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). 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.
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. Learn more about the best cleaning supplies for your home.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.' Get more ingenious cleaning tips like this one.
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.
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.
A Quick Cleaning Cures Skipping Discs
If a CD or DVD skips or won't play in a machine that plays other discs flawlessly, cleaning the disc may solve the problem. Disc cleaning kits are available, but all you really need is lukewarm water, a few drops of dish detergent, and a soft, lint-free rag. If the disc still misbehaves after the cleaning, examine it for scratches. Electronics stores carry repair kits to remove minor scratches from CDs and DVDs.
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: 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.
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.