Cleaning the house can often feel like an overwhelming feat. Luckily for us, queen of the house Martha Stewart has shared her top tips and tricks for removing even the toughest dirt and stains...
It may be in the name, but ironically, wood sprays should not be used to clean wood furniture. According to Martha, they leave oily marks, attracting dust. Instead, she suggests something entirely different.
Martha is a big fan of dry microfiber cloth. Simple but effective, it will perfectly pick up any dust. If the dirt is more substantial and sticky, dip the fabric into a bowl of warm water and dishwasher liquid. After squeezing the cloth, use it to wipe down the wood. Easy!
Even in the tidiest of homes, the linen closet is often the secret unorganized spot. Folding sheets can be tricky, and matching pillowcases and blankets rarely end up in the same place. For this reason, Martha suggests keeping matching bedding together in bundles.
Fold the bedding and then wrap it inside the matching blanket. This way, when it's time to change the bed, a bundle of matching sheets can be easily grabbed. This can be done with matching towel sets too. Martha credits this trick to the Japanese fabric wrapping technique known as Furoshiki.
Linen napkins may elevate the dining room table appearance, but they can be a hassle to deal with afterward. Rather than throwing them away like regular paper napkins, they need to be washed. Martha recommends doing so by hand in an effort to protect the material.
Fill the tub or a bowl with hot water, laundry detergent, and a small amount of non-chlorine bleach for a brightening effect. After leaving to soak for a few minutes, drain the water and squeeze the napkins. Refill the sink and continue to rinse and squeeze. When the water is clear, the job is done!
Controlling Pet Hair
Pets are a welcomed addition to the home - their shed hair, however, is less so. For anyone whose furry friend leaves a trail of hair as they go, Martha has the perfect trick to keep it in check. "Place an old towel or sheet wherever your pet likes to rest," she explains.
This will help keep the hair mostly in one place and ensure it can be easily gathered. She suggests "periodically shaking it outside to remove most of the hair before tossing it in the washing machine." For the rest of the hair, regular vacuuming, mopping, and a lint roller or two will keep it under control.
Keeping The Fridge Clean
It's perhaps the most beloved kitchen appliance, but the fridge often gets heavily neglected in the cleaning department. With the constant inflow and outflow of grocery items, the fridge can quickly accumulate dirt and spills. For this reason, Martha suggests regular upkeep.
Any fridge spills should be wiped down immediately to avoid them hardening over time. A thorough full-fridge clean should be conducted every few months. "Wash the interior with a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda for every quart of warm water," Martha says. Toothbrushes are a great way to scrub any tough marks.
It's the job we all hate to do, but unfortunately, it's got to be done. Dusting is key in ensuring there is no build-up of dust in our home, protecting us from all sorts of health problems. According to Martha, a simple feather duster will not be effective. Lamb-wool dusters are far better at attracting and holding dust.
She also suggests purchasing a duster with an extended handle, which will help reach the house's highest and most inaccessible spots. Electrostatic mitts and cloths are good for grabbing up-close dust, while a natural bristled paintbrush can be a clever way to access any other hidden nooks.
Washing Pillows & Blankets
Washing our bed pillows and blankets is another one of those home cleaning tasks we tend to avoid for as long as possible, primarily due to the widespread belief that they can only be washed by hand. According to Martha, however, there are ways to wash them in the machine effectively.
Put the items in the washing machine at the highest spin speed, ensuring most of the water is spun out before the cycle finishes. When putting them in the dryer, throw in some dry towels simultaneously to help "speed up the process." Adding "tennis balls or commercial fluffing rings" can also help to maintain fluffiness.
Extracting Wine Stains
An enjoyable night-in can be ruined by the knocking over of a wine glass, the new living room rug now decorated with a dark red circle stain. But it's not game over! If one responds quickly, there are ways to effectively remove the mark with the help of some home ingredients.
After first applying ethanol, white vinegar should be poured onto whatever is left of the stain. Apply salt onto the tougher materials. "Let it stand for five minutes before carefully pouring boiling water over the stain from a height of at least a foot," Martha instructs.
Removing Spilled Wax
Candles are a great way to improve the smell of the home and create a relaxing ambiance. That being said, Martha knows "there's nothing charming about spilled wax," and she has some tricks up her sleeve to remove it. Wax spilled onto countertops and tables can be easily removed by a hair dryer on low heat.
Within a few minutes of blowing, it can be easily scraped off without damage. If the spilled wax landed on clothing or other fabrics, applying ice or putting the item in the freezer should help. Oil solvents will help remove any residue; rinse with isopropyl alcohol and wash with enzyme detergent.
We may have been washing dishes for years, but that doesn't mean we know everything there is to know about the art. The queen of the kitchen, Martha Stewart, has some extra tips we may not have learned. Apparently, there is an order dishes should be done in - greasier items coming in last.
While it may seem like any water can get the job done, Martha states that not all dishes have the same optimal water temperature. Glass and silver should be washed in hot water to allow them to "dry without spots and streaks," while dairy should be washed off in cold water.
Mildew in the house can be a real nuisance if not taken care of, so Martha has a few ways to help keep it under control. She explains that cleaning regularly and ensuring air circulation in the room can make all the difference. Therefore, learning how to do these effectively is key.
In an attempt to reduce dampness, do what can be done to keep the area dry. Using desiccants or moving wet items out of the room can help to achieve this. Dehumidifiers and incandescent lightbulbs are also great tools to have in the home as they work to reduce moisture in the air.
Those marble kitchen countertops definitely look great, but they can be a real hassle to take care of. They require proper maintenance and thorough, regular cleaning. So, what is the best way to clean them without causing any damage? Of course, Martha Stewart has the answer!
Martha suggests dipping a sponge into a bowl of "warm water and a mild, neutral detergent." Use the sponge to clean the surfaces and then dry with a soft cloth. Alcohol and fruit juices are acidic and can cause damage, so she recommends sealing the countertops once a year to help prevent permanent stains.
When it comes to vacuuming, everything one needs to know is in the accompanying instruction booklet. No two vacuum cleaners are the same, so when purchasing one, it's important to read about its unique features and parts. Knowledge is power, people.
Each part will allow for cleaning a different type of surface, and some may even provide access to spots previously thought to be inaccessible. Once fully informed, dust the area first, clear the path of all obstacles and get vacuuming! For many, it's one of the more enjoyable home chores!
Sparkling The Silverware
Martha shows us how to get our silverware sparkling like new in one of the most unique hacks on this list. Instead of replacing the cutlery when it starts to tarnish, try first to remove the stains with this effortless at-home trick. All that's needed is an aluminium pan and baking soda.
Place the sterling or plated silver in the pan and sprinkle 0.5 - 1 cup of baking soda all over. Next, pour boiling water into the pan, making sure to cover all the items inside fully. Give it a few minutes, and the tarnish will disappear. Lastly, remove the silverware and buff with a soft cotton cloth.
Cleaning The Bath
The bathtub can often be overlooked on the long list of cleaning chores, but it should not be forgotten. Forget all those strong-smelling bathroom sprays and open up the pantry, as Martha has a non-toxic homemade recipe for scrubbing the bathtub clean.
Fill a small container with one teaspoon of liquid soap and add a few drops of antibacterial essential oil. "Tea tree, eucalyptus, rosemary, or peppermint" will all work great. Next, add one cup of baking soda and water until a paste is made. Apply to a sponge or brush and get scouring.
Scrubbing Ceramic Tiles
Order the baking soda in bulk because this is another cleaning hack that relies heavily on the trusted ingredient! In yet another Martha Stewart home recipe, she recommends cleaning ceramic floor tiles with a paste made up of baking soda and water. That's right; there are no harsh chemicals involved.
Scrub this magical paste into the grout, and it will clean the floor to perfection. After rinsing the soap off the tiles with water, dip a microfiber cloth into a bucket of water and dishwasher liquid. Wring it out and proceed to give the floor one final clean!
While throwing away a filthy pot may be tempting, one must think to themselves, "what would Martha Stewart do?" The answer, in this case, is obvious - get out the baking soda and prepare to create a cleaning miracle. There's no cleaning job too difficult for Martha!
Even if the mess has hardened or thickened over time, this hack should still work its magic. Fill the pot with "1 to 2 inches of water [adding] about two tablespoons of baking soda. Simmer 15 minutes, then scrape tough spots on the bottom with a wooden spoon as needed."
Tackling The Oven
Oh, the oven. It's the dreaded kitchen appliance we tell ourselves is self-cleaning, even though it's not. When we picture cleaning it, we think of toxic cleaning sprays that contain enough chemicals to destroy our sense of smell. Thankfully, Martha has an alternative approach.
The baking soda is back at it again, helping to clean another part of the home in a non-toxic way. This time, the paste comprises "3/4 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup warm water." Use a paintbrush to apply the paste to all the grease inside the oven. After the paste has hardened, scrape it off and wipe the area down.
Understanding Cast Iron
Cast iron skillets are one of the more complicated kitchen items to clean, requiring a specific approach. Understanding this issue, Martha set out to find and determine the best practice, outlining her recommended technique for her loyal fans to follow.
To get the cast iron skillets looking fresh and new, Martha says to "scrub it with coarse salt and a soft sponge," This, she explains, helps to preserve the flavors within the cast iron while being "a natural abrasive, [absorbing] oil and [lifting] away bits of food."
Washing Wood Floor
We've covered how to clean ceramic tiled flooring, but what about the traditional wooden floor paneling? Again, the go-to product on the market for this specific task includes harsh chemicals, so Martha created an alternative. Believe it or not, this one does not require baking soda!
Anyone seeking sparkling wooden floors will need to go out and purchase some Castile soap. As explained by Stewart, this olive oil-based product "can remove stubborn stains and, when added to warm water, serves as an especially effective cleaner for hardwood and tile floors."
Saving Wooden Cutting Boards
Wooden cutting boards are a strong base for our food preparation, but over time they can start to wear away under pressure. Although we clean them after every use, dish soap and a sponge cannot effectively remove the stains from certain foods placed on the wood.
This at-home cleaning hack will help to revitalize and sanitize the wooden cutting boards with the use of everyday kitchen grocery items. Sprinkle some salt over the slab of wood and rub it into the surface with half a lemon. After a few minutes of scrubbing, the board will appear like new.
Cleaning Hair Brushes
Although one may not associate hairbrushes with the kitchen, Martha has a surprisingly clever kitchen hack for cleaning our hair instruments. As the grease and dirt can transfer from our heads to the brush and accumulate over time, these tools are one of the more underrated dirty items in our homes.
A quick and effective way to clean them all at once is to load them into the dishwasher! Odd, we know. But it works wonders, and they will come out looking fresh and new! It's probably best not to put them in at the same time as the dirty dishes, though!
Revitalizing The Mattress
Another piece of home furniture that can build up dirt over time is the mattress. Again, it's not commonly thought of as one of the dirtier items in our lives, but it is surprisingly so. If we consider that we spend a third of our lives sleeping on it, we can understand why it needs to be cleaned every now and then.
Yes, we usually have sheets covering it, but some things can be done to ensure the mattress stays fresh. For this, the baking soda makes its return, as it's combined with essential oils and sprinkled over the mattress surface. Before picking it all up with a vacuum, give it a few minutes to work its odor-neutralizing ways!
De-Crumbing The Keyboard
We're all guilty of eating a bag of potato chips or an extra-crumbly cookie while sitting at our computer desk. While we think we may have gotten away with the crime, a closer inspection of the gaps between the keyboard keys will reveal otherwise. It's crumb central down there!
This build-up of dirt and germs beneath our fingertips can be easily controlled by another one of our favorite office desk supplies - the Post-it note! Using the sticky strip end of the square, move the paper between the keyboard rows and watch in amazement as it picks up everything it touches: dust, dirt, and the rest.
Pillowcasing The Ceiling Fan
If we've learned anything from Martha Stewart, it's the importance of dusting our home. Every surface can host the stuff, and our job is to seek it out and remove it. That being said, attempting to remove dust from the ceiling fan can be more of a challenge.
Not only the inaccessibility of the item but the fact that when we wipe over it with a rag, the dust tends to fly everywhere but the cloth, filling the room with dust. For this, Martha recommends using a pillowcase instead. Wrap it over the fan blades and wipe back. The dust will be picked up and contained inside!
Removing Carpet Stains
Carpets and alcohol don't immediately sound like a dream combination, but according to Dallas Maids, an award-winning maid service, this is the case. Yes, that's right. Next time the carpet appears to be ruined by a colorful substance, grab the nearest vodka bottle in sight.
Speaking on the matter with NBC News, Dallas Maids chief Greg Shepard explained their recommended technique. "First blot the stain. Second, pour any type of clear alcohol (rubbing alcohol, vodka, white wine) onto the stain. This is better than any over-the-counter product."
Clearing The Drains
When the drains are blocked up with gunk and dirt, everyone in the house will know. The overwhelmingly nasty smell can ruin the ambiance of any home event, putting off guests as they enter. For a quick fix, whip out the baking soda and vinegar once again.
First things first, wait for the tap water to run hot and allow it to flow into the drain. Next, send down half a cup of baking soda, followed by one cup of vinegar. Very soon, the muck will be flushed out, and the drain smell will no longer overtake the scent of the home-cooked food in the oven!
Emptying The Gutter
Autumn is a beautiful time of year. The boiling hot summers have come to an end, and the streets are filled with fallen leaves. But behind this picturesque setting lies the build-up of leaves in the gutter. Clearing them out can be a physically strenuous task.
As it turns out, waiting until the winter hits may be the solution. According to Martha, the rain will fall, and the muck that has built up inside the gutter will begin to harden in the cold temperatures. This will then make it a lot easier to remove. Patience here is key!
Clearing Air Vents
Most people may not know this, but butter knives have two purposes in the home. In addition to spreading butter over our toast, they also enable us to clean our air vents with ease. Hear us out on this one; we promise it's Martha Stewart-approved!
Air vents can rapidly accumulate dirt and dust but are often difficult to clean due to their tight-enclosed gaps. This is where the butter knife comes in handy, as its long flat surface provides the perfect-shaped tool to access these spaces. Make sure to wrap a cloth around the blade before going in!
Extracting Couch Stains
After learning the carpet stain/vodka cleaning hack, this one should come as less of a surprise. As we saw earlier, alcohol can do more than just provide a good night out: it's an essential home cleaning ingredient that can have a greater impact than any store-bought product.
Of all the sofas, those made of microfiber materials tend to be the most stain-prone and the hardest to clean. Luckily, it was discovered that clear alcohol could do what no product before was able to do and remove these stains. Apply some rubbing alcohol to the sofa and use a bristle brush to rub it in.