As much as I hate cleaning, my friends often call me the Princess of Windex because I am always in perpetual motion, picking up this, wiping off that, and in general, keeping things tidy. The only problem I have with this honorary title is I don’t use Windex or any other harsh chemicals unless they are a last resort.
This all started a couple of years ago when I spilled bright red nail polish on my new carpet. Holy-moly now what? I tried acetone, I tried a fancy nail polish remover, I tried 409, Krud Kutter and rest. No luck. I still had a reddish pink glob on my carpet. SurvivalHusband was going to really be furious when he saw this.
So off to the web I went. A few google searches led me to some references to using shaving cream to remove nail polish stains on carpets. Shaving cream? WTF? At that point I had nothing to lose so I squirted a glob of el-cheapo shaving cream on the stain – and this was a very large stain – and with a little rubbing it was gone! And I mean completely gone.
That was it. I became hooked on using simple, ordinary products for general cleaning, removing stains, and getting through the myriad of household chores that never seem to end. And so, for today, I offer you a list of those things that are in my cleaning bucket along with a few tips for using each item. Feel free to add to the list since I am always open to learning about new ways to keep things clean using ordinary products.
White vinegar: Mix ¼ cup in a spray bottle, add water an you are ready to clean glass, wipe counters, and my favorite, clean hardwood floors leaving no residue.
Rubbing Alcohol: I was late to the party on this one. My favorite use is homemade granite cleaner. Again, mix ¼ cup in a spay bottle, add water and one teensy drop of dish soap and you will have a fabulous, streak free cleaner for those stone tops in your kitchen. Did I mention that alcohol will also kill germs?
Simple Green: This is one commercial product I would not be without. It comes in a large jug that gets diluted, a bit at a time, depending on the application. It is a fabulous de-greaser, de-spotter, and carpet cleaner. I use it on everything from the concrete pavers on my patio to fine fabrics in the laundry. There are no harsh chemicals in Simple Green. It is an environmentally-sensitive non-toxic cleaner that is biodegradable and does not contain bleach. It is good stuff that just works. Simple, eh?
Baking Soda: There are so many uses for this down home ingredient that I don’t know where to start. We all know about putting a box of baking soda in the refrigerator to soak up and eliminate odors, right? But nothing, and I mean nothing, beats baking soda for cleaning up scorched and burnt pots, pans, grills and griddles. I keep some in a shaker can under the sink so that I can sprinkle it on the offensive pot as soon as dinner is over. Add some water and let it soak. The next day the crud will slid right off. Baking soda is also super for shining up sinks and stainless steel (using a microfiber rag, of course). Bottom line? Baking soda is a mild abrasive, deodorizer, grease cutter and all around handy product to have around. Dirt cheap, too.
Microfiber Cloths: I call these Magic Rags because that is exactly what they are. You can find them online or on eBay where they are sold by the dozen. They wash up great and will last for years. Dampen a magic rag with plain water or your vinegar cleaner then wipe away. You will be amazed at how clean things get with a minimum of elbow grease.
Nylon Sponge (with both a soft and a scrubber side): This one is pretty self-explanatory. Just remember to throw it in the dishwasher weekly to keep it nice and sanitary but please, replace it when it is worn out.
Latex gloves: The last thing in my cleaning bucket is a pair of latex gloves. Even though the products I am using are not harsh, the girly-girl in me wants to keep my nails (plain, no polish but with a coat of Nailtiques) strong, healthy and nice looking.
So what is in your cleaning bucket?
Enjoy your next adventure, wherever it takes you!
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Backdoor Survival Tip of the Day: Don’t spend your hard-earned money on harsh cleaning chemicals that will hurt your hands and harm the environment. Instead, pick up some plain white vinegar, baking soda and microfiber rags to get you through those cleaning chores quickly and with money left over for a fancy cup of Starbucks.
From the Bargain Bin: Want more tips? The book “Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things” is a steal at less than $12 buck. I use this book as a bible whenever I need to tackle my toughest household chores.