Simple cleaning secrets that save time and money

These tricks will save you time and money when doing housework.

Simple cleaning secrets that save time and money

1. Use a certified germ killer

Use a cleaning product that carries the word "disinfectant" on its label when you're cleaning food-preparation areas in the kitchen, such as the counters and sink. You may be impressed at how all-purpose cleaners remove visible grime, but what you're not seeing is the bacteria that are left behind. Read the fine print of those squirt bottles!

2. Watch out for microfibre cleaning cloths

The authors ofThe Complete Idiot's Guide to Cleaning, Mary Findley and Linda Formichelli, report that microfibre cloths are made out of plastic and therefore they can scratch. Don't use them on sealed surfaces such as wood floors, marble, granite, Corian and painted surfaces.

3. Clean your windows for pennies

You can whip up a high-powered glass cleaner for pennies.

  • Pour 3.7 litres (one gallon) warm water into a bucket.
  • Add 250 millilitres (one cup) white vinegar and five millilitres (one teaspoon) grease-cutting dishwashing liquid, then stir.
  • If you're cleaning a lot of large windows, apply the glass cleaner with a squeegee straight out of the bucket.
  • Otherwise, pour the mixture into plastic squirt bottles and label them.

4. Clean a dirty garbage disposal

First, keep food waste from building up inside the disposal by only grinding small amounts of food at a time. And when you're done, run a steady flow of cold water through the spinning disposal for up to 30 seconds. Cold solidifies fatty and greasy wastes so they will be cut up and flushed down the drain. Hot melts them and smears the grease around the disposal and drainpipe.

  • Grind a handful of ice cubes mixed with 125 millilitres (1/2 cup) baking soda. Together the powder and cubes will safely scour the inside of the disposal.
  • Flush any residue by plugging the sink and filling it with five to eight centimetres (two to three inches) of water. Then run the disposal while the water drains.
  • Grind lemon peels to freshen the smell.

5. Give your sink a bath

One of the most frustrating things about porcelain sinks is that they scuff if you so much as look at them the wrong way. Forget the Ajax. Instead, Linda Mason Hunter, co-author of the book Green Clean, recommends an herbal bath.

  • Steep several bunches of rosemary or thyme in hot water for a few hours, then strain.
  • Stop up the sink, pour in the mixture and let it sit overnight. In the morning you'll find a glistening white sink that smells like an herb garden.

6. Fizz your toilet clean

Most toilet cleaners are a frighteningly caustic product, to boot. Here's the simpler path: once a week, drop two denture tablets into your toilet and let them dissolve for at least 20 minutes. Then give your toilet's interior a quick brushing and flush. The same cleaning action that brightens dentures will leave the toilet bowl gleaming as well.

7. Clean your grill grate in the oven

Put away that time-consuming wire grill brush and leave that caustic oven cleaner in the cabinet. Here's the zero-effort, non-toxic way to clean the mess off your barbecue grill's grate.

Simply remove it from the grill, slide the grate into your oven and set the oven on "self-clean." This same superheated cycle that incinerates everything inside a self-cleaning oven will scorch away any greasy remnants from the grate.

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