Cleaning with Water – the Universal Solvent

Paired with yesterday’s post, I now introduce tips on how to clean extra well with water (out of the same pamphlet):

-If your hands are badly stained from gardening, add a teaspoon of sugar to the soapy water you wash them in

-A teaspoon of ammonia in a little water cleans hairbrushes and combs; rinse thoroughly

-To deodorize your house, boil a pan of water to which you’ve added cinnamon, ginger or cloves

-Make your own window cleaner with 1 quart of water, 1/2 cup of ammonia and 1/8 cup vinegar

-To renew a straw broom, soak it for 30 minutes in a solution of 2 quarts warm water to 4 tablespoons ammonia; rinse in clear water and hang to dry

– To remove lime scale from a tea kettle, loosen by boiling water and vinegar in equal amounts; let stand overnight, then scour and rinse

-Clean darkened aluminum plans by boiling in them 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar mixed in a quart of water; 10 minutes should do it

-To clean sterling silver, boil it along with Irish potatoes (you’ll need to throw away the potatoes afterwards, so I recommend only do this with potatoes you were going to throw away anyways)

-When boiling potatoes, macaroni or spaghetti, save the water.  Cool to room temperature and pour on houseplants; they like starch & you’ll save water

-Instead of dusting, wash small water-safe objects in warm, soapy water and set on towel to dry

-A paste of baking soda and water, applied with scouring pad and elbow grease, will clean stove broiler pans

-Soak colored cottons overnight in a strong salt water to keep them from future fading

-To clean oven, warm oven for several minutes, then turn off.  Place small dish of fulll-strength ammonia on top shelf.  Put large pan of boiling wwater on bottom shelf and let sit overnight.  In morning, open and air for a while before washing oven walls with soap and water; even baked-on grease should wipe away

-To clean a smelly microwave oven, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to 1 cup water and boil in microwave for 4-to-6 minutes; wipe out oven with dry cloth

-To eliminate yellowing from white appliances, try mixing 1/2 cup bleach, 1/4 cup baking soda and 4 cups warm water; apply with sponge and let sit for 10 minutes.  Rinse and dry thoroughly.

-For grease-cutting clean-up, mix equal parts water and household ammonia

-To rid cutting board of food odors, scrub with paste of baking soda and water

-When washing crystal, rinse in 1 part white vinegar and 3 parts water; air dry

-Make your own spray cleaner by mixing 3 tablespoons ammonia and 1 teaspoon vinegar to cool water.  Add a drop of green food coloring to give it that storebought look!

-A good way to pack fragile glassware is to wrap with wet newspaper and let it dry; the paper acts as a cast.  To remove, soak it back off

-Clean ceramic tile with 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1 cup ammonia per gallon of warm water; wear rubber gloves and apply with brush or sponge

-Sanitize damp sponges and dishcloths in microwave for 30 seconds

-Make your own windshiled washer fluid that won’t freeze by combining 1 quart rubbing alcohol, 1 cup water and 2 tablespoons of liquid detergent.  Good to 35 degrees below zero.

-A folded damp cloth under a mixing bowl keeps it from sliding or spinning around when stirring or beating contents

I love these tips since they’re usually less expensive to do or make than fancy chemicals from a store.  Also, they’re probably safer.



  1. January said

    great post. I intend to apply most of the tips you outlined above.

  2. cjtang said

    Thanks! Tell me how it is working out for you!

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