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Nine Old School Cleaning Tips That Still Work Great

Natural cleaning supplies
New Africa/Shutterstock.com

When it comes to house cleaning, everyone has their own tip or trick they swear by. But some old-school cleaning hacks sound too good to be true. So do any of them actually work?

We wanted to know whether or not some of the more common cleaning tips are sound advice. To learn more, we reached out to Vera Peterson, president of Molly Maid, and Ken Fisk, the director of technical services of Window Genie for help.

After talking to the experts, these are the old school cleaning tips that actually work.

Descale Your Coffee Maker With Vinegar

A coffee maker that needs to be descaled.
New Africa/Shutterstock.com

Over time, you might notice the inside of your coffee maker forms a chalky white coating. While the white film isn’t dangerous, it will make your coffee taste a little off.

The build-up is caused by hard water, which is filled with minerals. Luckily, you’ll have no trouble getting rid of that lovely coat of white by descaling your coffee maker.

To descale your coffee maker, simply fill the water reservoir with an even mix of white vinegar and warm water and start a brew cycle. Peterson suggested running a full brew cycle with water at least a few times afterward to get rid of the vinegar taste. The last thing you want to taste first thing in the morning is vinegar in your hot cup of coffee.

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Sometimes, you might just want a new coffee maker.

Wash Whites With a Bluing Agent

Washing whites in the washing machine.

If you’re trying to brighten your white clothing and don’t want to use bleach, there’s another option. A bluing agent is a whitening alternative that is safer for your clothes than bleach, which can ruin the fabric in your clothing over time, according to Peterson. Bleach is a much harsher chemical than bluing and will help take stains out of clothing. Bluing, on the other hand, will help brighten your white clothes.

“Bluing does not actually remove any color or stain, but it does give the appearance of a whiter fabric,” said Peterson.

So, if you have any dull-looking white clothing that needs help looking new again, try adding bluing to your load. You’ll first dilute the bluing using cold water and then add it to your machine’s wash water (never add it on top of clothes as it can stain). When you do use it, skip the fabric softener bleach, or any other product other than detergent.

Mrs. Stewart's Concentrated Liquid Bluing

Brighten your whites with a little bluing agent.

Use Baking Soda to Remove Odors

Baking soda being used to eliminate foul odors in the fridge.

If your home has any stinky upholstery, carpets, or rugs, consider using baking soda to help you get rid of the foul odors. Peterson said baking soda is an inexpensive product that works well to remove odors from fabrics and carpets because it “penetrates into the carpet fibers.”

Peterson said to sprinkle baking soda onto your carpet or upholstery and allow it to sit for 15 minutes or longer depending on how intense the odor is. Then, just vacuum it up!

You can use it to remove odors in your fridge, too. All you have to do is place a bowl of baking soda in the fridge to absorb odors which also prevents other foods from absorbing those stinky smells. Just be sure to place the baking soda on a plate or in a bowl, ensuring enough surface area of the baking soda is exposed for it to work.

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Absorb smells and get your carpet clean.

Use Vinegar to Clean Dishwashers

A dishwasher filled with spotless dishes

If you’re tired of spots on your dishes when using the dishwasher, you might just need to clean your dishwasher. All you need is vinegar.

To use this cleaning hack, Peterson said to fill a cup full of vinegar and place it on the top rack of your dishwasher. Then, run a normal cycle with no other dishes. The acetic acid in the vinegar is able to cut through any grim or grease that has begun accumulating in your appliance leading to dishes that aren’t as spotless as you’d like.

Vinegar seems to do it all, and we especially love that by using this household ingredient, you don’t have to worry about spending money on expensive, harsh chemicals.

Finish Quantum Infinity Shine

You can also grab some rinse-aid to keep your dishes sparkling.

Remove Mold Using Borax

Scrubbing mold off the walls.

Unfortunately, old is pretty common in homes, and it is something you don’t want to let linger for too long. Luckily, there is an old-school cleaning trick that helps remove it. All you need is Borax to get the job done.

Borax is a famous “green” cleaning agent that has been used for ages as a laundry booster and to remove mold. Because mold prefers environments that are generally more acidic, an ingredient like Borax (which has high alkaline levels) will make that environment less suitable for additional mold growth.

Peterson, however, explained that Borax must be mixed with other ingredients in order to be effective. Once you’ve diluted the borax with two parts water (to one part borax), you can add vinegar, dish soap, or baking soda for added cleaning power.

Use a spray bottle to spray the affected area, then scrub the mold away with a scrub brush or cleaning rag that you don’t mind throwing away after use.

BORAX 20 Mule Team Laundry Booster

Time to banish that mold for good!

Remove Mildew from Your Shower Curtain with Bleach

A white shower curtain free from mildew.
Ana Anderson/Shutterstock.com

While showering, the last thing you want to look at is a yucky film of mildew forming along the side of your shower curtain. While some may toss shower curtains in the trash and replace them with new ones, you can save money by removing the mildew instead.

Peterson said to remove your shower curtain and submerge it in the tub with a mix of warm water and a bit of bleach. Allow the curtain to soak, rinse it off, and run it through a rinse cycle in your washing machine.

Keep in mind this will only work for white or clear shower curtains or shower curtain liners, and you should avoid adding bleach to colored fabrics.

LiBa PEVA 8G Bathroom Shower Curtain Liner

If staining is particularly bad, it might still be time for a new liner.

Polish Wood Furniture with Olive Oil

Polishing a wooden table.
Polishing a wooden table.

There’s no need to invest in pricey furniture polish, even for your favorite antiques. You can make wood furniture glisten like new with the help of a bit of olive oil and lemon juice instead! Not only do the natural fats help bring back that lovely gleam in your wood, but the lemon juice offers an invigoratingly fresh aroma you’ll love. Plus, it’s all natural!

To use this hack, Peterson recommends combining 1/2 cup of lemon juice and 1/4 cup of olive oil in a spray bottle. Apply lightly over the surface and wipe clean with a soft rag.

Peterson also has a pro tip, though. If you’re not a fan of the smell of lemon juice or want something a bit stronger to hide the olive oil scent, you can also use essential oil. Simply add a few drops!

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These microfiber cloths are perfect.

Freshen Your Garbage Disposal with Kitchen Staples

sink full of food scraps.

Tired of the rotten food odor coming from your garbage disposal? While there are ways to try and avoid this from occurring all the time, there is also a method to eliminate the odors from within.

To prevent your garbage disposal from smelling bad, Peterson suggests avoiding dumping large amounts of food in it. Instead, consider composting fruit and veggies scraps, egg shells, and coffee grounds, and placing especially smelly foods like fish or meat in a ziplock bag, then in the trash.

iTouchless Stainless Steel Compost Bin

Maybe now is the time to start composting.

If your garbage disposal needs some help freshening up, you can use a few household staples to banish those odors. Peterson suggests combining vinegar, baking soda, and hot water and then pouring it into your disposal. Let it sit for 30 minutes, and then, turn on the water and let your disposal run.

If you’re still getting a waft of garbage disposal odor, consider running through the process again until the stench is gone.

Make DIY Streak-Free Glass Cleaner

Squeegeeing a window.

If you’re tired of streaks from your store-bought window cleaner, you can make your own from supplies you likely already have in your kitchen.

We asked Ken Fisk of Window Genie to chime in on how to create a streak-free glass cleaner. According to Fisk, all your need for the best DIY cleaner is water, vinegar, and dish soap. So simple!

“Two parts water to one part vinegar and a few drops of dish-washing liquid will get the job done,” Fisk said. “However, the true trick to having streak-free windows is all about how you wipe away your solution. A good squeegee will be your new BFF, leaving your windows sparkling and streak-free.”

So, while the cleaner itself helps wash your window, avoiding long pesky streaks is all about having a quality squeegee to get the job done.

Window Cleaner Squeegee

Complete with a microfiber head and a rubber head.

There are loads of cleaning hacks out there. Just make sure you’re not using cleaning myths and inadvertently damaging your home.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »
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