7 Genius Hardcore Cleaning Hacks

We all suffer some tough stains at home. There are a zillion expensive products out there to clean them, but these are usually repackaged, basic, chemicals. So you just need the chemicals. Understanding what’s happening helps you take the correct action to get rid of stains.

Toilet Rings and “Rust”

There’s products out there like Lime Away, CLR, and toilet bowl cleaner with acid in it that do a good job. These contain phosphoric acid, which is also in cola, so it’ll have a “cola” scent.

A slightly cheaper alternative is pool muriatic acid, available at a pool supply store or in the garden section of a big box hardware store. They come in two-gallon packs, so you should have a lot to use for years.

To use it, put around half a gallon of water into a bucket, and then add around half a cup of acid.  Swirl it around to mix, and then pour a few cups into the bowl.  Scrub it up and down the rings, and let it sit a while. If the water starts to cloud up, the stuff is working.

If it doesn’t, add more of the solution, and scrub. It takes a while to work.

Flush it, and then repeat the process to finish off the remaining bits. Then, flush again. Rinse out the bucket, too.

Don’t store this acid indoors. It’ll evaporate into the room’s air, and then attack metals and corrode them.

If you know someone with a pool, they can give you a little bit of acid in a gallon jug, so you can dilute it in the jug, and use it that way.

Shower Curtains and Liners

Just throw it into the washing machine with detergent, and add a cup of bleach to the wash water.  The bleach will kill the mildew.

Hard Water Stains

This is the same as the rings in the toilet. Use CLR, Lime Away, the blue toilet bowl cleaner with acid, or the diluted muriatic acid solution described in the toilet bowl cleaning tip above.

Just use an old toothbrush to apply the solution to the faucet. Leave it on a few minutes, scrub, and then rinse.

Rinsing is critical. The acids eat away at the chrome finish.

The safer alternative is to just live with the scale buildup. It’s not hurting anything. It’s just ugly.

Stains on Upholstery

If you spill anything, the first thing to do is put a dry towel on it. The towel sucks up the liquid.

Don’t throw more liquid onto it. That only dilutes the stain, and doesn’t remove it.

Once the stain has dried, what you should do is wet it, and then put a dry towel on it, to suck up the liquid.

You can also use baking soda to draw out the liquid.  Powders work because they have a greater surface area to contact the fabric. Let it suck it up, then vacuum up the used baking soda.

To clean off a greasy stain put cornstarch on the stain and leave it overnight. Don’t rub it in. You just pat it on top, and let the cornstarch draw out the liquid. It’s the same principle as the dry towel – you want to draw the liquid out.

Cast Iron Skillets

There’s a lot of advice about using salt, but the traditional tool is a #0 steel wool pad. It’s the thick strands of steel.

You don’t use much detergent. Instead, you soak the pan in water an hour or so, and then use the steel wool to clean off the bits of food.  You don’t press hard.  You just gently swirl the steel wool on the surface, and it scrapes the food off. Like hundreds of fingernails scraping off the food.

To dry it, you rub a few drops of oil into the pan, and then heat it to dry.

Fiberglass Sink Basins

These accumulate hard water deposits and start to look like cracks. They aren’t cracking.

Use a dilute acid like described above in the toilet cleaning. The toilet cleaner, diluted, seems to work particularly well.

Just dab some on, let it sit, and then scrub.  It’ll take dozens of sessions to get rid of the buildup, because it’s thick. So, make it a habit.

The other thing to do is make sure the faucet isn’t dripping.    Additionally, rinse and clean off the bottom of the basin after  you brush your teeth. Toothpaste contains minerals that may stick to the sink as well.

I don’t know if Gloss Gel or other polishes help, but they may. Once the surface is clean, you can use the polish to create a hydrophobic surface, kind of like waxing a car.  This will help prevent accumulation of water that causes the mineral deposits.

Brown Stains on your Clothes Iron

Irons get a nasty brown stain over time. It’s little bits of starch and fiber that burn and stick to the iron surface.

There’s actually a product that cleans it, called iron bottom cleaner, and it’s available at some crafts stores, and available at all industrial sewing machine shops. There’s an expensive “stick” one at Wal Mart, but the industrial one called EZ Off is cheaper.

It’s made of coconut oil, and probably something else. You heat up the iron, and then put the cleaner on there. Then you use a cloth to rub the oil off.  Some of the stain will come off with the oil.

Repeat this process until the entire surface is clean.


Author: John

I can be reached at johnk@riceball.com.

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