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14 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:

  • 2/3 cup Spic and Span Liquid All-Purpose Floor Cleaner
  • 1/2 cup Liquid Tide Laundry Detergent (do not use the Tide liquid that has fabric softeners added)
  • 1 quart liquid chlorine bleach*
  • 3 quarts hot water

Next, 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. Then 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

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup household ammonia*
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1-gallon warm water

Mix all ingredients together, label clearly, and keep out of reach of children. Then, 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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8 Surprisingly Effective Ways to Use Apple Cider Vinegar

We cannot yet declare apple cider vinegar to be a miracle cure. However, according to WebMD.com, Apple cider vinegar has a long history as a home remedy used to treat everything from a sore throat to varicose veins.

Vinegar has been used as a remedy since the days of Hippocrates. The ancient Greek doctor treated wounds with it. In recent years, people have explored apple cider vinegar as a way to lose weight, improve heart health, and even treat dandruff.

Apple Cider Vinegar to Make Your Life Easier

 

The right choice

When choosing apple cider vinegar, make sure you get one that includes the “mother.” The mother of vinegar is used to accelerate the fermentation process and ensure an effective product. Bragg’s is considered by many to be the gold standard for high-quality vinegar that is packed with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Be sure to shake it well before use.

Pro tipkirkland brand apple cider vinegar 3-pack

If you’re a Costco member, the Kirkland brand apple cider vinegar includes the mother and is an excellent and cheaper alternative.

I find this in a 3-pack at Costco, for about the same price as a single bottle of Bragg’s the same size, elsewhere.


Here are a few of the ways that ACV may work well for you to treat everyday issues in the same way that it works for so many of my readers and others who’ve reported their results.

Send dandruff packing

Forget all the pricey salon sprays that promise to destroy the fungus that grows on your scalp. Apple cider vinegar’s acidity changes the pH of your scalp and also has antibacterial properties. Make your own dandruff treatment at home that will banish dandruff by mixing equal parts ACV and water in a spray bottle.

To use: Shampoo with your cheap shampoo of choice, rinse, and towel dry. Then spray this ACV dilution onto your hair, work it through to the scalp and let it sit for 15 minutes. Rinse. Do this twice a week and in no time you’ll send away embarrassing dandruff forever. For routine maintenance, use ACV as a conditioner, which follows. Read more

16 Ways to Use Windex That Will Make You So Happy

Recently, while digging out, cleaning up, and reorganizing our storage room I discovered a half-full jug of Windex. I have to admit that for a few moments there, it was like Christmas and not because I was itching to clean windows. It’s because I know lots of situations and ways that Windex actually comes to the rescue to make life easier!

 big jug Windex and spray bottle

Laundry stains

Windex makes for a super effective stain remover on non-silk washable fabrics—especially on difficult red stains like red wine and tomato sauce and ketchup. Spray the stain liberally with Windex, allow to soak in and work for 20 minutes or so, then rinse it out with cold water. Launder as usual. Caution: Stick with the clear colorless version of Windex when using it to remove stains from white or light items.


Bug spray

Hit those ants and other creepy crawlies with a mist of Windex and watch them curl up and die. Many readers have reported this works really well but once cleaned up, it will not prevent the bugs from coming back. To do that, spray the cleaned up area with a light mist of white vinegar to create a more lasting barrier.


homemade natural cleaning ingredients

How to  Make Your Own Natural Cleaning Products

From time to time I hear from readers who have sensitivities or allergies to our beloved Blue Dawn. Is there something else we can use that will not trigger these reactions but still work well? There is and it is pure castile soap.


Kitchen degreaser

Windex works as a degreaser for cooktops, range hoods, fans, light fixtures, and other areas that attract grease and grime. Spray the area with Windex and allow it to sit on that greasy area for a few minutes, then wipe clean. Rinse well if using near food-preparation areas.

Windex is a great on countertops, too—quartz, granite, marble, laminate, tile. Just make sure you’re using the Windex Crystal Rain that is free of ammonia and vinegar (there are multiple versions of Windex these days ) for natural stone counters that have a sealant, such as granite, marble, and quartzite.

Laundry stains

Windex makes for a super effective stain remover on non-silk washable fabrics—especially on difficult red stains like red wine and tomato sauce and ketchup. Spray the stain liberally with Windex, allow to soak in and work for 20 minutes or so, then rinse it out with cold water. Launder as usual. Caution: Stick with the clear colorless version of Windex when using it to remove stains from white or light items.

Microfiber Upholstery

Microfiber, a synthetic fabric, has become a popular textile for upholstered furniture because it is super durable and inexpensive. Microfiber is beautiful, too, but stains easily and can be super challenging to clean. Even water can leave an ugly spot on microfiber. Windex to the rescue!

Spritz the area with a light spray of Windex. Quickly, before it can soak it, using a soft bristle brush or clean white terrycloth, lightly scrub and whisk away the stain being careful to work in just one direction. A difficult stain might require a second treatment.

Caution: Test in an inconspicuous place first, please! And (I repeat), stick with the clear colorless version of Windex when using it to remove stains from white or light items.

Stainless steel

When cleaning a window with Windex, you want to be able to see your reflection looking back at you. Well, the same goes for stainless steel surfaces.


25 Items Under $25 to Help Organize Your LifeWoman buried under clothes, shoes, bags in unorganized closet

Getting organized isn’t easy. But staying organized can be even harder. A place for everything and everything in its place. That’s the mark of an organized home. I want to update 25 of my best organizational helpers that can help organize your bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, handbag, and car, too. These organizers can quickly turn chaos to calm.


Clean the car

Windex is ideal to clean a car’s interior surfaces, including faux wood and upholstery. Readers have reported all kinds of remarkable results using Windex to clean coffee and food stains from upholstered seats and floor mats. Use Windex to get rid of all that gunk and grime on dashboards, steering wheel, console, and door handles. Works well on that fabric headliner (how do stains land up there?), and carpet, too.

Windex is non-greasy so surfaces won’t be left with a slippery residue. While you’re at it, you might as well clean all the windows—inside and out, too!

Bathroom cleaner

Windex will clean everything in the bathroom—porcelain, plastic, chrome, tile, and grout; toilet, tub, walls, and floors, too. And of course the glass and mirrors.

Playsets and toys

Make quick work of cleaning and disinfecting all those messes brought on by teething and drooling; food, goo, grime and an occasional spit up from toys and playsets. Spray all those surfaces with Windex and a microfiber cloth. Follow a good rinse and your kids’ toys and play areas will be sparkling clean and looking good in no time.

Stuck rings

Need help getting a ring off after it has been on your finger for a long time? Try a few drops and it will pop right off.

Jewelry cleaner

Soak gold, silver, diamonds, rubies and emeralds, and other pieces of fine jewelry for a few minutes in a small container filled with Windex. Brush with a soft, old toothbrush, then rinse well in clear water. Buff dry and look at that sparkle! Caution: Never use Windex on soft stones like opals or costume jewelry.

Hardware

Knobs, pulls, and handles are surely the most overlooked area in any home when it comes to cleaning. Just imagine how many germs those suckers harbor. Here’s the solution: Once a week, grab the Windex in one hand and a microfiber cloth in the other and go through the house cleaning and sanitizing every doorknob, lever, and pull that gets touched by human hands. It’s easy and so well worth the effort.

Stubborn zippers

Now this hack will make everyone’s life a little better. Have you ever had to throw out that jacket or pair of pants because of a stuck zipper? Using Windex to free a stubborn zipper. What a slick idea.

Whiteboard eraser

Another way to use Windex is to clean your whiteboards. It will remove the stubborn dry erase marker stains and all those shadows, too. Go ahead, you can spray Windex directly on the whiteboard without doing any damage.

Patio furniture cleaner

Windex works amazing for a quick and effective wipe down of patio furniture. Use it when the furniture is first taken out for the season, then again and often as the furniture is used throughout the season. Just lightly mist the surface, let stand for a few minutes, and wipe clean.

Unclog a printhead

If there seems to be an issue with your printer’s printhead—like it refuses to print or does so poorly—try cleaning it. Turn off your printer spray a few spritzes of Windex onto a paper towel. Remove the ink cartridge and place the paper towel over the printhead. Allow to sit for 24 hours. Make sure the printhead is completely dry before you try to print again.


Up Next:

Some (But Not All) Spray Bottles are Designed to Fail

16 Amazing Ways Hydrogen Peroxide Can Make Your Life Easier

A Fun Project (Christmas?!) for While You’re Homebound

The Five Legal Documents Every Adult Must Have

 

 

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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How to Get Rid of The Dreaded Toilet Bowl Ring

It’s not the most elegant question I get, but certainly one of the most common. “I’ve tried everything I can think of, but that stubborn, ugly toilet bowl ring won’t go away!” Or ” … It goes away, but just keeps coming back!”

 

Pristing restroom with white toilet and toilet brush

 

Toilet bowls develop discolorations for many reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the housekeeping. Basically, the dreaded toilet bowel ring is the result of hard water conditions together with water standing in a toilet that sees a lot of use.

While there are lots of commercial products out there that promise to remove hard water stains in the toilet, ordinary household pantry items you have already can be just as effective to rid your toilet of the dreaded toilet bowl ring without harsh chemicals.

What are those stains, anyway?

Toilet bowl stains that look like rust are likely due to mineral deposits and hard water. Green, orange or black streaks or rings may be mold. A bacteria called Serratia marcescens shows up as pink. Knowing what is causing the ring makes it easier for you to choose the best method for getting rid of it.

Under most conditions, regular weekly cleaning prevents heavy stain buildup and reduces the appearance of any existing stains so the bowl can look pristine and white again.

And when none of that works? Don’t worry, I have the mother of all solutions for that too, in a bit. But let’s start with the easiest.

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How to Clean Gunk and Grime from Kitchen Cabinets

Got grimy kitchen cabinets? Don’t think you’re the only one. Unfortunately, wood cabinets—painted or natural with a clear finish—are prone to all sorts of grease, grime, and gunk from simply being in the kitchen.

Hands of woman spraying and wiping kitchen cabinets

 

Depending on just how much grease and grime you’re looking at and the supplies you have available, there are several options to clean kitchen cabinets. At least one should help to get the job done—plus one final suggestion for how to keep your clean cabinets looking gorgeous!

Blue Dawn

Apply a few drops of concentrated dish liquid like blue Dawn, into a bowl of warm water. Dip the soft side of a sponge in it. Squeeze the sponge until suds form. The cleaning agents in Dawn absorb grease just as well on kitchen surfaces as they do on dishes. Apply to the dirty kitchen cabinet, wiping the grease with the soft sponge until it is removed. Immediately dry the surfaces with a clean cloth to prevent streaking.

Kitchen gunk remover

Bust through hardened, dingy layers of old, sticky, dust-grabbing grease with vegetable oil and baking soda. Mix one-part any vegetable oil to two-parts baking soda. Apply this oily paste to dirty areas using a soft cloth or paper towel. That ugly, greasy, dirty build-up on cabinets will begin to soften and start to disappear. Wipe clean and buff with a soft cloth.

White vinegar

Vinegar is not just for making pickles or drizzling over French fries. It has grease-busting, cleaning ability. Dampen a clean, dry cloth with undiluted white vinegar, and wipe down greasy cabinets. Rinse your cloth with warm water, wring out most of the moisture, and use it to rinse the cabinetry. Dry the damp surfaces with a paper towel, but note any still-sticky spots that need a second attempt.

Caution: Vinegar should be used only occasionally, to remove greasy grime, not for maintenance. Its acidic nature may, over time, begin to dull the surface.

Soap and paint thinner

This is a heavy-duty, industrial-strength solution. Use it on the toughest, most stubborn grease and grime, knowing that it could remove a layer of the finish. Mix equal parts of paint thinner and mild soap, such as Murphy Oil Soap. Apply with a sponge or paintbrush. Wipe the solution away with a rag to clear the dirt; you’ll likely remove a thin layer of varnish or shellac, because the grime may have melded with it.

Wood polish and conditioner

After rigorous cleaning, wood cabinets are thirsty for moisture and protection. But you want to be careful that you don’t make matters worse by using something that will create a new kind of build-up that becomes a magnet to kitchen grease and grime.

You won’t find a better product to do that than Howard’s Feed-n-Wax Wood Polish and Conditioner. It contains beeswax, carnauba wax and orange oil to keep the wood from drying out, while at the same time repelling kitchen grease. Fantastic for all of the wood surfaces in your home—not only kitchen cabinets.

CAUTION: Before attempting to use any of these options on any wood surface—painted or natural—test first in an inconspicuous place so you know how the method of cleaning will react.

First published: 3-26-17; Updated with new info and photo credit 5-19-19

PREVIOUSLY: Put a Big Smile on Your Face with a Dental Savings Plan


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26 Ways to Use Vinegar that Will Surprise You!

It’s cheap. It’s available in every supermarket and home center in the universe and so useful around your home, you may have a difficult time believing it. That’s the power of white vinegar—the same vinegar you cook with and pour on your salad!

 

 

1. Windows

Add 1/4 cup white vinegar to a quart of very warm water to make a good window cleaner. Wipe with a microfiber cloth and your windows will sparkle.


MORE: Best Inexpensive™ Microfiber, Electronics, Automobiles


2. Computer mouse

Clean your mouse that has a removable tracking ball with a 50/50 vinegar-water solution. First, remove the ball from underneath the mouse by twisting off the cover. Dip a clean cloth into the solution, wring it out and then wipe the ball clean. Next, remove fingerprints and dirt from the mouse itself. Then use a vinegar-moistened cotton swab to clean out the gunk and debris from inside the ball chamber. Allow all parts to dry a couple of hours before reinserting the ball.

3. Laundry

Instead of fabric softener or dry sheets, add 1/2 (one-half) to 1 cup vinegar to the last rinse in your washing machine (as you would liquid softener). Your clothes will come out soft because the vinegar helps to remove every trace of laundry detergent, which causes fabrics to stiffen.

4. Watermarks

Vinegar will dissolve hard-water marks like those on shower doors, faucets and in vases. If the vinegar is hot (heat in the microwave) it works even faster.

5. Ballpoint pen ink

Got ink marks from ballpoint pen adorning a wall, desktop, or other inappropriate space? No worries. Dab full-strength white vinegar on the ink using a cloth or a sponge. Repeat until the marks are gone. Then buy your child a nice big sketch pad.

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Cheat Sheet for 3 Best Ways to Unclog a Toilet—Quick and Easy!

No one likes to talk about it, but truth be told it happens. Toilets malfunction. They get clogged.

Sure, it’s inconvenient but more than that, downright embarrassing if you’re somewhere other than the privacy of your own home. Here’s a cheat sheet so you’ll know ahead of time how to deal with the situation.

Woman unclogs a stinky toilet with plunger

Quick! Stop it from overflowing

The moment you realize something’s wrong, and the water level is rising, you need to act fast to turn it off. There are two ways to do this. I’d do both just to be sure: 

  1. Take off the lid, then reach in (that water is clean) and close the open flapper. 
  2. Reach behind the toilet near the floor and turn off the water supply off by turning the handle clockwise.

Now you can stop worrying about flooding the place and move on to freeing the clog using one of the following methods.

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