Spring-Cleaning? The Only 4 Supplies You Need


Before you buy that extra-large jug of industrial-strength cleaning solution, take a look in your pantry.

Your spring-cleaning prep may include stocking up on spray bottles full of grime-fighting chemical products (masked by the scent of lemon), but it might be time to rethink your strategy. You don’t need a cabinet full of specialized cleaners for every surface; just a few common household products can clean and refresh your home.

We’ve highlighted our favorite uses for these fab four solutions to make cleaning a no-brainer.

Baking soda

  1. Scrub pots: Pour a spoonful of baking soda on a sponge, and use this mild abrasive to remove crud from pots.
  2. Freshen rugs: To banish odors from rugs, sprinkle baking soda on the rug, let set for about 15 minutes, then vacuum.
  3. Brighten laundry: Skip commercial brands of fabric softener and brightener, and add a half-cup of baking soda to each laundry load. It will make your whites whiter, your colors brighter, and everything softer. You can also use a bit less detergent.
  4. Unclog drain: Pour 1 cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar down the drain to dissolve built-up scum.
  5. Keep bugs at bay: Surround your pet’s bowl with baking soda to keep insects away.

Distilled white vinegar

  1. Polish your windows: Mix a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar, pour it into a spray bottle, spritz on windows, and wipe with a cloth or paper towel to make them sparkle.
  2. Bust garden weeds: Spray vinegar on weeds to make them shrivel up.
  3. Kill germs: Spray straight vinegar onto bathroom fixtures, toilets, tubs, and tile floors to sanitize.
  4. Freshen socks: Add 1 cup vinegar to a large pot of water, boil the solution, and drop in stained and stinky socks. Let them soak overnight.
  5. Energize spent flowers: When cut flowers begin to wilt, add 2 tablespoons vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar to a quart of water. Pour the solution into the vase, and the flowers will get a second life.


  1. Remove fingerprints from glass: Mix two drops of ammonia into 2 cups of water and wipe the solution on a glass surface. Rinse thoroughly, and dry with a soft cloth.
  2. Shine kitchen hardware: Over time, cabinet knobs, pulls, and hinges become coated with grease. Dip a toothbrush into a small dish of ammonia and scrub off this scum.
  3. Do the windows: Add 1 cup ammonia to 3 cups water, and wipe windows clean with the solution. Then dry with a lint-free cloth.
  4. Refurbish gazed tile: Add a quarter cup ammonia to 1 gallon water, and use it to wipe down tiles,
  5. Help your garden: Ammonia is rich in nitrogen, which your plants need to grow strong and leafy. Mix 1 cup into a 20-gallon hose-end sprayer, and douse plants. Also, wash your garden tools with straight ammonia (outside) to kill plant diseases that you could spread when you dig and hoe.

Liquid dish soap

  1. Unsqueak doors: A few drops of dish soap will lubricate door hinges and end annoying squeaks.
  2. Remove grease stains: Rub dish soap onto clothing grease stains, let set overnight, then toss into the washer.
  3. Clean grills: Add gunky grills to a trash can or plastic bag filled with 1 cup soap and 2 cups water. Let them soak overnight, then scrub with steel wool.
  4. Kill aphids: Make a solution of 2 tablespoons liquid dish soap to 1 gallon water, and spray on roses infested with aphids.
  5. Trap fruit flies: Add 3 drops of soap to a bowl of white vinegar, cover with plastic wrap, and poke a few holes in the top. Fruit flies will wander in and never get out.

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