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25 Cleaning Tips That Actually Work

Sometimes the old classics work better than the newest products. Save time and money with these cleaning tricks and tips.

baking sodaMaderla/Shutterstock

The Baking Soda and Vacuum Trick

Baking soda is a natural adsorbent, which means it has the ability to absorb odors when used correctly. If you have fabric-covered furniture, then put some baking soda in a salt shaker or similar dispenser and sprinkle it liberally on the furniture you want to freshen up.

Baking soda doesn’t do its work all at once, so give it time to neutralize as many odor-causing particles as possible. An hour or so is ideal, and for bad situations, you may just want to leave the baking soda on overnight (as long as it won’t get tracked everywhere by pets). When the time has elapsed, get out the vacuum cleaner and thoroughly vacuum up all the baking soda. This should freshen up most fabrics.

Note: Baking soda may have varying effects based on what is causing the odor or general “staleness” of your furniture. It neutralizes acidic compounds very easily, but may not be effective for all problems. However, here are some other brilliant fixes for everyday problems involving baking soda.

wipe counterAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner

Try using a homemade all-purpose cleaner on counter tops and surfaces to disinfect and freshen your home. This recipe includes vinegar, which removes stains and odors, and anti-microbial essential oils to keep your home germ free. Check out the complete step-by-step process to make it.

wipe showerFotoDuets/Shutterstock

Simple Soft Scrub

Industrial soft scrub cleaners can contain strong chemical ingredients, but you can get your tub and shower just as clean with a homemade cleaner. This simple soft scrub recipe will clean a bathroom faster and better, and uses a mixture of baking soda and vinegar, which will dissolve hard mineral deposits and easily cut through soap scum. Get the complete recipe here.

clean toilet brushShotPrime Studio/Shutterstock

Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Many commercial toilet bowl cleaners use chlorine bleach, but not this natural toilet bowl cleaner. Instead, castile soap and baking soda get the job done. Plus, you won’t have to worry about accidentally exposing your pets or children to toxic toilet water. See the complete instructions here.

spray cleanerBoris Franz/Shutterstock

Homemade Window Cleaner

Forget using chemical cleaners to wash windows. They’ll look clean as a whistle with this all-natural homemade window cleaner, which uses vinegar and cornstarch to buff those fingerprints away. Get the complete instructions here.

charcoalP Maxwell Photography/Shutterstock

Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is an even better adsorbent and odor-killer than baking soda, and can deal with a wider variety of particles. However, this highly purified charcoal dust isn’t the best thing to put on your furniture, where it can stain. Instead, consider getting freshener bags of activated charcoal and hiding them in the corners of your furniture to help reduce odors.

hand glove wipe ovenNew Africa/Shutterstock

Make Your Appliances Smudge-Free

If you own stainless steel kitchen appliances, you may want to consider using car wax to clean them rather than a surface cleaner. Simply apply a light coat of car wax to the appliance, allow time to dry and buff clean to resist fingerprints and smudges. No more kiddy fingerprints on the fridge! Don’t forget to incorporate these other non-toxic cleaners into your kitchen cleansing routine.

can openerImagentle/Shutterstock

Clean a Can Opener with Wax Paper

Did you know that you can clean and protect your manual can opener with simple wax paper? It’s that easy! Here’s how to do it: Fold a sheet of wax paper a few times; then clamp the can opener onto an edge of the wax paper and turn the handle several times—the same action you would use to open a can. The stiff sheet will break off bits of food and grime from the wheels of the can opener, and the wax residue will lightly lubricate the parts at the same time for smoother operation.

dust tableVinitchavat/Shutterstock

Dust

Because dryer sheets are all about eliminating static cling, used ones work very well as dust cloths, especially on electronics and mini blinds. If you need to install or replace mini blinds, here’s how to do it.

colaNew Africa/Shutterstock

Clean Milk Stains from Clothes

It seems unusual that a dark cola could remove a milk stain, but the claim exists. After letting the milk stain soak in Coca-Cola for around five minutes, just throw it in the wash. When you’re all done with that milk jug, repurpose that milk jug as a scoop or as a tool to collect stripped paint from furniture.

coffee rings woodenKerdkanno/Shutterstock

Clear Up Coffee Rings

Your guests should’ve used a coaster but now you have a coffee stain on your table. A little dab of toothpaste can get that stain out, just like coffee stains on your teeth. See how to remove stains in wood furniture if that stain penetrated deep.

lemonsAlexeysun/Shutterstock

Remove Hard-Water Buildup with a Lemon

Remove hard-water buildup on your faucet with this simple, natural solution: Place half of a fresh lemon on the end of the faucet, wrap a small plastic bag around the lemon and secure it to the faucet with a rubber band. After a few hours, remove the lemon and wipe the faucet clean.

gardening spraySyndy1/Shutterstock

Garden Sprayer Cleans Hard-to-Reach Spots

A garden sprayer can be a mini power washer for cleaning windowsills and other hard-to-reach spots. Before you fill the tank with water, be sure to rinse it repeatedly to flush out any chemical residue.

bed pillowsNew Africa/Shutterstock

A Pillowcase Can be a Cleaner

Obviously, you don’t want to use the pillowcase you sleep on every night, but using a pillowcase to clean your ceiling fans is a hack that you need to try ASAP. The pillowcase holds the dust so it doesn’t fall on a table or bed. Here are more brilliant cleaning shortcuts lazy people will appreciate.

clean dirty paniiiphevgeniy/Shutterstock

Burned-On Foods

Getting burnt food off cookware is no easy feat. But here’s a clever trick: put a new dryer sheet at the bottom of the dirty pan, add water and let it soak overnight. The next day, wipe out the pan and you’re good to go. Once all of your pots and pans are sparkly clean, you can build these helpful rollouts to keep everything organized.

tennis racket ballIndia Picture/Shutterstock

Beat The Dust out of Cushions With a Tennis Racket

Upholstery absorbs lots of dust—and then sends it airborne every time you sit down. Routine vacuuming reduces the problem, but can’t suck out the deep-down dust. So take cushions outside a couple of times each year, preferably on a windy day, and spank the dust out of them. An old tennis racket makes a great upholstery beater. Sick of cleaning dust? Here’s how to make your home dust-proof.

piano keysLunyov Andrey/Shutterstock

Whiten Piano Keys

Piano keys can get discolored over time and through use. Get them to sing a different tune by cleaning them with toothpaste.

silver stainless steel pots pansDudaeva/Shutterstock

Polish Your Metal

No matter how careful you are with your stainless-steel pots, those nice steak knives or that fancy coffee travel mug, sometimes they get small rust spots due to residual water. Next time you notice a small rust spot on your metal kitchen tools, use lemon juice and a sponge. Simply squeeze a little lemon juice into a sponge and rub it on the surface. Do you have scratches in your stainless steel appliances? Here’s how to sand them out.

white sneakersmalven57/Shutterstock

Shine Up Sneakers

Get loose dirt off your shoes with a toothbrush. Dip it into a teaspoon of laundry detergent mixed with a cup of water or add some toothpaste. Use the solution on the fabric, mesh, and rubber areas, but don’t use it on foam or leather.

dish soap spongeJim Barber/Shutterstock

DIY Hand Scrub

Harsh hand cleaners can irritate the skin, especially during cold weather. But reader Jay Bjornstad uses dish soap with sugar instead—and it still cuts through the grease to get his hands squeaky clean after a long day in the shop.

microwaveBATMANV/Shutterstock

Clean Your Microwave

There’s no scrubbing required here! You can get a squeaky-clean microwave without using harsh chemicals. Just squeeze some lemon juice into a bowl of warm water, add the lemon rinds and microwave for 5 minutes. The water will start to boil and the steam will loosen the dried bits of food. When the timer goes off, carefully remove the hot bowl and use a clean towel to wipe everything clean. Plus, when your microwave is clean, you can use it to solve these 16 food problems.

coca colaNew Africa/Shutterstock

Oil Remover

The phosphoric acid in Coca-Cola proves tough on oil stains around the garage. Pour some of the room-temperature soda over a stain, let it soak overnight and soak it up the next day by blotting the area. Not a Coke drinker? Check out other ideas on how to remove oil stains from concrete or plaster.

ironing board clothesLightField Studios/Shutterstock

Iron Cleaner

An old iron will accumulate stains through years of use but an old toothbrush and toothpaste can breathe some new life into that iron by removing the stains.

dog bedAnna Hoychuk/Shutterstock

Pet Hair

We love our pets but dealing with pet hair is tedious. If you see clumps of unshed hair on your pet, use a dryer sheet to gently remove them and avoid the mess altogether. If you see hair on the floor, a used dryer sheet works well to dust and grab the whole mess. And as we all know, hair is not the only cleaning problem you face when you have a pet. Here are 14 cleaning tips every cat and dog owner should know.

tupperware foodStockshakir/Shutterstock

Revamp Tupperware

Tupperware can take on a funky smell but you can eradicate that smell by cleaning it with toothpaste. Just rinse it off after cleaning it and remember to keep the lid off to prevent the smell from returning. While you’re cleaning up, be sure to steal these 16 genius house cleaning hacks from professional cleaners.

Originally Published on The Family Handyman