Creative cleaning solutions for windows and accessories

Windows, drapes and blinds are a secret hiding place for dirt and dust. Tackle them with these tips:

Creative cleaning solutions for windows and accessories

1. Wrinkle cure for cotton curtains

Machine washable cotton drapes may emerge from the washer fresh as a daisy, but more often than not, they come out so wrinkled that you're in for a tough time at the ironing board. How to keep wrinkling to a minimum when washing cotton curtains? Dissolve 15 millilitres (one tablespoon) of plain gelatin in 250 millilitres (one cup) of boiling water and add to the final rinse cycle. The same trick restores shine to polished cotton curtains.

2. Easy blinds cleaner

Of all household chores, cleaning slatted blinds (vertical or horizontal) may be the most tedious — the reason it's so often neglected. Help is at hand. With these two techniques, you'll get rid of all that dust and dirt on your blinds with no trouble. Here's how:

  1. Clean with a glove: All you need to wash blinds is a clean thick cotton glove (a gardening glove is ideal) and a small bowl of fabric softener. Pull on the glove, dip your fingers into the bowl, and simply slide your forefinger and middle finger along both sides of each slat. Fabric softener not only cleans hard surfaces but also slows dust build-up.
  2. Clean with a kitchen spatula: Wrap a cotton cloth around a spatula and secure it with a rubber band. Dip the spatula in either a 50/50 vinegar-water solution or rubbing alcohol and run your makeshift cleaning tool along the slats. Of course, you could also apply vinegar water or alcohol to the blinds with the gloved-hand technique. No more hidden blinds, no more self-reproach.

3. Sparkling sills

If you like fresh air and keep your windows open, even a window screen won't be able to keep out all the dust and soot that soils indoor sills. Outdoor sills fare even worse, since their surfaces tend to trap dirt in pits and cracks. To make cleaning windowsills a breeze, wash them thoroughly, let dry, and spray the sills lightly with clear floor wax.

4. Awesome awnings

A good spray with the garden hose every once in a while will help keep window awnings clean and free of debris, but they also need a thorough cleaning every few months. Scrub awnings made of canvas and most other materials with a brush dipped in warm water and mild detergent. If you're faced with stubborn stains or mildew, sprinkle baking soda onto a stain and let it sit for about five minutes before rinsing it off with the garden hose. Treat mildew with a solution of one part colour-fast bleach and three parts water; just let it soak into the material for three to four minutes and then rinse.

5. A natural curtain rod

Hate to clean and dust your curtain rods? So do we, so we don't. Instead, for smaller windows, we head outside and find an appropriate length and width of fallen tree branch, generally 1.5 metres (five feet) long and 7.5 centimetres (three inches) in circumference for a 1.2 metre- (four-foot) wide window, and run it through the tops of our curtains or through curtain rings. If it starts to get dingy or dusty, simply look for another to replace it, remove the first one, and use it as kindling.

No one likes spending hours cleaning; these handy tips will have your windows and accessories fresh and dust-free in no time, freeing you up to enjoy the day.

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