Put a little spring in your routine with easy ideas and a little know-how.
Credit: Laurey W. Glenn

Make Your Own Cleaning Solutions
Mixing up cleaning concoctions is inexpensive and simple. You'll never run out of supplies if you stock these staples.

  1. White vinegar: To clean windows, fill a spray bottle with equal parts water and vinegar. Add a splash of lemon juice. Full-strength vinegar sanitizes wooden cutting boards. Pour 1 cup white vinegar and a sprinkle of baking soda into the toilet bowl to clean.
  2. Baking soda: Use it to scrub sinks, tile, and tubs. Sprinkle it in the garbage can, disposal or sink drain, and litter box to freshen.
  3. Salt: Remove rust spots with a paste of salt and lemon juice. To clean tarnished brass or copper, use a paste of salt and vinegar.
  4. Lemon: To remove odors, rub a half on a wooden cutting board or run peels and ice (to sharpen the blades) through the garbage disposal.

Choose a Better Broom

  • When you're on a porch or deck: The traditional corn broom has bristles sturdy enough to sweep away dirt, pebbles, and grass.
  • When you're on a sidewalk, driveway, or patio: A push broom features an oversize head with stiff inner fibers and soft outer fibers that makes easy work of sweeping leaves, pine straw, and dirt.
  • When you're inside: An angled broom with soft, synthetic bristles gets into corners easily and picks up more than traditional corn brooms.
  • When sweeping is a pain in your back: An ergonomic broom with a slight curve in the broomstick keeps you standing tall. The Curvaceous Ergo Broom from Casabella has a snap-off head so it can be used as a whisk broom.
  • When you're cleaning awkward areas: A bendable-neck broom, such as the Flex Neck Broom from Casabella, allows easy access under cabinets or low furniture with its bendable head.

Keep Your Garbage Disposal Clean
Fight grease buildup in your garbage disposal, says Mary Thompson, president of plumbing company Mr. Rooter. Turn on hot water and then the disposal. Squeeze a tablespoon of dishwashing detergent into disposal. Run the disposal for 15 to 30 seconds. Turn it off, and leave hot water running until suds are gone.

Sponge 101

  • Put sponges in the utensil compartment of your dishwasher, or launder them in hot water with clothes. Then toss in the dryer.
  • Place damp sponges in the microwave, and heat on HIGH for up to 1 minute. Don't microwave a dry sponge; that's a fire hazard.
  • Soak sponges in a solution of 1 cup liquid chlorine bleach and 1 gallon water. Rinse.
  • Throw sponges out when they start to fall apart or if they have a strong odor.