If you have a cleaning problem, you don’t have to always turn to your cleaning supply cabinet. For most cleaning problems, you can actually find the solution in your pantry! If you have these five items in stock, you can tackle a variety of cleaning complications with ease.
The Supplies You Need
- Baking soda. This fine white powder is a great absorbent, making it the perfect choice item to pour on an oil stain or even a red wine stain. The powder will soak up the stain and then can easily be brushed away. Baking soda is also a mild abrasive, making it a handy scouring powder for your stove top, an easy way to tackle tea or coffee stains in mugs, and a convenient helper to get rid of soap scum in your shower. Sprinkle some baking soda in your smelly shoes, refrigerator, the bottom of your trash can, or any small space you’d like to remove odors from as it is also an effective deodorizer. Mix the baking soda with a little water and you get a paste that can be used for removing coffee stains from your clothes or even as a toothpaste should you ever run out of your regular one.
- Club soda. “A little club soda will take that right out,” you’ve probably heard your grandmother say. This carbonated beverage is a go-to choice for almost any stain. Whenever you have a fresh food stain on your shirt (other than wine or oil, which you should use dry baking soda for – see point #1), wipe off as much as you can of whatever it is, then pour some club soda through the back of the fabric or blot it onto the stain with a paper towel. The carbonation and sodium in the water help to loosen and remove the foreign substance on your fabric. Don’t have any club soda on hand? Seltzer can be used instead.
- Alcohol. Whether it’s isopropyl alcohol or plain vodka, a clear alcohol can quickly remove sticky hairspray residue from the bathroom floor, pen marks on places that shouldn’t have pen marks, or even permanent marker that you wish wasn’t so permanent. You also can use alcohol to sanitize your doorknobs, computer keyboard, or even your hands if needed. Alcohol is commonly used to clean electronic devices as well, but always make sure that it is safe for your particular item as it can dull some types of screens. Tape or other adhesive residue can be easily removed with alcohol, as well as some kinds of paint. Alcohol can also be an effective mold killer, making it a great choice for cleaning books or upholstery that have mold.
- White vinegar. This mild acid is safe for most surfaces and effective at killing a wide variety of bacteria, germs, and even mold. A little goes a long way, so the best plan is to mix one part vinegar with two or three parts water in a spray bottle. Spray it on your counter for a quick clean, on your wall to wipe off grime or tobacco residue, or even on that ringworm spot on your arm. It is also a great natural fabric softener, so add a cup of it to your wash instead of one of the chemical-laden ones. If you need to remove odors from a large area like a room or a car, vinegar is a great choice. Pour some undiluted vinegar in a bowl and set it in the offending area overnight. If the smell is really bad, use a couple extra bowls. It is also the perfect choice to polish windows or a mirror, leaving a streak-free shine. White vinegar is the natural product of choice to remove limescale residue from your water dispenser or humidifier, as well as for removing a wide variety of stains from clothes such as tea, beer, juice, or rust.
- Cooking oil. Just as you oil a gear to keep everything running smoothly, oil is an easy way to get things un-stuck from your skin, carpet, leather couch, or even hard surfaces like your car. A little superglue on your elbow, tape on your table, tar on your car, or paint on your leather pants can all be remedied with a dab of cooking oil. Even gum ground into your carpet or tree sap stuck in your hair can be conquered with oil. Candy stuck inside the dryer? That’s right, cooking oil. There’s more uses for oil than just un-sticking stickiness too. If you leave streaks on your stainless steel while cleaning it, a drop of oil can polish them right out. You can also use the oil to polish your faucets, season your cast iron, and shine your shoes. The best part? If you ever end up with an oil stain after using it for cleaning, just head back up to the top of the list and bust out the baking soda; that oil stain will be gone shortly.
- Combine two of these cleaners for extra cleaning impact!
- Sprinkle some baking soda down your drain, then pour in some vinegar. The acid in the vinegar will react with the alkalinity of the baking soda, causing an expanding fizzy foam that will jostle loose the debris in your drain.
- Add alcohol or white vinegar to the club soda for an even stronger stain remover.
- Combining cooking oil and vinegar in a spray bottle makes a handy DIY leather cleaner and conditioner.
- Do not substitute isopropyl alcohol with rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol has extra additives, sometimes including dyes, which can stain fabrics or other surfaces.
- Do not substitute apple cider vinegar for white vinegar. It does not have as strong of a cleaning power, and the color of it can dye some surfaces.