Surprising Cleaning New Uses

More hidden tricks to get your house sparkling in record time.
Real Simple

Aluminum Foil as Glassware Scrubber

To get baked-on food off a glass pan or an oven rack, use dishwashing liquid and a ball of foil in place of a steel-wool soap pad, says Mary Findley, president of the cleaning-products developer Mary Moppins. It’s one way to recycle those used but perfectly good pieces of foil you hate to throw out.

Car Wax as Sink Polish

Polish faucets, sinks, tile, even shower doors with Turtle Wax, which leaves behind a protective barrier against water and soap buildup, so your hard-earned sparkle will last past the next tooth-brushing.

Chalk as Tarnish Prevention

Slow the tarnish on your good silver by tying up a few moisture-absorbing pieces in cheesecloth and store them with your cutlery for shinier flatware that reflects well on you in no time flat.

Cooking Spray as Candlestick Cleaner

Celebrating by candlelight? Spray the inside of a votive holder with a thin coating before dropping in a tea light. After the candle has burned down, the remaining wax will slip out.

Dryer Sheet as Iron Cleaner

Remove gunk from the soleplate of an iron. With the setting on low, rub the iron over the dryer sheet until the residue disappears, and you’re left with a pristine press.

Eggshells as Bottle and Vase Cleaners

Here’s an idea for all those eggs you hard-boiled: Use their broken eggshells to clean the hard-to-reach places in bottles and vases. Drop some crushed shells in the bottle, add warm water and a drop of dishwashing liquid, and give it a good swirl. The shells will scrape off the gunk you can’t get to, so you can save your elbow grease for the dinner dishes.

Citrus Peel as Garbage Disposal Deodorizer

Keep your disposal smelling fresh by dropping a few peels down the drain and flipping the switch.

Clothespin as Cord Keeper

The secret to keeping a retractable cord from rewinding too soon is to clip the cord near the opening.

Hair Dryer as Sticker Remover

A little hot air quickly loosens price labels—with zero fingernail-chipping frustration.

Lemon as Laundry Brightener

Skip the bleach—add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of lemon juice to the wash cycle to brighter up those fading whites.

Mustard Powder as Jar Deodorizer

Deodorize smelly glass jars by washing them with a mixture of one teaspoon powdered mustard and one quart warm water.

Onion as Basement Deodorizer

Clear the air in a dank basement. Cut an onion in half, place it on a plate, and leave it out overnight. Once the initial salad-bar aroma dissipates, you’ll have a fresh (non-oniony)

Seam Ripper as Vacuum Roller Cleaner

Restore a vacuum to maximum power by cutting the lint and hair from its roller brush.

Vanilla as Freezer Freshener

Trade frostbite funk for a more pleasing freezer scent and wipe the inside of the icebox with an extract-dampened cotton pad.

Walnut as Scratch Filler

Repair hardwood floors by rubbing shelled nuts into shallow scratches. Their natural oils help hide the flaws.

Lemonade Kool-Aid as Dishwasher Cleaner

Clean lime deposits and iron stains inside the dishwasher by pouring a packet of lemonade Kool-Aid (the only flavor that works) into the detergent cup and running the (empty) dishwasher. The citric acid in the mix wipes out stains; you don’t have to.

Laundry Bag as Dishwashing Aid

Keep mini Tupperware lids, baby-bottle caps, and other small items from falling through the dishwasher rack. You’ll save time by no longer diving for treasure on the floor of the dishwasher.

Newspaper as Food-Container Deodorizer

Stuff a balled-up piece of newspaper into a plastic container that has developed a funk, and let it sit overnight. By morning the paper will have absorbed the offending smell.

Salt as Egg Cleanup

Sop up a spilled egg by sprinkling salt over the mess. Wait two minutes and wipe it up.

Uncooked Spaghetti as Frosting Protector

Preserve a topnotch frosting job. Poke a few stiff pieces in the surface and sides of a dessert before wrapping it for easy transport.

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February 15, 2011. Feburary.

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