How to Clean Practically Everything
Some people love cleaning—so we’ve heard. The rest of us either dread it, don’t know what we’re doing, or both. If you fall into the latter categories, consider the below your cheat sheet. From copper pots to leather sofas, we’re telling you how to clean practically everything in your house, and in most cases, with household products you already own. Now all you have to do is get it done!
To clean a spill on an area rug or carpet, whatever you do do not rub it—this will just push the spill into pile further. Instead, using a clean towel or a stack of paper towels, gently blot, pressing down with the heel of your hand. Do this until the liquid has been completely absorbed.
If you need to spot clean a spill that has dried or won’t come out, mix your own solution by diluting a few drops of dish soap with water, and blot gently with a clean cloth or rag.
Everyone knows you shouldn’t put a cast iron pan in the dishwasher (you know that right?), but how do you clean it? These heavy-duty pans require a natural abrasive to lift away bits of food and oil, while preserving the pan’s seasoning, which makes them so appealing. The trick is scrub them with coarse salt using a soft sponge; when all the gunk is lifted, rinse the pan and wipe it dry.
Did you know you can actually clean your charcoal grill with an onion? After peeling a white onion, slice it in half and stab a fork into the round side of the half so it creates a handle. Make sure the grill is hot (as in recently turned off but not flaming), and then rub the onion across the grates repeatedly. The onion will dilute the meat sediments on the grill—and add a bit of flavor for the next time you use it!
Minerals in your water or mineral build-up in your dishwasher can leave clear glassware looking cloudy, despite the fact that you’ve washed them with soap. The solution for this is pretty simple: distilled white vinegar. Just soak a paper towel in it and apply it directly to the glass, rubbing it until the cloudiness fades away. Then rinse and dry.
Soap and water can rid your wooden or bamboo cutting boards of germs, but they do little to remove stains from pigment—ever sliced a strawberry on a wooden cutting board? You’d think there’s no going back after that, but a little lemon and coarse salt will actually do the trick (even on cutting boards with nasty burn marks from hot pots!). First, just rub half of a lemon across the board to soak it. Then, sprinkle it generously with salt and let it sit 10 to 15 minutes. Once that's done, use that same half of lemon to rub the salt into the board, squeezing as you rub if it starts to dry out. Finally, rinse and behold: a shiny new cutting board!
You may have heard that newspaper is the secret to cleaning mirrors, but the inks used for printing today actually aren’t what they used to be and will leave your mirrors unfavorably streaky. Paper towels will leave lint behind, so it’s important to use a flat-weave microfiber cloth, which won’t leave debris in its wake. To give your mirror a deep clean, soak a cotton pad in rubbing alcohol and quickly run it across the surface to pick up any cosmetic buildup (like hairspray). Then, spray the mirror down with glass cleaner and wipe it with your microfiber cloth from left to right, and top to bottom to ensure you don’t miss any spots. If you see any smudges left, you can spot-clean by spraying your cloth and buffing the mirror.
Want to make your beloved crystal chandelier sparkle like it did on the day you bought it? Unless your chandelier is really grimey, you can usually get away with cleaning it while it's hanging. To begin, set up alternative lighting nearby, and then turn off the electrical to be safe. Spray it with a solution—either hot soapy water or one part isopropyl alcohol/three parts distilled water are recommended—and then wipe and dry the solution off using clean white cotton gloves. (Unless your chandelier is stainless steel, don't use store-bought sprays, as they can ruin the metal finish.)
If your chandelier needs a serious cleaning, carefully remove each crystal, and then hand-wash in hot soapy water, rinse, and dry each with a clean white cloth. Then reassemble. In between deep cleanings, use a feather duster to remove dust.
Tile grout can be easily damaged if you use an abrasive solution or scrub too hard, so it’s best to start with a mild treatment. Spray your grout lines with warm water and scrub in circles and let dry. Need more cleaning power? Upgrade to a half-and-half solution of vinegar and warm water. Have an even tougher mildew or grime problem? Create a paste of baking soda and warm water, and cover the grout lines with it. Next, spray on the vinegar solution, wait til it foams, and then start scrubbing. If your grout is extremely grimey, you can also use hydrogen peroxide or oxygen bleach (OxiClean), but steer clear of chlorine bleach, which will erode the grout lines.
If you have copper pots or other copper accents in your home, you need to add this chemical-free cleaning solution to your arsenal. Just slice a lemon in half, sprinkle coarse salt on the lemon, and rub it all over the copper. Soon enough those pots and pans will be glowing!
Wood furniture can last for generations if it's cared for properly. Whether your piece needs a routine clean or a deap clean, a bit of mineral oil (like lemon oil, which is scented) will usually do the trick. Just moisten a clean rag with water and a bit of oil, and then rub it over the furniture. To remove debris and residue, buff the surface well.
Are your bright white lampshades looking a few shades darker than when you purchased them? Fabric shades are a haven for dust, so simply take a lint roller and run it over the shade. Soon enough, they'll be (almost) as good as new.
The great thing about stainless steel is that, well, it doesn't stain. But despite its sleek appearance, the metal material does not do a good job of hiding grubby fingerprints. So to keep your stainless steel surfaces—whether your countertops or your appliances—looking shiny, mix one-third of water, two-thirds of distilled white vinegar, and a few drops of dish soap in a spray bottle and spritz the surface. Then, wipe it clean with a micro-fiber cloth.
Glass showers can't quite be cleaned as other glass surfaces are, since they often become grimey due to mineral build-up in the water. To cut away build-up and soap scum, we recommend two effective products: Lime-A-Way or Bar Keepers Friend. Distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle can also often do the trick, but you may need a lot of it if your shower is expansive!
Spill something on your mattress? Just sprinkle baking soda onto the surface and let it sit for a half hour. The baking soda will absorb the liquid, and then you can vacuum it up.
Any of you coffee lovers out there may have noticed a ring or stain on the interior of your coffee from the dark, strong stuff. This is nothing a little baking soda won't fix. Rinse the inside of the cup with warm water and then sprinkle baking soda on it. Let it sit for about 10 minutes; then using a slightly damp cloth, rub the soda into the mug until all the stains have been wiped clear. Rinse and buff dry.
Porcelain—be it a sink, a bath tub, or even serving ware—can soak up some pretty nasty stains that often look beyond repair. Luckily, that's not the case. To say goodbye to all those unsightly marks, first wash porcelain with a little dish soap and water, and then rinse thoroughly. If it has yellowish stains (often from water), spray it with oxygen or chlorine bleach to get rid of the color and give it a scrub. Next, wherever you still see stains, apply a small amount of Bar Keepers Friend and scrub in a circular motion until stains disappear. Then, rinse any remaining residue or product off, and fini! A shiny "new" porcelain sink or tub.
We love the look of worn-in leather furniture, but sometimes a well-loved armchair just looks way past its prime. Rather than purchasing a costly bottle of leather oil, you can actually repair scuffs and scratches with a good-quality shoe polish and a rag. First wipe the surface clean, then dip a cloth or rag in the polish and gently rub it into the surface. Wipe it clean with a fresh rag to make sure the polish doesn’t rub off onto anyone.
What are your favorite cleaning tricks? Share with us in the comments below.