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9 'Why Didn't I Think of That?' Cleaning Hacks

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We’ve partnered with Miele to share savvy tips and tricks that’ll help keep your entire home spotless...without putting any extra strain on your schedule.

While I love a tidy living space, I’ve never been crazy about the actual act of cleaning. Having an organized, nice-smelling home can be one of life’s great joys...but the part where you get on your knees to scrub the toilet? Decidedly un-joyful.

So over the years, I’ve come up with a few ways to effectively deal with dirt and grime without working too hard. If, like me, you prefer maximum cleanliness with minimal effort (welcome to the club!), check out my nine best tips below.

That cutting board will be smelling lemony-fresh in no time.
That cutting board will be smelling lemony-fresh in no time. Photo by James Ransom

Use a lemon to scour wooden butcher blocks and cutting boards.

Want to clean your wooden cutting boards, but don’t love the idea of using soap or other harsh, store-bought products? You can scrub the board using half a lemon (cut side down) and some coarse kosher salt. Let the lemon juice and salt sit for a few minutes, then wipe or scrape off the remaining mixture. It doesn’t have to be a brand-new lemon half, either—a mostly squeezed half leftover from a recipe will work just fine.

Put on rubber gloves to clean up pet hair.

If your furry friend likes to shed all over your furniture, a nice quick fix is to put on a pair of rubber gloves and run your hands over the upholstery (this can also work on the inside of your car). The fur will stick to the gloves. To get it off the gloves, submerge them in a sink full of water — the hair should come loose and float to the surface. If there's a decent amount of your pup’s hair on the furniture, the best solution is to pull out the vacuum and use the upholstery tool to get rid of it—at least for a little while.

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Dispel fridge odors with newspaper.

One peril of a fully stocked fridge: It will occasionally smell like old food, or maybe those leftovers you forgot about. The secret: newspaper or baking soda. Line your produce drawers with newspaper, which will absorb any stink. Or just open up a box of baking soda and pop it in the fridge, where it will neutralize smells; baking soda reacts with odor-causing compounds to make them less volatile, meaning less stinky. This way, the odor of that salmon you meal-prepped on Sunday won’t permeate into everything else you’re storing.

DIY an easy carpet deodorizer with baking soda and essential oils.

Once your home is clean, keep it smelling fresh with this simple recipe. Mix four tablespoons of baking soda with five to 15 drops of the essential oil of your choice (you can experiment with adding different amounts of essential oils to figure out the scent strength that works best for you). Shake the mixture together in a jar, then sprinkle it over clean carpets. Leave it to sit for an hour, then vacuum up the mixture and bask in your fresh-smelling space.

These tips—plus Miele's HomeCare Collection—make clean up a breeze.
These tips—plus Miele's HomeCare Collection—make clean up a breeze. Photo by James Ransom

Get rid of water stains using vinegar.

I do a lot of thinking in the shower, which means gazing into space...and noticing annoying water stains on the shower head and stainless steel taps. Turns out regular old white distilled vinegar clears these right up. Put some vinegar in a plastic bag, submerge the shower head in it, and tie the bag around the shower head using a rubber band, tape, or string. Leave it there for a few hours, and voila! Give it a quick rinse in water, polish with a paper towel or cleaning rag, and no more water stains.

Use a simple attachment to de-grime your air vents.

Because I have allergies, I regularly clean my air vents and AC filters (apparently pollen can accumulate in the mesh panels, causing many a sneeze attack). The absolute easiest way to get it done? Pop a dusting brush attachment onto your vacuum cleaner and suck out all the dust and other detritus that naturally accumulates there.

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Hack those hard-to-dust spots.

Dusting certain household items can be a pain, especially if you are allergic to dust in the first place. So instead of dusting with a brush and then breathing in all sorts of irritating particles, try using a lint roller. This may not be a feasible method for cleaning every surface in your home, but it’s a quick and easy solution for those finicky spots like window blinds or lamp shades. (And guess what? If you've already got your vacuum out to clean off those AC vents, the dusting brush attachment gets you the same result here, too.)

Use tea (yes, tea!) to clean wooden floors.

If you have hardwood floors, try cleaning them with a black tea mixture—the tannins in the tea can give the floor a gentle sheen, and it’s a cheap, non-toxic cleaning method. Bonus: apparently the compounds in black teas can help inhibit microbial growth! You don’t want to use too much tea, though, especially if you have light-colored wood floors—the tea could stain the finish. (And if your floors are super-light, this might not be the right method for you.) Boil four to six cups of water, and steep two bags of black tea in them for about 10 minutes. Remove the teabags and allow the mixture to cool, then use the mixture to clean your floors using a mop or cleaning pad.

Keep your microwave spotless using the power of steam.

Something I rigorously avoid doing is cleaning my microwave. What soup splatters? I don’t see any popcorn butter! But alas, it has to get done. My go-to trick: Put equal parts water and vinegar (one cup of each should do it) in a microwave-safe bowl and nuke it on high for two to three minutes to loosen up any stains. Then wait a bit for it to cool before wiping down the inside of the microwave with a clean paper towel or cleaning rag; the gunk wipes right away.

Do you have any home cleaning hacks that you swear by? Share them in the comments below!

Want to try your hand at these hacks, but lack the necessary equipment? Check out the Miele HomeCare Collection to find the vacuum that is best suited for your needs.

Tags: Home Hacks