Streak-free Glass

Unlike the streaking fad of the 1970’s, streaky glass has never been in vogue. Rather, streaky windows, glass tabletops, and mirrors is a frustrating result when cleaning your home. So often, no matter how much cleaner you spray on the surface and how you wipe it away, it seems almost impossible to leave a streak-free, shining surface in place. But guess what? Streak-free glass is possible and using the proper method will even take you less time to achieve the results you desire. Cleaning glass without leaving streaks and doing so efficiently? Win, win!

The Cleaner

Most commercial glass cleaners will do the trick when it comes to cleaning glass mirrors. One of the most effective and popular options is Windex glass cleaner, but you can also use Method if you want a natural and non-toxic formula.

Another option is to make your own glass cleaner. All you need is distilled water, distilled white vinegar, and a spray bottle. Learn to make your own distilled water here. Use distilled rather than tap or filtered water as hard water could be the cause of the streaks and grime left behind. Hard water has an accumulation of dissolved minerals such as calcium and magnesium that are culprits when it comes to streaks. Mix the distilled water and distilled white vinegar in a 50/50 ratio for a non-toxic and antibacterial cleaner for a fraction of the price of store-bought cleaners.

The Wipe

When cleaning windows, mirrors, and other glass surfaces, paper towels – while convenient – are not your friend. Most paper towels leave behind lint that becomes obvious on shiny surfaces like mirrors and glass top tables. Trying using a microfiber cloth or a squeegee instead. Neither leave behind lint, and you can toss the t-shirt in the wash when you’re done, and both are reusable making them more environmentally-friendly. Old newspapers, if you can find them, will also provide you with a lint-free experience. Newspaper doesn’t hold up well against the wet cleaner for very long, so have plenty on hand.

The Technique

Before you begin, make sure your surface is free of dirt, dust, crumbs, and goo. Vacuum or dust around window and mirror frames as you don’t want dirt mixing with your cleaner. Got sticky substances clinging to your glass? Don’t try and clean these up with glass cleaner, because they can smear and create even more of a mess. Instead, use plastic to scrape off any substances before you start cleaning. A plastic utensil, card, or a plastic paint scraper should do the trick and won’t scratch the glass. For especially stubborn areas, dab with a bit of liquid dish soap. Let it sit for bit, then wipe the dish soap and the goo away.

A good glass cleaning tip is to start at the top of the mirror or window and work your way down. This way, when the cleaner drips, you’ll be able to wipe it up efficiently as you work your way down.

Did you know that when you spray cleaner directly on the glass, you use more product than you actually need? And, if your cleaner produces too many suds while cleaning your glass, you’re more prone to leave behind streaks.  Spray the window cleaner directly on your microfiber cloth, newspaper, or t-shirt instead of the glass. This helps avoid drips that can leave streaks. Plus, you’ll find that you actually need less cleaner than you think you’ll need for a streak-free shine.

Be careful not to get cleaner on window and/or mirror wood frames, as it can damage or warp the wood over time.

When it comes to cleaning windows, mirrors, and glass tabletops effectively and achieving the ultimate streak-free glass , remember that it’s not always going to come out perfectly. (Nothing is ever perfect, right?) Even if you’ve used a microfiber cloth, distilled water, and a small amount of product, there could still be streaks left behind.

The good news is that these streaks can be removed by using a dry cloth and and buffing them out. Streaks disappear quickly when you use light, fast strokes over the span of the table, mirror, or window. Microfiber cloths work like magic! Best of all, this takes only a few seconds.

The Result

Clean, streak-free glass while fully clothed.

Cleaning As DIY Preventative Maintenance

Cleaning as DIY Preventative Maintenance

It’s never any fun when stuff in your home doesn’t work the way it should. Of course, if you live in an apartment, there’s maintenance service to handle any issues. However, there’s still a certain degree of effort on your part – making the call, taking time to be a home (if you are uncomfortable having maintenance in your apartment when you’re not there), and securing pets. If you own your place, it’s finding a trustworthy contractor, scheduling service, taking time off to be at home, paying the bill, and the inevitable wait for service. But if doing some simple things around your home could prevent future hassles, why not incorporate cleaning as DIY preventative maintenance into your routine? Today we’ll review some simple, easy, and effective things you can do to save yourself from future maintenance headaches.

Freshen Dishwasher

Are hard water stains, greasy deposits, or drainage issues plaguing your dishwasher? Follow these easy three steps every three months to ensure your dishwasher smells nice and works effectively.

  1. To deep clean your dishwasher, remove any foreign material you find from the drain.
  2. Place a small, dishwasher-safe bowl full of white vinegar on the top rack and run a complete wash cycle on the hottest setting.
  3. Then sprinkle a handful of baking soda across the bottom of your dishwasher and run for a short hot water cycle.

Dust Fridge Coils

Condenser coils help cool refrigerant as it flows, maintaining the refrigerator’s temperature. If the coils get coated in dust and dirt, it becomes difficult for them to do their job, forcing the condenser to work harder to cool the refrigerant. When this happens, you may hear the refrigerator making noise as the condenser runs constantly. You may also notice these additional problems:

  • Extra energy usage and higher utility bills
  • Refrigerator doesn’t cool sufficiently
  • Condenser malfunctions

It’s recommended that you clean condenser coils every 6 months (more often if you have pets). Here’s how to clean refrigerator coils with the right methods and equipment.

  1. Unplug the fridge.
  2. Locate the coils. They are typically located on the back of the refrigerator or in the front behind a base grille or kick plate.
  3. If the coils are in the back, move fridge away from the wall. If there’s any resistance, don’t force the fridge to move as you may damage vinyl flooring.
  4. Use the hose attachment to vacuum in around the coils.
  5. Vacuum any loosened dust from the floor.
  6. Plug the fridge back in and push back into place.

Check HVAC Filter

Dirt and debris in your filter can obstruct airflow, increasing the workload of your system. By replacing the filter regularly, you can reduce wear and tear on your air conditioner while allowing the free movement of air for improved indoor comfort. To make sure your furnace and air conditioner run smoothly, check the filter periodically especially if you have shedding pets. Signs your filter might be ready for a change include:

  • Your AC is cold enough
  • Your electric bill has increased
  • There’s more dust near your air vents
  • Your HVAC closet is dusty

When vacuuming or dusting, don’t forget to dust your air vents and cold air returns.

Check For Leaks

When cleaning your apartment, be sure to watch for water around the toilet and under sinks which may indicate a leak. Do call your leasing/management office if you see any water where it doesn’t belong so the leak can be addressed before it becomes serious. If you own your place, now’s the time to find a reliable plumber or handyperson.

Fix Slow Drains

Don’t you hate it when you’re showering and the water starts backing up around your ankles? Then when the water finally drains, there’s a soap-scummy mess left to clean up. Most of the time, a slow bathroom sink drain or tub drain is a result of soap scum build up and/or hair clogs. Preventative maintenance is these areas is quick, easy, and inexpensive. Simply follow these steps:

  • Let the hot water run for a minute to warm up pipes
  • Pour about ½ cup of baking soda down the drain. If you have a pop up drain closure, use a funnel or a piece of paper to guide the baking soda into the drain.
  • Pour in one cup of white vinegar. It will fizz up like a science experiment; if you have kids (or are a kid a heart), they will love to watch this process.
  • Let sit for about 10 minutes.
  • Rinse with hot water.

Perform this preventative maintenance once every month or so to keep your drains flowing.

Clean Kitchen Filter

Whether you have a range hood or microwave above your stove, it’s important to clean the buildup of cooking grease on a periodic basis to keep the vent or microwave fan working properly. If you’ve never cleaned it, or haven’t cleaned it in a while, be forewarned: it won’t be pretty. Greasy buildup is, well, gross. Here’s how to get rid of the yuck:

  • Remove the filter
  • Fill your sink with boiling water
  • Add a generous squirt of de-greasing dish soap, like Dawn, and add ¼ cup baking soda. Swish with a wooden spoon or something with a handle so as to not burn your hand.
  • Submerge the greasy filter
  • Soak for about 10 minutes
  • Scrub with a non-abrasive scrub brush adding more dish soap if needed
  • Rinse thoroughly in hot water
  • Dry with paper towels or a clean cloth
  • Replace the filter

If you cook a lot, especially on the stove top, cleaning your vents once a month is a good maintenance strategy.

Garbage Disposal

When your disposal is working well, it’s such a great convenience. When it’s not, it’s a real pain. Using your disposal properly can prevent the headache of a backup.

DOs

  • Keep a steady flow of cold water during and after every use
  • Clean periodically by running a small amount of ice through the unit
  • Grind lemon peels to keep the disposal smelling fresh

DON’Ts

  • Don’t use hot water when actively using the disposal
  • Don’t fill the disposal before running. The unit will operate more efficiently if you add small amounts of food at a time.
  • Don’t use any harsh chemicals or cleaning products in the unit.
  • Don’t put anything in the disposal besides food

FOOD DON’Ts

It has been said that you shouldn’t put items in your disposal that you cannot eat. You know, like bones. Or paper towels. But there are some foods that will wreak havoc if you try to get rid of them in the disposal. Never put the following foods in your disposal:

  • Fruit pits
  • Fibrous veggies like asparagus, corn husks and celery
  • Coffee grounds (instead, sprinkle a thin layer of coffee grounds in the garden)
  • Starchy foods like potato peels and pasta
  • Grease and fat (a great way to get rid of grease and fat is to place in a bowl in the fridge. Once it hardens, you can pop it out of the bowl and into the trash.)

Now look at you, you are now on your way to becoming a DIYer with simple cleaning as DIY preventative maintenance. Feels empowering, right?

 

How To Clean Mini Blinds

How To Clean Mini Blinds

 

Not all cleaning jobs are created equal. Some are quick, easy, and satisfying – like removing all the toothpaste and water splatters from the bathroom mirror and polishing it up to a flawless and streak-free thing of beauty.  Others are ones we dread because they are hard (washing windows), time consuming (cleaning grout), or kinda gross (duh, the toilet). Once of my least favorite is cleaning mini blinds. They kind of tick all the Dreaded Chores boxes: hard, time consuming, and (especially in the case of kitchen blinds), kinda gross. The moment I start, I begin to think, “Will I EVER finish this job?!?”

Like windowsills, light switch plates, and ceiling fan blades, it’s easy to forget about (IGNORE?) the need to clean your blinds. It’s sometimes so easy not to really see the dirt. I mean, when you open your blinds, do you actually look at the slats or are you looking out the window to check the weather? Then one day when you’re opening or closing them, you see – really see – the dust bunnies and the grime. After doing a bit of research, I discovered this oft-forgotten task really isn’t so bad if you’re strategic. Here’s how to clean blinds the quick and easy way.

What You’ll Need:

  • Microfiber cloth – read all about microfiber cloths here.
  • Vacuum and upholstery attachment
  • Clean sock
  • White vinegar
  • Optional: Mini blind duster like this one, just $9 from The Container Store, or this one, just $7.80 from Walmart.

How to Clean Blinds:

  1. Close the blinds and gently wipe them down with a microfiber cloth starting at the top and wiping side-to-side. Hold the bottom of the blind in your other hand so it’s pulled out from the window. Adjust the blinds to open them, and run the microfiber cloth over them again. Then close them the opposite way and repeat.
  2. Vacuum up any dust and debris with your vacuum attachment.
  3. For stuck-on dirt or stains, mix a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water. Dip a clean sock (finally a use for that old sock with the hole in the toe!) into your cleaning solution. Wring it out until the sock isn’t dripping wet, then slip onto your hand. Use your fingers to run over each blind blade tightly. Leave the blinds open to dry thoroughly.
  4. For deep cleaning, remove them from the window and place them in a bathtub filled with warm water and a squeeze of dish soap. Let them soak for an hour. Rinse and hang them outside until they’re completely dry.

Note:  The special blinds duster isn’t necessary, but makes quick work of dusting blinds especially if you incorporate this task into your regular cleaning schedule. You’ll find it will save time in the long run by allowing you to clean multiple blades at once quickly and easily.

Dos and Don’ts

  • DO cleaning your blinds when you dust, so at least once a week.
  • DO remember to dust blinds before you vacuum or sweep, so you won’t have to vacuum again.
  • DON’T spray air freshener, hairspray, or any other spray near your blinds as dust will stick to the residue and take cleaning blinds fairly easy to hard, time-consuming, and gross.
  • DON’T clean the dust with water (unless you’re doing the deep clean soak). Dry dust first with a microfiber cloth that will catch the dust. Adding water to a dusty surface tends to make a bigger mess.

Okay, so maybe cleaning the blinds can come off the dreaded task list, because that doesn’t sound too bad. Better that cleaning grout or toilets for sure.

It’s National Clean Out Your Fridge Day

Stinky refrigerator?

I am not happy with whomever invented Clean Out Your Fridge Day which is “celebrated” on November 15. Do we really need to be reminded that although the rest of our place looks presentable, there’s probably something creepy, hairy, stinky, and unknown lurking in the back corner of the crisper drawer? Clearly, we do, or this day would not exist. My fridge is like my closet. It will go for weeks – dare I say months – looking tidy and clean and then suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere, it looks like elves performed some horrible mischief in the night. My once neat, organized, color-coded (yes, I am THAT girl) closet is a sloppy wreck with clothes falling off the hangers and the fridge contains mysterious science-fair-like “stuff”. And it’s not like cleaning either the fridge or the closet is hard; it’s just an annoyance and an awful way to spend a Saturday morning when you could be brunching on eggs benedict and sipping mimosas. So what is one to do? As in the words of a dear friend of mine, “Just git ‘er done”. Here’s a few tips on making this god-forsaken process a wee bit less miserable.

Preparation

Obviously, you have to remove all food from the fridge to clean it. Short on counter space? Set up a little folding table or use a few chairs. I am pretty successful with just removing food from one section at a time, cleaning it, and putting it back before moving on. For a complete, and uber-thorough clean (completely emptying), put your food in a cooler. You’ll need at least enough room to hold a shelf’s worth of stuff. Make sure your kitchen sink is empty, too. While you’re at it, put the recycling bin and trash can nearby as you’ll likely be tossing expired items and items that no longer resemble food.

Supplies

You won’t need much: white vinegar and/or dish soap; a spray bottle or a big bowl; a sponge and/or a scrubby; and paper and/or microfiber towels — all or most of which you probably already have on hand (whew).  The vinegar breaks down grease and grime, and when mixed with hot water in a spray bottle (or bowl, or dishpan, or bucket), it becomes a food-safe cleaner that’s perfect for any gunk that might have accumulated on refrigerator shelves. The other items on the list will help you wipe, scrub, dry, and shine.

The Process

While some people have enough counter space (is there ever really enough?!?) to completely empty their refrigerators before cleaning, I find  working one shelf at a time is often the best method, because you don’t want to leave your perishables out for too long.

  • Start at the top.
  • Remove everything from a shelf and see just how messy you (or those darn elves!) have been.
  • If there are spills, carefully remove the glass from the frame or brackets, or the shelf itself (depending on your fridge) and clean both sides, as well as the edges, with the vinegar solution.
  • Dry with paper or microfiber towels.
  • Wash the frame that holds the glass before replacing the entire shelf. For that, I usually head to the sink and use dish soap and hot water.
  • If there aren’t any caked-on spills that require shelf removal, simply run a scrubby sponge under hot water. Give the shelf and fridge walls an initial scrub to loosen any gunk. Then, spray it all down with cleaner and give it another scrub, before wiping everything clean with a microfiber cloth.

NOTE: When you’re not actively working in the fridge, keep the door closed to keep everything as cool as possible.

Doors and Drawers

Refrigerator drawers often accumulate debris, especially if they’re used for produce. For a deep clean, remove the drawers and wash them in the kitchen sink with soap and water. If they won’t fit in your sink, spray and wipe them clean, and dry them before putting them back. While the drawers are removed, wipe down the walls and “floor” of the fridge with the vinegar cleaner. Use the same method for the shelves inside the doors.

Put Stuff Back Clean

Now that your fridge is sparkling (and you realize it wasn’t THAT BAD to clean), be sure to wipe down jars, containers, and condiment bottles so you don’t bring gunk back into the fridge. Even if they don’t appear dirty, it’s a good idea to give container bottoms a quick wipe with a damp sponge or paper towel, especially if the shelf was sticky. If any bottles or jars have accumulated a little goo on the outside, rinse them under warm water then wipe them clean and dry. If gunk has accumulated around the seal or the edges of the cap, take the lid off and wash it more thoroughly in the sink. Check all expiration dates and toss anything that’s expired (like the sriracha I just threw away from 2017. Yikes.)

Wipe Down the Outside

Once everything is back in your sparkling fridge, use a clean microfiber cloth and the vinegar spray to wipe down the outside of the doors, including the edges and seals, and don’t forget the handles! The worst area will undoubtedly be to top of the fridge as it tends to collect greasy residue from cooking and dust. I like keeping a kitchen towel on top that can just be thrown in the wash. If you have a stainless steel fridge, spray on a cleaner specially made for stainless steel and polish with a microfiber towel for a streak-free finish.

Keep It (and Yourself) Fresh

You did it and you lived to tell the tale! Enjoy your super-clean fridge. For a while, anyway. If you want to keep it smelling fresher longer, stick an open box of baking soda on one of the shelves. Now treat yourself to brunch with a bloody Mary. You deserve it.