When I was younger, I always had to clean the house before my grandparents visited. When they came to town, there were hugs, kisses, lots of stories… and a dusting lesson from Grandma. You might say I missed a spot. Or 10. And she noticed.
Nothing gets past Grandma. And while grandmas come in handy for a lot more than just cleaning tips (they are family after all), they do tend to be chock-full of cleaning secrets that get passed down from generation to generation. Like pearls and red lipstick, some cleaning tips are simply timeless — less glamorous, but definitely timeless.
1. You’ve gotta clean as you cook
It’s tempting to throw dishes in the sink until you’re ready to deal, but it’s better for your sanity not to save the entire cleanup for the end (if you ask me, licking the spatula clean totally counts). Your kitchen will be less of a crime scene and more of a labor of love. Plus, it’s just plain easier to make food taste delicious without clutter.
2. Some pantry staples make great cleaning products
Vinegar and ARM HAMMER™ Super Washing Soda are two classic, natural ingredients that still have a gazillion uses for the modern household. Vinegar can clean just about anything. Super Washing Soda soaks up gnarly odors so your nose doesn’t have to (thank you, Super Washing Soda). Yes, it cleans grease stains and burnt food on your pots and pans, but the kitchen isn't the only area this super-substance pulls off its magic tricks. Super Washing Soda will complete your laundry room tool arsenal, too. Adding about one-quarter cup to front-loading machines supercharges your detergent.
3. Lemon wedges are as necessary as good knives
Things lemons are great for: green tea, lemonade, making kale salad tolerable... and scrubbing dried food out of your microwave. Heat water with lemons in the microwave and the steam will loosen gunk left behind by your leftovers. Yes, you could do this without lemons, but it would not smell nearly as pleasant. Lemon wedges also help remove stains from your cutting board and, with the help of salt, remove stubborn, dried food your dishwasher couldn’t handle. There are about 100 other ways to clean with lemons, but I digress.
4. Wearing gloves to do the dishes is worth it
Dorky? Only a little. Clunky? Yes. But so much better than having hands with skin that could exfoliate a potato. Hands with endlessly dry skin are as annoying as doing the dishes themselves, if not more. Wear the gloves. Get your life back. It makes sense.
5. You vacuum before you dust
I can never remember if it’s better to vacuum before you dust or vice versa. And frankly, even experts still debate this. Logic tells me vacuuming second is better because it sucks up dust gone rogue. But Grandma would explain that vacuums actually recirculate dust, undoing all of your hard work. You’re going to have to make a judgment call on this one, but I suggest G-Ma’s advice. It usually, hardly ever, most likely never fails.
6. Line your cabinets with contact paper
It’s tedious, but just do it. If you don’t, it won’t take long to witness first-hand how your dishes leave battle wounds on the inside of your cabinets and drawers (especially if you’re a cast iron junkie like me).
7. Clean your windows with newspaper
Instead of using paper towels, clean windows with newspaper and you’ll never see streaks again. Luckily, the funnies section won’t work for this — sacrifice black and white pages only, preferably the news stories out to depress you anyway.
8. Put dryer sheets in your linen closet
This is the less sexy version of perfume samples in your underwear drawer, but it's a golden idea nonetheless. The smell of dryer sheets beats Stuffy Dark Closet smell any day. Full disclosure: Using too many might be the laundry equivalent of too much body spray.
My final request: Make sure you pass these secrets down to your kids. We can’t let the hard work of grandmas everywhere be forgotten.
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