This is the "reduce, reuse, recycle" mantra in action. If you want streak-free mirrors and perfect countertops, then look no further than the paper you read yesterday. "Old newspapers (with vinegar) are the best thing to clean windows, mirrors, shiny countertops and any smooth surface. Modern newsprint ink is non-toxic, so no worries about food surfaces," says Fred Apstein of Victoria, British Columbia, who is a self-proclaimed "half of a couple that shares household chores."
"By using these two products, consumers can keep clean floors and countertops. Simply sweep together a mess of crumbs and dirt, and suck it up," says Jill Kushinksy, chief cleaning officer at MaidPro.
Baking soda isn't just for baking treats and keeping the fridge smelling fresh. "A paste of a little water in baking soda makes a scrubbing compound that won't scratch your stove enamel or stainless-steel finish. You can let it soak or even dry on tough spots and scrub with water later. Mix it with salt to take wine or juice stains out of carpets," says Apstein.
You probably have an array of vinegars in your cupboards for recipes, but a basic distilled vinegar is a cleaning must-have, too. "Vinegar is an essential cleaning tool. It is great for mirrors to mineral buildup and everything in between," says Amy Bates, owner of Merry Maids in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Once you have all your tools -- and the cleaners you need to go with them -- you need just one more thing: A schedule. "Write down what needs weekly, bimonthly, monthly, quarterly and yearly attention. Keep it posted and stick to the schedule," says Mary Findley, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Green Cleaning and owner of Mary Moppins.
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