It's happened to everyone: You're halfway through scrubbing your kitchen or about to do a quick spot cleanup and realize you've run out of whatever cleaning product you need to get the job done. Now you've got to make a special trip to the store. Fret not: Your kitchen and bathroom are already full of items that can fill in and clean up most messy situations. Here are nine common household items that you can use in a pinch for cleaning products. MacGyver himself would be proud.
What you can use: Lemon
How to use it: Cut lemon in half and dip cut side in baking soda. Rub on counter surfaces and wipe dry with wet sponge and dry. Counters are now clean and lemony fresh!
Why it works: The acid in lemons remove dirt, tough stains and even rust. You end up with an thrifty, all-natural cleaning product that leaves the home smelling fresh and inviting.
Other uses: 1) When doing laundry, add 1/2 cup lemon juice to the rinse cycle for a normal-size load to brighten whites. 2) Throw lemon rinds into sink’s garbage disposal and grind them to eliminate any odors.
What you can use: Salt
How to use it: Sprinkle salt on a lemon, and the duo can effectively remove a stubborn coffee mug stain when rubbed on the surface. Using salt alone on stained glassware provides the extra abrasion the surface needs for a deep cleaning, without scratching the surface.
Why it works: Because of its granular texture, salt makes for the perfect scrub for stains that won’t easily lift off without being as tough on items as a scouring pad. Pair with lemon or vinegar for an even more powerful scouring paste.
Other uses: 1) Absorb excess grease on cookware (excluding non-stick) by sprinkling salt in the pan. Dump out the salt before washing with dish soap. 2) Sprinkle salt on any oven spills to absorb the mess as soon as possible. Wait until completely cool before easily wiping it out with a damp washcloth or sponge.
Polish leather shoes
What you can use: Banana peel
How to use it: First things first: eat the banana. No need to waste food in the process of cleaning. Rub the shoes with the inside of the peel. Buff with a soft cloth afterward. Who says banana peels have to be shoe’s biggest enemy?
Why it works: The potassium in bananas absorb into the leather and help diminish any scuff marks, which is why there is potassium in shoe polish.
Other uses: 1) Whiten teeth by rubbing the inside of the peel on your teeth for two minutes each time you brush. 2) Polish silver by using the same method for polishing leather.
Clean the toilet bowl
What you can use: Gatorade
How to use it: Pour about 2 cups of Gatorade into the toilet and let it sit for about two hours. Use a toilet brush to wipe the drink around the sides of the bowl and flush.
Why it works: Citric acid is a powerful cleaning agent.
Other uses: Drinking it during and after a long run. Note: Both Kool-Aid and Coca-Cola can also be used to clean the toilet, so if you don’t have any Gatorade on hand, try these other two remedies. Just leave in the toilet overnight and flush in the morning.
What you can use: Ketchup
How to use it: Squeeze ketchup onto a cloth and rub it onto copper and brass pots/pans. Watch them go back to their normal color after just minutes. Wash and rinse as normal.
Why it works: You guessed it: it’s the acid. But this tomato-based sauce is not for cleaning, just cutting tarnish. Following any kind of ketchup transformation, make sure to wash with soap and water.
Other uses: 1) Use a small dab of ketchup on a cloth to polish a scratch out of a DVD. Wipe extra residue clean. 2) Get skunk odors off anything, especially pets, by diluting ketchup with water and bathe your dog in the tomato sauce. The acidity in the vinegar makes for a better solution than plain old tomato juice.
Remove pet stains
What you can use: Distilled white vinegar
How to use it: Fill a spray bottle with equal parts water and vinegar to have the cleaning solution on hand whenever you might (unexpectedly) need it. Blot the stain on the carpet, then spray with cleaning solution. Repeat two steps until stain is completely removed. You can also pour vinegar directly on the stain and sprinkle baking soda on top to deodorize. Let it dry for a day and just sweep/vacuum the mess up. The stain is "magically" lifted from the carpet.
Why it works: Vinegar is a natural deodorizer, but is also acid-based. The acidic vinegar breaks down grease, germs and bacteria that you find in common household messes.
Other uses: 1) Clean out the coffee maker by pouring equal parts water and vinegar into the water chamber and running the cycle through normally. Run several cycles of plain water following the vinegar cleanse. 2) For spotless glassware when hand-washing dishes, add 1 cup vinegar to the rinse water.
Clean silver jewelry
What you can use: Toothpaste
How to use it: Put a little dab of toothpaste on an old toothbrush (not the one you currently use, but that should go without saying) and scrub the crevices of your favorite silver rings. Clean remaining residue with a damp cloth. Soak grungy silver jewelry in a tub of water and dissolved toothpaste.
Why it works: Toothpaste contains hydrated silica, which is an abrasive and stain remover.
Other uses: 1) Get the dirt and debris off your car’s headlights by applying a thin layer of toothpaste on the front and rubbing the entire surface clean. Apply car wax to make the final results last longer. 2) Remove coffee table water rings by rubbing toothpaste into the wood and wiping clean with a damp cloth.
Clean mirrors and keep from fogging
What you can use: Shaving cream
How to use it: Lather the mirror with shaving cream the next time you take a shower and wipe clean with a towel. The mirror will be left streak-free, and won’t fog up for the next few weeks, making after-shower primping a whole lot easier.
Why it works: It creates a protective film over the glass that keeps it from fogging.
Other uses: 1) Spray onto squeaky hinges to resolve that noisy issue. 2) Remove carpet stains by blotting spot with a damp cloth first and then spraying a dollop of shaving cream and letting sit for 10 minutes. Rinse with cold water.
What you can use: Vodka
How to use it: Using bottom-shelf vodka, pour into a spray bottle and spritz onto desired parts of clothing until it is damp to touch. For more aggressive deodorizing, spray until completely saturated. Hang up to dry.
Why it works: Vodka kills odor-causing bacteria, but remember it’s not a cleaner so take care of stains first, and then freshen with solution. It actually dries odorless so don’t worry about showing up to work or church smelling like the town drunk.
Other uses: 1) Clean away mold by spritzing vodka onto surface and letting sit for 15 minutes. Finally, scrub with an old toothbrush until clean. 2) To shine any chrome household fixtures, moisten a soft, clean cloth with vodka, and wipe away.