Welcome to Apartment Therapy's Chore-Free Summer. Every weekday until July 20, we're arming you with time-saving shortcuts and hacks that'll help you work smarter, not harder, when it comes to homekeeping this summer. Because cleaning doesn't have to be a chore.
There are few summertime tools as versatile as the garden hose. It's a pool-filling, sprinkler-fueling, heat-quelling, thirst-quenching blessing of a thing. And it can actually handle a good bit of the housework, too.
Here are few things around the house you can drag onto the deck or balcony (if they're not already outside) and spray down when you're watering the plants.
By the way, the "how to" here is really simple: Just spray! As long as you've got room, you can clean all these things at once. You'll get the best action from a high-pressure spray nozzle that lets you control the flow from the end of the hose. (I have this $8 one from Amazon and I love it.)
Depending on the current filth level of your stuff, you might want to add some soap or all-purpose cleaner in the mix, but make sure whatever you're using is safe to run off into the yard or street.
Oven racks and grates
If you have really grimy oven racks and grates, let them soak overnight in a big bin or tub (or kiddie pool) with a few dryer sheets. Then give them a rinse with the hose the next day.
Garbage and recycling bins
Slosh some water around the inside, spray them with the hose, then flip them upside down to dry. If there's any stubborn gunk, just grab a scrub brush and rinse.
Pop them out of the frames and spray them with the hose on both sides to get them looking like new. Then just lean them onto a wall or chair to dry.
Indoor and Outdoor Rugs
If you can carry your rug out to the driveway or safely drape it over a fence, a garden hose is a great way to get it clean occasionally. Vacuum your rug first to remove any debris, then give it a good spray with the pressure nozzle. If you have decent pressure and work slowly, inch by inch, your hose is likely to dislodge all kinds of dirt from your rug. You can apply a shampoo or homemade carpet cleaner if there's any really stubborn filth, just make sure to rinse it thoroughly after. Then leave the rug out to dry.
(One more better-safe-than-sorry thing: If you have handmade, vintage or heirloom rugs that are as precious as your own children, leave the cleaning to a professional.)
Water-safe stuff that's been sitting in storage
Nobody wants to get intimate with cobwebs, droppings and other filth that collects in crawlspaces. Drag that sports equipment and metal furniture (or anything that's safe to get a quick bath) out of the garage and give it a hose down.
A spray-nozzle-equipped hose works especially well if you can't reach your outdoor windows—but it's also an easy and fast way to get streak-free windows anywhere. Jillee of One Good Thing has a proven recipe for streak-free window cleaner. If you can reach the windows, you can wipe it on with a long-handled mop or brush. If not, try a hose-end spray attachment like this one to apply the cleaner before rinsing with just water.
Remove any cushions or pillows from the patio and you can hose the whole thing down (giving your plants a bath too—two for one!). If your cushions have removable covers, you can take the inserts inside and leave the covers out for a spray down without worrying about soaking the pillow part. Just hang the fabric over a fence or chair back to drip dry.