By Kathleen Michael
OPEN houses during the festive season are a very Malaysian habit and a time when our integration shines through.
However, before any open house, the most important step is spring cleaning.
After all, who would want to welcome family and friends to a dirty home?
Some may just pick up a broom and whiz around the house while others spend a day or two cleaning every inch of their home.
But, cleaning products can be expensive.
So Metro Online scoured the Internet to search for easier ways to clean, without breaking the budget.
After some testing, we picked out 10 alternative cleaning products that can be used to replace off-the-shelf cleaning products.
Here’s what we found:
1. USE LEMON ON YOUR CHOPPING BOARD
After cutting up one too many pieces of meat and vegetables, you should sanitise your chopping board and get rid of the stains.
Instead of scrubbing your board with dish soap, you can try rubbing it down with some lemon.
Not only will it sanitise the board and get rid of stains, it will also leave it smelling lemony.
For those using wooden boards, you can remove stains by sprinkling a generous amount of coarse salt and then rubbing the stain down with lemon.
After rubbing half a lemon on a stained plastic chopping board, we noticed the stains slowly turn a shade lighter.
2. REMOVE RINGS ON WOODEN FURNITURE
After spending money on teak furniture, you would hope that it will last longer than fabric sofas.
However, wooden table tops can be ruined if cold drinks are left without coasters, forming water ring marks.
Then there are the scratches!
Instead of using off-the-shelf products to polish furniture, why not try petroleum jelly.
Petroleum jelly was rubbed on water ring marks and left overnight. In the morning, we wiped away the excess with a paper towel and discovered the ring marks were no longer visible.
3. GETTING RID OF PET FUR
If you have a furry friend, chances are you will find their fur on everything in your house.
One place where pet fur is found but difficult to clean up is the carpet.
Normally, we would vacuum our carpets to ensure any dirt or fur is picked up.
Other than vacuuming, you could run a window squeegee over your carpet to remove fur. Then continue to vacuum it once again.
Our results: If you have a smaller carpet, you could opt to just clean it with the window squeegee as it does remove fur easily.
But if your carpet is thicker, you may need more time getting the fur out.
4. USE STICKY NOTE FOR YOUR KEYBOARD
Many of us use our laptops extensively for everything from work, watching videos to playing games.
With so much of usage, the laptop will surely trap dirt and dust.
Instead of buying a mini vacuum cleaner for your keyboards, try using sticky notes to clean in between your keys.
Use the sticky part of the sticky note to lift dirt from between the keys.
Alternatively, you could fold the sticky note and use the ends to clean up your video game controllers.
Of course, it is best to use used sticky notes, otherwise you’ll only end up buying it to clean and not to use as reminders.
Our results: It’s quick and easy especially if you’re at the workplace with no laptop vacuum with you.
For those with old make-up brushes or even paint brushes, you could also try cleaning your laptop keyboard and even the little gaps between game controllers with it.
If you don’t have sticky note, you can clean your game controllers using a piece of paper, just fold it four times and clean off dirt using the sharp edges of the paper.
5. TOOTHPASTE TO SHINE YOUR SINK
Often times when brushing teeth, the toothpaste may fall onto the sink. What do you do?
Most of us wash it away but instead of doing that, you can use it to clean your sink.
Just think of it as a multipurpose cleaner – it cleans your teeth and the sink.
Just put a little toothpaste on your sink or faucet, and scrub with an old toothbrush or a sponge.
You could do this whenever you find your sink getting dirty.
Our results: Yes! Your sink does become cleaner but faucets take time to shine, especially if it is old.
Alternatively, you could try rubbing some lemon on your faucets, leave it for a few minute and wipe it down.
6. CLEAN BURN MARKS OFF YOUR IRON
Toothpaste can be used to lighten the burn marks on the base of your iron.
All you need to do is apply some toothpaste, leave on for a few minutes and wipe it down.
Make sure your iron is cool when trying this.
Our verdict: A few drops of toothpaste was placed on a patch of burn marks.
It was left for a few minutes and when rubbed away, you could see that it was lighter than the original marks.
Note that it was left for about a minute or so before being wiped off.
Try leaving it for a longer time to see if the marks become lighter or possibly even disappear.
7. REMOVE STUBBORN DIRT WITH VINEGAR
Vinegar is a good kitchen item to use to disinfect, clean and deodorise things around the house.
Sure, it is sour and smells bad but it really does get dirt rid off easily.
To remove stubborn stains on your shower heads, we began by placing white vinegar in a plastic bag.
The bag is then tied around the shower head and left overnight.
Our verdict: The next day, the plastic bag was removed and the shower head brushed with an old toothbrush.
Dirt on the shower head came off easily but there was still some that couldn’t be scrubbed off.
Maybe if left a for little more than eight hours, the dirt would be easier to clean.
8. CLEAN MOLD OFF TILES
Mold grows readily on your bathroom tiles when we shower. The dirt from our body can get caught in between tiles.
Sure, the easiest way to clean your tiles is to just spray some bleach, leave it for a few minutes and scrub it off.
But what if you run out of bleach?
One way is to use baking soda.
All you need to do is make a baking soda paste on the grout lines, leave it on for about 15 minutes, then later spray some water and scrub it off.
Our verdict: In the first try, too much water was added to the paste and it didn’t work.
On the second try, water was first sprayed along the tiles with mold, then the baking soda was spread along the lines.
The paste was left for 15 minutes before being scrubbed off with a brush.
The grout came off easily and the tiles looked whiter.
If left longer and applied frequently, you could possibly see better results.
9. CLEAN BURNS OFF COOKING PANS
On cleaning tip pages, some say vinegar and water mixed together can help clear burn marks from metal pots and pans.
The instructions were to mix half-a-cup of water and half-a-cup of vinegar into a metal pot and bring it to a boil.
Once it boils, remove from heat and add two tablespoons of baking soda.
Once the water stops fizzling, you may pour out the mixture and scrub.
Our results: The amount of water and vinegar should depend on the size of your pots and pans.
As the pot chosen was big, the measurements given were not enough to clear burn marks off the sides of the pan.
When scrubbed, the base of the pot looked clearer than it was before.
10. MAKE YOUR OWN ENZYMES
As we explored ways to clean without using off-the-shelf products, we found that you could also try making a homemade enzyme cleaner.
It’s simple to make but takes a while before you can use it.
Now you may be wondering why make enzymes and wait when you get products from stores easily.
Sure, store-bought products will work but these citrus enzymes have more than one use.
You can use enzyme cleaners to mop the floor (diluted with water), wash dishes, or even as natural insect repellent, among other things.
The enzyme cleaner is made with a ratio of 10:3:1 of water, fruits and brown sugar.
The fruit skin should be cut so that it is small enough to be placed in a bottle.
First add in water, then brown sugar. Mix well.
Next add in fruit peels, close the lid and shake for a minute or so until the brown sugar dissolves.
Loosen the cap to reduce gas build up in the bottle and leave the cap loose to allow gas to escape.
Write the current date on your bottle with a marker, as it will take three months to ferment.
After three months, filter your enzyme solution and start using it.
Our verdict: You must make sure to not use too much enzyme when cleaning floors and bathroom. Use one part enzyme and 10 or 20 parts water so that floors or bathroom tubs will not be sticky.
For hard stains, enzyme cleaners should be left for 10 minutes then washed off.
Over the course of three months, it’s good to keep the bottle cap open once in a while to allow gas to escape.
Do try these cleaning hacks and see if they work for you.