Quick and Easy Outdoor Cleaning and Storage Tips You Can Use

Many outdoor cleaning and storage solutions can be rather expensive, especially when compared to do-it-yourself or homemade alternatives. Here some of my favorite cleaning tips and storage solutions for the garage and patio that will give you the results you need without the costs you don’t.

Charcoal Starter

After the food has been cooked on the barbecue, don’t leave coals to burn out. With a shovel, scoop them up into an empty can and smother them by placing a non-flammable lid over the can. They can be used again.

Easy Grill Cleaning

Instead of scrubbing your grill clean and making a huge mess, put the grill racks in your self-cleaning oven the next time you run the cycle. The chrome will discolor a bit, but you won’t spend all that time scrubbing.

Barbecue Cover

Protect your grill without sacrificing your wallet. Fold an old vinyl tablecloth in half and sew up the sides to make a cover for your outdoor barbecue grill.

Storage Buckets

Are you sick of all the half-full bags of fertilizer, potting soil, cat litter, and pet food in the garage that get wet and turn into soggy messes? Go to your local grocery store and ask the bakery for their empty frosting buckets with lids. Typically, they’re happy to give them away. Just clean, remove the labels, and make new laminated labels or print clearly on the bucket. This will save you from having to throw out half-full bags of ruined fertilizer or pet food. Alternatively, home improvement centers like Home Depot and Lowe’s often put their 5-gallon buckets on sale for dirt-cheap prices.


Concrete Spot-Remover

To clean spots on concrete, sprayed bleach (preferably Clorox) works great. Let it sit for about five minutes, then rinse. Remember to exercise extreme caution when handling liquid chlorine bleach. Do not mix it with anything ut water to avoid mixing up a batch of deadly chlorine gas. 

More Concrete Stains

Commercial cleansers such as Ajax and Comet work well to clean concrete stained by mold or leaves. Sprinkle cleanser on the cement, add water and scrub with a stiff broom. Allow to sit for a few hours, then rinse. 

Egg Carton Fire Starter

Here’s an inexpensive fire starter for the barbecue or campfire: Fill an empty paper egg carton with a dozen charcoal briquettes, one in each compartment. Squirt each briquette with lighter fluid, close the fluid container, and then close the egg carton lid. Carefully light the container. 

Apple Storage

If you have more apples than you can reasonably use in the short term, they’ll last up to six months if you store them in a dry spot between 32 and 45 degrees F. A cardboard box or Styrofoam chest in the garage, basement, or cellar can usually duplicate the conditions of an old-fashioned root cellar.

Alcohol Kills

Ordinary rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol labeled 70% or greater kills roaches faster than commercial pesticides. Just keep it in a spray bottle, and a couple of squirts will do the trick. Label the spray bottle clearly and store it well out of the reach of children.

Stained Wicker

To remove mold and mildew from wicker furniture, wipe down with a mixture of 25% white vinegar and 75% water. Allow to penetrate for a few minutes, then wipe again with plain water. 

Chalky Plastic White Chairs

If your white plastic lawn furniture has taken on that “chalky” dull, ugly finish, it’s disheartening when you’re not in a position to buy new ones. Good news! You may not have to. It’s going to take some arm muscle and a bit of time, but you can get rid of that chalky finish, which is evidence that the plastic has begun to degrade to get at least another season or two out of that furniture.

Caution: Do not go for steel wool or scouring powder if you don’t want to scratch up your chairs for good.

Instead, get out the baking soda and that can of car wax. First, wet down the chair with a soft wet sponge. Next, Liberally sprinkle baking soda all over it and rub the wet baking soda/water mix to cover the entire chair. You may find it easiest to sprinkle baking soda on the wet sponge before rubbing down the chair. Either way, the baking soda paste will work some magic on the chalky finish. A good water rinse job, towel dry, and then a dab of car wax rubbed in with a soft cloth, then once dry, buffed to a shiny finish will seal the plastic again. You’ll be amazed at how you’ve prolonged the life of your furniture!

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2 replies
  1. Ann says:

    Instead of using lighter fluid to start the charcoal, wrap the charcoal in newspapers & use cooking oil instead.

  2. Marc Fisher says:

    Hello, Mary,
    Have you done any research on worm composting in your garage? The benefits are many with using your vegetable waste, coffee grounds, etc to make a rich compost for your flowers and garden. The worms work 24/7 like you do:). Thank you for your wonderful insightfulness. Marc


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