Keep Silver Gleaming
Once a coveted luxury, real silver has fallen out of fashion. Part of its diminished popularity is no doubt due to its expense, but the fact that silver requires polishing to remove tarnish probably also factors into this loss of luster. If you love the look of silver, but your busy lifestyle doesn't afford time for extra cleaning duties, toss a silica gel packet (the kind found in boxes of new shoes, handbags, and vitamin bottles) into your silver drawer. The silica draws in moisture, and the resulting drier atmosphere slows the tarnishing process.
Clean the Dishwasher
It may seem strange, but your dishwasher needs a good cleaning every once in a while. Despite all the water and soap that churn through the machine as it washes dishes and flatware, the working parts in your dishwasher don't manage to get clean. That's where a packet of Kool-Aid comes in handy (yes, really). Empty a packet of lemonade-flavored Kool-Aid into the dish detergent compartment, then run the dishwasher and let the drink crystals polish the inside of your appliance.
Mix Up Dish Soap
The awkward corners and crevices in a blender make it difficult (and a little dangerous) to wash by hand. Instead of struggling to slip a sponge under and around the blender blades, try this: Fill the blender one-third full with hot water, and add a few drops of dish soap. Turn on the blender and let it run for a while. The soapy water whirling around the blender will dislodge food particles that you could never have reached by hand.
If you've ever detailed your own car, you know that cup holders are some of the dirtiest parts of the interior. The area attracts dust, spills, and other messes, and its awkward shape and size make it tough to clean. Keep the cup holders tidier and speed up your regular car cleanup by dropping cupcake liners into the bottom of each cup holder. Opt for silicone models, available online or in home centers, to catch drips and debris, then pop them in the dishwasher whenever they get grimy.
Pour a Little Wine on It
It may be true that you can't fight fire with fire, but you can certainly fight wine stains with more wine. If you're serving red wine at a party, always keep a bottle of white wine on hand—even if you don't intend to serve it. The reason, of course, is that if a guest spills red wine on your white carpet or upholstery, you can lift the fresh spill by pouring white wine on the affected area to dilute the red. Pour, blot with a towel, then rinse clean with water. Voilà!
Related: 11 Weird Ways to Use Wine
There are plenty of products on the market that promise to freshen smelly sneakers, but why waste your money when you've already got a perfectly good cleaner hiding in your pantry: Salt.
Wipe Up Pet Hair
Even vacuum cleaners can't always budge stubborn pet hair that clings to rug and carpet fibers. Next time you're cleaning the floors, here's a tip: Take a squeegee (the kind used for washing windows) and scrape it across the carpet. You will be surprised at how much hair it will pull out of the carpeting.
Splash Away Stains
It will be much easier to give the bathroom a thorough cleaning if you take a minute to rinse the tub after every bath and shower. By washing suds down the drain, you'll prevent soap from drying and hardening into soap scum, which can be a pain to scrub away later.
Be honest: How often do you climb a step stool to reach and dust the tops of the armoire, china cabinet, and bookshelf? Not only is it a pain (and a little dangerous) to haul out the ladder every week to dust the highest heights in your home, but it's completely unnecessary. You can eliminate dust and allergens without the work if you slip sheets of wax paper on the tops of cabinets and other tall furniture. The dust will cling to the waxed surface, which will make it easy to just reach up there every so often to remove the wax paper and replace it with a fresh sheet.
Clean with Caffeine
A cup of coffee grounds could come in handy in the kitchen during meal prep. After cutting onions, mincing garlic, or handling other smelly substances, scrub the ground coffee on your hands, then rinse and wash with soap. The coffee beans will absorb the odor, leaving you with fresher-smelling skin.
Steam Away Smells
If strong kitchen smells are lingering in the air rather than stuck on countertops or sinks, use steam to kill the scent. Fill a saucepan with one cup of water and a few tablespoons of vinegar, and bring it to boil. Let the mixture boil for several minutes. The released steam will neutralize bad odors, leaving your room smelling fresher and cleaner.
It's important to clean the baseboards to rid your home of allergens and keep your house looking neat, but you may be doing this chore more often than necessary. The next time you clean the baseboards, finish up by rubbing a dryer sheet along the molding. The antistatic properties of the dryer sheet help keep dust and debris from sticking.
Clean the Curtain
That plastic liner that protects your bathroom floor from the powerful spray of the shower is a magnet for mildew. Make it easier to keep clean by throwing it in the washing machine every month or so. Toss it in the washer on delicate with a load of towels, then remove it from the washer to line-dry—running it through a hot dryer could melt it.
Lint Roll the Lampshade
It's inevitable: Lint and dust cling to lampshades, and it can be next to impossible to remove the dirt. Attempts to do so usually result in just moving dust around or, worse, smearing it on the lampshade. Instead of struggling to clean your shades, pick up the dust in a snap by using a lint roller.
Related: 15 Ways to Fake a Clean House
Try Two Buckets
If you've been lugging around only one bucket of water when you wash your floors, take note. Using one bucket of suds may seem like the most expedient solution, but consider: Every time you dip a dirty mop back in the clean bucket, you're transferring all the grime you just removed from the floor back into the water. You will keep your floors cleaner and won't need to switch out the clean water bucket as frequently if you cart two buckets of water at a time: one filled with floor cleaner and hot water, and the other with a water-only rinse.
New Year, New You
Have you ever been tempted to buy one of those products you see advertised on TV infomercials? Sure, the spokesperson swears it does everything (and more!) but can it really live up to the hype? Sometimes, yes! Click through now to see some of our favorites.