Monday, August 2, 2010

Simple things your mother probably didn't tell you

Truthfully, because she probably didn't know herself.   It happens - in the past forty or so years moms having been telling their children fewer and fewer household tips about cleaning, because it would seem to be a dying art.  Art?  Well, yes.

People don't seem to think about it often, but most everyone likes to walk into a clean, fresh smelling environment.  Not many prefer cluttered, dusty, grimy and chaotic.  For the most part not much thought is given to the amount of work that went into keeping the area clean, but somewhere along the way in the past several decades the ability to actually do housekeeping well in our own homes is becoming a forgotten skill along with little tricks that make cleaning easier.

Four household items that no home should be without:

  • Lemon Juice (fresh is better, but bottled will do in a pinch)
  • White Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Borax

If you're just setting up your household and are making the list of the things to get at the store - put stars by these and do not forget them.  If you've had your home a while and just never knew about it - add them to the pantry.

Lemon Juice and white vinegar are natural bacteria killers and grease strippers.
Borax is a great, microbe eating, odor killing, insect ridding, sanitizing, whitener.
Baking Soda can be added to lemon juice or white vinegar to create the homemade version of the now beloved, "Oxyclean."   Adding one tablespoon of baking soda to one cup of white vinegar gives an immediate oxygenated reaction that will do an amazing cleaning job.

Buying Arm & Hammer brand washing powder (yes it has to be the powder), and adding a few tablespoons to a glass baking dish filled with warm water and a sheet of aluminum foil lining the bottom makes the most incredible sterling silver cleaner.  Place jewelry or silverware on the foil and let soak.  It will lift years of tarnish in minutes, if not seconds.  Particularly great for deep etched patterns that never seem to come clean with standard polish.

My personal favorite - ketchup or hot sauce for cleaning brass.  Think I'm kidding?  Nope.   My mom recently asked me if I wanted some decorative brass pieces that had always been in her house.  She had decided to get rid of them and wondered if I wanted them.  I took them because of the memories associated with them in the house growing up or when she bought them.  She always took good care of her things so they were polished, but some of them had crevices caked with polish which I can remember her scrubbing at in vain.  I dashed on some hot sauce, made sure the pieces were adequately coated and then left them there in the sink to set for a few minutes.  I had only turned my back for a few moments when I turned back to see that the tarnish had already streaked and faded to a bright brassy-gold hue.  I rubbed a bit with a cloth, rinsed and then dried.  They looked brand new and with no polish build-up.  Beautiful!

There are so many household tips that are not only far more frugal, but entirely more healthy for your family.  In any given situation it's always better to opt for a natural, biodegradable, non-toxic way of keeping your home clean.  It's better for the family, the budget, the environment and the future.

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