Homework: 9 speed-cleaning tips

It's tough to get professional results when repairing

It's tough to get professional results when repairing drywall. Patience and practice are key. (Credit: iStock)

Some people love to clean and glory in gleaming porcelain, burnished wood and sparkling glass. For most, though, cleaning is a time eater and anything but fun. Try these speed-cleaning tips to ease the pain and improve your results:

1. Mop windows clean

If you have tall windows, chances are you don't clean them very often, and when you do, it's not easy. If you don't have the time or inclination to drag out a ladder for those hard-to-reach spots, try this trick instead: Take a cleaning pad mop and fasten a microfiber cloth to the mop head. Spray lightly with a quality window cleaning spray, then mop your windows until they shine.

2. Don't let scratches detract from your furniture

Simple fixes like lemon oil will camouflage scratches and gouges. Don't have any lemon oil? Just grab a shelled walnut and rub it into the scratch. The nut's natural oils will do the job.

3. A smelly sponge makes your whole kitchen smell

What's more, a sour sponge is riddled with bacteria. For sweet sponges all the time, buy an airy wire sponge caddie to store sponges odor-free. (Solid sponge holders don't let enough air circulate.)

4. Dust-busting secret

Baseboard cleaning is easier and more effective using a dryer sheet. The antistatic properties help keep dust and animal hair from accumulating on your baseboards.

5. Organization is key

Use bread-bag clips to mark electrical cords. Upended hair spray caps can fill in the space between drawer organizers and corral tiny items like swabs, bobby pins, medicine tubes and floss.

6. Keep the fridge fresh

Line vegetable crisper drawers with newspaper, then top with old place mats. The paper will absorb odors and the place mats will keep produce dry and can be tossed in the wash when they're dirty.

7. Baby oil your metals

To make stainless and chrome shine, add a small drop of baby oil to a microfiber cloth and polish until shiny. Use a drop of baby oil on a straight pin to unkink knotted necklace chains. Plus, you can use it in a pinch to silence squeaky door hinges.

8. Stale linens?

Refresh your linen cabinet and closets with a homemade odor-chaser. Take a canning jar and punch holes in the lid, fill the jar halfway with baking soda and add 10 drops of essential oil, such as lavender or eucalyptus. Your closets will smell fresh and clean again.

9. Remove pet hair from upholstery and carpets

Try a simple car snow sweeper. Windshield sweepers have fibers with frayed ends that can reach in and pull up stubborn pet hairs. Use on carpets in your house and car, and on upholstery.

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