A guide to cleaning, polishing and freshening your kitchen and bathroom in time for those holiday visitors.
U A heavy film buildup from hard-water minerals can be removed by adding vinegar to an empty dishwasher after it fills with water at the start of its first cycle. Do this only if the appliance manufacturer suggests this is OK, and if the buildup bothers you (as it does no harm).
U Turn off and unplug the freezer. Remove food and let freezer defrost. Wash the inside with warm-water solution of mild detergent or baking soda (2 tablespoons per quart of warm water). Rinse; wipe as dry as possible. Vacuum dust off condenser coils. Turn freezer back on and restock.
Garbage Disposal
U If you plan to leave home for several days, check to be sure all wastes have been flushed out of the disposal to avoid coming home to garbage odors. If odors occur, they can be removed by running orange or lemon peels or ice cubes through the disposal.
Oven and Stove
U To prevent messy oven cleanups, put a sheet of aluminum foil on the floor of the oven, but do not allow the foil to touch the heating element. Although this may slightly affect the browning of food, the foil can be easily disposed of when soiled.
U Clean up spills as soon as they occur.
U While the oven is still warm, sprinkle salt on the spill. If the spill is completely dry, wet it lightly before sprinkling on salt. When the oven cools down, scrape away the spill and wash the area with a combination of vinegar and baking soda.
U Retard grease buildup in your oven by dampening your cleaning rag in vinegar and water before wiping out your oven.
U Sprinkle water followed by a layer of baking soda in your oven. Rub gently with a fine steel wool pad for tough spots. Wipe off scum with dry paper towels or a sponge. Rinse well and wipe dry.
U Turn off and unplug refrigerator. Remove all food and removable interior walls, dissolve 2 tablespoons baking soda in 1 quart warm water and wipe all surfaces. For stubborn spots, rub with a baking-soda paste. Be sure to rinse with a clean, wet cloth. (This works well on other enamel-finished appliances as well.) To clean interior fixtures, such as vegetable bins and shelves, wash in hot soapy water, rinse well and dry. Fresh lemon juice in the rinse water removes soap film.
Sink (Porcelain Enamel)
U Do not leave acidic foods such as citrus fruits, cranberries, vinegar or salad dressings on the sink's surface for a long time. Many porcelain-on-cast-iron sinks made before 1964 were not acid-resistant. Many acidic foods etch even acid-resistant porcelain enamel if left in the sink a long time. A perforated rubber or plastic mat will protect a sink from damage. Try using a baking-soda paste or vinegar on stains, then wipe clean.
Sink (Stainless Steel)
U A perforated rubber or plastic mat in the sink will cut down on scratching and marking by pans and tableware. Wash sink with a solution of hand dishwashing liquid detergent and water or a solution of baking soda and water. Rinse and polish dry with paper towels or a soft cloth. Never use scouring powder or steel wool on stainless steel, as it will scratch. Rub stainless-steel sinks with olive oil to remove streaks. To clean and polish stainless steel, simply moisten a cloth with undiluted white or cider vinegar and wipe clean. Vinegar can also be used to remove heat stains on stainless steel cutlery.
Wooden Surfaces
U Stains and odors can be removed by rubbing them with a cloth dipped in lemon juice. If the stains are stubborn, use a solution of ammonia and water.
U You can make small scratches on finished wood surfaces less noticeable by mixing equal parts lemon juice and oil and rubbing it into the scratches with a soft cloth.
Fiberglass Tub and Shower
U Make a paste of baking soda and water. Wet the surface of tub or shower stall; gently rub with the paste on a sponge or soft nylon brush. Rinse thoroughly. Never use an abrasive cleaner (such as common scouring powder), any abrasive scouring pad, steel wool or a scraper.
Toilet bowl
U Sprinkle baking soda into the bowl, then drizzle with vinegar and scour with a toilet brush. This combination cleans and deodorizes.
Tub and Tile
U Sprinkle baking soda in place of scouring powder in your tub or on the tiles. Rub with a damp sponge. Rinse thoroughly.
U To remove film buildup on bathtubs, apply full-strength vinegar to a sponge and wipe the area. Next use baking soda as you would a scouring powder. Rub with damp sponge and rinse thoroughly.
U Vinegar removes most dirt without scrubbing and doesn't leave a film. Use 1/4 cup (or more) vinegar to 1 gallon of water.
U To clean grout, put 3 cups baking soda into a medium-size bowl and add 1 cup warm water. Mix into a smooth paste and scrub into grout with a sponge or toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly and dispose of leftover paste when finished.
All-purpose cleaners
U Mix together vinegar and salt for a good surface cleaner.
U Dissolve 4 tablespoons baking soda in 1 quart warm water for a general cleaner. Or use baking soda on a damp sponge. Baking soda will clean and deodorize all kitchen and bathroom surfaces.
Drain Cleaners and Drain Openers
U To avoid clogging drains, use a drain strainer to trap food particles and hair; collect grease in cans rather than pouring it down the drain; pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain weekly to melt fat that may be building up in the drain; or weekly put some vinegar and baking soda down your drain to break down fat and keep your drain smelling fresh.
U A time-honored drain opener is the plunger. This inexpensive tool will usually break up the clog and allow it to float away. It may take more than a few plunges to unclog the drain.
Floor Cleaners and Polishes
U A few drops of vinegar in the cleaning water will help remove grease particles. Dull, greasy film on no-wax linoleum can be washed away with a half cup of white vinegar mixed into a half gallon of water. Your floor will look sparkling clean.
U Polish your floor with club soda to make it sparkle.
U For day-to-day cleaning of linoleum, dampen a mop using a mild detergent and water. Keep water away from seams and edges to prevent loosening of the tiles. To preserve the linoleum floor, you may wish to add a capful of baby oil to the mop water.
U For brick and stone floors, mix 1 cup white vinegar into a gallon of water. Scrub the floor with a brush and the vinegar solution. Rinse with clean water.
Furniture Polish
U Mix 2 parts vegetable or olive oil and 1 part lemon juice. Apply and polish with a soft cloth. This leaves furniture looking and smelling good.
Grease Removers
U If oil or grease is spilled on porch or patio cement, immediately apply an absorbent powder, such as dry cement, cornmeal or sawdust to absorb as much grease as possible. Leave it on the stain for a few hours and sweep away.
Laundry Aids
U Eliminate soap residue by adding 1 cup of white vinegar to the washer's final rinse. Vinegar is too mild to harm fabrics but will dissolve alkaline in soaps and detergents. Vinegar also breaks down uric acid, so adding 1 cup of vinegar to the rinse water is especially good for babies' clothes. Do not use vinegar if you add chlorine bleach to your rinse water. It will produce harmful vapors.
U Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup baking soda per wash load to make clothes feel soft and smell fresh.
U To remove smoke odor from clothes, fill your bathtub with hot water. Add 1 cup white vinegar. Hang garments above the steaming bath water.
Rust Removers
U To remove rust from tinware, rub with a peeled potato dipped in a mild abrasive such as baking soda or salt.
U Mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice with 2 tablespoons of salt to make a rust-removing scrub.
U Briskly scrub rust spots on car bumpers with a piece of crumbled aluminum foil, shiny side out. This also works well on the chrome shafts of golf clubs.
Window and Glass Cleaners
U 1/2 cup vinegar to 1 gallon of water (or 2 tablespoons per quart)
1/2 cup ammonia to 1 gallon of water (or 2 tablespoons per quart)
1/2 cup ammonia, 2 cups rubbing alcohol, 1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing detergent, 1 gallon water. This solution is less likely to freeze in cold weather and works on extra-heavy soil and grease buildup. Dry with a soft cloth. Leaves windows and glass streakless.
Mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice in 1 quart water. Apply to surface and wipe dry.
U Remove stains and discoloration on windows and glass and make scratches less noticeable with toothpaste. Rub a little toothpaste onto the stain or scratch. Polish with a soft cloth.
U To clean cut glass, use a damp rag sprinkled with baking soda. Rinse with clean water and polish with a soft cloth.
Source: The Old Farmer's Almanac

Subscribe Today

Sign up for our email newsletter to receive daily news.

Want more? Click here to subscribe to either the Print or Digital Editions.