fingerprints and smudges.
No more kiddy fingerprints on the fridge!
Use Soft Socks to Clean Blinds
Clean Milk Stains from Clothes
Clear Up Coffee Rings
Remove Hard-Water Buildup with a Lemon
Garden Sprayer Cleans Hard-to-Reach Spots
A garden sprayer can be a mini power washer for cleaning windowsills and other hard-to-reach spots. Before you fill the tank with water, be sure to rinse it repeatedly to flush out any chemical residue.
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. Here are more brilliant cleaning shortcuts lazy people will appreciate.
Citrus Peels and Ice Cubes for a Stinky Disposer
- 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.
Plus: Bad Smell in the House?
Once all of your pots and pans are sparkly clean, you can build these helpful rollouts to keep everything organized.
Purchase a Paintbrush
Leslie Reichert, founder of The Green Cleaning Coach, 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.
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. 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.
Beat The Dust out of Cushions With a Tennis Racket
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.
Clean Your Wood Cutting Boards
Sprinkle the cutting board with some coarse salt. Then take half a lemon and scour the surface, being sure to squeeze the lemon juice as you go. Let it sit for five minutes then scrape the dirty liquid into the sink. Then give the board a good rinse with warm water and a clean dishcloth or sponge.
Here’s how to make a combination cutting board/serving tray.
Whiten Piano Keys
Polish Your Metal
Next time you notice a small rust spot on your metal kitchen tools, use lemon juice and a sponge. Simply squeeze a little lemon juice into a sponge and rub it on the surface.
Do you have scratches in your stainless steel appliances? Here’s how to sand them out.
Want your next painting project to look like it was done by a pro? This tutorial shows you the techniques you need to know. — Decie C. McKnight
Shine Up Sneakers
DIY Hand Scrub
Clean Your Microwave
Just squeeze some lemon juice into a bowl of warm water, add the lemon rinds and microwave for 5 minutes. The water will start to boil and the steam will loosen the dried bits of food.
When the timer goes off, carefully remove the hot bowl and use a clean towel to wipe everything clean.
And as we all know, hair is not the only cleaning problem you face when you have a pet. Here are 14 cleaning tips every cat and dog owner should know.
A Scrub and a Wax
White Bear Studio/Shutterstock
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. 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. These 10 clever solutions will work for even the most annoying cleaning problems.
Erase Marks on a Keyboard
Remove Laundry Stains
Try this tip for getting stubborn fruit and juice stains out of clothing and dish towels: Mix 1/3 cup lemon juice with 2/3 cup of water. Soak the stain in the mixture for 15 minutes then wash as normal.
Messy laundry room? Tidy it up with these helpful lips.