Household Cleaning Urban Myths: Do They Actually Work?

updated Mar 12, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

From freezing your jeans in lieu of washing them to cleaning the toilet with Coca-Cola to the one about magically removing silver tarnish with aluminum foil; I have to admit I feel like I’ve heard it all. These urban myths of household cleaning have been kicking around for a while — we’ve even blogged each of them on Apartment Therapy. But the question is, do any of these actually work? Here’s the scoop:

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

• The Myth: Freeze Your Jeans Instead of Washing Them – the rumor is that you can get your jeans clean by simply putting them in the freezer as opposed to the washing machine. It’s a tempting proposition, since it would be nice to maintain that dark wash, but does it actually work?

• The Reality: According to this recent ABC report, bacteria levels on a pair of jeans that were worn (330 times by college student Josh Le) for 15 months using the freezer method were similar to the levels found on the same jeans when tested again only 13 days after washing. So, in terms of whether it works, as the Magic 8 ball says, signs point to yes! And while its not a terribly conclusive scientific study, I wouldn’t have bet on this one as having any kind of backup, so it just goes to show, you never know…

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

• The Myth: Coca-Cola is good for cleaning the toilet. The rumor is that due to the acids (citric and phosphoric) in the soda make short work of any stains, if left in place for an hour.

• The Post: Cola to Remove Toilet Ring?

• The Reality: Cleaning with a super sugary product probably isn’t a great idea. While the citric acid in the soda might have some good effect, the sticky sugary-ness doesn’t help matters when it comes to bacteria. Using unsweetened Kool-Aid mix as Sarah Rae suggests in her post, Quick Tip: Clean Your Toilet With Kool-Aid, might be a preferable way to go if you really dig the idea of cleaning with a beverage!

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

• The Myth: You can removed tarnish from silver without rubbing or scrubbing with aluminum foil, water, baking soda and salt. Heat the water and put in a bowl or pan large enough to fit the tarnished item in, then add a sheet of aluminum foil to the bottom. Add in the soda and salt. Insert the silver item, making sure it makes contact with the foil. Supposedly a chemical reaction takes place and voila! the tarnish simply disappears.

• The Post: Kiss Tarnish Good-Bye Without Breaking A Sweat

• The Reality: This works! I can personally attest to it. I was at a “home detox” with green guru Danny Seo here in Chicago (which I posted about back in 2008). This aluminum foil trick was one of his green cleaning tips which he showed us as part of the detox. No mess, no smell, no tarnish. It’s true!

Have any more unusual cleaning processes to share? Know of any sounds to be good to be true tips that really work? Let us know!

Images: Gregory Han, Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, Laure Joliet, Janel Laban