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Everyday Cheapskate: Put Some Sparkle in Your Spring Cleaning

Mary Hunt on

If the arrival of spring has you energized you the way it has me, I say let's take advantage and do a bit of spring cleaning!

Earl Proulx's wonderful book "Yankee Home Hints" is bursting with tips for cheap, easy, quick home cleaning. I could sit for hours reading this classic tome. Instead, I've plucked a few of Earl's spring-cleaning tips on kitchens, bathrooms and households to share with you.

-- Give the racks a bath. If your oven racks have turned from gross to downright nasty, put them in the bathtub with enough hot water to cover them, along with a quarter cup of automatic dishwasher detergent (or one or two dishwasher pods) and a quarter cup of white vinegar. Soak for an hour, rinse and dry. Just make sure that, as you admire the sparkly clean racks, you also drain and rinse the tub. Immediately.

-- Vacuum the refrigerator. Your refrigerator will chill more efficiently if the condenser coils are kept free of dust. The condenser is located either in the back or at the bottom and looks like a big grill. If yours is at the bottom, pop off the bottom panel and use a hose attachment to get to that dust buildup.

-- De-gunk the reflector pans. If those little pans that sit under the burners on your stove resemble charred ruins, here's how to get them looking like new: Run them under the faucet to get them wet, then coat them with a layer of baking soda. Let them sit for at least 10 minutes, then scrub clean with a sponge.

-- Wash the washing machine and dishwasher. Lime and other mineral deposits clog the drainage systems in these large appliances. Run cycles through each machine without clothes or dishes. In the washing machine, run a full cycle using hot water, adding a gallon of plain white distilled vinegar at the beginning; in the dishwasher, set a large bowl containing three quarts of white vinegar on the bottom rack, and run a cycle with the hottest water possible.


-- Remove lime deposits from chrome fixtures. If you have hard water, your chrome may have a limescale buildup. To get rid of it, douse a rag with white vinegar, then place it on the deposits. Leave this overnight. The next day, rub the chrome with the rag and rinse.

-- Clean that grout. To whiten tile grout, mix fresh hydrogen peroxide (if the expiration date has passed, it's lost its punch) and some powdered cleanser to form a thick paste. Use an old toothbrush to rub the paste into the grout. After a few minutes, rinse with a scrub brush and warm water.

-- Flip the mattresses. It's a perfect time to turn all the mattresses in the house to make sure they are wearing evenly. Give each mattress a one-quarter turn clockwise. Now flip it over, and finish with one more quarter turn clockwise. This completes a side-to-side and top-to-bottom turn and should be repeated once every three months.


Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

Copyright 2024 Creators Syndicate Inc.




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