25 Things You Can Clean with Salt, Dryer Sheets, and Other Common Household Items

Take Charge on 03.29.12
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Photo: krissen/Creative Commons

The best part about being Good Enough Mother is that I make my living out of making haphazard fixes look like modern-day miracles. Okay, maybe it's just in my own mind that I think of it as "Good Enough Mother" magic!  Here's the secret though; it's not magic. It's not even hard. Necessity is the mother of invention, and I'm going to show you how to make those reinventions rock! Here are 25 surprising ways to clean, using things already in your house. Yep. It's just that easy.

Salt

1. Stains at the bottom of coffee cups or pots are problematic, but using a citrus peel to rub salt into the bottom can get them out.

2. Has your iron seen better days? Sprinkle salt on a piece of plain paper and then run your steamless iron over it to get rid of the hard water and other stains on the bottom.

3. Cast iron skillets can be cleaned with salt and a soft sponge; Salt is an abrasive that removes the gunk while preserving the pan.

4. If you happen to get spills in the bottom of your oven when a casserole bubbles over, pour table salt on the mess to soak it up. When the oven cools, you will be able to wipe it up with a damp sponge.  (Using an old baking sheet under your casserole dish to catch the spills is another way to repurpose the baking sheet and prevent the mess in the first place.)

Beauty Products

medicine cabinetPhoto: Patricia Marie Photography/Creative Commons

5. Use baby shampoo to clean make-up brushes. A few dabs of shampoo mixed with water does the trick.

6. Cotton swabs at the bottom of your make-up bag or purse will absorb spills. (Make sure to replace them as you don't want a bunch of gunky cotton swabs at the bottom of your purse.)

7. Acetone or fingernail polish remover is great for removing "permanent" marker stains and the like. It is also great for getting sticky residue from labels off of surfaces.

Cooking oil

Photo: jacob earl/Creative Commons

8. I love in-house, do-it-yourself painting jobs and I've found that oil removes paint from hands. Rub some on after painting and then wash with soap.

9. Stainless steel sparkles with a little oil on it -- just put some on a rag and rub  down with the grain. See how pretty?

Dryer Sheets and Newspaper

dryer sheetsPhoto: Terre's Photos/Creative Commons

10. Throw dryer sheets in your shoes or gym bag to get them to smell fresher. When the fresh scent is gone, you can reuse them as dust rags.

11. Dryer sheets don't actually clean your faucets, but they do make them nice and shiny after you clean them.  Rub a dryer sheet on a dry faucet for maximum shine.

12. To deodorize a food container or a lunchbox, ball up newspaper and place it in the container; then find the lid and cover, and let it sit overnight to soak up moisture.

Vinegar

vinegarPhoto: artizone/Creative Commons

13. Pour equal parts water and vinegar into your coffemaker's water chamber. Switch on the brew cycle, but stop it halfway through. Let the water-vinegar mixture sit for about an hour and then complete the cycle.  Run a few more cycles of plain water and your coffee maker is brewing fresh cups of coffee again.

14. You can run a half a cup of vinegar through the reservoir of your dishwasher and run an empty load or put a small bowl full of vinegar in a load by itself.  Voila!  You've now cleaned your dishwasher.

15. Ounce of prevention? You can get rid of mineral deposits on your iron by filling it with equal parts vinegar and water; then press steam, let cool, empty and rinse. 

16. To unclog a drain, pour half a box of baking soda down your drain. Then take half a cup or so of vinegar and pour it in. Get an old rag and stuff it into the drain so that the chemicals will mix without backing up into your sink.  Give it thirty minutes and then slowly pour a kettle of hot water into the drain (you can use the hot water you made when cleaning the coffee maker, you multi-tasker, you!). 

17. Rinse your glasses with hot water with about a cup of vinegar mixed in. Spotless.

18. Dip your showerhead in pure vinegar to get rid of mineral stains. You can either remove your shower head for this, or repurpose a plastic bag or two, filling them with vinegar and knotting so that the shower head sits in the vinegar overnight.

19. You can mix vinegar with water or just use it straight for extra-clean windows. Another tip: wipe it off with newspaper.  Can you say, "Streak free in 2012"? 

Baking Soda, Baby Wipes, and Pillowcases

baking sodaPhoto: Dulamae/Creative Commons

20. Odors in your upholstery?  Sprinkle a little baking soda on the item (or a lot, depending on the odor) and after half an hour or so vacuum. 

21.. Crayon marks on the walls? Make a paste out of equal parts water and baking soda and scrub the walls with it. (Be careful: Some brightly colored walls will become dull if you scrub too hard. Test in a small, out-of-the-way area first.)

22. Baby wipes can be used to get deodorant stains out of your favorite black shirts and dresses.

23. Old pillow cases can be used to clean your ceiling fan.  Put the case over the blade and then pull the case back towards you, wiping the blade.  The dust accumulates in the case, not on your floors - or your head, mouth, hair...

From the Kitchen

potatoesPhoto: bubsinarms

24. The mesh bag that your potatoes and onions come in can be used as a scouring pad.  Just add warm water and elbow grease and you have got yourself a handy way to save money and the planet.

25. Citrus peels can be used to deodorize garbage disposals. Just throw the peel in and freshness is yours.

Now, look at you!  Your house is cleaner and fresher and you didn't even have to go any further than your own super creative house.  There are plenty of expensive things out there that do the same jobs, but what's right under your own roof is always Good Enough!

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