75 Space Saving and Cleaning Tips to Make Life Easier
If your place is a mess, check out some space saving and cleaning tips to make life easier. Put those presents away and clean that tinsel.
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Bathroom Shelving Unit
In a small bathroom, every single square inch counts. These space-saving shelves make the most of wall space by going vertical. The version shown here, made of cherry, cost about $100. But you can build one for $50 or less if you choose a more economical wood like oak or pine. All you need is a 6-ft. 1x4, a 6-ft. 1x6 and a 6-ft. 1x8. Find out how to build it.
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Spice Shelf Inside Cabinet
This in-cabinet spice shelf puts small containers at eye level and still leaves room in the cabinet for tall items. The materials will cost you less than $10. See how to build a spice shelf inside a cabinet.
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Cabinet Door Message Board
A sheet of metal and a dry-erase board can turn any cabinet door into a convenient message center. Learn how to make a message board inside a cabinet.
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Cutting Board Rack
You can make this nifty, inexpensive rack and mount it inside a cabinet door to stash your cutting board out of sight. It goes together in a snap. Check out how to get it done.
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Magnetic Office Supplies Holder
Organize your small office supplies in this great-looking holder. Here's a perfect way to organize all those paper clips, rubber bands and pushpins. All it takes is a magnetic knife/tool holder strip, small jars with lids and a few fender washers. Check out the complete plans for a magnetic office supplies holder.
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Tie, Scarf and Belt Organizer
Customize this organizer to suit your accessories. Clean up a messy closet by hanging your ties, belts and scarves on our 3-in-1 closet organizer! Find out how to clean up your closet with this organizer.
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Skinny Laundry Room Cart
A lot of laundry rooms have a narrow wasted space either next to or between the washing machine and dryer, and it's usually a hideout for socks and lint. To take advantage of this space and organize your laundry room, build a simple plywood laundry room cart on fixed casters to hold detergents and other laundry supplies.
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Above Door Shelf
The space above a doorway is an overlooked storage bonanza! It's the perfect spot for towels, blankets or a small suitcase. Consider adding a shelf or cubby over the doorway, as long as it's okay with your dorm's management.
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Turn-of-the-century office supply holder
It's easy to find stuff stored in jars. Screw hose clamps to a board and mount it on the wall in your home office. Secure mason jars in the hose clamps to create clever storage for office supplies such as stamps, paper clips and string. The clear jars let you immediately see where everything is. This is also a great idea for bathrooms and workshops.
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Hang Spray Bottles Under the Sink
Hang spray bottles from a rod to keep them upright. It can be hard to keep spray bottles from falling over and making a mess under your bathroom and kitchen sink. To keep them upright, hang them from a short tension rod (about $12 at discount stores) in your cabinet.
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Put a Lazy Susan in Your Fridge
A lazy Susan in your fridge keeps small items close at hand. If your refrigerator door shelves are filled with salad dressing and mustard and the rest of the condiments get lost behind leftovers on the top shelf. Keep everything in plain view by storing overflow condiments on a lazy Susan on one of your fridge shelves. One spin and that small jar of capers will be a cinch to spot. See why you should put a lazy Susan in the workshop, too.
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Single Folding Hanger Rod
Folding hanger rods collapse against the wall when they're not in use, saving valuable space in tiny rooms. They're great for wet clothes and hunting gear. The Arrow Hanger single and double-hanger versions shown (about $15 and $39) are available at amazon.com.
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Use a Bookshelf
Here's a clever IKEA hack that uses an IKEA bookshelf in the closet for extra storage. Try using multiple bookcases if you have the space to store items such as bags, shoes and folded clothing. Photo: Courtesy of Ikeahackers
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Add-On Clothes Rod
Here's an easy way to add space for hanging clothes (or at least clothes that don't require a tall space). Hang a second clothes rod from the upper rod with lightweight chain. Attach the chain to screw eyes directly or use S-hooks or carabiners. Carabiners make adjusting the height of the extra rod a snap.
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Don't throw those cardboard wine dividers in the recycling bin just yet! If you struggle to keep shoes organized in your child's closet, try inserting those dividers into a basket or tub and use it as a clever DIY shoe storage solution.
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Clothing Storage Solutions: Turn Your Hangers
Once you're gone through your closet and weeded out the unused items, turn all hanging clothing with the hanger facing outward. After wearing an item, return it to the hanging rod with the hanger facing the back of the closet. After one year, all articles of clothing still facing outwards were not worn, and you can consider getting rid of them. Find out how to get rid of anything.
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Wire pantry shelves aren't just for pantries. They're perfect for any wall where full-depth shelves won't fit: garages, laundry rooms, utility rooms, etc. The perfect space-saving shelves solution. Need more room for your stuff in general? Here are simple storage solutions for small spaces.
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Keep everything you need within arm's reach. This clever IKEA hack couch caddy can hold your remote, a beverage and a magazine or newspaper. Find instructions at instructables.com.
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Nesting tables work great for small spaces and cutting clutter. Use them as an end table and set a lamp on top, then pull out the shorter tables when you need more tables for guests.
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Baskets and Ottomans
Some well-placed baskets and ottomans will help organize your living room. Store blankets, toys, crafting supplies, movies and even books inside.
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Use a Tablecloth
Hide items you don't want out all the time with a tablecloth. Just place the cloth over an end table and store items in storage bins or baskets underneath. This is a great storage space for craft items you work on while watching television.
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You know those old fruit crates you see at resale and vintage shops? Use them to your advantage! Organize your living room by painting or staining them and then stack them up and use them to store books and pillows, and place a lamp or two on top.
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DIY Sofa Arm Table
Looking for a simple woodworking project? Try this DIY sofa arm table. You'll need some pine boards, wood glue, pocket screws and some stain or paint.
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Try creating a floor-to-ceiling bookcase, then place furniture in front of the bookcase. This will help organize your living room and give you more room to store books, movies, and lots of other small items. You can use bins to store toys on the lower shelves.
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Try making a shelf that runs between your couch and the wall. That space can be used as a spot to place a lamp or plants and store the remotes, books and candles.
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Dorm Room Spinning Storage Unit
Reader Michael Kirby created this spinning storage unit out of necessity for his daughter, who is a dorm-dwelling college student. Space is at a premium for his daughter, so this storage unit features four hardworking sides - cubbies with bins, small shelves, a full-length mirror and a magnetic board for hanging photos. Plus, the unit spins on a turntable, which is genius!
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New Use for Old Cabinets
Reader Janet Johnson turned two secondhand kitchen cabinets into one tall and trendy bathroom cabinet.
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Pallet Wine Rack
Here's a simple woodworking project on how to build a wine rack — use some old pallet wood to make a wine rack. The rack would make a great addition to an outdoor patio area.
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Turn those old dresser or nightstand drawers into a bookshelf. This DIY repurposed bookshelf is made from two drawers hung on the wall.
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Stuffed Animal Storage
All those stuffed animals can be difficult to keep corralled. Try cleaning up an old plant hanger, painting it and hanging it in your child's room to keep the animals off the floor.
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Trunk Coffee Table
Grandma's old storage trunk may make a nice coffee table with added storage for your living room. Try adding some short legs or wheels for a little height. Photo: Courtesy of mampics
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Next time you see old window shutters at the resale shop, pick one up. Screw on some small baskets and use it as a seasonal decoration or to store items such as garlic, onions and potatoes in your pantry.
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Ladder Pot Rack
Storing pots and pans can be a challenge because they are bulky and take up a lot of space. Use an old ladder or even a wheel to hang pots from your kitchen ceiling.
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Dresser to Bench
This tired, old dresser was turned into a sleek bench complete with plenty of storage by a clever DIYer. This bench would work well in an entryway or mudroom. See the transformation at myrepurposedlife.com.
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Repurpose an old window and attach a board to the bottom to create a one-of-a-kind display shelf. This project cost about $30 for the materials and took less than two hours.
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Light-Duty Extension Cord Storage
To keep light-duty extension cords organized, slide them into toilet paper or paper towel tubes. Write the length of the cord on the tubes before you put them in a drawer or bin. You'll be able to find the right cord easily with this extension cord storage hack, plus you've made good use of the tubes. Check out these other cardboard tube hacks.
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Storage Tips for Bulky Items
Extra-large Ziploc bags (about $2 each at home centers and online) are great for storing camping gear, patio cushions and out-of-season clothes. Here's a slick trick for getting all the air out of the bag before you seal it. Put your items inside and push out all the air you can by hand. Then seal the bag but leave an opening large enough to fit a drinking straw. Use the straw to suck out the remaining air and then finish sealing the bag.
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Belt and Other Hang-Ups
Where do you store your belts? How about on this inexpensive and easy-to-make belt holder? All you need is a wooden hanger and some cup hooks. If some of your belts have unusually thick buckles, just widen the cup hook slightly with a needle-nose pliers. This is a great way to hang small handbags, too. We also have tons of storage ideas for the kitchen.
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Musical Instrument Storage
If you occasionally put your hammer down to strum a guitar or banjo, you know how tricky it can be to store them. Floor stands are pricey and they leave your instrument accessible to curious children, rambunctious pets and people who can't carry a tune. It's a better idea to hang your instruments on the wall, but instrument wall hangers cost $20 a pop. Instead of hitting the music store, hit the home center. Plastic-coated utility hooks will hold most instruments at a fraction of the cost ($2 to $4), and they're just as tough. A musical instrument is never something you want to store in your car, find out the other eight things you need to keep out of the car.
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Behind the Door Storage: Closet Glove Rack
If you don't have radiators, finding a good spot to dry wet hats and mittens can be tough. Tossing them into a plastic bin gets them out of the way, but they never dry and it's no fun putting on damp mittens in the morning. This simple back-of-the-door glove and cap rack allows wet things to dry and keeps easily misplaced items organized. Just string clothespins on aluminum wire (it won't rust) and stretch it between screw eyes on the back of a closet door. This also works great out in the garage for drying garden and work gloves. Make your own mitten drying rack with these inspirational ideas.
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Basement Junk Storage
OK, maybe junk is too harsh a word. We're talking about luggage, camping gear, the ugly vase Aunt Martha gave you for your wedding—stuff you need to keep but don't use all the time. If your house has a set of stairs with a sloped closet underneath, you have a huge amount of space that's mostly wasted. Here's how to get the most out of that black hole. Build a custom rolling cart that fits perfectly in the closet. This one is built like a shelf unit and rides on fixed casters so it slides straight out to keep things organized and accessible. When Aunt Martha comes to visit, just roll it out, grab the vase and you're golden. Take a look around and see what you can throw out before tossing it in storage.
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Clean the Exhaust Fan
If the grille on your bathroom exhaust fan is clogged with dust, try a trick that's faster and more effective than vacuuming. Here's how to clean a bathroom fan: Turn on the fan and blast out the dust with "canned air." The fan will blow the dust outside. This works on the return air grilles of your central heating/cooling system too. Run the system so that the return airflow will carry the dust to the filter. You'll find canned air at home centers and hardware stores, usually in the electrical supplies aisle. Caution: The cans contain chemical propellants, not just air. Don't let children play with them.
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Ditch Your Carpeting
In most homes, carpet is by far the biggest dust reservoir. It's a huge source of fibers and absorbs dust like a giant sponge. Even the padding underneath holds dust, which goes airborne with each footstep. Although ripping out your wall-to-wall carpet may sound radical, it's the best thing you can do if you suffer from serious allergies. For how to remove dust from air the best thing you can do is to replace carpeting with hard floorings like laminate, wood or tile, and wet mop it regularly (with a microfiber cloth) instead of sweeping. Sweeping is more likely to stir up dust than to remove it. Keeping it? Here are some carpet cleaning tips for long-lasting carpet.
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Dust with Your Dryer
Blankets, pillows, slipcovers, drapes and other textiles not only trap household dust, but they create it as they shed and disintegrate. Curtains and drapes, in particular, get dusty because they absorb moisture and dirt from the outside and act as a landing pad for dust from ceiling fans and air vents. The best idea for how to clean dust is to buy machine-washable items and launder them twice a year (OK, at least once). For non-machine-washable textiles, throw them in the dryer on the air-fluff setting (no heat) for 20 minutes with a damp towel. The damp towel will attract pet hair, and the tumbling movement and airflow will remove the smaller particles for you.
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Synthetic Soap Simplifies Bathroom Cleaning
In terms of chemistry, some soaps aren't really true soap. Any soap in a liquid or gel form and some bar soaps, such as Zest and Ivory, are synthetic soap. These non-soap soaps are much less likely to form that dreaded layer of tough scum on your sink or tub and will allow you to clean house fast. Learn more about the best cleaning supplies for your home.
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Buff Off Heavy Grime
If you have glass shower doors in your bathroom and don't keep on top of the cleaning, you can end up with soap scum so tough that it's nearly impossible to remove. Here's how to clean your bathroom better — bring out the heavy equipment. Pick up some polishing compound at a home center or an auto parts store and use an auto buffer to polish off the offending scum. If you don't own a buffer, you can buy one for as little as $20 or borrow one from a gearhead friend. If possible, remove the doors and take them out to the garage to avoid messing up the bathroom. Find out why brass polish is the surefire method to cleaning glass scratches.
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Duster for the Vertically Challenged
Unless you play in the NBA, dusting ceiling fans and other high, out-of-reach objects is a real chore. Wrap a dryer sheet around a clean painting roller and secure the ends with rubber bands. Attach an extension handle to the roller and dust away for the fastest way to clean your home.
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Clean Grout with a Bleach Pen
Associate editor Elisa Bernick recommends using a bleach pen to transform your grout from grungy to great. This method is tedious, but the payoff is crisp, clean grout lines. Use the pen to 'draw' bleach across the grout lines. The pen allows you to target the grout without getting bleach all over the tile. Wait 10 minutes and then rinse. For really mildewed grout, you may need a second application, and it can help to gently scrub the bleach into the grout with a toothbrush before allowing it to work for 10 minutes. Make sure to run the fan in the bathroom and to avoid skin contact. This method is best for light or white grout. If you have colored grout, test a small area first. It might fade. Instead of trying to find a bleach pen at the store, the cleaning solution to grout might already be in the bathroom.
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Clean with Microfiber Products
Microfiber products attract and hold dust with an electrostatic charge which make them one of the best tools for how to clean dust. Microfiber cloths are unlike dry rags and feather dusters, which just spread dust around. Machine washable microfiber products can save you money over disposable brands because you can use them over and over. Just make sure to let them air dry (so they'll stay soft), and don't use bleach or fabric softener, which degrades the fibers and reduces their ability to attract and hold dust. Microfiber dusting tools for blinds, ceiling fans, floors and general cleaning are available online and at many stores. Buy your microfiber cloths in the automotive section. 'Cleaning' and 'detailing' towels are the same as 'dusting' cloths, and they're often a lot cheaper. Get Microfiber Cloths on Amazon.
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Make Your Own Greener Cleaning Solution
Professional housecleaner Maggie Orth likes to make her own cleaning products. Here's her recipe for an all-purpose cleaning solution, modified from a recipe she found in the book Clean House, Clean Planet by Karen Logan. In a 5-quart bucket, mix: 1 cup of distilled vinegar, 3 tablespoons of borax, 1 gallon of hot water and 1/2 cup of soap (Maggie uses Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds). Maggie likes to add 10 or 15 drops of tea tree, lavender or lemon oil for a nice fragrance. Mix the ingredients and then pour some of the mixture into a spray bottle. Save the rest in a gallon jug. This is enough all-purpose cleaner to last for years! Use this mixture to clean tile, countertops and painted woodwork. It's a good all-purpose cleaner, but it's not the best for cleaning glass. Maggie uses club soda to clean glass. Sometimes home remedies are great at keeping pests out of the garden as well.
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Put your car-washing sponge inside a pair of old pantyhose for a great nonabrasive, paint-friendly scrubber. The threads act like thousands of little scrapers that rub off insects and gunk with every swipe. Get more car cleaning tips and tricks to speed up the whole process.
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Clean a Sluggish Toilet
If your toilet flushes slowly, the rinse holes under the rim may be clogged with mineral deposits. (Get a refresher on the parts of a toilet.) Use a hand mirror to see the holes under the rim of the toilet. Bend a coat hanger flat and probe the tip into the holes to poke out any deposits. You can clean out those clogged holes without ever getting your hands dirty.
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Easier Bottle Cleaning
Clean those narrow-necked jars and vases with small gravel (aquarium gravel works the best). Fill one-third of the jar with water. Add a handful of gravel, and then stir and shake the jar. The gravel will scour the inside of the jar clean. Dump the gravel into a strainer, give it a quick rinse (so it doesn't stink!) and save it for next time. You'll wonder why you didn't think of that yourself!
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Vacuum First, Then Scrub
Do you ever find yourself chasing strands of wet hair or running into dust balls in the corners with your sponge or cleaning rag? You can learn how to clean your bathroom better and eliminate this nuisance by vacuuming the bathroom before you get out your cleaning solutions. For a really thorough cleaning, start at the top, vacuuming the dust from light fixtures and the top of window casings. Then work your way down. And finally, vacuum the floor methodically so you cover every inch. You don't want to leave any stray hair or dust bunnies to muck up your cleaning water. A soft-bristle upholstery brush works best for this type of vacuuming. Figure out what vacuum to use here.
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Protect Your Shower Doors from Mineral Buildup
When the beads of water left on your glass shower door dry out, they leave minerals behind that are at best unsightly, and at worst can be tough as nails to remove if you let them build up. You can avoid beading water altogether by coating the glass with an auto-glass treatment. Two brands are Aquapel and Rain-X. Follow the instructions on the package to apply the treatment to your shower door glass. You can buy Aquapel or find a local dealer online. You'll find Rain-X at any auto parts store. Let a showerhead amaze you with the comfort it can provide and check out 10 showerheads for a better shower experience.
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Trash Can Cleanup
Try using a liquid toilet bowl cleaner to wash the inside of a dirty trash can. It will cling to the sides for better cleaning. A toilet brush will help you reach down inside. Rinse well for a clean can. Get rid of a lot of trash after a project in one fell swoop with one giant bag.
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Clean Your Bagless Vacuum Filter
'Bagless vacuums are good for business,' according to one vacuum repairman. The problem isn't design or manufacturing but user negligence. Vacuum owners empty the dirt canister but often don't clean the filters. Plugged filters lead to an overworked motor. And sooner or later, the motor burns out. Motor replacement costs at least $100. People avoid cleaning filters because it's a messy job. The typical method is to tap the filter against the inside of a trash can until most of the dust falls off. But this raises a thick cloud of dust and doesn't get the filter completely clean. Here's a faster, neater, more thorough approach: Take the vacuum out to the garage and clean the pleated filter with a shop vacuum. Some pleated filters have a special coating that you can damage, so be gentle with the shop vacuum nozzle. Clean prefilter screens and post-filters the same way. Learn what the experts say on how often to change filters on bagless vacuums.
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Citrus Peels and Ice Cubes for a Stinky Disposer
If your disposer has developed an odor, it may contain bits of rotted food. Here's how to clean them out:
- With the water running at about half throttle, drop in orange or lemon peels. Run the disposer for five seconds. Citric acid from the peels softens crusty waste and attacks smelly bacteria. Give the acid about 15 minutes to do its work.
- Turn on the water and the disposer and drop in a few ice cubes. Flying shards of ice work like a sandblaster inside the disposer.
- Run the water until the bowl is about half full. Then pull the stopper and turn on the disposer to flush it out.
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Flashlight Glass Finder
Cleaning up broken glass is a real pain, but it's nothing compared with a glass shard in the foot. Get a flashlight and turn off the overhead lights. Scan the floor with the flashlight from a low angle and the shards will glisten, making even the littlest piece stand out. Besides being an all-time great Parliament song, a glow-in-the-dark flashlight might be a light saver in a blackout.
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A PVC pipe connected to a vacuum hose lets you reach up to high spots or into narrow crannies, so you can suck up those cobwebs around skylights or exterminate dust bunnies behind radiators. A 10-ft. piece of PVC pipe is inexpensive. Here's another vacuum attachment hack. In the plumbing aisle, you'll also find PVC and rubber 'reducer' couplings that let you connect your vacuum hose to a different-size pipe.
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Beat the Dust out of Cushions
Upholstery absorbs lots of dust?and then sends it airborne every time you sit down. Routine vacuuming reduces the problem, but can't suck out the deep-down dust. So take cushions outside a couple times each year, preferably on a windy day, and spank the dust out of them. An old tennis racket makes a great upholstery beater (and improves your swing)
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Renew Wood with Mineral Spirits
If the finish on your furniture or woodwork is dull and murky, it may need refinishing. But before you take on that project, take a tip from furniture restorers and clean it with mineral spirits. Mineral spirits—sometimes labeled "paint thinner"—is a gentle solvent that dissolves years of grime and residue from cleaners or polishes without harming wood finishes. Get it at a home center or paint store. Just soak a soft cloth and keep rubbing until the cloth no longer picks up grime. Work in a well-ventilated area and remember that the fumes are flammable. Hang the cloth outdoors to dry before throwing it in the trash.
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Remove Pet Hair with Duct Tape
That's right. We've found another use for duct tape—cleaning. The stickiness of duct tape makes it perfect for a makeshift pet hair remover and this method is faster than vacuuming. It also works on seats in vehicles. A sponge or cloth wrapped with duct tape works great for getting into corners. Wrap duct tape around a paint roller cover, sticky side out. Roll the paint cover over furniture or carpet to pick up the pet hair. Add more tape as the surface gets full of hair. Once you're done removing hair, learn how to clean a microfiber couch here. Plus: Kitchen Cleaning Checklist: 11 Tips for a Clean Kitchen
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It's easy to clean baked-on food and spills from your microwave Here's how: Partially fill a measuring or coffee cup with water and add a slice of lemon. Boil the water for a minute, and then leave the door closed and let the steam loosen the mess. After 10 minutes, open the door and wipe away the grime. Plus: Best Household Cleaning Supplies & Products
Originally Published: May 14, 2019