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22 Weird but Wonderful Ways to Use Coffee Filters

It was a dumb mistake. I grabbed the biggest package of coffee filters—a pack of 1,000—only to discover much later that I’d picked up the wrong size for my coffeemaker.

stack-of-basket-style-coffee filters

Coffee filters are not expensive, which is probably the reason I didn’t bother returning them to the store. I suppose I should have tried, but I’m glad didn’t. I began finding all kinds of ways to use those filters for other things than making coffee.

What I discovered is that the basket-style filters are super useful around the house and the garage, too for so many things that have absolutely nothing to do with coffee!

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How to Clean a Jetted Bathtub

There are few things as luxurious as taking a bath in a jetted tub. The warm water and body massage make for one amazing way to relax.

But the last thing you want to see are chunks of mystery debris swirling about—all the gunk and grime that’s built-up inside the jets and connecting hoses since the last time you cleaned it, which would be uh, when?

Follow these steps to get both the tub and the air jets plus all of the interior plumbing system squeaky clean and sanitized so you can relax in crystal-clear water without fear of filth.

 

Beautiful corner jetted bathtub with shiny chrome fixtures

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9 Surprising Things You Can Clean with a Clothes Steamer

A compact clothes steamer is handy for removing wrinkles and stale odors from fabric, but is that all? Just another single-purpose tool that sits on a shelf gathering dust? Don’t be so sure! I’ve been amazed to discover all the ways to use an ordinary clothes steamer to steam clean, sanitize, renew, and refresh all around the house.

 

Woman releasing wrinkles from a blue polka dot dress with garment steamer

Basics

Before we get started, let’s go over a few steam clean basics.

  • Always use distilled water in a steamer. The minerals in tap water can cause it to clog up and can also leave behind traces of minerals.
  • Never use steam on silk or other delicate fabrics. Always test first in an inconspicuous place for color-bleeding or spotting.
  • Do not use steam on freshly painted surfaces, vintage surfaces, waxed or polished wood or musical instruments.

Loosen carpet stains

A blast of steam can loosen a tough carpet stain that’s been difficult to remove. Hold the steamer a few inches away from the spot for at least 30 seconds, then blot it with a clean white cloth. Repeat until nothing more is transferred to the cloth. If you still see evidence of the spot, it should respond more effectively to a good stain remover like Spot Shot. Just make sure you follow the instructions on the label, which may require rinsing once the stain is gone.

Remove labels and stickers

A blast or two from your trusty clothes steamer can soften and melt the adhesive that keeps a stubborn label or sticker stuck so you can easily remove it. Be cautious if you’re dealing with an unpainted surface.

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Washing Dishes By Hand vs. Dishwasher—Which is More Effective?

It’s an interesting question and one that comes up every time I write about how to use and maintain a dishwasher. For many readers, handwashing dishes just feels better and something that’s hard to let go of, especially for those who don’t use enough dishes to fill the dishwasher more than a couple of times a week.

But isn’t low-tech handwashing just as effective as a high-tech dishwasher? All things considered, the answer might surprise you.

 

Dishwasher filled with sparkling clean dishes

Health and safety

To kill the germs and bacteria on dirty dishes, water must reach a scalding 140° F, according to Kelly Reynolds, Ph.D., an associate professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Arizona. But if you set your home water heater to that temperature, you’ll put family members at risk of scalding when using hot water in tubs, showers, and sinks.

Most home water heaters are set to 120° F to avoid scalding, which means getting the water hot enough from the tap for hand washing dishes is all but impossible. And even if you could, 140° F is much hotter than your hands could stand for the minimum required 2-minutes those dishes would need to be exposed to that high temperature. But a dishwasher? No problem.

Since the early 1990s, most dishwashers in the U.S. have built-in heaters to boost water temperature to 140–145° F, the temperature recommended by manufacturers for optimum dishwashing performance and by food safety experts for killing bacteria.

The advantage of a dishwasher with a booster heater is that you can turn down your water heater thermostat, significantly reducing household water heating costs. Resetting your water heater to 120°F will provide adequate hot water for your household needs.

Economics

Hand washing dishes typically uses a lot more water than a dishwasher. Unless you could get that sink full of dirty dishes hand washed with soap and rinsed with the water running from the tap in fewer than 2 minutes, it’s likely you’re using a lot more water than a current dishwasher model requires. And in most cases, a lot more if you pre-rinse, wash, and then rinse again.

That’s because according to the U.S. Energy Department, a federal standard kicked in for dishwashers requiring a 20-percent reduction in the amount of water it uses. If yours is a highly efficient Energy Star-certified dishwasher, it uses less than 4.25 gallons of water per cycle.

Time

Not long ago, we remodeled our kitchen. I was without a dishwasher for what seemed like forever, but in reality, it was about a month. That doesn’t mean I stopped cooking or we stopped eating a home. I just had to find other ways to get the job done.

Health, safety, and economics aside, it took so much time—far more time than required to get the same job done with a fully operational dishwasher. To keep up, it seemed like I was handwashing all the time; the drying rack was forever full; even so, there were always dirty dishes in the make-shift sink and clean dishes always waiting to be moved from the drying rack to the cupboard.

Not only does my dishwasher save energy and water, it just makes my life so much easier.

If you don’t own a dishwasher

Not everyone has a dishwasher. If that’s you, don’t panic. You can hand wash dishes and make sure they are sanitized, too. The Oregon State University Extension Service says you need to add this one step to the process:

After scrubbing with soap and water and rinsing, soak everything for 5 to 10 minutes in a gallon of hot water—a typical sink full—and one tablespoon of chlorine bleach. Don’t re-rinse. Instead, allow the dishes to air dry in a rack or on a drying mat. The bleach will kill any microorganisms that your scouring failed to kill. As everything dries, the bleach will evaporate, leaving your dishes clean and sanitized.

Conclusion

The evidence is clear—a dishwasher is far more efficient than hand washing dishes. It’s faster, safer, and cheaper than even the most frugal method of hand washing dishes.


You may also want to check out:

The Proper Care and Feeding of the One Thing Every Home Must Have

6 Simple Ways to Develop a Saver’s Attitude

11 Of The Very Best Homemade Cleaners That Really Work

 

11 Of The Very Best Homemade Cleaners That Really Work

Items in your pantry like baking soda, vinegar, cream of tartar, lemon juice and even tea bags, can work as effective cleaners. Even better, compared to pricey commercial products, homemade cleaners cost next to nothing.

So the next time you’re staring down a big mess but you’re out of your favorite product, don’t run to the store—open up the pantry and try mixing up one of these DIY cleaning recipes instead. Step back and enjoy the results and the savings, too!

Ingredient, sponge and rubber gloves for homemade cleaners that really work

Vinyl Siding Cleaner

In a two-gallon bucket, carefully mix together:

Using a funnel, carefully pour into an ordinary hose-end wash gun or (garden sprayer) set to the highest concentration and apply to vinyl siding. You will see the dirt, film, and mildew just slide off. After five minutes, rinse with the hose and clear water. In all cases, label clearly and keep out of the reach of children.

All-Purpose Liquid Cleaner

Mix all ingredients together, label clearly and keep out of reach of children. Use as you would any commercial all-purpose multi-surface cleaner such as pricey Formula 409 or Lysol All-Purpose Cleaner.

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How to Clean Where No Vacuum Has Gone Before

It’s been several years now since one of my awesome readers told me about an inexpensive, super effective tool I could attach to my vacuum cleaner’s hose that would let me vacuum places no vacuum had ever gone before. Every time I use it, I wonder how I had lived so long without VaccuFlex.

 

Simple tool cleans where no vacuum has gone before

 

VaccuFlex

That’s it. Just a multi-piece kit that attaches to any vacuum cleaner that has a hose—like my Shark—which then turns it into a vacuum cleaner that can get into even the tiniest crevice, corner or space.

What’s so ingenious about a VaccuFlex kit is that within those seven pieces—which are food-grade so safe to use in the kitchen—is the perfect combination to fit any size vacuum cleaner hose to get into any size space. And this is not like some little battery-powered mini vac. I have all of the power of my Shark behind VaccuFlex.

Kitchen

I use VaccuFlex to vacuum all the crumbs and bits out of my kitchen drawers in a flash, because there is no need to remove flatware, utensils and so forth. And that area around my coffee grinder? That thing is messy and throws fine coffee grinds into cracks, crevices and drawer guides. VaccuFlex to the rescue for that and for reaching under the refrigerator, too.

 

Automobile

To me, car vacs are troublesome. They’re either too wimpy and powerless or the cord is too short; or if cordless, lacking in runtime. Using a full-power vacuum cleaner with VaccuFlex is the way to detail the inside of a car.

See that tiny hose? That can get into the tightest spots to super-suction out all of the stuff that accumulates in car seats, floors, door compartments, center console, and dashboard. This is the way to vacuum tight spaces!

Door and window tracks

What is it about door and window tracks that they simply refuse to get clean? It’s the corners and that area right next to the track that seem absolutely impossible! The solution is to make sure those areas are perfectly dry, then put VaccuFlex on the job. I’ve discovered it’s a lot easier if I loosen the dirt and debris with a good brush first.

 

Clothes dryer

My first clue that things were not quite right with my clothes dryer—suddenly, it was taking forever to get anything dry! I’d check and re-check the lint trap, so that wasn’t the problem. Turns out it was all kinds of lint that had been trapped, behind the trap farther inside the machine. And in the dryer vent line.

My laundry appliances are stacked so pulling the dryer down to get into those areas from the back was not at all practical. And that’s when in desperation I ordered a VaccuFlex kit. I removed the lint trap and stuck that hose all the way into that area. It was amazing. Shark nearly filled itself before I stopped pulling out lint balls. Then I went outdoors to vacuum through the outside of the dryer vent. And that fixed the problem.

 

Simple tool cleans where no vacuum has gone before

Clogged sink

Warning: You must attach VaccuFlex to a wet-dry vacuum to perform this household rescue. Shark vacuums are NOT wet-dry! This Vacmaster is an excellent wet-dry vacuum, which would work well for this.

If you have a hopelessly clogged sink, it’s possible that you can quickly clear that clog with VaccuFlex attached to a wet-dry vacuum. Video demonstration here.

 

 Photos: VaccuFlex.com

There are so many other ways VaccuFlex has made my life easier—cleaning out air returns, condensate lines, p-traps, and HVAC systems to name a few.

Such a great invention!


You may also enjoy:

Absolutely the Best Window Cleaning Tips Ever

In a Pinch, You Can Use This for That

How to Make Your Own Powerful Tub and Shower Cleaners

 


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How to Clean a Shark Vacuum and Its Filters

You know by now just how much I love my Shark vacuum cleaner. And given my readers’ letters and comments, I know that many of you have Sharkies, too. Now you need to how to clean a Shark so it keeps performing at top efficiency.

I love your messages. They make me smile because I understand the range of emotions that come from using a Shark vacuum for the first time—from amazement to flat out embarrassment.

Where on earth did all of this dirt and debris come from? I can’t believe what’s been lurking in my carpet!

 

Shark vacuum taken apart for cleaning

With all of the miles I’ve put on my numerous Shark vacs over the years, I’ve never had one fail. And while the manufacturer boasts that Sharks never lose suction, that is predicated on regularly cleaning Sharkie’s canister, filters, and rotating brush.

It’s right there in the owner manual, which most of us don’t think to read until we have a problem. You need to clean your Shark every three months to keep it working at top efficiency—more often with heavy use. It’s easy.

Signs Sharkie needs a bath

  • loss of suction
  • dirt being left behind
  • sounds weird like Sharkie is gasping for air
  • an unpleasant, dirty odor

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How to Make Even an Old Dishwasher Perform Like New

There are many things in my life that I enjoy, but would not be completely devastated if required to give them up. My dishwasher is not one of them.

 

dishwasher-filled-with-clean-dishes-and-bright-start

 

During our recent kitchen remodel, we got rid of the appliances, all except for my stripped down 14-year-old Whirlpool dishwasher.

Even though it has been replaced, it has found a new home across town with our son and family. It continues to do a flawless job, not because it’s such a high-end machine (it’s not), but because I have learned the secrets of how to get any dishwasher to perform well.

It doesn’t matter how old your dishwasher is. If it will turn on, spray hot water and go through some kind of cycle, you can turn out sparkling clean dishes. You just need to know a few secrets about cleaning, maintaining, and operating it.

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