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34 Handy Hints to Make Spring Cleaning a Breeze

Let's just admit to ourselves that spring cleaning is a lot of work, so to make things flow a little bit better, check out these tricks that'll make this year's routine a breeze.

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HH keep an extra bag in the trashcanFamily Handyman

Keep Extra Bags in Your Garbage Can

Taking the garbage out can be an annoying chore if you have a ton of garbage cans all around the house. To make the job a bit easier, store a roll of garbage bags in each trashcan under the bag in use. This way you have a replacement bag right on hand any time you take the trash out.

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HH Handy Hint Vacuum cleaner nylons find lost itemsFamily Handyman

Find Your Lost Items

Everyone knows how frustrating it is when you can’t find something small like a dropped pill or the back of an earring. So how do you find these items quickly and easily? Use your vacuum. Here’s the trick; before you turn the vacuum on, cut off the end of a nylon and secure it on the end of your vacuum hose with a rubber band.

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HH Handy Hint broom wide tooth comb dust bunny dustpan hackFamily Handyman

Dust Bunny Broom Cleaner

Every time you sweep, clumps of dust and hair collect at the ends of the broom’s bristles. To solve this problem, hot glue a wide-tooth comb to the top of a dustpan. Just run the bristles through the comb to remove any excess gunk dangling from the broom.

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HH Steam clean oven wipe

Steam-Clean Your Oven

Traditional oven cleaners can contain some pretty nasty chemicals and create toxic fumes. A simple, more natural way for cleaning your oven is to place an oven-safe pot or bowl filled with water inside. Set your oven to 450 degrees for 20 to 60 minutes to loosen dirt and grease with the steam. Once your oven is cool, wipe off the condensation and the grease will come with it. If stubborn spots persist, scrub with a paste of baking soda and lemon or vinegar.

This steam-cleaning option doesn’t take as long as pyrolytic cleaning and doesn’t produce smoke, either. It’s a win-win!

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HH zip-tie sink clogFamily Handyman

Zip-Tie to the Rescue

When your bathroom sink gets clogged, don’t reach for chemicals as a bathroom sink cleaner. Instead, use a long zip tie to clean it out. Cut several notches on the zip-ties end and push it down the drain. The notches will hook the hair clog, allowing you to pull out the clog. The size of the eye of the zip tie prevented me from inadvertently pushing the tie past the stopper.

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cleaning blinds with kitchen tongs

Mini Blind Cleaning Tongs

Dusting mini blinds is a pain. It’s difficult to thoroughly wipe both sides of the slats without bending them in the process. A pair of kitchen tongs makes it a lot easier. First, cut a rag into two small pieces. Then use twist ties or rubber bands to secure the rags around the tongs. You can close the tongs around each slat and wipe away the dust.

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HH disinfect legos in dishwasherFamily Handyman

Easy Way to Disinfect Plastic Toys

Children’s toys are a breeding ground for germs. A dishwasher makes quick work of disinfecting toys that are washable, like Legos. Here’s how to quickly clean plastic toys:

  1. Put the toys in a mesh laundry bag to keep them contained.
  2. Start your dishwasher as usual.
  3. Remove the toys before the drying cycle starts.
  4. Let them air dry completely on a towel.

This method can also work well for other objects including seashells, dish brushes, rags, and sponges.

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toilet paper roll small cord storageFamily Handyman

Organize Small Cords with Toilet Paper Rolls

In today’s high-tech homes, keeping track of small cords can be challenging. Rather than tossing them in various drawers throughout your house, where they can get tangled or forgotten, try this simple and inexpensive solution.

  1. Find a small box (a shoebox works perfectly).
  2. Fill it with as many empty toilet paper rolls that will fit vertically.
  3. Then place a single cord in each toilet paper roll.

Next time you need one of your small cords, you’ll know where to find it, and it’ll be free of tangles!

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HH Hair Zip Clean Under FridgeFamily Handyman

Zip-It Clean!

The space between your fridge and the floor is a magnet for pet hair, dust, food crumbs and other small trinkets. And if gone too long without cleaning, it can attract ants and other pests.

To make this cleaning task less difficult, use a hair trap cleaner (also called a drain cleaning zip tool), which sells at home improvement stores for under $5. This hair trap won’t leave scratches on the floor and can reach further than a vacuum cleaner attachment. 

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HH Handy hint swiffer floor sweeper dryer sheetsFamily Handyman

Use Dryer Sheets to Clean Your Floors

Don’t throw away used dryer sheets. There’s another use for them. Wrap a couple of dryer sheets onto the flat head of a sweeper. The dryer sheets pick up dust and hair just as well as name-brand sweeper refills. Say goodbye to those dust bunnies!

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HH Cleaning with drill brushFamily Handyman

The Drill Brush

To make this drill brush you’ll need a drill, a washer, a bolt, a long machine screw and a brush head replacement.

  1. Start by threading the machine screw through the brush head so the head of the screw rests in the brush head hole.
  2. On the other side of the brush head, slide on the washer and secure it in place with a nut.
  3. Make sure to tighten it well with a wrench. However, do not over-tighten, as this may cause the plastic brush head to crack.
  4. Next, attach the scrubber head to the drill.

To clean, fill a bowl or bucket with hot water and dish soap (or the cleaning agent of your choice). Dip the power scrubber into the mixture just enough to saturate the bristles and do not submerge the drill! Now simply point and press the drill to start and let the drill brush do the work.

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HH Handy Hint toothbrush clean narrow necked containers humming bird feederFamily Handyman

Clean Hard-to-Reach Spots on Oddly Shaped Containers

If you own a hummingbird feeder or tall flower vase, you know how difficult it is to clean inside them. A toothbrush is perfect for cleaning those hard-to-reach places. So when your old toothbrush has retired from duty in your mouth, give it a new job!

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vacuum tight spots HHFamily Handyman

Vacuum Cleaner Spout Hack

Sometimes you need a little bit of creativity to deep-clean areas that are hard to reach. If you have a plastic squeeze top bottle, try fitting the tip onto your vacuum nozzle. If it fits, great, if not, there’s always tape. You’ll have a powerful machine to get rid of dirt and dust in even the tiniest of spaces, like a keyboard, headphone port or for detailing your car.

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HH blue painters tape dustpan broken glass

Effectively and Safely Sweep Up Glass

Everyone who has ever swept the floor with a standard broom and dustpan knows about that annoying line of dust. It’s the line that just won’t disappear no matter how many times you try and sweep it up. To get rid of this annoying line, simply tape the front of the dustpan to the floor with blue painter’s tape, so no residue will be left on the floor. It will seal and cover the gap between the floor and your pan.

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permanent marker HH vegetable oil removerFamily Handyman

Remove Permanent Marker Stain

Don’t worry, that permanent marker stain on your laminate countertop won’t be there forever!  Dab some cooking oil onto a paper towel and then lay the paper towel over the stain that refuses to budge. Wait a few minutes while the oil works to dissolve the stubborn stain. Finally, remove the towel and rub away the stain in circular motions (with some force) with another paper towel dipped in oil. When the stain is gone, wipe the area clean with soap and water.

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HH denture cleaning tablets clean coffee thermosFamily Handyman

Clean Your Coffee Mugs Once and For All

Got stubborn coffee stains on a pot, thermos or mug? Denture cleaner is the best solution we’ve ever found for these tough stains.

How to remove coffee stains from a mug or thermos:

  1. Dissolve one denture cleaning tablet per two cups of hot water.
  2. Pour it in the stained vessel and let it sit for several hours.
  3. Then use a scrub brush to clean off the stains and all the loosened bits.
  4. Pour the solution out and rinse thoroughly.
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HH Secure Your kitchen towels

No-Slip Kitchen Towels

Hanging a dish towel from an oven or dishwasher door makes sense. The towel is in a convenient location, and the oven’s warmth quickly gets rid of dampness. However, the one drawback with hanging your towels here is that they are constantly falling off!

Here’s a way to keep the towel from slipping off:

  1. Fold your towel into its desired form and attach Velcro strips in two spots, one on the front and one on the back.
  2. Stitch in place, or use fabric iron-on Velcro strips and follow the directions on the packaging.
  3. Finally, hang your towel from the oven or dishwasher door and match velcro ends together.
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HH soak burnt pan with dryer sheetsFamily Handyman

How to Clean a Burnt Pan

Have you ever cooked something and totally scorched the pan? The burnt remnants can seem impossible to clean. Dryer sheets and dish soap to the rescue!

To make it easier to wipe away the burnt-on grime, follow these simple steps:

  1. Fill the pan with hot water.
  2. Add a little dish soap and a couple of dryer sheets.
  3. Let it sit for an hour and wipe clean with a scrubbing pad.

Note: Once you’re done cleaning with the dryer sheet, use soap and water to wash the pan as usual.

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HH Handy hint garbage can deodorizer boraxFamily Handyman

Garbage Can Deodorizer

Borax, or sodium borate, is a naturally occurring substance and is an ingredient in many household cleaning products. If you have a smelly garbage can, deodorize it with equal parts borax and water. For our small garbage can, we used 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of borax. Let it soak and then rinse it out. Sprinkle some borax in the bottom once it’s dry, to keep bugs away and to absorb any future odor-causing moisture.

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HH clean sneakers with a toothbrush and toothpaste whiteFamily Handyman

Your Shoes Will Look New

All you need is an old toothbrush and a little toothpaste to learn how to clean sneakers and get your old sneakers looking like new! Non-gel white toothpaste works great for cleaning white-soled sneakers (colored toothpaste may stain rather than clean sneakers). Apply toothpaste to an old toothbrush and then work the paste into the dirty spots. Leave the toothpaste on the shoes for about ten minutes, and then wipe it off with a damp towel. Repeat the process if necessary.

Note: The ingredients in toothpaste may vary from brand to brand, so make sure to try this method on a small unnoticeable spot on your sneakers before applying it to the rest of the shoe.

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HH ice remove gum stuck in carpetFamily Handyman

How to Remove Gum from Carpet

When gum freezes, it gets brittle and easily breaks apart. So, if you have gum stuck in your carpet, freeze it to remove it quickly and neatly.

  1. Place a sandwich bag filled with ice cubes on top of the gum and wait about a half-hour.
  2. When the gum is frozen, break it apart and pull it out of the carpet. No trace left behind.
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HH Handy Hint DIY dish scrubber mason jarFamily Handyman

DIY Mason Jar Dish Scrubber

If you are all about ease and convenience when it comes to washing the dishes, check out this DIY Mason jar dish scrubber. It even has a soap-dispensing handle. First, punch a few nail holes in the jar’s lid. Trace the lid onto a sponge and cut it out. Hot glue the sponge to the inner rim of the screw-on part of the lid. Fill the jar with soap, screw on the sponge and you’re set!

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HH Handy Hint fog free mirror car waxFamily Handyman

Fog-Free Mirrors 

Prevent your bathroom mirror from fogging up after a hot shower with car wax. Apply a small amount of car wax to the mirror, let it dry, then buff with a soft, dry cloth.

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HH Tension rod organize under sink

Organize Cleaning Supplies

It can be difficult to keep spray bottles and other cleaning supplies from falling over and making a mess under your kitchen sink. Thankfully, we have plenty of cabinet organization tips and tricks. To keep your cleaning supplies upright, hang them from a short tension rod inside your cabinet. Another clever idea is to slide a paper towel roll through the tension rod for easy access and is also a great place to hang dish-drying towels and rubber cleaning gloves.

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HH Car Wax Stainless steal appliances applyFamily Handyman

Make your appliances smudge-free

If you own stainless steel kitchen appliances, you may want to consider using car wax to clean them rather than a surface cleaner. Simply apply a light coat of car wax to the appliance, allow time to dry and buff clean to resist fingerprints and smudges. No more fingerprints on the fridge!

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HH Walnut fixes scratched wood

The Miracle of a Walnut!

Furniture gets beat up over time, but you don’t have to live with the unsightly scratches. In fact, you can remove years of damage with a simple snack food: walnuts. Simply rub a walnut over a scratch in wood several times. Then, with your fingers rub the scratched area. This will help the wood absorb the oil from the nut. Lastly, use a soft cloth to buff the area. Now the scratch is sealed and gone!

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HH vacuuming up baking soda from upholstery

Clean Upholstery with Baking Soda

If there’s a funky smell lurking in your couch or upholstered chair, try this. Sprinkle a generous amount of regular baking soda onto the fabric and let it sit for at least 20 minutes. The baking soda will help to release odors and break up some light stains in the fabric.

After about 20 minutes, remove the baking soda—and the funky smell—with a handheld vacuum or a hose attachment for your large vacuum.

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Remove Crayon Marks From Wall HHFamily Handyman

Remove Crayon Marks From Walls

Have your walls been redecorated with some original crayon masterpieces? Don’t lose your cool. Just grab a rag, dip it in some baking soda and lightly scrub the marks. They will come off with a minimal amount of effort and give your young Picasso a fresh, new canvas.

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Lampshade Lint Roller HHFamily Handyman

Lampshade Lint Roller

Fabric lampshades are magnets for dust and pet hair. You can’t just throw them in the washing machine, so what do you do? We’ve found that a lint roller works really well. Be careful though when cleaning, as lampshades are fragile and can even become brittle. A torn lampshade is worse than a dirty one.

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HH Handy hint ice cubes wrinkle remover dryerFamily Handyman

Get Wrinkles Out of Your Laundry with Zero Effort

Ditch the time-consuming iron or handheld steamer to get wrinkles out of a shirt or slacks in the laundry room. Throw a few ice cubes or a wet washcloth in the dryer with your wrinkled clothes. As the ice melts and the water turns to steam, it will remove the wrinkles. This trick isn’t as effective with heavier clothing but is a miracle for lighter fabrics. The best part is that you don’t have to set the dryer for longer than 10 minutes for it to work.

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dry erase board permanent marker handy hint HH

Erase Permanent Marker on a Dry Erase Board

Who hasn’t accidentally written on a whiteboard with a permanent marker? Luckily, it’s easier to remove than you think. Simply draw over your permanent marker artwork with a dry erase marker, and then wipe the marks away with an eraser or dry cloth. Your dry erase board will be good as new!

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vacuum cleaner gift wrap tube extension handy hints HH

Simple DIY Vacuum Extension

Another way to make it easier to clean hard-to-reach spots, use a leftover wrapping paper tube as a vacuum cleaner extension. All you have to do is attach the detail accessory that comes with a vacuum cleaner to the end of the hose extension. Next, fasten the wrapping paper tube over this attachment. And for more suction, you can tape it to the end of the hose. You can also fold the other end of the tube for an “edge” like a hose.

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holey trash can 2 HHFamily Handyman

Drill Holes In Your Trash Can

When a trash bag fits tightly around the rim of the trashcan, it forms a seal. This leaves a new bag bubbled up and hard to fill, and makes a full bag hard to remove. A few 1/4-in. holes drilled into my plastic trashcans makes solves both problems.

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HH carpet padding to make plush rugFamily Handyman

Your Feet Will Thank You

Want to make any rug feel extra plush and luxurious? Add a layer of carpet padding underneath your rug—it’s thicker and cheaper than a typical rug pad. The next time you wash that pile of dishes in the sink, your feet will thank you.