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How to clean grill grates, stained patio furniture and other summertime messes

Summer brings warm weather, outdoor fun and a whole slew of messes that seem to be non-existent during the rest of the year. Tackle these messes like a cleaning champ with these tips from “Who Knew? Household Shortcuts” co-author Bruce Lubin.Patio furnitureOutdoor furniture can become a stained and grimy mess if not cleaned frequently. If your plastic outdoor furniture is marked with dirt and

Summer brings warm weather, outdoor fun and a whole slew of messes that seem to be non-existent during the rest of the year. Tackle these messes like a cleaning champ with these tips from “Who Knew? Household Shortcuts” co-author Bruce Lubin.

Patio furniture

Outdoor furniture can become a stained and grimy mess if not cleaned frequently. If your plastic outdoor furniture is marked with dirt and grime, run to the bathroom cabinet and grab the shaving cream. Just apply the cream directly onto the stains, let it sit for 10 minutes, then wipe clean.

Grill grates

Nothing says summertime like a backyard BBQ, but cleaning off those grill grates from burnt food and charcoal can seem like an impossible task. However, with a little help from aluminum foil, those grates can be as good as new. Wrap grill grates in aluminum foil – shiny side out – and place the grates on a heated grill for 15-30 minutes. Let the grates cool, then unwrap. Like a self-cleaning oven, the grates will have turned to ash and your grates will be ready for another round of burgers.

Basting brushes

Nothing will ruin your appetite faster than a stinky, gooey basting brush. Keep your brush – and appetite- intact and ready for use by washing it with hot water and soap, giving it a bit of a shake to dry off, then pour some salt in a cup and place the brush inside. The salt will absorb any remaining moisture, leaving the bristles clean.

Bathing suits

They are a summer essential, but bathing suits can grow mildew if not properly cleaned. Keep your bathing suit from mildewing by sticking it in a Ziploc bag with baby powder right after swimming. If you have noticed your swimsuit is already starting to smell like mildew, Lubin suggests soaking it in straight white vinegar for an hour, then sticking it in the washing machine. Once it’s washed, toss it in the dryer on the highest heat setting to kill any remaining mildew. 

Flip-flops

Well-used summer shoes often bare the marks of grass, dirt and the great outdoors. To make those flip-flops and Crocs as good as new, put them in the dishwasher. Place them on the top rack, add lemon juice in the detergent compartment and run a cycle for sparkling outdoor shoes.

Grass and mud stains

Some stains can be a nightmare to get out of clothes. Yet to remove even the toughest stains (including ones like grass, mud, ketchup, pollen and sweat stains), Lubin recommends this simple concoction. When a dish washing liquid bottle, like Dawn, is a third empty, fill it with a bottle of hydrogen peroxide. Instead of screwing back on the top, use a nozzle from a spray bottle to squirt the mixture on the stain as soon as possible. If necessary, run the stain under water to remove the rest of it.