Clean ceiling fans fast.
Dust has been accumulating on the blades of your ceiling fan all winter long. The last thing you want is to spread that nastiness all over the place as you clean. So, try this quick trick: Slip a pillowcase over a fan blade and wipe it down using gentle pressure, trapping all the dust inside the case. Clean off each blade, then toss the pillowcase in the wash.
De-gunk the shower curtain liner.
If you've spotted mold and mildew in your shower, you might be dreading the task at hand. Save yourself some time and effort by taking down the shower curtain liner and running it through the wash while you grab an old toothbrush to clean the grout and caulk. Be sure to throw in a few used towels with the liner. The towels will rub against the liner to help remove accumulated dirt and prevent it from crinkling up. Hang the liner outdoors to dry, or machine-dry on the lowest heat setting.
Banish burner grime.
A winter’s worth of stews, sauces, and sautés has probably left a coating of caked-on grease all over your stove burners, caps, and grates. Rather than spending time scouring them, pop each one in a plastic bag with a small amount of household ammonia, seal the bags, and let them sit overnight. Everything will be sparkling by morning. (Just be sure to open the bags in a well-ventilated space and wash the pieces well before you replace them.)
Maintain your mower in less than a minute!
Lawn care can actually be fun, but caring for the tools themselves? A total time-suck. Even if you're just changing the oil on your old tractor, you might need a full 15 minutes merely to drain the old stuff before you can reach in and replace the oil filter and oil. Not anymore, thanks to a brilliant new method available on select 100 Series John Deere lawn tractors. With the Easy Change 30-Second Oil Change System, all you have to do is twist out the cartridge and twist in a new one—no muck, no mess, no draining, and no mechanical skills required. You'll be able to get back to mowing in no time, which means you'll finish up that much faster!
Glide into grilling season.
The secret to speedy grill prep? Light the barbecue and, while it’s heating up, peel and halve a large onion—not for eating, but rather for cleaning. Stick a long-handled barbecue fork into the rounded portion of the onion, then apply the cut side to the grill, putting to good use the onion's pungent flavor and its unique antiseptic properties. Rub the onion back and forth with moderate pressure, and watch the accumulated gunk disappear.
Take a two-fisted approach.
Tackle your chores like an accomplished pianist—use both hands! Scrub tubs with two sponges, one in your left and one in your right. Move down a kitchen counter quickly by spraying the surface with one hand while at the same time wiping up the crumbs with the other. Dust in double time by wielding two feather dusters at once: one in one hand to deal with nooks and crannies, and a second one in the other to clean off surfaces.
Discover new dishwasher duties.
Guess what? The dishwasher isn't just for dishes! It can also help you save all those hours you spend at the sink, hand-washing metal, glass, plastic, and porcelain items that have been sitting around the house collecting dirt for months. Simply load up the dishwasher with the likes of hairbrushes, plastic toys, soap dispensers, cabinet knobs, drawer pulls, and even removable shower heads, then run a cycle for gleaming results.
Bathe the blinds.
You could waste a whole weekend washing vinyl or aluminum window blinds slat by slat with a sponge—or you could soak them in a bathtub filled with warm, lightly soapy water and a touch of vinegar. Just let the blinds sit for 15 minutes while you do other things, then drain the tub and run the shower to rinse. (Note: Never saturate wood blinds in this way, though, as they could warp.)
Mop the walls.
Though you probably tackle horizontal surfaces like floors and countertops regularly, vertical ones tend to get neglected. By the time spring rolls around, they're in dire need of cleaning to remove smudged fingerprints and layers of dust. Rather than climbing a ladder with a bucket and sponge and scrubbing your way along the wall, try using a long-handled dust mop or a lightly dampened sponge mop instead. Start at the ceiling and work your way down, in two- to three-foot-wide sections, and you’ll be done in a jiffy.
Walk your way to a healthier lawn.
To grow lush, green grass, you need to loosen hard, compacted soil so that water, air, and nutrients can reach the roots. Instead of wrestling with a manual aerator or renting a gas- or electric-powered one, pick up a pair of spiked aerator sandals (they cost about $15). Just strap them on over your shoes and walk your lawn for an inexpensive, easy solution.
Steam-clean the microwave.
To banish stuck-on stains and splatters from inside the nuker, combine in a microwave-safe bowl two cups of water, two tablespoons of white vinegar, and either a few drops of your favorite essential oil or a full slice of lemon. Heat the mixture, uncovered, in the microwave on high for five minutes. The vinegar disinfects, the steam softens the gunk, and the citrus scent freshens. All that's left is for you to wipe the machine clean, no scrubbing required.
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