I Tried 4+ Home Cleaning Hacks So You Don't Have To

When we were tasked with trying out some of the tips and tricks we've shared throughout the years, I waffled over whether to tackle cleaning-related ones.

On one hand, it would force me to catch up on some chores while getting paid to write about it. On the other hand, it would force me to catch up on some chores...

1. I started simple, with a hack to deal with this rusty spot in my old claw-foot tub.

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When I renovated my bathroom, I found this bathtub at a scrapyard in incredible condition, but it has a bit of rust around the drain. I've always intended to break out the big guns, but haven't yet, and this seemed like a good opportunity to try something more natural.

I found a rust removal recipe that uses only Borax, lemon juice, and water.

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You add a couple tablespoons of lemon juice to the Borax and then just enough water to turn it into a paste. Since I already had all those things on hand, it seemed perfect — if it worked.

I covered the rusty spot with the paste and then left it to sit for about 20 minutes. 

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I say "about" because that was the intention, but I was cleaning four different things pretty much at the same time, so who the heck knows how long it was until I remembered to go back.

Then I rubbed the paste into the rust a bit before rinsing it away. 

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And it did a really good job! There's still a bit of a ring, but I'm sure a second round with the paste will finish the job.

2. Let's take a quick moment for a PSA: If you spill icing sugar all over the kitchen, don't forget to clean out the stove burners. 

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Because if you do, the next time you cook, the fine powder will turn to blackened cement. (For the record, I wasn't the klutz with the sugar.)

I found a hack for cleaning burners that involved letting them marinate in ammonia fumes overnight, resulting in the mess wiping right off in the morning.

Since ammonia is awful, I did the work outside. 

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I only bought lemon-scented ammonia because it was the only option, but don't bother. The only thing lemony is the color. Pee-ew!

Burners and bowls tightly encased in freezer bags, with a quarter-cup of ammonia each, I left them outside overnight.

In the morning, I took a few minutes to clean underneath the stove top. If you didn't know most stoves did this, now you do!

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It wasn't as bad as I worried it might be.

However, as you can see from before and after wiping down the burners, the ammonia did not help much. They are definitely better, but I'm grading on a curve.

Since I had some of that Borax paste left from the bathtub, I tried it, but it didn't help either. 

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Finally, I broke out the Magic Eraser. And it still didn't work! Gah! I guess I'm stuck with it.

3. While I worked on the more laborious hacks, I tried a simple one to refresh smelly towels.

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Even though they're clean, towels can get musty from the moist air in bathrooms. I ran the towels through the hot cycle with white vinegar, then a second time with just baking soda before tossing them in the dryer.

This definitely worked. The musty scent was completely gone and the towels were softer, too.

4. I'm sorry to have to show you this, but the stain at the bottom of the stairs is due to it being the preferred spot for my dogs to throw up. Ew.

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I always clean it up, but sometimes it happens while I'm at work and over five years the spot has gotten darker and darker. Spot cleaning with cleansers lightens it but has never fully removed it.

But I found a hack that uses ammonia and an iron to get out tough carpet stains. 

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I mixed equal parts ammonia and hot water into a spray bottle and saturated the stain. Then I laid a cheap towel over top and ran a hot iron over it. The stain immediately started to transfer to the towel, and I kept moving it to a clean section to iron more.

Eventually, the towel was toast and it was becoming hard to see which dark spots were stain and which were just wet.

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So I took a break to let it dry. It was already a huge difference, though.

Once it was dry, I touched up a few spots and was amazed by the results.

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It's gone! It's actually cleaner than the surrounding area now, but since the whole carpet is being torn out ASAP, I'm not that concerned.

5. Finally, I wanted to try a couple of window cleaning hacks.

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Because I have a lot of big windows. In particular, the large front windows are usually covered with doggo paw prints and nose marks due to their need to guard against every leaf that blows by.

They were pretty gross and the dogs weren't keen on letting me clean them.

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Basically, half the work of cleaning the glass was moving one or both of the dogs out of the way.

Before the confusion sets in, I need to explain my windows for a second. 

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Usually, you'd see the blinds moved out of the way before someone cleans their windows, but mine don't need that. They are actually built into the windows, sandwiched between the panes of glass.

Which is awesome, because they don't get dirty!

Since I have so many windows, I decided to turn it into a hacks showdown.

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I found a recipe for homemade window cleaner and a hack that said buffing the windows with newsprint was the best way to avoid streaks.

So it's regular window cleaner vs. the homemade stuff, and then for each of those, regular paper towel vs. newsprint.

The homemade cleaner recipe was super simple.

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It's just equal parts white vinegar and rubbing alcohol, with a few drops of dish soap. At first, I thought I didn't have any rubbing alcohol, but then I remembered that I keep it with my art supplies.

If you noticed the weird shadow under the label, that's because I'm a klutz.

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This is what happens when you try to get fancy for a photo-op and then drop the bottle before the paint marker is dry. Oops.

So I stuck a big label on top.

First, I simply compared the classic with the homemade version. 

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I just used paper towel to wipe and buff, since it's what I've always used and the focus was on the cleaners themselves.

In the end, they both did pretty much the same job. 

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The homemade mixture is definitely great and I think I'll probably stick with it once I use up the last of the Windex.

Next, I needed to try the newsprint.

Step one: move the dog (again).

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The hack said to do the initial clean with a microfiber cloth and then buff with the newsprint to get rid of streaks.

I repeated the steps on two more windows, once with Windex and once with the homemade cleaner. 

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And frankly, it did a great job with both. Any streaks caused by the cloth were buffed away nicely by the newspaper. But I don't think it did any better than just the paper towel.

So if you would rather recycle newsprint than create more waste, this method totally works.

They look so much better! Now I just need to wash the rest...

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I give him five minutes before he sticks his wet nose against that clean glass.

So I'd say that most of the hacks were total winners! The only dud was the stove burners, but for messes that aren't thick layers of burnt sugar, it'll probably work a lot better.