Cleaning with vinegar, without the smell

I share this hip trick with my Green Your Cleaning Supplies workshop attendees. Do you like the idea of cleaning with something non-toxic, but hate the smell of vinegar?

Peppermint essential oil to the rescue! Add about 10 drops of a pure essential oil (no synthetic fragrances or you’re defeating the purpose of non-toxic cleaning) to your half vinegar-half water spray bottle. Of all the essential oils I’ve tried, peppermint is one of the few that actually masks the odor of the acetic acid in vinegar. Not a mint fan, try clove or eucalyptus which are also strong oils. 

Give a few sprays to your counter top, bathroom mirror, sticky floor and voila; you’re cleaning with a Thin Mint.

Remove rust

This hip trick comes to us courtesy of my partner, who cleaned rust off her bike wheel rims and frame with this fun little science experiment.  
Try it sometime by pouring a couple cups of water into a bowl. Take a square of aluminum foil, dip one side into the water bowl and then rub the rust-affected area with the dampened foil. The foil will likely disintegrate after a while of rubbing, but if necessary, grab another square and keep at it until all rust is gone.

Shine chrome by sprinkling Kosher salt over a half of a lemon. Rub the rusted area with the salted lemon and then follow up by cleaning normally. Enjoy the shine!

Don't get mad, get mad scientist on your kitchen disasters

This hip trick comes to us courtesy of Trish in Austin, TX.

If you happen to burn something in a pan, empty out all the burnt food, and while the pan is still hot, sprinkle the burned area with salt. You will need to make sure the salt covers the whole burned area then pour distilled white vinegar on the salt. It causes a chemical reaction that lifts the burned stuff right off, slick as a whistle.

Waste not, packaging turned scrubber

This hip trick comes to us from Susan, host of KOOP radio show, Food Love Austin. Susan hosted our Austin food swap a few months back and I noticed this ingenious trick for making use of wine sleeves that might otherwise end up in the trash.

Use these plastic grates as scrubbers for doughs and batters that wreak havoc on your regular sponge/dish scrubby and simply rinse it out when you’re finished!

Operation stovetop recovery

You survived the holiday gathering, but how did your stovetop fare? Not so well? Shake some baking soda directly onto the burner area and give it a scrub with an old sponge or rag. Dab rag with white vinegar to remove the soda residues and polish your work.

If necessary, degunk your metal burners by removing them and soaking in hot water and a splash of Citrasolv, and then wash normally with dish soap.

Non-gross ceiling fan cleaning technique

Thanks to Phillip from Austin, Texas for this fab hip trick!

If you’re anything like me, the ceiling fan is that last place you think to include in the weekly (ahem, or monthly) dusting adventure. Well, by the time you do think of it, the task of de-gunking this kind of scenario is just gross.

Here’s where a thrift store pillowcase and a bit of water come into play. Simply slide each arm of your fan inside the slightly dampened pillowcase, pulling off eons of dust accumulation and capturing it all inside the pillowcase. Give it another swipe with a half-vinegar-half-water spritzed cloth and proceed to forget about the fans for another few months.

Water-saving dish doing

Even if you’re not smack-dab in the middle of the worst drought in Texas history, saving water should be at the top of any global human’s list of concerns. Enough soapbox’ing for today, here’s how you can avoid wasting water during your handwashed dish sessions.

This hip trick comes courtesy of my good pal, Zora in Astoria, Queens, who reminded me that you don’t have to use/fill an entire dishtub (as described in my book on pages 24-25) in order to efficiently handwash dishes. Use a small bowl, something from the stack of to-be-washed items, as a suds enliven’er and suds-up all your items at once. Rinse them all at the same time.