House cleaning isn't exactly fun, but it doesn't have to be drudgery either. Here is a great collection of clever tips and hints that will make cleaning your house easier and more efficient using common items you already have on hand.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine
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Clean dirty, greasy, gummy surfaces
Mineral spirits removes dirt and buildup
The results of a simple surface cleaning with mineral spirits may amaze you. Polish buildup and the dirt embedded in it can muddy the finish, but will wipe away. Don't use stronger solvents; they might dissolve the finish.
Soak a coarse, absorbent, clean cloth with mineral spirits and wipe the finish. Keep applying and wiping until the cloth no longer picks up dirt. Then do a final wipe with a fresh, clean rag.
Use cotton swabs to clean crevices
Clean crevices, grooves and carved areas with cotton swabs dipped in mineral spirits.
Vacuum extension tube
Tape a cardboard tube to the vacuum hose
Don't throw away the cardboard tube from wrapping paper! Tape the tube to the end of a vacuum cleaner wand to reach cobwebs in ceiling corners or dust on fans. Reach all the way under beds and furniture, or flatten the roll to vacuum narrow crevices. Make it a permanent dusting wand by wrapping it with duct tape, and it'll stand up to years of use.
Snake out spouts
Use a plumber's snake to clean out leaves
Your plumber's snake is a great tool for pulling clumps of wet leaves out of clogged downspouts.
3 easy ideas for clean birdbaths
Simple tricks to keep the water pest-free
To clean your birdbath, put two cups of vinegar in the bath and fill it to the brim with water. Cover with a trash-can lid, and let the bath soak overnight. Scrub and rinse well.
To attract butterflies to your birdbath and avoid algae, put a layer of builder's sand in the bottom of the birdbath.
Add a pantyhose leg stuffed with oat straw (available at amazon.com starting at $10) inside to your water for an algae-free birdbath.
An electric toothbrush scrubs crevices
Now that discount and dollar stores carry cheap ($1 to $5) 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.
Quick cleanup cat litter
Line your litter pan with a garbage bag
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.
Lift out the bag and discard used litter
When it's time to change the litter, simply lift out the bag, tie it off and throw it all away.
Spring clamp plan hold-down
Keep pages and plans from blowing away
If you like to use your workbench outside in nice weather, then you know that the slightest breeze sends your plans flying or turns the magazine page.
Spring clamp keeps pages in place
To solve that problem, put spring clamps at the corners of the plans or magazine to keep it on the table and open to the desired page.
Mini power washer
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.
Use a plastic spatula to scoop leaves
An old plastic spatula makes a great tool for cleaning debris from gutters. It doesn't scratch up the gutter, and you can cut it with snips to fit gutter contours. Grime wipes right off the spatula too, making cleanup a breeze.
Find lost parts
Locate small parts easily with a flashlight
Here's a slick way to locate small parts that fall to the floor. Turn off the lights and shine a flashlight beam across the floor. When the part is struck by the light, its large shadow makes it easy to find.