Food52 in 5

Speedy, DIY Concoctions For a Spotless Home

February 16, 2018

What can you do with just 5 minutes? Actually, way more than you think. Check out Food52 in 5—our list of 5-minute recipes, mini projects, and joyful moments—for more.

If you find yourself with five minutes (I know, you’re busy, it’s hard) why not whisk together a helpful, homemade cleaning solution, and knock one small cleaning task off your chore list? The goal is mixes that smell good and clean well, made from stuff you’ve probably already got lying around the house. A few can be made in batches and used for the next few weeks, while others are for mixing and cleaning on the spot. All of them come together with just a few pours, shakes, or sprays—little assembly required.

Here are some solutions to get you started:

Basic Wood Cleaner: Combine ½ cup lemon juice, ¼ cup water, ½ teaspoon detergent or soap, and a few drops olive oil. The ingredients come together easily and, because of the lemon, smell like traditional wood cleaners. They'll leave your surfaces nicely bright and shiny. Shake them together in a jar or spray bottle, then store for future use.

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Window Washer’s Dream: Whip together a solution that’ll have your windows streak-free. Dissolve ¼ teaspoon washing soda (found in most cleaning aisles) in ½ cup hot water. Mix the two in a spray bottle and combine with ¼ teaspoon liquid soap or detergent. When you’re ready to get cleaning, combine your mix with 2 cups club soda—it’s important to only add in this ingredient once you’re good to go. Otherwise you’ll lose those precious bubbles. Spray down those windows and swipe away with a rag. Newspaper works, too!

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Top Comment:
“A word of caution— I’ve had trouble in the past having metal in my kitchen (oven handle, drawer pulls, faucet) rust due to using vinegar that wasn’t diluted enough. ”
— Stephanie

Toilet Bowl Sizzler: Pour ½ cup baking soda and ½ cup vinegar into your toilet bowl. The two will fizz…a lot. Don’t fret. Let the reaction subside, then give it a good scrub and a flush. Your bowl should look a lot brighter.

Stubborn Stove Top Solution: If you’ve got a stove top that’s prone to grimy buildup, then peel any citrus of your choice and pack a jar with the peels. (Feel free to mix and match oranges, lemons, and so on.) Fill the jar with distilled white vinegar. Let the two mingle for two weeks, then strain out the peels and mix the infused vinegar with equal parts water and get scrubbing. This should do the trick!

Stainless Steel Shiner: To get stainless steel streak-free, grab some distilled white vinegar and a soft cloth. Start by determining which direction the grain of your steel runs, then spray with vinegar and rub in the direction of the grain. Once you’re finished, dip the cloth into a bit of mineral or olive oil and give the surface a second rub. Shiny and new!

Do you have any DIY cleaning tricks? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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  • Stephanie
  • Yvonne Duvall
    Yvonne Duvall
Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.


Stephanie March 6, 2018
A word of caution— I’ve had trouble in the past having metal in my kitchen (oven handle, drawer pulls, faucet) rust due to using vinegar that wasn’t diluted enough.
Yvonne D. February 27, 2018
To get stainless steel looking like new, I mix cream of tartar and white vinegar into a paste, rub it on with a soft cloth with the grain of the metal, let it dry, and rinse with a cloth dampened with vinegar. I noticed little rust spots on my SS fridge - appliance SS is not typically high-grade - but got them off with some scrubbing. This also removes the film that gets on anything in a working kitchen and any condensation trails. For everyday cleanup, plain white vinegar works fine.