Spring Cleaning Tips That Won’t Break the Bank
If you were to try word association with the word “spring,” what would be the next word? Fling? Flowers? Rain? Cleaning? The flowers and the rain are fairly self-sufficient, and we have no dancing skills to speak of, so today we’re going to address spring cleaning! It may not be your favorite pastime, but spring cleaning is a necessary step in maintaining the overall health and appeal of your home. We’ve got ten tips for natural ways to spiff up most areas of your house. Chances are, you already have these items on hand, so you won’t need to go to the store.
Use Lemon to Remove Hard Water Stains from Faucets
Hard Water stains, also known as limescale or mineral deposits, are the chalky white residue that shows up in your shower and sinks. They’re a buildup of excess minerals present in your water. Have you noticed that sometimes when you clean the hard water stains off, it seems like they just come right back as soon as the surface dries? That seems like a waste of any time you’ve devoted to spring cleaning! Instead of using cleaning products next time try using a lemon. The citric acid in a lemon cuts through the mineral deposits, and smells much nicer than most chemical-based cleaning products. Simply cut the lemon in half, and rub it over the stained surfaces. If you don’t have a lemon, vinegar will work for this as well, it just won’t smell quite as nice.
Use Vinegar to Clean a Microwave
Microwaves are a modern marvel, but they can get crusty and nasty pretty quickly. During your spring cleaning this year, don’t waste time scrubbing every surface to remove weeks’ worth of grime. Put equal parts vinegar and water into a bowl (about half a cup of each should be sufficient). Put a toothpick into the bowl to break the surface tension. Microwave the vinegar and water solution for five to ten minutes. Let it sit for a few minutes to continue steaming up the interior. Next, remove the bowl carefully, as the contents will be quite hot. At this point, you should be able to use a sponge, cloth, or paper towel to wipe down all surfaces of the microwave and everything should come right off without any effort. To lessen any residual vinegar smell, leave the microwave open until all surfaces dry.
Use Baking Soda and Vinegar to Clean the Toilet
Cleaning your toilets is an unfortunate reality of adult life. Hopefully, you clean it more often than just in the spring, since residue and enzymes build up quickly and cause discoloration and smells. Rather than using harsh chemicals that are potentially unsafe for your family and may cause damage to your plumbing, try vinegar and baking soda. These ingredients will both clean and deodorize your toilet at the same time. Put one cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar into the toilet. Close the lid, and leave it for about 30 minutes. Use a toilet brush to finish cleaning the bowl. The baking soda and vinegar will have broken down the stains and residue in the bowl. When you’re done, simply flush the toilet; baking soda and vinegar will not harm your plumbing. Ideally, you should do this once a week to keep your toilet fresh and clean.
Spring Cleaning Stainless Steel Surfaces
Do you have a lot of stainless steel surfaces in your house? They’re pretty, but have a tendency to show every single fingerprint and smudge! Abrasive cleaners can remove the outer chromium layer on the surface of the stainless steel, which will eventually lead to rusting. Instead of traditional cleaners, break out the baking soda and vinegar. Remove loose debris with soap and water. Spray the surface with warm vinegar, and let sit for five minutes. Sprinkle with baking soda, then scrub with a non-abrasive sponge or dishcloth. The baking soda and vinegar will foam up and dissolve the grime (this will not harm your skin). Rinse the sponge or cloth and reapply baking soda as needed. Have some tough stuck on spots? Try adding a little salt for more grit. When you’re finished, rinse the area with water, and dry with a soft cloth to help prevent water marks.
Soak Showerheads in Vinegar to Remove Buildup
The hard water residue we discussed earlier can also clog up your showerhead. This is fairly simple to resolve using vinegar. If your showerhead is removable, take it off and place in a pot or a bucket slightly larger than the showerhead, to reduce the amount of vinegar used. Pour vinegar into the pot until it covers the nozzle portion of the showerhead. Let sit for 30 minutes, up to overnight. If your showerhead is brass or finished with gold or nickel, take out after 30 minutes. Once the showerhead has soaked, use an old toothbrush to scrub the nozzle area. Reattach to your shower, and run hot water through to rinse out any residual vinegar and mineral deposits. If your showerhead was particularly clogged, you might need to repeat this process a few times to see the best results.
If your showerhead does not come off, you’ll need a bag and some string. Pour some vinegar into the bag. Start with 1/2 to 1 cup; you can add more if needed. Carefully hold the bag up around the showerhead until the nozzle is submerged in the vinegar. Use the string to tie the bag around the showerhead, and make sure it’s secure before you let go. Allow it to soak for 30 minutes up to overnight, then carefully remove the bag. Scrub the showerhead with an old toothbrush, and run hot water through it for a few minutes to rinse it out. As previously mentioned, if the showerhead was really clogged, you might need to repeat the process.
Spring Cleaning Your Windows Using Newspaper
The most difficult part of this spring cleaning tip is probably locating a newspaper. The ink in newspaper provides just the right amount of abrasion to remove streaks, smudges, and dirt from your windows. Mix ¼ cup of white vinegar, 2 cups of water and 2 teaspoons of liquid soap into a spray bottle. Spray the windows with the solution and rub the newspaper in a circle on any obvious spots. Then use long strokes to cover the whole window, starting with vertical, followed by horizontal. If you have vinyl around your windows, be aware the newsprint can leave marks on the white frame, so be sure to just use this cleaning method on the glass itself.
Use an Onion to Clean Your BBQ This Spring
If you haven’t used your BBQ since last fall, it’s probably pretty nasty by now. Never fear, we’ve got a natural cleaning method for your grill this spring! First, heat up the grill so that it’s super hot. This will burn off any remaining food or nasty growth from the winter. Once the grill is hot, halve an onion, skewer it with a long grilling fork, and scrub it all over the grill surface (cut side down). The onion will typically work to remove grime by itself, but if you have particularly nasty spots you can spray those areas with vinegar or lemon juice ahead of time. The acid will break down the grime and the onion will finish the job. Bonus tip for those grilling with charcoal: After you’re done cleaning the grill, toss the onion in with the coals to provide extra flavor to the food you’re grilling.
Coffee Filters Clean Electronic Screens
When you bought your TV or your computer monitor, it may have come with one of those scratch-free cloths specifically for cleaning. If you’re like me, you probably lost that cloth before you actually needed to clean the screen. No need to go buy a new one; coffee filters work great to clean electronic screens. The ridges in the filter catch the dust and cut the static on the screen. Coffee filters will not leave behind fiber residue like a paper towel would. Over time, paper products will also cause minor scratches on your screens, but coffee filters won’t.
Remove Pet Hair from Carpets and Furniture
Do you live in a fur-friendly household? Are lint rollers a way of life for you? Chances are, even the fanciest vacuum cleaner still leaves much to be desired when it comes to cleaning up pet fur buildup on your furniture and carpets. We have two methods you can use for this, and you probably already have the equipment somewhere in your house or garage.
For smaller areas, you can use a fine-tooth pet comb or brush. I came across this method after I brushed my longhair cat on our couch. The couch was covered with fur, and I already had the brush in my hand. I just brushed the couch and it removed a surprisingly large amount of fur in just a few swipes. I did this to the rest of the furniture in the room after that, because it was much faster than ripping off endless sticky lint roller strips. For larger areas, a rubber squeegee works great! Before you vacuum a room, run the squeegee across the carpet to gather up the majority of the pet hair. After that, you can use your vacuum to get the remainder, and you’ll be less likely to have to unclog or empty out the vacuum every five minutes.
Clean Your Oven with Baking Soda
Your oven is an often neglected area that could probably use some spring cleaning. Most ovens have a self-cleaning feature, but all that does is super-heat the oven, turning everything into charred bits for you to wipe out later. That’s a very smelly and smoky process. Chemical oven cleaners also smell bad. You can use baking soda to clean your oven without the smell, smoke, or chemical residue. Empty the oven of all racks, thermometers, and anything else you might have in there. Mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with a few tablespoons of water to make a thick spreadable paste. Smear the paste over all interior surfaces, avoiding the heating elements. Let the paste sit overnight, then wipe out with a damp dish cloth. Spray the oven with vinegar, and do a final wipe-down with a damp cloth or additional vinegar until the surface is shiny and clean.
While spring cleaning will probably never be fun, we hope these tips have helped you realize you can achieve a cleaner household by ditching the chemical cleaning products and using items you already have at home.
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