Homes 101: Proper Housekeeping

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Level 5 Leadership – Leading Organizations

Many tasks in housekeeping can be more easily managed with a basic understanding of the pH scale

  • Every chemical has an acidity or alkalinity on a scale of 1 to 14
    • pH Scale
    • Acids will break apart in water to form positively charged hydrogen ions
    • Bases will break apart in water to form negatively charged hydroxide ions
    • Acids and bases put together create reactions that can range from harmless neutralizing to releasing fatally poisonous gases
  • Here are a few examples:
    • 0.0 – Hydrochloric Acid
    • 0.3 – Battery Acid (Sulfuric Acid)
    • 1.5-3.5 – Gastric Acid (Stomach Acid)
    • 2.0-2.6 – Lemon Juice
    • 2.8 – Vinegar
    • 2.5-4.5 – Soft Drinks
    • 3.3-3.9 – Apples
    • 4.0 – Wine & Beer
    • 4.2 – Orange Juice
    • 4.5 – Tomatoes
    • <4.9 – Acid Rain
    • 5.0 – Boric Acid
    • 5.0 – Black Coffee
    • 5.0-5.5 – Clean Rain
    • 6.1 – Aloe Vera
    • 6.2 – Corn
    • 6.5-8.0 – Drinking Water
    • 6.7 – Milk
    • 7.0 – Pure Water
    • 7.2 – Tea
    • 7.4 – Human Blood
    • 8.0 – Sea Water
    • 8.4 – Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate)
    • 9.0 – Egg Whites
    • 9.3 – Borax
    • 10.0 – Laundry Detergent
    • 10.2 – Milk of Magnesia
    • 11.5 – Ammonia
    • 12.0 – Soapy Water
    • 12.4 – Lime (Calcium Hydroxide)
    • 12.6 – Chlorine Bleach
    • 13.5 – Lye (Soap Ingredient)
    • 14.0 – Sodium Hydroxide

Every residence has a number of things to keep up on

  •  Weekly tasks don’t need to be done every week, but should be frequent
    • Clean out all food preparation appliances used in the last week
      • Toaster, blender, stove/oven, microwave, grill
    • Clean the outside of the refrigerator
    • Wipe down all kitchen and bathroom surfaces
    • Vacuum, sweep and mop all indoor flooring
    • Clean bathroom toilets, sinks, showers, shower curtains
  • Monthly tasks should be done consistently to avoid too much buildup and exponentially more work
    • Clear out the refrigerator and wipe it down inside
    • Wash the trash cans and sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of them
    • Dust the furniture and tops of surfaces
    • Wash the cars
    • Prune all foliage
    • Water all indoor plants
    • Organize the budget and pay the bills
    • Clean the dishwasher
    • Pour treatment down to the septic tank
  • Every 3-4 months has a few larger tasks that build up
    • Clean the inside and outside of all windows and mirrors
    • Clean the stove underneath by popping off the top
    • Polish all furniture
    • Change the water filter, if you have one
    • If you have a dryer, clean the duct that runs from the dryer to the vent
    • Check for termites, mice and other pests
  • Twice a year there are some rare tasks that need to be done
    • Vacuum the couches
    • Clean out any air conditioner and fan filters
    • Place a new container of baking soda in the refrigerator
    • Drain the water heater tank to reduce sediment
    • Check and clean the refrigerator gasket and replace it if necessary
    • Clean the roof’s gutters and down-spouts
    • Pressure wash the decks, drive and walks
    • Replace the refrigerator’s water filter
    • Replace the batteries in carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
  • Once every year, some things need to get done
    • Anytime when it can be done
      • Visually check that the fire extinguisher still works
      • Clean the window screens
      • Check window wells and cellar ways for debris and damage
      • Clean and seal indoor tile and grout
      • Check for masonry holes or cracks and tuck-point as needed
      • Recaulk joints between tiling and other materials
      • Seal drives and walks
      • Pressure wash walls and siding
      • Walk exterior perimeter of home and check for potential critter entry points
      • Vacuum and clean carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
      • Inspect all power plugs and replace as needed
      • Check wood surfaces for paint failure and damage
      • If you have a septic tank, pump it and inspect it
      • Have a professional check fire extinguisher
      • Check for wasp and hornet nests around the property
      • Check for leaks in toilets and sinks
    • The start of spring has a few things to get done
      • Have a professional check the air conditioner and personally check the condensate drain hose
      • Prepare receipts for taxes
    • When the air conditioner starts getting used instead of the heating unit, adjust the ceiling fan blades to push downward
    • At the start of fall, have a professional inspect and clean the fireplace and check the heating unit
    • When the heating unit starts getting used instead of the air conditioner, adjust the ceiling fan blades to push upward
    • Winter has a few large tasks that might be very urgent
      • Check water lines, insulation and anything else that is vulnerable to cold
      • Disconnect all hoses from hose bibs, drain and store
      • Drain all exterior faucets and protect them with covers
      • Ensure all water supply cutoff valves are accessible in case of burst pipes
      • Turn off and drain the irrigation systems
  • There are also some tasks that need to be done every other year or as needed
    • Shampoo the couches and carpet
    • Renew any licenses for professional work or licensing
    • Get any required vehicle smog checks

Cleaning doesn’t have to be difficult

  • Keep taking the trash out to improve the overall state of cleanliness
    • Place extra trash bags at the bottom of the trash cans to make changing out trash bags easier
    • Reuse a cereal box as a car trash can
    • Reuse a wet-wipes container to hold plastic bags
    • Reuse an empty tissue box to hold plastic bags
    • Drill several holes in the bottom to avoid any suction when pulling the trash bag out
  • Store the cleaning solutions in a caddy or area that they all reside in
    • Use a hanging shoe rack on the inside of a closet
    • Use a curtain rod under a sink to hang spray cleaners
  • Prepare what you’ll clean with before you start
    • Take out the cleaning supplies and place them where they’ll be used
    • Fill your buckets
      • To fill a bucket from the sink, route the water with a clean dustpan
      • Use a pool noodle as a hose to route the water
  • Clean everything in the right order to do it faster
    • Dust first and vacuum last to remove any chance of dust staying on clean surfaces
    • Clean from top to bottom, since dust will settle downward
    • Clean from left to right to ensure not missing any areas
    • Avoid going over the same areas again to minimize movement
      • Clean the outer walls first and then the furniture in the center
      • When possible, skip vertical surfaces that haven’t collected dust
  • Let the cleaning solutions soak on the objects to allow them to chemically break down the items
  • Use a heavier or more efficient tool if you can’t get somewhere or are having difficulty
  • Use both hands to clean everything quicker
  • Do the same thing every time repetitively to speed up cleaning
  • If you need to clean for company, just take care of the visually obvious things
    • Clear all countertops
    • Close all open doors, drawers and toilet seats
    • Clean the guest bathroom mirror
    • Hide dirty dishes in the oven
    • Hide the clean clothes behind a throw blanket and decorative pillows
    • Gather scattered papers up and wrap them with a rubber band

Cleaning isn’t expensive

  • Most surfaces can be cleaned with a few pre-made solutions
    • Disinfectant spray
      • Fill a spray bottle with hard liquor
      • Fill a spray bottle with undiluted vinegar
    • Cleaning spray
      • Mix half vinegar and half water in a spray bottle
      • Mix 1 quart warm water and 4 tbsp baking soda in a spray bottle
      • Mix 1 part bleach with 10 parts water in a spray bottle
      • Mix 2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp Castile soap and 2 tbsp vinegar in a spray bottle and top it off with warm water
      • Mix 1/2 cup vinegar, 2 cups hot water, 1 cup washing soda and 10 drops tea tree oil in a bottle
      • Mix 2 parts vinegar and 1 part dishwashing liquid
    • Heavy cleaner
      • Mix 1 tsp vinegar, 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup Borax in a container
    • Cleaning paste
      • 1/4 cup of baking soda mixed with enough hydrogen peroxide
    • Disinfectant wipes
      1. Place 4 6-inch square soft cloth pieces entirely in a rectangular box, then press them down
      2. Mix 1 cup distilled water, 2 tbsp vinegar, 2 tbsp Castile soap or dish soap, 10 drops tea tree oil and 10 drops rosemary oil thoroughly in a bowl
      3. Pour the mixture on the topmost cloth, then wait for it to percolate through
      4. To easily dispense them, sterilize a rolling pin and wrap them around it
    • Stain remover fluid
      1. Mix 1 cup 35% hydrogen peroxide, 2 cups vinegar and 5 drops rose oil in a bottle
      2. Can be used as a pre-soak, but only use 1 tbsp per bucket of water
  • Tiles and ceramic surfaces
    • Baking soda/vinegar
      • Apply undiluted vinegar
      • Mix 1 cup vinegar with 1 gallon of water
      • Mix 1/3 cup baking soda in warm water
      • Sprinkle baking soda onto surface, the sprinkle with vinegar and let sit for 1 hour, the scrub with brush and wipe with cleansing detergent
      • Mix 1 part vinegar, 1 part baking soda and 1-2 tbsp natural vegetable oil
      • Mix baking soda and water together, add vinegar for tough stains
      • Mix 1 cup Epsom salts, 1 cup liquid Castile soap and 1/2 cup baking soda, let sit 15 mins, scrub with clockwise motion and rinse thoroughly
    • Apply mouthwash with a rag
    • Cut a grapefruit, pour salt over the cut part and scrub the tile with it
    • Squeeze 1/2 lemon into 1/2 cup of Borax and spray
  • Heavy tile cleaning
    • Mix 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup water and 15 drops lemon oil in a spray bottle
    • Mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide and 2 parts water, then let sit for an hour
    • Mix 2 parts baking soda, 1 part salt and 1 part Borax powder
    • Scour with a paste made from baking soda and water
  • Marble surfaces
    • Clean with mineral water, pat dry, then dab 1 part ethyl alcohol and 2 parts water with a cotton swab
    • Mix 3 tbsp baking soda in 1 quart of warm water, wash surface, wait a while, rinse off
  • Windows, mirrors and computer screens
    • Mix half vinegar and half water in a spray bottle, then wipe clean with either newspapers or cloth
    • Wipe with vinegar for more thorough cleaning
    • Keep them from fogging by applying shaving cream
    • Keep them from fogging by rubbing soapy water on them
  • Wood floors
    • Mix 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup vinegar, and 2 cups warm water, apply with a soft cloth, dry with a clean cloth.

Doing the dishes

  • Dishwashing solutions
    • Mix 1 cup liquid Castile soap, 5 drops lemon oil and 1 drop tea tree oil in a bottle and shake well, add 1/2 cup water to thin it out if it’s too thick
    • Mix 1 cup washing soda, 1 cup Borax, 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup lemon juice in a bottle
    • Wash with straight vinegar in a rag
    • Mix baking soda and water in a rag
  • Dirty sponge/dishcloth
    • Microwave for 2 mins to kill 99% of micro-organisms
    • Soak in water with a little lemon juice, then microwave for 1 min
    • Rub baking soda and water into it and let it sit
  • Blender
    • Fill with with warm water and a drop of dish soap, run blender, then dump and rinse
  • Bottles and liquid containers
    • Wash out with baking soda and hot water to remove odors
    • Fill with water, drop in 4 Alka-Seltzer tablets and let soak for at least 1 hour
  • Burnt pots and pans
    • Rub with a dryer sheet to loosen it
    • Baking soda/vinegar
      • Mix 1 cup water, 2 tbsp baking soda and 1 cup vinegar
      • Scrub hard with vinegar
      • Scrub with dry baking soda and a moist scouring pad
    • Fill with cold water and add an onion, cook until the onion becomes soft, drain the pot and scrub it
    • Sprinkle 1/4 tbsp dry Epsom salt on it, wait a few mins, add warm water and scrub well
    • Soak it for really tough stains, which also can apply elsewhere
      • Fill the bottom with water and add 1 cup vinegar, bring to a simmer then take off heat and stir in 2 tbsp baking soda until dissolved, empty it and scrub lightly
      • Add a 1-2 drops dish soap and enough water to fill the bottom, then bring to a boil on the stove
      • Soak in water and baking soda mixture for 10 mins before washing
      • Soak with salt water, let the solution break down the food for a few mins and scrub clean
      • Sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the pan, add vinegar, let soak 15 mins then rinse with soap and water
      • Sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the pan, add enough water to moisten the soda, let sit overnight and scrub clean
    • For copper pots, scrub it with ketchup
    • For glass pans and coffee pots
      • Wash with 3 tbsp baking soda for every quart of water
      • Fill with water and place in hot oven for about 10 minutes and rinse with warm water and soap
      • Fill with water and drop in 2 Alka Seltzer tablets
  • Cutting boards
    • Sprinkle a handful of Kosher salt and rub with half a lemon, then rinse and dry
    • Wipe with vinegar
  • Glasses stuck together
    • Put cold water in the top glass and submerge the bottom one in warm water
  • Heavily caked-on plates and silverware
    • Soak in dishwasher soap
  • Teapots
    • Add water and baking soda and let the solution soak overnight
  • Wooden spoons
    • Wash with cold water to avoid cooking the food that the spoon was being used with
    • When odors are present, soak in a mixture of baking soda and lemon juice
  • Dishwasher
    • Add lemon juice to a cycle with greasy dishes to clean them

Doing laundry

  • Laundry detergent
    • Gel
      1. Grate a Castile soap bar and add to a large saucepan of hot water, stir well until soap is dissolved
      2. Fill 10-gallon pail with 5 gallons warm water and add mixture, Borax, washing soda and 5 drops tea tree oil, then stir until completely dissolved
      3. Top up the pail with more water and keep stirring until even consistency, then cover and wait for it to gel
      4. Use 1 cup per load
    • Powder
      1. Grate a bar of Ivory or Fels Naptha soap into a coffee can
      2. Add 1 cup washing soda and 1 cup Borax and mix well with a fork
        • Optional: add 1/4 cup baking soda
      3. Use 1-2 tbsp per load
    • Liquid
      1. Grate 1/3 of a bar of Ivory or Fels Naptha soap into a saucepan
        • Alternately, use Dawn dish soap instead
      2. Add 6 cups water and heat until the soap melts
      3. Add 1/2 cup washing soda and 1/2 cup Borax and stir until dissolved
      4. Remove from heat and pour 4 cups hot water into a 2 gallon bucket
      5. Add soap mixture and stir, then stir in 1 gallon and 6 cups of water
      6. Optional: add 1/2 to 1 oz essential oil or fragrance oil for scent
      7. Use 1/2 cup per load
        • This soap doesn’t create bubbles when used
  • Throw a dry towel in with a wet load in the dryer to cut the drying time in half
  • Shrinking clothes
    • Wash the clothes in warm water instead of hot to avoid shrinking
    • Unshrink them by soaking in water and hair conditioner for 5 mins
    • For sweaters, soak them in baby shampoo
  • Woolens
    • Immerse the clothes in a mixture of 3/4 cup ammonia, 6 tbsp baking soda and 2 cups warm water to keep it from shrinking
  • Odors
    • Soak in a mix of water and baking soda
    • Add 2-3 tbsp vinegar with the detergent
    • Add 1 cup vinegar to a hot rinse cycle
    • Add dryer sheets to the dryer
    • Add 1/2 cup baking soda to the load
  • Use fabric conditioner/softener when rinsing or drying
    • Add 1/2 cup vinegar to a load while washing
    • Mix 2 cups vinegar, 30 drops rose water and 2 tbsp baking soda in a bottle
    • Add 1/4 cup Epsom salt to a load
    • Add a dash of essential oil for a scent
  • Denims can be worn again without washing if they’re placed in the freezer overnight, but thaw before ironing
    • Alternately, run a sponge dipped in vodka along the length of the pants
    • Place them in the freezer for a week to freshen up the colors
  • Static cling
    • Secure a safety pin onto the clothes
    • Rub with a dryer sheet
    • Press a dryer sheet into a hairbrush
    • Make two tin-foil balls and throw them in the dryer with the clothes
  • Wrinkled clothes
    • Fold clothing inside out while washing to decrease wrinkles
    • Hang the clothes on the towel rack while showering to remove most of the creases
    • Throw it in the dryer for 30 mins with a wet sock
    • Throw it in the dryer for 5 mins with a few ice cubes
    • Hang it up in the bathroom while you shower
  • Special circumstances
    • Clothes pilling
      • Immerse in ice cold water with some sea salt dissolved in it
      • Use a razor blade to consolidate all of it to grab it
    • Delicate designs
      • Wash the clothing inside out to keep the designs from cracking
    • Flattened pillows
      • Put them in the sun for 30 mins
    • Hardened towels
      • Mix water and vinegar and soak the towel in it
    • Excess lint
      • To decrease lint on clothes, add 1/2 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle
      • Apply a large piece of tape over the whole item of clothing
    • New brightly colored clothes that might bleed
      • Was with 1 tbsp salt and warm water to set the dye
      • Soak them in ice water with some salt and vinegar added until the fabric stops bleeding
      • Add 1 cup vinegar to 1 gallon water and soak the clothes in it until the fabric stops bleeding
      • Soak them in undiluted vinegar until the fabric stops bleeding
      • Add 1 tsp to 1/2 cup salt to a laundry load
    • Older brightly colored clothes
      • Add 1/2 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle to make them brighter
    • Wax marks on clothing
      • Put a paper towel over the wax and iron it, but be careful with polyester or nylon fiber surfaces
  • Shoes
    • Use bungee cords to dry them in the dryer without destroying the dryer
    • Odors
      • Sprinkle baking soda in the shoes
      • Put dryer sheets in the shoes
    • Boots
      • Clean dirty boots with a nail file, then wipe them with body lotion or glass polish to shine them
      • If the boots squeak, drive several thumbtacks down the center of the bottom of the shoe
      • If the boots squeak, place the bottom of the shoe in a dish containing oil with the heel propped up until the shoe soaks up the oil
    • Heels
      • Use a pastry brush or paintbrush to dust away the dirt, then use a sponge dipped in a mixture of water and dishwashing liquid
    • Canvas shoes
      • Mix baking soda and vinegar as a paste and apply to the bottom of the shoes
    • Leather shoes
      • Rub all over with half a lemon, let dry, polish, repeat as necessary
      • If you have water stains on it, rub 2 parts baked baking soda mixed with 1 part hot milk into it, then polish like normal
    • To remove salt stains from brown shoes
      1. Dissolve a piece of washing soda about the size of a chestnut into a 2 tbsp of hot milk
      2. Wash the affected area
      3. Polish like normal after dried

Dusting

  • Window blinds
    • Put your hand in an old sock wet with half water and half vinegar, then wipe in between the blinds
    • Wipe with dryer sheets
  • Ceiling fan blades
    • Wrap a pillow case around the blade to wipe away the dust, capturing all the dust in the pillowcase
  • Lampshades
    • Clean with a lint roller
  • Small cracks
    • Use Q-Tips and cotton balls to get into small cracks that need dusting
    • To clean air vents, wrap a butter knife around a wet towel
  • Baseboards
    • Run a used dryer sheet along the baseboards, which will also repel future dust from the static
  • Broken glass
    • Use a soft damp cloth, preferably an old disposable rag
    • Wipe with white bread
    • Wipe with cotton balls, wet them slightly for more effect
  • Cabinets and cupboards
    • Put a layer of wax paper on it to keep anything from settling, switch out every few months
  • Computer keyboards
    • Use pieces of paper or sticky notes to clean between the cracks
    • Use an old makeup brush to clean the keys
    • If you have an air compressor, blast inside the keyboard
    • Run the keyboard through the dishwasher by placing it on the top rack, not adding detergent and skipping the drying cycle
    • Put a ketchup squeeze bottle top at the end of a vacuum hose to clean extremely small areas
  • Floors
    • Vacuum thoroughly by working left to right and covering all areas
    • Use a paper towel roll as a disposable vacuum extension
    • Use a gift wrap tube as a disposable vacuum extension
    • Wipe  up sawdust with dryer sheets

Carpet, furniture & laundry stains

  • Most stains
    • Overnight treatment
      • Soak overnight in hot water with some lemon juice and vinegar
      • Wash with dishwashing liquid, then microwave to disinfect
    • Pour vinegar onto the stain, then rub baking soda into it
    • Most oils can be removed with coconut oil or almond oil
    • Rub with apple peels
  • Bathtub rings
    • Sprinkle salt over a half grapefruit and use it to scrub away the rings
  • Carpet stains
    • Vinegar/water solution
      1. Clean up any excess with a rag
      2. Spray with a mixture of half parts vinegar and water
      3. Let stand for 2 mins, then blot with a towel or sponge
      4. Repeat as needed
    • Heavier vinegar/water solution
      1. Apply a mixture of 1 tsp vinegar, 1 tsp liquid dish soap and 1 cup warm water
      2. Let stand for 2 mins, then blot with a towel or sponge, repeat as needed
      3. Dry with a hairdryer set on low
    • Apply a mixture of equal parts salt, Borax and vinegar
    • Apply cornmeal and salt, and then vacuum it off
    • Mix 1 cup Epsom salt in 1/2 gallon water, spot-clean with a rag
    • Pour baking soda onto the stain, then vacuum it out
  • Oven stains
    • Pour a little baking soda over the stains, add vinegar over the area, then wipe clean with a paper towel after the foam is gone
  • Tile stains
    • Spray with hydrogen peroxide
    • Attach a scrubber to a power drill and use with tile cleaner
  • Toilet bowl stains
    • Apply 20 oz of Coca Cola and let sit for an hour
    • Spray with vinegar
    • Mix lemon juice and Kool-Aid and scrub it in
    • Drop in 2 Alka Seltzer tablets, wait 20 mins, brush it and flush
  • Toilet clogs
    • Apply several squirts of dish soap, then pour very hot water down it
    • Free it up with an unraveled wire coat hanger
    • Pour in baking soda, then vinegar, then very hot water, then let sit overnight
    • Use a wet–dry vacuum to suck out water, then make a seal with old towels and suck it out or blow it out
  • Wall stains
    • Rub baking soda into it with a damp sponge
  • Specific stains
    • Baby formula
      • Grind up 4 digestive enzyme tablets and mix with 1 tbsp water, spread onto stain with a soft cloth and then rinse off
    • Barbecue sauce stains
      • Rub heavy-duty liquid detergent into it
    • Blood stains
      • Never use hot water
      • Soak and rub stain in cold water before washing
      • Apply cold water and gentle carpet shampoo
      • Rub Coca Cola into it
      • Soak or run 1 part hydrogen peroxide mixed with 3 parts water
      • If fresh, blot repeatedly with cold water or club soda
      • If dried, rub a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution into it
    • Chocolate stains
      • Rub heavy-duty liquid detergent into it
      • Rub vinegar into it, then wash
      • Soak fabric in club soda before washing
      • Apply gentle carpet shampoo, a solution of 1 oz ammonia and 1 cup water
      • Apply 1 part white vinegar and 2 parts water
    • Coffee/tea stains
      • Mix equal parts water and vinegar on it, blot with a damp cloth, then spray with mix of equal parts water and ammonia, blot again
      • Mix an egg yolk with a small amount of alcohol and 2 spoonfuls of warm water
      • Pour beer on top of it and rub lightly into the stain
      • Rub with baby wipes
      • Rub vinegar into it, then wash
      • Apply cold water, gentle carpet shampoo and dry cleaning solvent
      • For china, clean with a mixture of vinegar and salt
    • Crayon marks
      • Brush toothpaste into the marks
      • Rub baking soda into the marks
      • Spray WD-40 on it
    • Deodorant stains
      • Rub dryer sheets or nylon tights over it
    • Egg stains
      • Scrape away as much as possible, then sponge with lukewarm water
      • Make a paste of cream of tartar and water, then add a crushed aspirin to the paste, spread onto stain and leave 20-30 mins, then rinse well with warm water
    • Fruit juices/berries
      • Apply mix of half wood alcohol and ammonia, then rinse well
      • Use cold water and gentle carpet shampoo
    • Gum stuck on something
      • Boil vinegar and pour on the gum, then use a brush to scrub it off
      • Submerge in boiling water, let it soak, then scrape off carefully with a knife
      • Freeze or apply ice to the affected area, then scrape off carefully with a knife
      • Dip into a bowl of Coca Cola for a few mins, then wipe off
      • Spray with WD-40
    • Ink stains
      • Apply alcohol-based hairspray for 30 seconds, then rub off with a damp cloth
      • Splash with a dash of milk, then rub with a piece of lemon or a sponge dipped in vinegaar
      • Rub toothpaste into the stain and let dry before washing it
      • Rub WD-40 into it
      • Soak in milk overnight, then wash
      • Apply rubbing alcohol
      • Rub hand sanitizer into it
      • For ball-point ink, apply dry cleaning solvent and gentle carpet shampoo
      • For ball-point ink, apply methylated spirits and gentle carpet shampoo
      • For ball-point ink, apply mineral turpentine and gentle carpet shampoo
      • For felt-tip ink, apply warm water and gentle carpet shampoo
      • On polyester, soak with hair spray then pat dry with a clean dry cloth
    • Jam/jelly stains
      • Rub vinegar into it, then wash
    • Ketchup stains
      • Rub heavy-duty liquid detergent into it
      • Rub vinegar into it, then wash
    • Lipstick stains
      • Apply hairspray to the area, wait 10 mins, dab with a damp washcloth and wash like normal
      • Blot with a baby wipe
      • Rub with rubbing alcohol on a soft cloth
      • Rub acetone into it, but be careful it doesn’t discolor the rest of the garment
      • Apply gentle carpet shampoo and dry cleaning solvent
    • Lime deposits
      • Scrub with a cut half of a lemon
      • Spray vinegar, let sit for a few mins and wipe away
      • Shower heads can be cleaned by tying a plastic bag full of vinegar to it and letting it soak for 1 hour
    • Marker marks
      • Spray hairspray on it
    • Melted plastic
      • Dampen a cloth, then rub baking soda into it
    • Mildew stains
      • Spray with vinegar to clean and prevent future mildew
      • Rub with a rag soaked in alcohol
      • Mix 2 tsp tea tree oil with 2 cups water and apply
      • Moisten a fabric stain with lemon juice and salt, then put under the sun
      • Sponge a fabric stain with a mixture of 1-2 tbsp sodium perborate with 1 pint hot water (if the garment can withstand it) or warm water, then let sit for 30 mins
      • Soak fabric 5-15 mins with mixture of 2 tbsp chlorine bleach with 1 quart water, then soak in mixture of 2 tbsp vinegar for every 1 cup of water to avoid any further bleaching
      • For shower curtains, wash them with salt when first buying them and they will never mold
      • For shower curtains, soak in baking soda mixed into water
    • Nail polish stains
      • Rub rubbing alcohol into it with a towel
    • Oil/grease stains
      • Rub vinegar into it
      • Pour eucalyptus oil on the stain
      • For concrete stains, apply cat litter to the stain, then let sit for a day
      • Sprinkle baking soda on the stain, let sit, scrub with wet towel and rinse
      • Rub Dawn dish soap into it
      • Rub chalk into the stain and wash like normal
      • Apply dry cleaning solvent and gentle carpet shampoo
      • For fabric, rub flour into the stain, shake off the excess and wash like normal
      • For fabric, soak in hot water and baking soda
    • Ointment stains
      1. Scrape the excess off with a knife
      2. Rub cornstarch or talcum powder into it
      3. Leave the powder on until the grease is fully absorbed
      4. Brush the powder off with a soft brush or clean washcloth
      5. Wash in cold water
    • Paint stains
      • Apply cold water, gentle carpet shampoo and dry cleaning solvent
      • For oil paint, apply methylated spirits, dry cleaning solvent and gentle carpet shampoo
      • For oil paint, apply mineral turpentine, dry cleaning solvent and gentle carpet shampoo
    • Permanent marker stains
      • Rub white vinegar or hand sanitizer into it
      • On wall stains, rub toothpaste or hair spray into it
      • On wood stains, rub rubbing alcohol into it
    • Red wine stains
      • Apply shaving cream and let it sit for a few mins
      • Soak with club soda, then rinse with water
      • Rub vinegar into it, then wash
      • Rub white wine into it
      • Soak it up with an absorbent powder, then apply cold water and gentle carpet shampoo
    • Salt stains
      • Pour Coca Cola on it, let it soak and then wash like normal
    • Scuffs from shoes
      • Scrub with nail polish
    • Soap residue
      • Rub with a damp dryer sheet
      • Cover the area with a thin layer of baking soda, let sit and then rinse off
      • Apply a mixture of 1 part salt to 4 parts vinegar
      • Rub vinegar into it
    • Soda stain
      • Put clear shampoo and salt on the stain and let soak before washing
      • Rub vinegar into it, then wash
      • Use cold water and gentle carpet shampoo
    • Sticker and glue residue
      • Spray with perfume or other liquid containing alcohol
      • Moisten it with vinegar, let sit 10 mins and remove
      • Spray with WD-40 and leave for several mins, then rub it off
      • Rub rubbing alcohol into it
      • Heat with a hair dryer for 1-2 mins, then peel off
    • Sweat stains
      • Spray the stains with lemon juice or undiluted vinegar before washing
      • Rub in a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda before washing, include Dawn dish soap for more effect
      • Pour vinegar over the stain, then rub any type of salt into the stain, place in sun to dry, wash out with shampoo
    • Tomato stains
      • On plastic, spray with nonstick cooking spray before pouring in tomato-based sauces
    • Tree sap
      • Apply nail polish remover
      • Rub rubbing alcohol into the sap
    • Urine stain
      • Wash by adding 1/4 cup baking soda with the laundry detergent, then fill up the fabric softener cup with vinegar
      • Rub vinegar into it, then wash
      • For fresh stains, apply cold water and gentle carpet shampoo
      • For old stains, apply a solution of gentle carpet shampoo, 1 oz ammonia and 1 cup water
      • For old stains, apply a solution of 1 part vinegar and 2 parts water
    • Vomit
      • Pour vodka on it to remove the odor, then clean it up
      • Add water to make it moist again, add baking soda and vacuum or put in the laundry
      • Mix warm water and baking soda into a paste, spread onto it and let it sit and dry overnight
      • Pour coffee grounds onto the spill before cleaning it up to dehydrate it and remove odors
      • Apply cold water and gentle carpet shampoo
      • For fabric, rub baking soda into the stain before washing
    • Water stains and water rings
      • Rub toothpaste into it
      • Rub mayonnaise into it

Removing odors from the home

  • Anywhere
    • Most odors can be broken down by placing in direct sunlight for several hours
    • To remove smoke smells, soak or steam in vinegar
    • To remove smoke smells, scrub with a mix of water and baking soda
    • To reduce smoke smells, sprinkle some baking soda in an ashtray to prevent smoldering and reduce odor
    • To remove baby formula smells moisten a cloth, dip it in baking soda and dab at the marks
    • Put dry tea bags in smaller areas with odors
    • Put silica bags in smaller areas with odors
    • Hang a bundle of chalk in any enclosed space to keep everything fresh and dry
  • Room
    • Place a bowl of vinegar in the room overnight
    • Mix 10 drops of a favorite scented oil, 1/2 cup of vinegar and 1 cup water together in an open container
    • To remove cigarette smoke, spin a wet towel around quickly while walking around the room
    • To remove the smell of burnt food, boil water with several spoons of vinegar
  • Refrigerator
    • Put a piece of charcoal in a plastic cup, then cover with a paper towel fastened with a rubber band and put in the back of the fridge
    • Place an open container of baking soda in the fridge or freezer
  • Trash
    • Sprinkle baking soda at the bottom of the trash can
    • Sprinkle baking soda on top of the exposed trash
    • Put old newspaper at the bottom to absorb any liquids
  • Garbage disposal
    • Microwave or grind up a few lemons and then run them down the garbage disposal
    • Freeze vinegar in ice cube trays and run them down the garbage disposal to clean the blades
    • Pour vinegar in and let sit for 1 hour
    • Throw several ice cubes and a handful of rock salt down the disposal, then run cold water and disposal for 15 seconds
  • Washing machine
    • Run through a regular cycle with vinegar to dissolve detergent residue
    • Epsom Salt/vinegar mix
      1. Fill washing machine with hot water
      2. Add 1 cup Epsom salt and 1 quart white vinegar
      3. Let machine cycle for several mins, then pause and let steep for several hrs
      4. Complete a full wash and rinse cycle
  • Bathroom
    • Mix baking soda and vinegar to deodorize a surface
  • Car
    • Pour fragrant bath salts into a loose-leaf tea strainer and store in the glove compartment
    • Drop a potpourri wax tart into a cup holder
    • Lay fresh herbs on a piece of newspaper in the back seat and leave the windows rolled up
    • Shake a few drops of lemon or eucalyptus oil onto car mats
  • Closet/drawers
    • Mix dried mint, lavender, peppercorns, rosemary, bay leaves, whole cloves and cedar chips and hang in a sachet inside the closet
    • Put a bar of unopened soap in the bottom
    • Mix 1/4 cup Borax and 1 quart water and wipe on moldy areas
  • Plastic odors
    • When storing empty airtight containers, add a pinch of salt to keep them free from odors
    • Rinse with a mixture of half vinegar and half water
    • Wipe with a mix of water and baking soda
    • Place outside in the sun for several hours, but watch for too much heat that will warp the plastic
    • Crumple up newspaper and stuff it into the container, then seal for a day or two
    • Place a piece of charcoal in the container, seal it and wait until the odor has been absorbed
    • Make a paste of baking soda and water and rub all over the interior of the container, let it sit for day or two and wash off, repeat as necessary
    • Rinse with lemon juice or rub a cut lemon over the interior surface
    • Place used coffee grounds (wet or dry) into container and let sit until odor is gone
    • To get rid of soap smell, soak in vinegar overnight

Other house cleaning can be done more easily

  • Bird poop on a car
    • Scrub Canada Dry into it
    • Tape a toy snake to the top of your car
  • Car headlight cleaning
    • Scrub toothpaste into the light covers
  • Car windshield
    • Use silica bags as a fog remover
    • Get a chalkboard eraser to wipe off fog
    • Rainproof the windshield by wiping with lots of baking soda on a damp cloth
  • Cleaning tools
    • Run brushes, mop heads and any other cleaning tools through the dishwasher
    • Bake them in the oven to sterilize them
  • Coffee maker
    • Make a mixture of vinegar and water and run a few cycles, then run a water cycle to rinse
    • Make a mixture of baking soda and water and run a cycle, then run a water cycle to rinse
  • Dishwasher
    • Pour 1 cup distilled vinegar into dishwasher and run 2 empty cycles at max heat
    • Sprinkle baking soda at the bottom and run an empty cycle with baking soda in the soap reservoir
    • Sprinkle a fine layer of baking soda on the bottom, put a cup of vinegar on the top shelf, set it to highest temperature and turn on
  • Drain cleaning
    • Drop 1 cup baking soda down the drain, add 2 cups boiling water, wait and pour another cup baking soda, add 1 cup white vinegar, rinse with 2 more cups boiling water
      • Weekly put 4 tbsp down the drain, then flush with hot water
    • Plunge, then apply a half vinegar and half baking soda solution to the drain, rinse for a few mins with hot water
      • When plunging a double sink, put a stopper over the other sink
      • If you need a plunger, cut the top off of a 2-liter bottle and squeeze it over the sink
    • Drop three Alka Seltzer tablets down the drain and then 1 cup of vinegar, run hot water after a few mins
    • Once a week, pour a cup down the drain and let stand for 30 mins before flushing with cold water
  • Iron
    • Rub scorch marks with a mixture of vinegar and salt
    • Put equal amounts of vinegar and water into the water holder, put on the steam setting for 5 minutes, cool and drain
  • Microwave
    • Fill a bowl with water and microwave for 2-5 mins before cleaning
    • Fill a bowl with equal parts water and lemon juice, then heat for 2-5 mins
    • Mix 1 cup water and 1/2 cup vinegar together in a container then microwave for 2-5 mins before cleaning
    • Cut a lemon in half and cook for 30 seconds
  • Septic tank
    • Flush yeast down the toilet
  • Winter maintenance
    • Shoveling snow
      • Coat the snow shovel with cooking spray to make the ice slip off
    • De-icer fluid
      • Spray with 1 cup vinegar mixed with 2-3 cups water
      • Spray any windows you want free from frost, especially car windows
      • For any roof fixtures you want safe from ice, spray de-icer fluid through a Super Soaker water gun
    • Icy floors
      • Put dishwashing liquid into warm water and pour all over the surface

Dealing with pests

  • Some natural pesticides work for most insects
    • Mix 2 cups water with 1 cup vinegar in a spray bottle
    • Sprinkle Epsom salt wherever you don’t want them to be
    • Put dryer sheets in shoes, pockets and drawers
  • If you have too many bugs around your porch lights, replace them with LED bulbs
  •  Ants
    • Stop them from going near your food or from walking on their paths
      • Sprinkle leftover coffee grounds
      • Sprinkle baking soda
      • Sprinkle cayenne pepper
      • Spray vinegar
      • Draw a line of chalk
    • Kill them to keep them from coming back
      • Spray them with window cleaner
      • Spray them with room freshener
      • Set out small piles of cornmeal
      • Spray with a mixture of 3 parts water and 1 part salt
  • Birds
    • If a bird gets into the house, turn off all the lights and open the windows
  • Fleas
    • Clean all affected areas with Dawn dish soap
  • Flies
    • Guide them out windows with bright lights that they’ll follow
    • Mix cloves, eucalyptus and clover blossoms in a sachet and place somewhere to keep them away
    • With trash cans, sprinkle Borax on the bottom
    • Spray directly with window cleaner to kill it
  • Fruit flies
    • Fly trap
      1. Put 1-2 oz of apple cider vinegar in a glass
      2. Cover it with plastic wrap fastened with a rubber band
      3. Poke holes in the plastic wrap and leave it where fruit flies congregate
    • Fly killer
      1. Mix 4 ounces of apple cider vinegar and 2 drops of dishwashing liquid
      2. Set out where they congregate
  • Mosquitoes
    • Mix 4 oz witch hazel, 20 drops citronella oil and 20 drops eucalyptus oil into spray bottle and spray all over the house
    • Use catnip
    • Use peppermint or peppermint oil
    • Use garlic
  • Rodents
    • Mix 1 tbsp peppermint, Castile soap and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper into 8 cups of water, then spray on baseboards
    • Rodents avoid peppermint oil
    • Mice avoid black pepper
  • Spiders
    • Spray a bottle that has a mixture of peppermint oil and water wherever you don’t want spiders
  • Ticks
    • Mix 4 oz witch hazel and 30 drops rose geranium oil into spray bottle and spray on areas that ticks will infest
    • Put clothes in the dryer on high heat for 15 mins before washing
  • Wasps/bees
    • Spray hairspray on them
    • Ball up grocery bags and wrap with weather-resistant duct tape, then hang outside
    • Cut the top off a plastic bottle, invert the top and secure it, then pour sugar water into the bottom
Next: Homes 102: Improving & Decorating