Sunday, November 06, 2005

Frugal Cleaning Supplies: Vinegar & Co.

Plain old vinegar and elbow grease are valuable products for beating back mildew, grease and other household problems. That’s the word from a reader named George Knox, who is poetical about the virtues of vinegar.

“Check out Vinegar as a miracle fluid,” George wrote in a recent email. “[Vinegar] kills weeds and makes flowers grow, removes rust; cleans stains and kills fleas. There are a number of websites dealing with its value - and it is among the cheapest items in the supermarket.”

The product is among the many simple solutions touted by Consumer Reports in the classic text: “How to Clean Practically Anything,” which is available at bookstores and through various online vendors.

White vinegar, according to the editorial team at Consumer Reports, “is good for a variety of household cleaning tasks, including removing carpet stains, clearing clogged drains and cleaning coffeemakers, chrome, cookware and countertops.”.

Here is a partial list of other common problems with cheap solutions from Consumer Reports:

Mildew on ceramic tiles: Wipe down tiles and grout with a mix of one-part bleach and four-parts water. A solution of baking soda and water can also be used to remove greasy stains.

Bamboo blinds: Wipe down with a cloth slightly moistened with mixture of dish washing liquid and water.

Damp books: Dry texts in an oven at the lowest setting. Or if needed, place toilet paper between pages to dry out individual pages. Dry the book flat with a light paperweight on top.

Mildewed books. Dip a damp cloth into vinegar or use a baby wipe to gently remove mildew stains from books. Then place the text in direct sunlight for 30 minutes or less.

Deck Stains: Scrub stains with a de-greasing detergent. ( A bleached-base product will remove mildew). Use fine sandpaper to scrub off set-in stains.

Adhesive tape stains: Rub residue with a cloth moistened with rubbing alcohol, water and a mild dish detergent.

Candle wax drips: Rub an ice cube over hardened wax and chip off large pieces. Soften remaining wax with a hair dryer. Rub away remainder with a soft cloth.

Musty futons: Sprinkle baking soda over the mattress. After 24 hours, vacuum up the baking soda. A pet-odor/stain removal product can also be used in place of baking soda.

Arm & Hammer, the maker of a popular baking soda, has a long list of affordable cleanup tips for kitchens, yards and other areas of the home. The tips are well organized-on a company website:

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