Does last night’s warmed-over spaghetti sauce have your microwave looking like it has the measles? Do clouds of dust rise off your blinds when you open them? Is there a charred pool of cake batter from Thanksgiving still sitting on your oven floor? Hint: Now’s not the time to stage a dinner party. At least, not until you follow these easy cleaning tips.
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While there isn't a fixed rule on how often to clean the microwave, it's a good idea to clean it once a week or when obvious splatters spray the interior. Not only do microwave ovens cook quickly, but they clean quickly, too.
According to green cleaning expert Leslie Reichert, all it takes is ½ cup of water and ½ cup of white vinegar. Microwave on high in a quart-size, microwave-safe bowl until mixture comes to a rolling boil and the microwave window steams up. Allow it to cool for a few minutes, then wipe down the interior with a damp sponge or a damp microfiber cloth.
Remember to clean the keypad while you’re at it. Simply wipe it with a lightly dampened microfiber cloth or a cloth dampened with warm, soapy water.
Most of us keep oven spills behind closed doors for way too long. According to Reichert, ovens should be cleaned at least every three to six months, or more often as needed. If you don't have a self-cleaning oven, follow these easy “green” steps:
Sprinkle the base of the oven with baking soda. Spray vinegar over the soda until it produces a light foam. Apply a paste of baking soda and water to soiled areas on the sides of the oven. Spray with vinegar. Allow all this to sit overnight. Wipe clean in the morning.
Meanwhile, place removable knobs in the silverware compartment of the dishwasher. Non-removable knobs can be cleaned using a toothbrush and a 50/50 warm water and vinegar solution.
Clean oven racks in the sink or bathtub using a spray bottle of alcohol and a scrubby sponge. Spray baked-on grease with alcohol. Allow to sit for a minute. Using a scrubby sponge, clean away residue. Repeat as needed. Make sure to do this in a well-ventilated room and away from open flames.
For an easier clean-up next time, keep a disposable aluminum tray on the bottom of the oven to catch any spills.
Blinds are an easy window treatment but cleaning them can be a pain in the slats. According to home maintenance expert Bob Vila, the key is to dust them at least once a week. For best results, close the blinds, then dust them in the direction of the slats using either a microfiber duster, feather duster or soft cloth. Start at the top of the blinds and work toward the bottom. Turn the slats 90 degrees and dust again. Tilt slats to reveal the underside and repeat.
For heavier dust, vacuum blinds at lightest setting using a brush attachment. Follow the above procedure.
Once or twice a year, clean blinds more thoroughly using a microfiber cloth, terry towel, sock or cotton gloves. Gently rub each slat from end to end, cleaning all sides of the slats. For heavier dirt and stains, lightly dampen cleaning cloth with a mixture of one part white vinegar and three parts water.
Specific cleaning tips for various types of blinds
Dusty metal and vinyl blinds can be washed in a bathtub using a sponge or soft brush and warm, soapy water. Use only very gentle pressure to avoid damaging slats. (Greasy kitchen blinds may need a degreaser to the water.) Rinse well to prevent spotting. Dry with towels and re-hang, leaving blinds open so air can circulate between the slats until totally dry.
Wooden blinds can be cleaned with a soft cloth or sock sprayed with a quality furniture polish — not oil. Or clean with cloths slightly dampened with water, taking care not to saturate the wood. Remember to wipe off excess water immediately to prevent warping or discoloration.
Fabric blinds are best cleaned using a vacuum cleaner, compressed air sprayer or hair dryer. For heavier dust, wipe each slat with a dry sponge. To remove stains, sponge with warm water or water with a bit of mild liquid soap. Never rub, always blot to prevent damage to the fabric. Before using water, test first on an inconspicuous spot. For extremely soiled blinds, consult a professional cleaner.
Finally, never use alcohol, baby wipes, or alkaline cleansers on blinds since their harsh ingredients can stain or destroy the finish on blinds.