With more of your family working and learning from home, it may seem as though everything from the floors to the microwave is getting grimy faster. From professional housekeepers and school janitors, here are some tips and tricks for keeping your home clean and fresh without spending a lot of time or money:
- Dust with your dryer. Blankets, pillows, drapes, and other household textiles get dusty because they absorb moisture and act as a landing pad for dust from ceiling fans and air vents. If they are not machine-washable, toss them in the dryer on the air-fluff setting (no heat) for 20 minutes with a damp towel to remove dust and pet hair.
- Erase scuff marks. Clean off shoe scuff marks from vinyl flooring with a clean, dry tennis ball. A light rub and heel marks are easily erased.
- Clean ceiling fans. These fans are a blessing when the weather is hot, but the idea of cleaning them can be daunting. Wrap a dryer sheet around a clean painting roller and secure the ends with rubber bands. Then attach an extension handle to the roller and dust away.
- Steam clean the microwave. Remove baked-on food particles and spatter without a lot of elbow grease by putting a bowl of hot water inside the microwave and setting it for 5 minutes. The steam will loosen the grime and make it easy to wipe off with a cloth.
- Keep that coffee maker clean. Often-used coffee makers can be a hotbed for bacteria and gunk. Once a month, fill the coffee maker’s reservoir with four tablespoons of white vinegar mixed with water. Run it through, then run it once more with only water to get rid of any vinegar smell.
- Use a dryer sheet to clean cookie sheets. Grime stuck to your cookie sheets or frying pan? Put it in the sink with dish soap, warm water, and a dryer sheet, and leave for an hour or two. Rinse, and the mess goes down the drain.
- Wax paper those fixtures. Keep kitchen and bath fixtures shining. After washing them down, polish them with a sheet of wax paper. The wax repels water, keeping those taps and faucets looking cleaner longer.
You may get a little help from these proven time-saving kitchen hacks:
- Tame frozen ice cream. Ice cream too hard or frozen to the scoop is a pain when every minute counts. Put the carton in the microwave for 15 seconds, and it’s ready to serve with ease.
- Have ripe fruit at the ready. Green bananas or rock-hard peaches are no fun to eat—and neither are mushy over-ripe ones. Buy a few ready-to-eat and a few less ripe, which you can keep in the fridge until you need them. Then ripen them fast by placing them in a brown paper bag for just a day or two.
- Open a stubborn jar. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to get the best of a jar that doesn’t want to open. Wedge a spoon underneath the lip of the lid and push up until you hear a pop. The jar will open instantly, so if there’s liquid in it, perform the operation over the sink to avoid a mess on the floor or countertop.
- Clean a grungy cutting board. Few things are less appealing when preparing food than a sticky, scratched-up cutting board. Make it look like new again by sprinkling it with coarse salt, running a halved lemon over the surface, then rinsing it with clear water and letting it air dry.
- Trap a bit of eggshell. It’s annoying and time-consuming when a tiny scrap of eggshell falls into the bowl and slips and slides when you try to get it out. Ditch the grief and use the broken shell to scoop it out in a flash.
- Stop boil-overs. Water boiling over leaves a mess to clean up. Avoid the boil-over altogether, or stop one mid-boil, by putting a wooden spoon into the pot.
- Cook bacon in the waffle iron. Save a pan and reduce clean-up time by cooking bacon strips in the waffle iron. The bacon will crisp up nicely, and waffles cooked in the left-behind fat will have that lovely bacon-y taste.