Hack Your Way Through Household Chores
Struggling to find the motivation to get all your chores done? Well, you might want to sit down and put your feet up for this news: It is possible to get all of your cleaning done with very little effort, and without sacrificing how clean your home is. Follow these time-tested tricks and cut the time you spend on housework in half!
1. Clean faucets with half a lemon.
If you think that removing hard water stains from faucets requires expensive, chemical-filled cleaners, think again. All you need is half a lemon! Just rub a wedge over water-stained chrome fixtures, and the citric acid will cut through rust and stains in no time. While you're at it, head back into the kitchen for another unlikely stain fix: Rub a sheet of wax paper over your clean fixtures to help repel water and stains.
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2. Loosen caked-on microwave mess by heating water and lemon.
Reduce the time needed to scrub cooked-on food from your microwave walls by nuking a microwave-safe bowl filled with water and lemon slices. When you bring it to a boil, the water and steam loosens gunk and grime, making cleanup as simple as wiping down the interior. (Incidentally, now's a great time to pick up a microwave cover to prevent future messes.)
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3. Clean your shower curtain liner in the washing machine.
Did you know you could wash your shower curtain liner? Most people don't, but it's a great way to save money and quickly clean an item you would normally have to replace. Simply toss in the washing machine with a few soiled towels, and add a half-cup of baking soda in with your normal amount of detergent; then, at the rinse cycle, dump in a half-cup of vinegar. Then hang it to dry.
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4. Line refrigerator shelves.
Tired of scrubbing food residue off your fridge shelves? Try this quick hack and save your future self some time: Line your shelves with plastic wrap. If there's a spill, just peel away the mess! If you prefer a washable, reusable solution, consider cut-to-fit refrigerator shelf liners.
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5. Remove wrinkles in the shower.
Ironing can be a real chore, but you don't have to break out the ironing board every time you want a neatly pressed outfit. Instead, take the day's laundry with you when you take a shower, and hang up a few items of clothing on the curtain rod opposite from the shower head. The steam from your soak will eliminate wrinkles—and free up your time!
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6. Invest in a laundry sorter.
Save valuable time on laundry day by investing in a hamper with multiple sections. This SONGMICS heavy-duty laundry sorter has four separate sections, each able to hold one load of laundry. Now you can easily sort all your colors into the appropriate bins as soon as you toss them in the hamper!
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7. Clean more than just dishes in the dishwasher.
Ah, the beauty of a machine you can set to clean and forget about. But if you're using your dishwasher solely for cleaning dishes and silverware, you're not getting the most out of your appliance. Your dishwasher can actually sanitize and shine almost anything that won't melt in super high temperatures. Between loads of cookware, consider throwing in children’s plastic or bath toys—an hour or so later they’ll look brand new again.
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8. Use dryer sheets for dusting.
Cleaning hard-to-reach areas regularly can be a hassle and, for many of us, just doesn’t happen as often as it should. Our secret weapon for wiping down blinds, fan blades, and any other areas where dust builds up frequently? Laundry dryer sheets. Not only will the dryer sheets swipe the dust off pretty much any surface, but their chemicals will also help repel dust so you can go longer between cleanings.
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9. Use wax paper to collect dust in out-of-sight areas.
It's a fact of life in many homes: The surfaces not seen every day are the likeliest to accumulate dust, dirt, and grime. The tops of refrigerators, armoires, bookcases, and upper kitchen cabinets are prime examples of out-of-sight areas with a tendency to get pretty filthy. In these spots, lay down some wax paper. Now, instead of cleaning by hand, you can simply remove the wax paper (along with the gunk it's collected) and put down a fresh sheet—no fuss!
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10. Clean toilets with Alka-Seltzer.
With minimal effort on your part you can clean your toilet in three minutes, tops. The key is an unlikely though surprisingly effective addition to your arsenal of cleaning supplies: Alka-Seltzer. Drop two tablets into the toilet bowl then walk away, leaving the acidic effervescence to work its magic. When you return, it should only take a few swipes with the toilet brush to restore the porcelain to its pristine state. Flush, and you're all done.
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11. Don’t polish all the silver if you don’t have to.
When you've invited over guests and want to use the good silver, keep it simple: Only shine the utensils you'll use, not the full set. Skip the creamy, messy silver polish and use Weiman’s silver wipes—they'll remove tarnish almost effortlessly.
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12. Soak your dirty dishes during dinner.
Loathe to wash dishes by hand, but you don’t have a dishwasher? Fill the kitchen sink with hot water and dish soap when you start cooking, then move pots and pans as you empty them from the stove to soak during dinner. They'll be much easier to clean after your meal. We like to set up a tablet on the kitchen counter, and continue binge-watching Netflix to make the chore pass quickly.
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13. Use oven liners to make cleanup easier.
Crouching over to clean the oven is never a fun task, especially when it requires extra scrubbing to get rid of dried liquids and food bits. While you can’t completely forgo oven cleaning, lining the bottom with oven mats, like these oven liners from Grill Magic, make the job a lot easier. The nonstick, heat-resistant liners will catch any drips or spills, so you no longer have to worry about scraping off residue from the bottom of the oven. Take the liners out and wipe them down or toss them in the dishwasher. Either way, it’s a lot easier than rolling up your sleeves and scrubbing the oven.
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14. Simultaneously shower and cut down on soap scum.
Since you’re already in the shower, why not do a little cleaning? Keep a sponge filled with soap and shower squeegee in the stall so you can do a quick wipe down while you’re lathering up. It’ll prevent major soap scum from building up, and you'll have to deep clean less frequently.
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15. Collect pet hair using rubber gloves.
If last-minute guests don’t leave you enough time to vacuum after your four-legged friends, try this trick: Slip on a pair of rubber dishwashing gloves, wet them lightly, then rub your hands over couches, blankets, or the cat's favorite sunny window seat. The loose fur will come off the upholstery and stick to your gloves!
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16. Dust ceiling fan blades with a pillowcase.
You don’t need a fancy tool to dust the blades of the ceiling fan—an old pillowcase will do the trick! Slip it over the blades to clean both sides at the same time and capture the dust before it falls onto the floor (or on you).
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17. Run your washing machine when it’s empty.
Even though washing machines are regularly exposed to soap and other cleaning products, they still need their own occasional cleaning to prevent odors and mildew. Luckily, you don’t have to put much elbow grease into this task: All you have to do is run the empty machine on a hot-water cycle with bleach added to the detergent drawer, or run the machine empty with a washing machine cleaner tablet. When the cycle is finished leave the door open to allow it to dry completely. If you’re still smelling something funky, you might have mildew hiding in the machine. If that’s the case, you might need to give your washing machine a more thorough cleaning.
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18. Hide small messes in stylish baskets.
Keep baskets around the house for really quick cleaning. It might not be the most organized way of tidying up, but tossing clutter into an empty basket is the easiest and speediest way to fake a neat room.
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19. Clean the floors with your feet.
Pull on a pair of your fluffiest socks and take a walk around the house—that’s all you need to do for a quick sweep of the floors. The soft material is a magnet for collecting dust, hair, and crumbs. Of course, if you don’t want to turn your favorite socks into a cleaning supply you can purchase a pair of microfiber floor cleaning slippers. The mop-bottoms of the silly slippers are detachable, so you can take them off and throw them in the washing machine.
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20. Clean your shower head with a sandwich bag.
To improve the flow of water in your shower, you need to clean the shower head from time to time. Rather than tediously scrubbing it, you can use a vinegar and water mixture to loosen the scum. Fill a plastic sandwich or Ziploc bag with equal parts vinegar and water, then secure it over the shower head, making sure that the nozzles are completely submerged. Let it sit for at least an hour before carefully removing it and wiping away any remaining grime.
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21. Use a paint roller or lint roller to clean ceilings.
Cleaning a popcorn ceiling presents two challenges: It’s hard to reach, and it’s a magnet for dirt and dust. Consider using a clean paint roller cover to collect dust from the nooks and crannies, or slip a lint-remover roller tube over a paint-roller frame.
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22. Shine up stainless steel appliances with olive oil.
Smudges, fingerprints, and streaks are difficult to ignore in a kitchen filled with stainless steel appliances. A large fridge draws the wrong kind of attention when it lacks a pristine shine, doesn’t it?
To quickly make your stainless steel look flawless again, grab a microfiber cloth and a bottle of olive oil. Use a few drops of olive oil on the cloth, and wipe the appliance following the grain. You can use a paper towel to buff the appliance afterward to make it nice and shiny.
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23. Use a Swiffer to clean your walls.
Lazy cleaners can achieve clean walls with the help of a device normally used for floors. The long-handled Swiffer Sweeper is the one-two punch you need to make your walls pristine. Instead of getting out a step ladder or standing on a chair to reach parts of the wall that are too high, this cleaning tool makes it quick and efficient to clean your walls.
Use the dry pad to dust and remove any cobwebs, then go over the walls with the wet pad to clean them up. If you’re out of the wet pads, you can attach a rag moistened with a multipurpose cleaner.
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24. Keep the garbage disposal cleaner with lemons or limes.
Fruit flies are the telltale sign that you need to clean your garbage disposal. Even without the presence of these insects, you should clean your garbage disposal every week or two. Left alone, food particles in garbage disposals decay, creating a perfect environment for bacteria.
If you’re unable to deep clean your garbage disposal, citrus fruit can help you out. The acidity in lemons and limes make them effective at killing bacteria. Cut your lemons or limes into quarters (or smaller slices), and put the pieces into the disposal one at a time while the water runs. Not only does this help kill bacteria, it also makes the disposal smell better!
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25. Clean your mattress with baking soda and vinegar.
Though they are hidden under layers of bedding, mattresses need to be cleaned too. On a microscopic level, your mattress is covered in dead skin cells, sweat, and other particles. As these things accumulate they can form a breeding ground for bacteria, fungi, and dust mites. Ew!
Since you can’t fit your mattress in the laundry machine, the easiest way to freshen it is to strip the bed, spray it with white vinegar, and sprinkle it with baking soda. The baking soda absorbs the moisture and odor-causing particles, which you can vacuum up after approximately two hours. You should still deep clean your mattress twice a year, but this trick, along with a mattress protector, will go a long way keeping things clean.
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26. Use coffee filters on your dusty electronics.
These days, many homes contain several gadgets. From televisions to tablets to gaming systems, there are many devices that need a little TLC to stay dust-free. Coffee filters have a tight weave, and they’re built to absorb oils in coffee beans, making them an efficient cleaner for dust or oily smudges on electronics.
Unplug your devices before using a dry coffee filter to dust off your high-tech gadgets by gently wiping the filter across a screen or surface. Additionally, you can lightly spray the filter with a cleaning solution to kill germs, but always spray the filter and not the device itself.
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27. Polish up cloudy glassware with vinegar.
Do you have guests coming over and your wine glasses are cloudy? Here’s a little cheat to make them glisten again: soak the glasses in white vinegar. Because of its acidic nature, all it takes is five minutes of soaking to lift the cloudiness from the glass. Give the glasses a quick rinse in warm or cold water and dry them with a microfiber cloth.
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28. Prevent dust and hair from settling on baseboards with dryer sheets.
Cleaning the baseboards is a chore that absolutely no one wants to do. With the bending and the wiping, it’s a time-consuming activity with very little satisfaction. The next time you clean your baseboards, dust them with a dryer sheet afterwards. These sheets lift dirt, dust, and even pet hair from the baseboards. Even better, they create a dust-repelling layer that slows the buildup of these particles so you won't have to clean the baseboards as often going forward.
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29. Have a robot clean your floors.
Regularly cleaning the dirt and dust bunnies under the couch, chairs, tables, and beds takes a lot of time and effort. Rather than ignore the buildup of dust, hair, and all the other stuff hiding in your carpets and on your floors, give this job to a robot vacuum.
Roomba vacuums can now map out your floor plan, target specific areas of your home, get under and around furniture, self-empty their bins, and more. Instead of hauling out the ol’ corded vacuum, click a button—or better yet, create an automated schedule—so the vacuum takes care of the floors for you.
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30. Soak your scrub brushes and sponges in oxygen bleach and water.
Even lazy cleaning tricks use sponges and scrub brushes. However, if these cleaning tools aren’t washed themselves, they may be covered in bacteria that you used to ‘clean’ your home. No matter if it’s a sponge, toilet brush, broom, or other type of scrub brush, these tools can be cleaned and sanitized with very little work from you.
Fill a chore bucket with warm water and mix in a half cup of oxygen bleach. This bleach disinfects, deodorizes, and even brightens up your bristles. Stir the brushes around in the water to ensure each bristle gets soaked, give the brushes a rinse, then hang them up to dry.
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