16 Old-School Cleaning Tricks That Actually Work

Cleaning doesn’t have to be a battle fought with harsh chemicals and expensive products. Our grandparents, who didn’t have access to today’s cleaning aisles, knew a thing or two about getting things sparkling clean with natural ingredients and clever techniques.

This article delves into 16 of these time-tested cleaning hacks that prove you can have a spotless home without breaking the bank or harming the environment.

Baking Soda and Vinegar Drain Cleaner

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Clogged drains are a common household nuisance. Instead of reaching for harsh chemical drain cleaners, try a more natural approach.

Pour half a cup of baking soda directly down the drain, followed by half a cup of white vinegar. The combination will fizz up, helping to break down fatty acids and deodorize the drain. Cover the drain with a plug or wet cloth for about five minutes, then flush it with boiling water to clear any remaining residue.

Lemon to Clean Stainless Steel

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Lemon is not only for seasoning but also a powerful cleaning ally, especially for stainless steel. The acid in lemons breaks down grease and polishes surfaces, leaving them shining without streaks.

Simply cut a lemon in half, rub it directly over your stainless steel appliances, and then wipe it down with a soft cloth. This method also leaves a fresh, natural scent and is safe for food preparation surfaces.

Cornstarch for Windows and Glass

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Cornstarch isn’t just a thickening agent—it’s also an excellent cleaner for windows and glass. Create a cleaning solution by mixing two tablespoons of cornstarch with a quart of warm water.

Apply it using a sponge or soft cloth, then wipe it down with a clean cloth. The cornstarch mixture works wonders for removing spots and giving the glass a new level of sparkle without chemical residue.

White Vinegar for Dishwashers

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Keeping your dishwasher clean is crucial for its performance. White vinegar can help maintain it easily and effectively. Place a cup of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe container on the upper rack of your dishwasher. Run the dishwasher on a hot cycle. The vinegar will cut through lingering grease and grime, remove odors, and help keep your dishwasher fresh and efficient.

Grapefruit and Salt for Bathtubs

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Combining grapefruit and salt can tackle even the toughest bathtub rings and soap scum. Cut a grapefruit in half and sprinkle it liberally with salt. Use the grapefruit like a sponge and scrub around your tub.

The salt provides gentle abrasion while the citric acid in the grapefruit dissolves the grime. This not only cleans effectively but also leaves a refreshing scent.

Toothpaste for Chrome Fixtures

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Toothpaste can brighten up more than just your smile—it can also make your bathroom fixtures sparkle. Apply a small dab of any non-gel white toothpaste to a soft cloth. Rub this gently onto faucets and other chrome fixtures, then rinse and buff with a clean, dry cloth. The mild abrasive in toothpaste removes water spots and fingerprints, restoring the shine without scratches.

Baby Oil for Shower Doors

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Hard water stains on shower doors can be an eyesore. Apply a few drops of baby oil on a soft cloth and wipe over the glass shower doors. This not only clears up water spots and soap scum but also leaves a protective layer that repels future marks, reducing cleaning frequency.

Alka-Seltzer for Toilet Cleaning

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For a quick and effervescent toilet clean, drop a couple of alka-seltzer tablets into the bowl. Let them fizz for 20 minutes, which allows the citric acid and baking soda to break down stains and eliminate odors. Scrub lightly with a toilet brush and then flush. This method is surprisingly effective and leaves your toilet sparkling.

Olive Oil for Furniture Polish

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Mix two parts of olive oil with one part of lemon juice to create a natural furniture polish that nourishes the wood and leaves a pleasant sheen. Apply with a soft cloth, working the mixture into the wood. This not only cleans your furniture but also conditions the wood, protecting it from dryness and cracking.

Newspaper for Dusting

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Old newspapers are great for cleaning glass and mirrors. The paper’s texture makes it excellent for polishing surfaces without leaving lint or streaks that you might get from paper towels. Plus, the slight roughness helps remove all residues, ensuring a spotless finish.

White Bread for Wall Cleaner

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Stale white bread is an excellent choice for lifting fingerprints and smudges off painted walls. Simply tear off the crust, ball up the soft center, and gently dab at the marks. The bread’s texture picks up dirt without damaging paint, acting like a natural eraser sponge.

Hair Dryer for Removing Dust

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A hairdryer set to a cool setting can quickly remove dust from surfaces where clothes can’t reach, such as intricate decorations or electronic equipment. The force of the air dislodges dust and small debris, making cleaning these delicate items much easier and more effective.

Tea Bags for Wood Floors

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Used tea bags can clean and shine wood floors naturally. Steep a few black tea bags in boiling water, let the water cool, then apply the tea to the floor with a soft mop. The tannins in the tea provide a beautiful, natural sheen and clean the wood gently without damaging it.

Walnuts for Wood Scratches

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Minor scratches on wooden furniture can be concealed using walnuts. Rub a shelled walnut gently across the scratch. The oils in the walnut seep into the wood, darkening the scratched area and blending it into the surrounding surface.

Socks for Cleaning Blinds

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Take an old sock, slip it over your hand, and dip it into a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar. This setup gives you more control and lets you clean both sides of each blind slat simultaneously, making the process faster and more thorough.

Rice for Coffee Grinders

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To clean and sharpen the blades of your coffee grinder, grind a handful of uncooked rice. The rice absorbs oils and residue left by coffee beans and spices, and it helps sharpen the blades, ensuring your grinder stays in top form.

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