Vinegar’s place on this list isn’t surprising. It can help you clean in almost every room of your house. Don’t worry, the smell dissipates. Vinegar is acetic, which helps cut through dirt while killing mold, bacteria, and viruses. You might already know that a solution with equal parts white vinegar and water can help you clean kitchen and bathroom surfaces, just remember to keep it away from marble and other porous stone surfaces, but it can do so much more.
Don’t want your dinner guests to know you spent $4 on that bottle of wine? Remove the price tag,and other papery stickers, by sponging on vinegar, letting it sit for a few minutes and then scraping off the sticker. And stop averting your eyes from the crumb-catching crack between your oven and counter. Grab a thin, blunt instrument, like a butter knife, wrap it once in a vinegar-soaked cloth, and slowly drag the knife toward you in the crack.
Vinegar’s partner in crime, baking soda cuts odors and can be used as a gently abrasive cleaner. The combination of the vinegar and baking soda can help keep drains clear and de-skunk dogs. Give your oven a good cleaning by wetting down the inside surfaces with water with a sponge or a spray bottle, and then sprinkle baking soda all over, or make a thick paste of the two and cover the surfaces. Let the baking soda do its work for a few hours,or overnight, and then wipe clean. Remove marks, like crayon masterpiece, from painted walls with baking soda on a damp sponge. Water and baking soda can also be used to remove stains on fabric, or to gently clean surfaces.
Salt can be used to spot-clean a stained wooden cutting board. Make a thick paste with salt, water, and baking soda, and scrub away your stains. When a dish boils over in the oven, cover the spill with salt while it’s still wet, it will make it easier to clean up later, after the oven cools down of course. Don’t worry if your guests ignored the stack of coasters you set out, make a thin paste of salt and vegetable oil and rub it on the white rings their beverages left on your wooden tables. Salt can also help you clean your cast iron pans by gently scrubbing away stubborn bits of food from without removing your seasoning.
Make yourself a pot of black tea. Then brew another batch of tea with the used tea bags and get cleaning. Watered-down tea works well to clean mirrors. Brewed tea can be used to polish wood too, and shine up your furniture, cabinets, and hardwood floors. Remove rust by soaking them in black tea and then wiping away the rust. We cleaned up rusty canning jar lids, but you could also tend to those garden tools you neglected all summer.
Lemon’s mildly acidic nature will help you you make quick work of grease and grime, with an all-natural fresh scent to boot. Just add water to lemon juice to remove grease on your stove and appliances. Lemon juice can clean up brass, just double-check that the item is brass, and not brass-plated. Add a little lemon juice to your dish soap when you’re filling the sink with hot, soapy water. Combining lemon juice with with kosher salt and mineral oil can help you deep-clean a wooden cutting board, and after you’re done cooking, or cleaning with a lemon, don’t forget to put it through your garbage disposal to get rid of any lingering odors.
Mix two parts olive oil with one part fresh lemon juice for a simple wood furniture polish. Test it on an inconspicuous spot first. You can store this in the refrigerator for a few weeks, just let it come to room temperature before using. If you’re out of shoe polish, or just hate the smell, shine your shoes with unrefined olive oil, the addition of a little lemon juice is optional. Let it soak in and then buff.
Clean up tarnished copper, whether it’s a vintage preserve pan or a copper-bottomed saucepan, with a dab of ketchup on a cloth. Rub to bring back the original shine, rinse with water, and dry. This works for tarnished silver items as well. Clean up your pile of pennies that you’re using as pie weights and make them gleam too. Out of ketchup? Other pantry items work to clean copper too, such as vinegar, baking soda, or salt and lemon.
It isn’t just for your favorite drink, it’s also great for when you spill it. Club soda works to remove stains from fabrics and carpets if you act quickly. Pour or dab it on liberally, then blot and gently rub the spot away. Streaks on stainless steel will disappear after being buffed with a club soda-soaked cloth, and porcelain sinks and fixtures can be cleaned with club soda too. Give the inside of your refrigerator a good wipe down with a mixture of salt and soda water and then re-organize it.
Unearth your nutcracker and crack open a few walnuts. Eat a couple, reserve one and rub it along any small scratches in your wood furniture. Rub your finger along the scratch to warm up the nut’s oil and help it soak into the wood, then buff with a cloth. If you’ve got a scratch in dark wood, coffee grounds can help.
If your wood is marred with water rings instead of scratches, grab a jar of mayonnaise. Spoon a small blob onto a slightly dampened cloth, dab it onto the stain, and let it sit for a few minutes. Then gently rub the mayo into the stain — the gentle part is key, aggressive mayo rubbing can mess up the furniture’s finish. Once you’ve removed the ring, wipe away any excess mayo, and buff with a soft cloth.
Like straight vinegar, mayonnaise can also be use to remove price tags. Cover the offending sticker with a layer of mayo, let it sit for a few minutes, and then scrape away the sticker.
It might be ambitious of us to already have grilling on the brain, but it never hurts to be prepared. The next time you grill and you’re left with chunks of food on your grill rack, use a crumpled up ball of aluminum foil to scrub the surface of the grill rack.
An onion can help you clean your grill too. Cut an onion in half, and rub the grill grates with the cut side to remove stuck-on remnants of your meal.
Peel a couple of bananas and clean with the banana peels. Toss the banana peels in the blender, and blend them with a little bit of water to make a paste. Use the paste to polish any slightly tarnished silver you have lying around, then wash off the banana paste residue and dry well. You can also use the inside of a banana peel to shine the leaves of your dust-encrusted houseplants. Follow up with a damp cloth so you don’t attract banana-loving bugs.
Clean stuffed animals and faux fur that can’t be washed with cornmeal. Put the item in a container, like a resealable plastic bag for a small stuffed animal, or a larger plastic container with a lid for larger items, like a faux fur vest. Sprinkle liberally with cornmeal, shake it like you’re making your favorite chicken recipe, let it sit for a few hours, and then shake to remove the cornmeal.
Solid, gemstone- free, gold jewelry can be cleaned with beer. Soak a soft cloth with beer, polish up the jewelry, and then buff with a clean dry cloth. Leftover beer can also be used to clean wood furniture. Wipe it on with a soft cloth. Don’t go overboard with your pour, and make sure the beer is flat, and then then follow up with a dry cloth.
Cornstarch’s magical powers are right up with there with baking soda and vinegar. Cornstarch can help remove oily stains, and it can also remove light scorch marks on fabric. Wet the scorch stain, cover it with cornstarch, and let it dry. Once dry, brush away the excess cornstarch, and hopefully the stain too. Sprinkle on carpet and rugs to help deodorize before vacuuming, and on knotted shoelaces to help untangle them.
If you’re a card shark and your cards are a bit sticky, put them in a bag with some cornstarch, shake away the gunk, and then wipe them off with a dry cloth. Polish up tarnished silverware with a paste of cornstarch and water, let it dry, and then buff with a clean cloth.