Cleaning is the one chore that most of us dread, but we all know it has to be done. And while none of these cheapskate cleaning methods pretend to make it fun, they do promise to cut costs and save time. Also, most of these tips can be implemented with everyday items you probably already have.
Salt and ice together are great for cleaning the stains from the inside of pots, carafes and thermoses. For really tough jobs, add either lemon juice or a couple of lemon wedges to the ice and salt. Whirl all of that together, being careful to not be so aggressive that you crack any glass that may be involved. The acid in lemon juice helps to break down all that gunk.
If you run out of cleanser, don’t panic. It’s only an opportunity to think outside of the can and try other materials such as baking soda. It works like a charm. It will even take care of the ring in the bathtub with amazing results. Use it as you would commercial cleanser by sprinkling a bit on the surface and scrubbing it with a wet sponge or cleaning cloth. Rinse well.
To make quick work of cleaning a nasty baked casserole dish, fill it with hot water and add a fabric-softening dryer sheet to the water. Let it soak for a while. The gunk will just slide out. You can even get extra mileage from a sheet that has already gone through a dryer cycle if you use this product with your laundry. Just make sure that when it’s time to dump the water and tidy up the dish, that dryer sheet doesn’t go down the garbage disposal! That would create an even worse problem. Trust me.
It’s important to disinfect cutting boards and countertops, especially when working with poultry and meat products. Instead of buying expensive kitchen disinfectants, make your own. Combine 1/2 teaspoon liquid chlorine bleach with 1 quart of water. Dispense from a clean spray bottle. Flood the food-cutting surface with the solution. Allow to stand several minutes, then wash and rinse. More bleach is not better. This is the perfect ratio of bleach to water to kill bacteria and not leave bleach spots on kitchen linens.
There’s nothing so stubborn as makeup stains on white face cloths. You can remove them easily and cheaply with Fels-Naptha laundry bar soap, which is available in the laundry aisle of most grocery stores. It works like magic. Simply wet a corner of the bar and rub it on the stain. Launder as usual. A bar of Fels-Naptha will last for years in your laundry room.
Use WD-40 (available in any home improvement store or the automotive aisle of a discount department store) to clean dry-erase markings from a whiteboard. It works very well and leaves no dry-erase “ghosts.”
CLEAN OVEN RACK
An excellent way to clean oven racks is to put them in a large plastic garbage bag, throw in a cup of ammonia and tightly seal the bag. Let the racks sit overnight. The burned-on gunk cleans up easily in the morning. Just make sure you place the bag in a ventilated area and on a floor that cannot be damaged, such as out back or in the garage with open windows.
If you have a particularly dirty job to do — such as cleaning the outdoor grill, taking down dirty window screens or hosing down the patio furniture — make yourself a disposable apron to spare your good ones. Take a large garbage bag, cut holes for your head and arms and slip it over your clothes. You may look a little weird, but you’ll protect your clothes and save yourself a lot of time and trouble later.
Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, ”Ask Mary.” Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”