My favorite household tips
I’ve been a homemaker for my whole life. It started early on when I’d line my dolls up at my play kitchen table and make them breakfast. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to be and it’s the one thing I can say I excel at. Over the years I’ve collected hundreds of little household tips that make life easier that I just have to share. Some are silly and some are life savers but at the end of the day, I will try anything once.
- Coffee grounds are magic. They are an excellent fertilizer and a systemic pesticide that is non-toxic to humans and pets. Let them cool and sprinkle around your plants and windows.
- Keep a small Tupperware container filled with your interior paint color. That way when you need to do periodic touch-ups, you can just pull it out, stir with a brush, and fix them. Breaking out the 5-gallon bucket is usually a production.
- White vinegar is an excellent substitute for many household cleaners (so-called ‘General Purpose Cleaners’). Buy a cheap spray bottle and fill it with vinegar undiluted. It is perfect for quick clean-ups around the kitchen and bathroom as it is both a disinfectant AND completely volatile (it will smell for a while but evaporate to leave no residues).
- To keep drains unblocked in the long run: Buy some sodium hydroxide, lye, at hardware stores. Use a tablespoon full each week in your drains/sinks around the house. Rinse with cold water.
- Clean as you go! When I’m cooking, every minute of downtime I have I spend it cleaning whatever dishes that I used to cook.
- Toothpaste polishes silver beautifully.
- Always clean from the top down – i.e., start with the top of your cabinets, then the countertops, then the floor. This way the dirt and dust works its way down to the last thing you clean.
- Throw lemon and orange peels into the garbage disposal instead of the trash helps give your kitchen that citrus fresh smell.
- Need to clean the gunk out of the disposal, a bucket of ice cubes does wonders.
- Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach!
- Don’t throw out used butter wrappers, fold them in half ( the buttery side in of course) and put them in your fridge. Next time you need to grease a pan, just grab your pre-buttered wrapper and coat the pan.
- Meat tenderizer gets blood out of clothing. It won’t bleach out the original fabric.
- WD-40 removes crayon from ANYTHING, as well as scuffs from ceramic and wood floors.
- Paint the bottom ring of your shaving cream cans with clear nail polish, and they won’t leave rust rings in your bathroom.
- If your microwave is really dirty, put a damp cloth in there for about 30-45 seconds, let it sit (to cool down) then use it to wipe it down. The steam releases all the stuck-on food, like the dried-up stuff you would end up scraping off.
- You can also microwave a cup full of vinegar-water solution.
- Microfiber cloths are excellent for cleaning. They can clean anything with just a little water. Mirrors, glass, appliances…heck they can even take off the soap scum on shower walls (although that takes a bit of elbow grease). Using damp microfiber cloths is a great way to cut down on the paper towel and chemical use when you clean.
- Take 5-10 minutes at the end of each day to clean up whatever mess you have made during the day. Never again will you have to spend hours cleaning.
- Used dryer sheets for dusting. Almost as useful as those expensive Swiffer things.
- Fruit fly problems – -Take a glass and fill it part way with red wine vinegar. Cover the top of the glass with plastic wrap and poke some holes in the plastic wrap. Fruit flies are attracted to the red wine vinegar and end up drowning themselves in it. It really helps get rid of them.
- Put replacement trash bags in the bottom of the garbage can for easy access.
- WD40 dissolves glues. So, if you buy a fridge or something that has those irritating stickers on them, spray WD40 where you ripped the sticker off and wipe.
- Peanut butter gets gum out of hair without needing to cut the hair.
- The best way to peel hard-boiled eggs is under running water. Makes them peel great every time without mutilating the eggs.
- Clean your mini blinds by hanging in the garage or porch. Spray down with the foaming bubbles used to clean tubs and sinks. You can watch the grime just drip off with no wiping. Use a garden hose or spray bottle to rinse.
- Hate cleaning your oven from all the drippings? Lay sheet of aluminum foil at the bottom under the heating element. Most heating elements lift up.
- Instead of buying those expensive gel ice packs, take a large zip lock freezer bag, fill it to about 1/3 full of 3 parts water to one part rubbing alcohol, then seal it, being careful to work the air out of it. Then put that bag inside another bag. The bag will freeze to a super cold slush that never solidifies.
- To get the old musty smell out of towels wash them with hot water and a cup of vinegar. Then immediately rewash them usually with regular laundry detergent.
- Put your celery in aluminum foil, it will last 3 to 4 weeks longer.
- Have a baked-on mess? Just take a piece of aluminum foil- crumble it into a ball and get to scrubbing! It will take literally anything out of your pots and pans no matter how long it’s been stuck on.
- Mayonnaise and steel wool will get marker off of walls/floors/whatever other hard surfaces a kid decides to color on.
- Wax in the carpet? Warm iron and a paper bag.
- Rub shaving cream onto your bathroom mirror to keep it from fogging up.
- Shaving cream will get liquid foundation out of clothing.
- Spray the inside of your Jack-O-Lantern with vinegar every occasionally. It will last 10x longer.
- To keep brown sugar soft, put a slice of bread in the same container as the sugar. The sugar will pull the moisture from the bread and stay soft.
- When squeezing lemons, microwave it for 15 sec then roll it around on the counter. You will get much more juice out of it.
- Windex will remove fingernail polish from fabric – soak and blot.
- Clean windows with damp newspaper. It doesn’t leave any streaks or little bits of paper like paper towels.
- Coca-Cola (or Pepsi): The general-purpose rust remover/cleaner.
- Simmering a small pot full of water, cinnamon, and cloves (you can even throw in some orange peel if you have it) makes for a great and VERY cheap air freshener.
- Make your rooms smell good by using 1 or 2 dryer sheets in your vacuum cleaners air filter.
- Use an onion to clean the grate on your grill.
- Hairspray removes ink from fabric
- Used tea bags sprinkled on rose plants will make them blossom faster with more vibrant colors.
- Baking soda and dishwashing liquid mixed into a paste (not too sloppy, or you will lose the grittiness of the baking soda) makes an excellent bath/shower cleaner – gets rid of soap scum and grime well.
- If your couch cushions keep moving, you can put a nonslip rug pad in between the cushion and the sofa.
- Toothpaste and an old toothbrush are ideal for polishing jewelry.
- Ketchup cleans copper.
- Old credit cards make great scrapers – perfect for getting spilled food off the floor, and stubborn stuff that doesn’t wipe easily off counters, like spilled pancake batter. Also try them for scraping the inside of the microwave, and for scraping baking sheets.
Do you have a household tip you swear by? Please share it with us in the comments section below.
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Are you looking to slow down and live a simpler life?
Do you feel like the world is closing in around you, and you want to hide and find a place where you can be alone?
That was us ten years ago!
I'm so happy you've landed here and I can share some of the simple living principles that have made a huge difference in our lives.