30 Nearly Forgotten House Cleaning Tips from the Past

Grandma knows all the best cleaning tips and tricks to save you time, money and effort. You'll want to stock up on vinegar and lemon juice.

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Cleaning tips - cloves and cinnamon
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No more moths

There are plenty of ways to keep moths away from your clothes without introducing potentially toxic chemicals into your home. Reader Mrs. T. Peterson of Knife River, Minnesota says, “Make your own mothballs by mixing oil of cloves and oil of cinnamon, then soaking cotton balls in this mixture. Place the cotton balls in muslin bags and hang them in your closets.”

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Cleaning tips from the past - fresh mint
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Minty fresh

It’s easy to forget after a long, cold winter, but the warmer temperatures in spring and summer can sometimes cause garbage cans to give off an unpleasant odour. Reader Michael Sienkowski of Norwich, Connecticut, says, “If you grow mint, cut a fresh sprig and place it in the garbage can every day. It keeps the can smelling fresh all season long.”

Find out more brilliant hacks to get rid of household odours.

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Cleaning tips - turning on dishwasher
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Wash away dust

Air vent covers are a hidden dirty spot in your home. Marge Grandy of Flippin, Arkansas, says, “I run all my metal heat and air conditioning vent covers through the dishwasher every spring and fall. It saves lots of time and does a better job than doing it by hand.”

Discover more genius dishwasher hacks.

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Cleaning tips - wood burning stove
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Homemade humidifier

If you use a wood-burning stove, you can make your own humidifier. Therese DeVlieger of Davis Junction, Illinois, says, “Fill an old coffee can two-thirds full of water. Add cinnamon sticks, cloves, and orange peel and place it on the stove. When the water gets hot, it gives off a pleasant scent and gives the home extra moisture.”

Here are 16 more ways to put coffee cans to work all around the house.

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Cooking recipe from cookbook
Motortion Films/Shutterstock.com

Keep cookbooks clean

Tired of splattering and spilling ingredients all over your cookbooks? Rosa Graber of Odon, Indiana, says, “Once you’ve turned to the page you want, slip the book inside a large plastic food storage bag to protect the pages.”

Find out how to clean absolutely everything in your kitchen, according to Charles the Butler of CTV’s The Marilyn Denis Show.

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Holding spray bottle in rubber gloves

DIY glass cleaner

Mildred Zuercher of White Bear Lake, Minnesota, says this homemade solution cleans windows, glass and mirrors. “Mix 2 ounces rubbing alcohol, 2 ounces of ammonia and 12 ounces of water. Add a drop of blue food colouring and mark it clearly to distinguish it from other cleaners. Pour into a spray bottle and use as you would a store-bought cleaner.”

Discover more uses for ammonia all around the house.

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Can of WD40 in workshop
Benedek Alpar/Shutterstock.com

Stop sticking

Tired of scraping stickers off of your new stuff? Herman Ensey of Scottsbluff, Nebraska says, “Remove sticky price tags from glass by spraying with WD-40. It works well.”

Here are more spring cleaning tips that are sure to come in handy.

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Vintage silverware

Polish your silver

Banish the tarnish with this simple solution from reader Lois Kreider of Lebanon, Pennsylvania. “Place silver in an aluminum pan or in your kitchen sink lined with aluminum foil. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of baking soda and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 10 to 12 minutes.

Here are more silver cleaning tricks that actually work.

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Showerhead with water flowing

Soak your shower head

To remove hard water buildup on your shower head, reader Jennie Krell, El Cajon, California says, “Pour some white distilled vinegar in a plastic bag and place it around the showerhead so the head is completely submerged. Tie the bag around the pipe and leave it overnight. You’ll find the showerhead will spray like new again in the morning.”

Here’s more great advice on how to clean a bathroom without using harsh chemicals.

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Handheld can opener

Open secret

When her handheld can opener gets grungy, Ruth Brennan of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, says she uses a toothbrush, hot water, and dishwashing detergent to clean it. “After cleaning, lubricate the opener with vegetable oil and set it aside for a while. Wipe off the excess oil and it will work like new.”

Pressed for time? You’ll love these quick spring cleaning tasks you can tackle in 60 seconds or less.

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HH Walnut fixes scratched wood
Photo: Family Handyman

A nutty solution

To colour-in nicks or scratches in furniture, cabinets, wood trim, etc., reader C. Clingingsmith of St. Bonifacius, Minnesota, says, “Rub them with a pecan nut. The oil of the nut will ‘re-stain’ the wood.”

Find out how to remove water stains from wood.

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Bottle of white vinegar
Yeti studio/Shutterstock.com

Get rid of glue

Reader Mary Yoder, Montezuma, Georgia, has a solution for sticky situations. “When you must remove a spot of glue, use vinegar. It’s a good glue thinner or remover.”

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Carbonated water with lemon slice

Fizzy flatware

Stainless steel lost its lustre? Pat Peters of Matteson, Illinois, says, “Place your flatware in a pan with bubbly carbonated water, soda water, club soda, or seltzer. Let set until the fizz has fizzled. Your stainless will shine like new!”

Discover more clever uses for club soda you’ll wish you’d known sooner.

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Wicker armchair
Maxim Blinkov/Shutterstock.com

Brush away dirt

Do you have a tough time cleaning wicker items? Reader Sherry Hearn of Trego Montana, says, “Just spray your favourite furniture polish onto an inexpensive paintbrush. It makes getting to the hard-to-reach spots easier and takes a lot less time.”

It’s time to bust these cleaning myths once and for all.

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Colourful crayons

Invisible ink

Don’t freak out when the kids’ artwork goes beyond the colouring book. Reader Claire Utt of Winfield, Kansas says, “Rubbing alcohol easily removes ink from clothing and crayon marks from woodwork and wallpaper.”

Here’s expert advice on how to clean the dirtiest items in your home.

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Peanut butter spoon

Gum be gone

To remove gum from fingers or hair, reader Mrs. V. Walston of Bedford, Iowa, says “Rub creamy peanut butter or vegetable oil into the gum. Wait a few minutes. The gum will come right off. Then wash your hands or hair as normal.”

Here are 25 more cleaning hacks for hard-to-remove stuff.

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Bar of soap

Handy soap

When your hands are dirty from yard work, reader Marjorie Little, Sarasota, Florida, has a great tip. “Tuck a bar of soap in the toe of a nylon stocking and tie it to your outdoor water faucet for fast garden cleanup.”

Now that you know what to do with those old nylon stockings, find out 50 more things worth repurposing around the house.

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Lemon juice cleaning
Joshua Resnick/Shutterstock.com

Clean up concrete

Perk up your patio with this suggestion from reader Ann Norstram of Clinton, Iowa. “Rust stains from outdoor furniture can be removed from concrete by using lemon juice and rubbing with a soft linen cloth.”

Discover more budget-friendly ways to boost your home’s curb appeal.

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Grilling in back yard

Grease-free grill

Keep your grill looking great. Nancy Merica of Ripley, West Virginia, says, “Lay a barbecue grill rack on the lawn overnight. The dew will combine with enzymes on the grass to loosen any burned-on grease. Try it with messy oven racks, too!”

Find out more great grilling tips from professional chefs.

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One striped sock

Sock duster

For dusting under furniture and hard-to-reach places, Deanna Thomas of Hollister, Missouri says, “I slip an old sock onto a fly swatter and sew it securely into place. It’s very handy.”

Find out more brilliant uses for old socks.

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Paint roller isolated

Wash those walls

Reader Milton Olson of Klaten, North Dakota, says, “Fill a paint roller with your favourite wall washing solution and use a clean paint roller to wash your walls. Rinse with clear water. It goes much more quickly than sponging.”

Find out which traditional cleaning tricks don’t actually work.

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Spraying hairspray
Zyn Chakrapong/Shutterstock.com

Wipe away hairspray

Don’t fret when you accidentally get hair spray on a mirror. Ann Peardot of Tomah, Wisconsin, says you make the glass spotless again by rubbing the mirror with a sponge or cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol.

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Kawin Ounprasertsuk/Shutterstock

So long, soap scum

To keep shower doors shiny and clear, Mildred Sherrer of Bay City, Texas says to use a soft cloth moistened with baby oil. “It prevents scum buildup from dirt and soap, and hard water spots won’t appear for several months.”

Follow our ultimate spring cleaning checklist to ensure your whole home is spic and span.

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aluminum foil tinfoil

Heavy-duty helper

Maureen Beaver of Sparta, Wisconsin says wadded up aluminum foil makes a great kitchen scrubber. Use it to tackle tough stains and baked-on food.

Here are 45 more aluminum foil hacks that’ll save you time, money and effort.

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Taste of Home

Breaking bread

If you break a plate while making a sandwich, grab some extra bread. Reader Carolyn Robinson of Lawrence, Mississippi says, “Clean up slivers of broken glass without hurting yourself by pressing a slice of fresh bread lightly over the area, then immediately disposing of it.”

Find out 13 things you should never vacuum.

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Bathroom garbage can

Wash the wastebasket

Clean two messes at once. Reader Marge Harold of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, says, “If you have a small plastic wastebasket in your bathroom, empty it and use it as a bucket when you clean your bathroom, so it gets cleaned, too.”

Find out why you should drill holes in your garbage cans.

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Using microwave

Steam away stains

To easily clean your microwave without chemicals, Mary Alice Warren of Waco, Texas says, “Place 1 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or baking soda in a bowl. Heat on high until the mixture boils. Let steam accumulate on the walls and door of the microwave. Remove the bowl and wipe down the interior.”

Here are the microwave problems you should never ignore.

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Vacuuming car interior

Cars and carpets

Eliminate stinky scents at home and on the road. Reader Sally Tilson of Davison, Michigan, says “Sprinkle baking soda on your car’s upholstery and carpeting before vacuuming to remove odours.”

Discover more car interior cleaning tips to refresh your ride.

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Ironing clothes with iron
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Freshly pressed

Give yourself an added incentive to finish the ironing. Reader Mrs. Harlin Jacoles of Foley Minnesota says, “Add a little witch hazel to the water in your steam iron. Your clothes will smell sweet and fresh.”

These brilliant laundry hacks make clothing care a total breeze.

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Shaving cream foam

DIY de-fogger

Shaving cream has more than one use in the bathroom. Mrs. Roy Lairmore of Beatrice, Nebraska says, “Your bathroom mirror won’t fog up if you clean it with canned shaving cream. It works on eyeglasses, too.”

Discover more cleaning hacks that take the hassle out of housekeeping.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

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