Spring Cleaning. Naturally.

May 16, 2012

Real Simple Magazine speaks to my need to get my house in order and to organize. No lie, I had a dream a couple of months ago that I won a shopping spree to the Container Store. In the dream I was so happy, and I was bummed when I woke up and realized I didn't have a container for my containers.

I think I've just shared too much.

The magazine also has great ideas for reusing household items and tips for cleaning. I decided to try a few of their recommendations for unexpected natural cleaners. The cleaners recommended by Real Simple were items I already had, so at least I wasn't out any money. Definitely worth a shot.

Turns out their tips were for very specific stains and messes. Several of the messes didn't exist at my house (we have tons of messes...just not these!). For example, we don't burn candles on candlesticks, so no candle wax issues. We don't eat in the living room, so no grease on the carpet. Permanent markers are closely monitored, so thankfully I didn't have a need to clean it up, however I found a replacement mess for the tip.

Tip 1: White bread to clean oil paintings. Hmmm, fresh out of oil paintings. If you do have dusty oil paintings, the tip is to use a slice of bread and dab it along the painting to remove dust and grime.
Tip 2: Ketchup to clean copper and brass cookware. I don't have copper brass cookware, but when I was little we had kept a brass spittoon (no! We didn't use it!) on the fireplace, and I loved cleaning it because it was so bizarre to use ketchup as a cleaning agent. As you rub it in with the cloth it seems as though it will never come clean and is really just making more of a mess...and then you rinse with warm water and dry and surprise surprise it's shiny and lovely. Smell of ketchup is a bit overwhelming. Worth it.

Tip 3: Oatmeal to clean really dirty hands. Make a paste out of oatmeal and water and scrub. This works very well, and leaves your hands super soft.

Tip 4: Use rice to clean the inside of vases and bottles that are difficult to reach with a rag. They recommend that you put rice and water in the vase, cover with your hand and shake. I didn't find this to be very helpful. Yes, it did remove some of the residue from a vase, but a bottle brush worked much better. Plus, when you're done you have to put uncooked rice down your disposal because you can't pour it and the water in the trash, and you can't get the rice out of the vase without the water.

Tip 5: Tea for removing rust from garden tools. Brew strong black tea and once cooled add to a bucket and soak tools for several hours. I wanted to try this one on a smaller scale. I use a oil cruet as a dish soap container so that I have access to it without having to have the bottle of soap on the sink. The cruet is obviously not supposed to be wet, and so the metal pourer rusts and I clean it and clean it. I soaked it in strong tea for 5 minutes and the rust rinsed right off. Hooray!

Tip 6: Glycerin to remove wax from candlesticks. If we burn candles, they are generally jar candles. No candles = no wax on candlesticks.

Tip 7: Club soda to shine a scuffed stainless sink. Use a club soda soaked cloth to rub down sink, then wipe dry with a clean cloth. I used this technique to clean my sink fixtures in my kitchen and bathrooms. Worked beautifully.

Tip 8: Hydrogen peroxide to clean keyboards. Dip a cotton swab in hydrogen peroxide and then clean in between keys, etc. This is a tip I've used before. I've also used it to clean tv remotes and cordless phones. Works great.

Tip 9: Cornstarch to remove grease from carpets. They recommend placing cornstarch on grease stain and allowing it to sit for 15-30 minutes and then vacuuming. Like I said, I didn't have carpet grease stains, but I have used cornstarch on shirts that get bacon spatters, etc. Place cornstarch on stain and then brush away before laundering. I would assume it would work the same way.

Tip 10: Rubbing alcohol to remove permanent marker from hard surface countertops and solid wood floors. I didn't have any permanent marker stains, but I used the advice to soak a cotton ball with the alcohol and applied it to a food coloring stain that remained from Easter egg dying. Worked very well, however, The Princess covered her nose for a good hour. She's a tad dramatic.

The tips that I was able to try were really very useful (except for the rice). The rust removing advice was by far my favorite and I will use it from now on. If you try out any of the other tips, let me know how they work.



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