If you’ve been in your home for a while, it’s probably withstood a good amount of wear and tear. Maybe even a great amount. Scratches on the wood floor, stains on the carpet, your kids’ crayon “art” on the wall—that’s just life. But what if you’ve got visitors, or more important yet, home buyers coming over that you want to impress?
Sometimes there isn’t time to repaint, resand, or even conduct a thorough cleaning. And that’s where these easy cleaning home hacks and repairs will help in a pinch. Try these fast fixes:
Scratches in wood
Whether it’s a scrape or shallow gouge in your wood furniture or floor, it’s a nut job. Walnut, to be more specific.
“Break open a walnut, and rub the meat on the scratch,” says Mary Findley, aka Mary Moppins and author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Green Cleaning.” “Repeat until the color returns to the scratched part. As a very last resort, a brown crayon will work, too.”
Red wine on the carpet
Every great party has some grand spills, like red wine, Kool-Aid, or cranberry juice. And the solution is a one-two punch of hydrogen peroxide followed by white vinegar.
“Mix hydrogen peroxide 50-50 with water,” says Findley. “Also mix a 50-50 solution of grain-distilled white vinegar and water.”
Saturate the stained area first with the peroxide mixture, letting it sit for five minutes. Then blot away the peroxide before pouring on the vinegar solution. This step is important because the vinegar neutralizes the peroxide’s bleaching properties. Then rinse thoroughly with plain water.
Coffee on a tablecloth
Pour on club soda. It works if you do it right. Allow the stain to be literally lifted out by the bubbles, says Findley. Blot up with a paper towel. Repeat if needed. Drink the remaining club soda with a twist of lemon.
Gum in carpet
The best remedy for gooey gum is to freeze it: Place a zip-lock bag with ice cubes on top of the sticky mess—and wait. Once the gum is solid, scrape it off with a plastic card, says Findley, who adds that this also works for tree sap. Of course, why you have tree sap on your carpet is another matter entirely.
Pen or marker on walls
The first thing Findley does is reach for the foam shaving cream. “Foaming shaving cream has denatured and rubbing alcohols, both of which are good stain removers,” says Findley. So dab some on the spot, wait 10 minutes, and wipe. Reapply if needed.
This method can also be used on wallpaper, wood, and fabric-covered furniture, but always test first and remember to use clean white or neutral-color cloths or sponges. Anything that has a dye can transfer to what you are trying to clean.
Permanent marker isn’t as permanent as you might think: Sunscreen, hairspray, and nail polish remover that contain acetone should wipe it away. But be careful! Because acetone is a powerful solvent, test on an inconspicuous area first. And since liquid may increase the stain’s size as it dissolves, dab it on rather than pour, and do not leave it on for long as it may damage the surface you’re trying to clean.
Reach for baking soda and a damp cloth. Sprinkle the baking soda on a part of the damp cloth and rub gently. Crayons are petroleum-based wax markers; baking soda is mildly alkaline, which gives it grease- and oil-removing properties. It is also abrasive, so rub the wall gently so you don’t damage the paint.
Loose vinyl tiles
This is one problem you can literally iron out. Cover the fugitive tile with a sheet of aluminum foil, then with a hot cloth. Press gently with an iron, passing over the tile until you can feel the tile’s glue melt from the heat and soften. Then place a weight on top, like a few books. This method can also reset curled seams in vinyl flooring.
Clogged sinks and toilets
Have a clogged sink or toilet, but no Drano? Your bathroom cabinet may provide the solution.
For a sink, take four Alka-Seltzer tablets and drop them into the drain, followed by a cup of white vinegar. Let the citric acid from the tablets and the vinegar fizz and foam for 10 minutes to loosen the muck stuck inside. Meanwhile, boil a pot of water, then pour it down the drain. Repeat if necessary.
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