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The 10 best cleaning tips and hacks we’ve learned over the past 20 years

Broom and dust pan
Junko Nakase on Unsplash

It’s now 2020, and we decided that we should share 10 cleaning hacks and tips that we’ve learned since the year 2000. Some things have changed drastically, and some have not changed since the War of 1812. More people have pets now than ever before, so we’ve included some innovative ways to handle household fur. And we’ll explore how technology has refined the art of housework to help busy people keep their homes clean.

In this article, we’ll address laundry and pet-cleaning tips. Most of these hacks use products that are easily obtained and are inexpensive, so don’t worry about having to spend a lot of money, unless you wish to.

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Laundry hacks

Dealing with a forgotten load of clothes

Busy lifestyles mean that sometimes laundry gets forgotten in the washing machine. Forgotten wash can mean mildewed clothes and towels that smell terrible. Rewash the load with a cup of white vinegar, and the smell will disappear, suggests Apartment Therapy.

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Chalk absorbs grease

Yup. Keep a stick of chalk around, so if you get a grease stain on your clothes, rubbing the chalk on it will absorb the grease and keep it from setting in until you can wash the garment. For grease stains in your oven check out these oven cleaners.

Speaking of grease

Have you ever had a crumb of something oily get on a suede jacket or shoe, spread like crazy, and you were sure that it was ruined? Take heart — rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth will take care of that stain, so you won’t remember it was ever there. It will take a bit of the dye with it, but it won’t fade the item in any noticeable way. Dampen the cloth and rub gently. This method will also save you a lot of money at the dry cleaners. Be careful not to mix rubbing alcohol with bleach, warns Apartment Therapy.

The deadliest zin of all

Yes, here’s a modern innovation for red wine spills and stains. If your glass of cab leaps out of your hand at your dinner party, blot the stain as much as possible with a clean cloth or paper towels, then apply Wine Away. Hokey name, effective product. It sets up for five minutes on your stain and removes all traces of the tragedy. This miracle product removes stains on both clothing and carpets.

Folding. Ugh.

Some people enjoy folding laundry, but our survey says that most people do not. A quick few minutes of the dryer in the morning does the trick, right? But what if there was a way to get it done quickly and efficiently so that you can enjoy an empty dryer and full dresser drawers? There is. There’s a contraption called a laundry folder, and it’s waiting to make your life easier right now.

Maximize your drying time

Did you know that you can decrease your laundry drying time by up to 30 percent by throwing a dry towel in with your wet load of laundry? Now you do. And once you do it, leave it in there for the next load.

Pet cleaning hacks

Pet hair begone

One of the biggest challenges of having pets is dealing with fur. Most dogs and cats shed all over everything, and although it’s tempting to resign yourself to this fact, there are some things you can do to mitigate it. First, for a quick fix, dampen a rubber glove and run it over your furniture. The fur will stick to it easily. Another practical innovation is the Carrand 93112 Lint and Hair Removal Brush. The electrostatic rubber “fingers” pick up lint and hair cleanly and thoroughly. Lastly, if you have a squeegee on hand to wipe your shower after use, you can use it to pick up pet hair, as well.

Pet accidents

Pets have accidents, and we must clean up after them. We clean up everything from pet waste to hairballs and need to use an enzymatic cleaning product to get the job done. This Rocco & Roxie Professional Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator is highly rated and safe to use around pets and children. Invest in a UV blacklight if you wish to check your work and make sure that you have done a thorough job.

Pet food

Spilled pet food can attract ants and other insects, and generally cause a big mess wherever your pets eat. Placing a waterproof mat under their bowls helps prevent big messes and is easy to clean if they do get frisky with their food at mealtime.

Pet smells

The past 10 years have seen a dramatic rise in product choices for air fresheners and deodorizers for the home. Pets, of course, can add to these odors in a big way, and sometimes you need to tackle the problem at its root. Where odor elimination is concerned, sticking with three old-fashioned solutions often works best.

  1. Try applying baking soda. Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on the area you want to deodorize, let it sit for a few hours, and vacuum it up.
  2. White vinegar is also a tried-and-true deodorizer, as you saw in the laundry section. It is excellent for freshening pet bedding, blankets, and toys. Throw a half cup into the wash with your detergent and let it work on those odors. You can also mix a 25% solution and spray it directly on the problem area. Let it dry naturally, and the smell will dissipate.
  3. Spray vodka on the area. Inexpensive, plain, unflavored vodka deodorizes fabrics and furniture, dries quickly, and is effective not only against pet odors but other airborne odors such as cigarette and cigar smoke.

One of the best evolutions of modern cleaners is the emergence of a wide array of eco-friendly, and pet-safe products that work well on life’s chores. Twenty years ago, many of these products were not available, not very viable, and they were costly. Employing time-honored solutions works well, but it’s good to know that these new products are accessible, safe, and very effective when we need them.

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Deb Goncalves
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Deb's work has appeared on Moms, Babygaga, and WorldAtlas. When she's not working (that's hard to say about a Capricorn), she…
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