50 Home Care Hot Tips to Try in 2011

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

A new year is a great excuse to try out some new hot tips! Here are some of our best ideas for everything from cleaning your sink, keeping your pots and pans looking new, removing stains from your carpet to sharpening your scissors. Check out our tips and share your favorites after the jump.

1. Use soda cans to fill the bottom of flower pots instead of rocks to make them lighter and easier to move around.
2. Extend the reach of your vacuum cleaner with a cardboard tube. Crush the end of the tube to create a crevice tool.
3. Remove grease spots in your garage with kitty litter. If the spots are fresh the litter should soak up most of the oil.
4. Try a crumpled handful aluminum foil to scrub pans when you’re out of a scrubbing brush or pad to get them clean.
5. Fix a slipping screw driver by rubbing a bit of chalk on the tip before using it.
6. Cover your vacuum head with cheesecloth to allow you to vacuum drawers with small items without having to empty the drawer first.
7. Keep your silverware from tarnishing by storing it on top of a sheet of aluminum foil.
8. Polish your silverware and leather using a banana skin. Just make sure to remove the stringy portions before cleaning. Buff with a soft cloth when you’re done.
9. Remove coffee or tea stains from rugs with beer. Just use a light beer and some elbow grease to get the stain out.
10. Dishwasher detergent can easily be replaced using 2T baking soda and 2T borax.
11. Clean your washing machine by running a full cycle with no clothes and 3 cups of vinegar.
12. Remove stains from a brick fireplace surround using 3 tablespoons of baking soda in a liter of water and a good scrub.
13. Prevent paint from forming a skin in an open can by cutting a disk of foil and place it on top of the paint. Then, take a deep breath and blow into the can and quickly replace the top. The CO2 in your breath will replace the oxygen in the can.
14. Use baking soda as a de-icer on slippery sidewalks avoiding harsher chemicals and salt.
15. Sprinkle a bit of Borax in your toilet and let it sit for 5 minutes before cleaning with brush or rag. The bowl will be disinfected without using bleach.
16. Use white bread to clean walls and wallpaper. Make sure you cut the crust off to avoid scratches.
17. Fix a sticky drawer by rubbing a candle on the runners.
18. Clean your iron by sprinkling salt onto a piece of news paper and run the hot iron over the salt.
19. Use small pieces of banana skins to deter aphids in your garden by burying them near the insect prone plants. Make sure not to use too large of a piece or you’ll get other critters.
20. Store cast iron pans with a coffee filters to absorb water and prevent rust.
21. Keep your freezer from smelling by putting a couple of bowls of coffee grounds inside overnight.
22. Slice wine corks thinly to create your own non-skin pads for vases and other decorations to avoid scratching your furniture.
23. Buff your stainless steel sink with flour to keep it shiny and new looking.
24. Remove dents in carpeting by placing ice cubes on the depressed area. Once it melts brush the carpet up and it should be restored to its original height and pile.
25. Prevent a frozen car or bike lock by placing a fridge magnet on the lock overnight during a rain or snow storm.
26. Clean patent leather using a dab of milk and a soft cloth.
27. Protect your outdoor spigots by emptying them of water then insulating them with newspaper wrapped around the tap.
28. Help a new key fit into a lock by rubbing a pencil on the teeth of the key. The graphite should help it glide smoothly into the lock.
29. Remove water marks from furniture by applying petroleum jelly then leaving it overnight. In the morning you can wipe away the mark with the jelly.
30. Smooth caulk using an ice cube to avoid having it stick to your finger. This will also create a consistent and controllable line.
31. Protect your furniture from your remote control by wrapping rubber bands around the control.
32. Use a strong salt water solution to get the grime left over from a wilted bouquet of flowers in a vase. A soak and strong shake should get most of it off with minimal effort.
33. Keep your garden tools in a bucket of sand to keep them looking newer longer.
34. Use string to create a wick to water plants when you’re not home. Place several pieces of string in a bowl full of water then extend their ends into the plants soil to water the plant while you’re gone.
35. Clean rough plaster walls using nylon socks to avoid lint that is left behind with regular rags.
36. A salt and vinegar solution can remove hard water stains from glasses. For tough stains soak glassware overnight and discover sparkling dishes in the morning.
37. Make your own non-toxic fly trap by simmering 2 cups of milk, 1/4 cup sugar, and 2 T ground pepper for about 10 minutes. Set the mixture out in shallow bowls and the flies will drown in the sticky liquid.
38. Remove stubborn grout stains with fine sand paper. Be careful not to scratch the tiles or go too deep as you may remove too much grout.
39. Use clean leftover aluminum foil to sharpen scissors by folding multiple layers of foil into a pad then cutting into the pad a few times.
40. Clean and polish your windows with newspaper instead of paper towels or rags to avoid lint.
41. Shine your mirrors using a pot of strong tea that has cooled. First wipe the mirror using the tea then buff it with a dry rag.
42. Untreated wicker furniture can look new again if you scrub it with a stiff brush dipped in salt water. Doing this every year will keep your outdoor wicker furniture looking fresh.
43. Before you throw it in the dump heap, repair cracked china by submerging it in milk and bringing it to a boil. As soon as it starts to boil lower the heat and simmer it for about 45 minutes. The milk protein can repair fine cracks.
44. Repair a leaking hose with a toothpick. Stick the toothpick in the hole then turn the water onto the hose. The water will make the wood swell and seal the hole.
45. Clean cast iron with salt and a wire brush rather than water to avoid rust.
46. Use toothpaste to remove crayon from painted walls. The fine abrasive in the paste will get the crayon off without ruining the paint. Be sure to test this in an area as the paste may stain some paint finishes.
47. Use a weak solution of white vinegar and water to clean soot stains off of a brick fireplace.
48. Soak straw brooms in hot salty water for about 20 minutes periodically to help them last longer.
49. Clean a microwave using 2 T of baking soda in a microwave save container with a cup of water and cook on high for 2-3 minutes. After the cycle wipe out the microwave with a damp rag.
50. Slow the drying of plaster by adding a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar to the mixture to give you some more working time.