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Hacks simplify safe, effective cleaning

There’s been so much political mudslinging going on, I think now’s a perfect time to talk about cleaning up. Over the years I’ve accumulated some mighty effective and eco-friendly cleaning hacks and products that can rub out the ugliest and stubbornest of stains and grime.

Boiling water

Steam and simmering water is the hot ticket for cleaning anything that can withstand liquid and high temperatures. Microwaves and ovens can be steam cleaned by heating up a water-filled baking pan (not glass) in the oven or microwave-safe bowl in the microwave. Let the water come to a simmer and allow the steam to penetrate the surfaces.

In the microwave, wipe down the loosened grime; use a vinegar and water solution and nonabrasive scrubber if grime is still present. Once the oven’s cooled, wipe down the loosened grime.

Use Simple Green BBQ and Grill Cleaner on remaining stains.

■ Place greasy metal hood filters in a pot of simmering water with a few squirts detergent and watch the grease melt away.

■ Dunking or pouring boiling water over cutting boards can quickly disinfect them.

■ Simmer burnt pots with water, soap and a dryer sheet or fabric softener. This combination will loosen burnt-on foods and allow scrubbing to remove remaining debris.

Lemons

■ Cut a lemon in half and use it to wipe down barbecue grates, counters, glass oventops and more.

■ Make lemon furniture polish by mixing two parts vegetable oil to one part lemon juice in a spray bottle (any low-price oil will do). Shake well before spraying.

Dishwasher packs

■ Drop a dishwasher pack in a stained coffee carafe, fill with hot water and let soak overnight. The buildup will disappear. Rinse well before use.

■ Add two dishwasher packs to your empty washing machine and let it run two wash cycles with hot water to clean the drum of germs and limescale.

Goof Off

Gum, paint, marker, etc. can all be removed using this product. I’ve unclogged an adhesive tube nozzle. After a few moments of it soaking, the clog slid right out. Just this morning I used Goof Off to remove tar from a beach blanket. There is a “pro-strength” line that’s more aggressive, but their household “heavy duty” has a lower VOC of 3 percent.

White distilled vinegar

■ Soak limescale-clogged showerheads, sink sprayers, mister nozzles, etc. in vinegar and watch the mineral buildup bubble away. For showerheads, in a plastic bag mix equal parts of vinegar and hot water (for heavy buildup use straight vinegar), submerge the showerhead into the bag and tape/tie it off at the top. Let it soak, making sure the solution is not marring the metal. Scrub the face of the showerhead with a plastic scrub brush, then flush it with hot water.

■ Dishwashers can be cleaned using 2 cups of vinegar in a container on the top rack of an empty machine. Run it on a heavy or “sani” cycle.

Vinegar and baking soda

While this acid and base combination ultimately neutralize one another, when these two chemicals meet, the foaming action is great at lifting away dirt and stains.

Rubbing alcohol

Alcohol is the best carpet cleaner, even for tracked-in dog poop, as it disinfects as it cleans, removes odor and dries quickly. Rubbing alcohol sprayed on baby wipes is a convenient way to clean off sneakers and soles. It can also be used to dissolve glue from stickers and labels.

Hydrogen peroxide

Peroxide is an effective disinfectant and stain remover that can be used around food and food surfaces. Manufacturers sell it in spray bottles, making it very convenient to use on cutting boards, linens, refrigerator bins, etc.

■ For tile/grout cleaner mix ½ cup of baking soda, ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide, and add a teaspoon of liquid dish soap. Wearing protective gloves, apply to tile and grout, let it sit for several minutes, then rinse.

Norma Vally is a seasoned veteran of home improvement; her career includes four seasons as host of Discovery Home Channel’s Emmy-nominated series “Toolbelt Diva.” A columnist and author, Vally splits her time in Southern Nevada, Los Angeles and New York City. Follow her on Facebook at Norma Vally “Toolbelt Diva” and visit her at www.NormaVally.com. Email Norma@NormaVally.com.

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