We've been cleaning for more than two decades. Okay, not continuously, but let's just say we know how to use all our vacuum-cleaner attachments at this point. Over the years, we've shared our best solutions for tackling household tasks, and to our delight, you've written to tell us how these tips have helped you make quick work of washing windows, waxing furniture, removing stains, and more. So grab your bucket and get ready to make your home sparkle.
Dirty panes are no problem when you use rubber-edged squeegees, which are quicker and more effective than cloth or newspaper. They come in a variety of sizes -- and a screw-on extension will let you reach high spots. To start, dip a sponge into a bucket of warm water and a few drops of mild dish soap. Wet window; rub dirt away. Dampen squeegee; starting at an upper corner, draw it down pane from top to bottom. Repeat, overlapping strokes and wiping rubber edge with sponge after each stroke. (For large windows, "snake" squeegee back and forth; then touch up edges.) Dry windowsills with a cloth.
Many modern wooden furniture pieces come with a protective polyurethane coating, but for older items, nothing beats wax to protect against dust and moisture. Choose paste wax, the solid kind sold in tins. Natural (clear) wax works on any wood, but dark wood may benefit from tinted wax (it will mask tiny scratches). Begin by cleaning with a mild solvent, such as mineral spirits (test first in a hidden spot).Then cover the piece with a thin, even layer of wax using a cotton rag or cheesecloth. Let dry 10 to 25 minutes; buff vigorously.
This treatment for cleaning copper amazes everyone who tries it. A pleasing bonus: It's chemical-free. All you need are a lemon and coarse salt. Sprinkle the cut side of a lemon half with the salt, then rub it over the copper, which will soon gleam.
When it comes to mildew, prevention gives you the upper hand. So be sure to keep surfaces clean, improve air circulation, and reduce dampness (for example, don't bunch wet towels). In poorly ventilated basements, install open shelving, use a dehumidifier and fan, and store items in airtight plastic containers with desiccants (such as silica gel). In musty closets, leave an incandescent lightbulb on to dry the air, or hang packets of desiccants.
Caring for Marble
Marble needs to be handled with care to maintain its appearance. For routine cleaning, sponge marble with warm water and a mild, neutral detergent. Rinse and dry with a soft cloth. Wipe spills promptly; acids in alcohol and fruit juices are particularly damaging. Marble often comes with a protective sealer that helps prevent staining; reapply coating (available at hardware stores) once a year. For tough stains, try a poultice treatment (also available at hardware stores); reseal the stone afterward.
Cleaning Cast Iron
Here's the best way to clean cast iron: Scrub it with coarse salt and a soft sponge. The salt, a natural abrasive, absorbs oil and lifts away bits of food while preserving the pan's seasoning. Rinse away salt and wipe dry.
Cleaning the Bathtub
Here's a nontoxic but effective way to clean your tub: Add one teaspoon of liquid soap and several drops of an antibacterial essential oil (such as tea tree, eucalyptus, rosemary, or peppermint) to one cup of baking soda. Add just enough water to form a paste, and use it with a sponge or brush to scour bathtub surface.
More from :
Instant Organization: Get It Together in 15 Minutes or Less
15 Kitchen Shortcuts That Will Change the Way You Cook
47 Ways to Maximize Space in Your Kitchen
Martha Stewart's Favorite Outdoor Halloween Decoration Ideas (52 of Them!)
A sparkling home deserves a facelift. Here's how to choose the right carpet for your space.