Clean Like A Man’s Top Housekeeping Tips
SEND US your faves, too. We'll print 'em right here.
Banish soap scum
Just place a small sponge under the soap bar you use in bath and shower. Works great!
Clean that icky, sticky clicker quick
Remote control all gummed up with spilled soda pop and pizza grease? Get a cotton ball and a bottle of isopropyl alchohol (rubbing alcohol - from the drugstore). Dampen the cotton ball with the alcohol, turn the remote upside down so the solution doesn't seep into it, and wipe down the number keys and remaining surface. It should dry fairly fast but leave it upside down for a few moments to make sure.
When you buy plastic containers with lids to store leftovers, get one size only. All different-sized ones are a mess to store and it's tough to match up lids and containers. With one size (the same brand, too) you save the craziness of searching for all different-sized lids. I buy the 16-oz. Glad containers with red tops at a thrift store for about 49 cents each. They're big enough to hold just about any leftover, and they stack one inside another for tidy, compact storage!
The (head)light fantastic
Use non-gel toothpaste (the white kind is a mild abrasive) to clean the haze off of car headlights. Toothpaste also works to get burned-on gunk off the soleplates of irons.
Divide and conquer
Buy things like laundry detergent, dishwasher soap, Windex, dog food, etc. in mass quantities at Costco or Sam's Club, then divide them out from their huge containers into smaller containers for easier handling.
Easy key I.D.
Paint different shades of nail polish on different keys to help you identify them more quickly. And keep your keyrings as uncrowded as possible.
The best way to start your day
First thing every morning, make your bed. It takes two minutes at the most, but it makes the entire bedroom look clean and tidy. By extension, your life seems so too.
Organize your closet fast
Take everything out - hanging clothes, shoe racks, sweaters on shelves...everything. Set aside items you haven't worn in a year (or are hopelessly out of style) to donate to a thrift store. Then put the remaining items back in. Improvement is guaranteed because there'll be less stuff and you'll put the clothes back more neatly and better-organized. This also works for your 'fridge and garage.
Shaving cream in a pinch
Use hair conditioner, lotion, or even lathered-up bar soap instead. This works both on your face and on her legs.
Too good to be true
Self-cleaning ovens usually aren't.
Dull scissors? Cut to the chase
Just cut sandpaper with them. This sounds wrong on many levels, but it works great!
Moms with Messy Sons
This is a new book I'm working on, and Dad, you have a role too! A study by the University of California-Riverside says that when dads help with the housework:
- They're being good role models for the kids
- The kids do better in school and have more friends (they're better-adjusted)
- The kids are learning about responsibility and developing a good work ethic
Keep clutter in your car under control by placing a coverless tool kit in your back seat, and a laundry basket in your trunk.
World's fastest shoe shine
Spray some Pledge or Endust onto your scruffy footwear and wipe with a clean rag or paper towel.
All washed up
Disinfectant soap has to stay in contact with your skin for at least 10 seconds in order to be effective. Time it!
Next time you travel, use a spare glasses case to carry small items like Tic-Tacs, house keys, iPod and earbuds, etc.
The germiest places in your world
- Shopping cart handles.
- Health club mats and machines.
- Stall door knobs in public restrooms.
Give spaces a nice fresh aroma by adding a dryer sheet: place them under car seats, inside vacuum cleaner bags, under fitted sheets and inside pillowcases, in drawers, closets, laundry hampers, wastebaskets, and sneakers. Discover more new uses for everyday items here.
In a pinch for an inch?
If you don't have a ruler handy, just remember that a U.S. quarter is exactly one inch in diameter.
Cool cooler tip
Going camping or to the beach this summer? Freeze one or two 2-liter soda bottles filled with water and toss into your cooler to keep things dry and chilled.
Sweeping changesDitch your dustpan. Just sweep dust and debris off your wood or tile floors into adjacent carpeted rooms, then vacuum those areas.
"Correct" stovetop scratches
If your stovetop is white enamel, you can use Liquid Paper to touch up little scratches or chips in the surface. It lasts a good long time, too.
Trashy Home MANagement TipKeep several new trash bags folded flat in the bottom of your kitchen trash container, underneath the one in use. When replacing, a new one is always ready to go.
Quick sink cleanups
Wet the sink, sprinkle with baking soda (a mild abrasive), scrub with the rough side of a Scotch-Brite pad, rinse with water. If you need to escalate abrasives, first try Barkeeper's Friend. The "nuclear option" (and last resort) is a product like Comet.
Top two Strategic MANeuvers
Eighty percent of cleaning is uncluttering and dusting/wiping surfaces down. Learn how to perform these tasks fast and you're ready to kick keister!
Cat litter cuts odors
Cat litter is a great odor-fighter, and it's cheap. Place some in a container or fill an old sock and you can put 'em in closets garbage cans, basements, sneakers, tents
Work from a list
When cleaning, it helps to work from a simple list. It takes the guesswork out of what you should do next so you can keep moving, like a shark through chum.
Recruit the kids to help with housekeeping. Just fifty cents an hour might seem like big bucks to them, depending on their age - and even a couple of bucks an hour is cheap for you. They'll learn teamwork, responsibility & work ethic.
Get great coffee every timeBasic rules:
- Use ice-cold water
- Have a squeaky-clean carafe
- Use the finest coffee.
- Run a carafe of white vinegar through it to remove hard-water deposits; save vinegar for subsequent uses.
- Run several carafes of clean, cold water through to rinse. Reuse water in garden, washing machine, etc.
Homeowner insurance tip
Go through rooms and take photos of all belongings to have a record of everything you own. Then if you have to file an insurance claim someday (knock on wood), you won't forget anything.
New uses for everyday things #28
A container filled with coffee grounds (new or used) will freshen your ‘fridge interior. You can also use them as fertilizer for the garden - plants and worms love the stuff!
**HAPPY NEW YEAR!**
Shopping for her
Many department stores mark their fine jewelry down to after-Christmas clearance prices on December 24th. So if you wait, you can save big money (like, 50 to 70 percent in discounts) on a dazzling gift for your gal.
The dope on soap
Antibacterial soap only kills germs if it's in contact with your skin for 10 seconds or more - the longer the contact, the more germs suffer their untimely demise. And any soap will disinfect if it's on your hands for a while.
Measuring in a pinch
A U.S. quarter is exactly one inch in diameter. That's perfect for measuring small stuff when you don't have a ruler.
Reflections upon a plumber's butt-crack
There's no shame in calling a plumber. A lot of these jobs can be tricky and time-consuming for amateurs, and water damage can be really expensive. Don't risk it - be smart, not macho.
Emergency pants hemming
- Start with one leg. Fold the bottom hem on that leg underneath (like an inside cuff) with two-sided tape.
- Stand in front of mirror and check to surmise the length.
- Adjust the length and the tape as you zero in on the perfect length.
- Then secure the seam by adding tape inside. Duplicate on other leg.
- You're partying!
Start your day right
First thing every morning, make your bed. It takes two minutes tops, and it makes the entire room look clean and tidy.
Time MANagement tip
Pay bills the day you get them. Online banking saves time, envelopes and postage...USE IT.
C.L.A.M.'s all-inclusive policy
All cleaning tips on this site are geared to men, but women can love/use them, too.
Breaking out winter woolens?
Assuming you washed or dry-cleaned all before storing...just air them out and wherever you keep them, also place a dryer sheet like Bounce. These keep clothes smelling fresh and also repel insects (moths, etc.) without that gnarly mothball smell.
Storing summer clothes?
Whatever container you store them in (a plastic bag, a covered plastic container that slides under the bed, etc.) toss a dryer sheet in, too. Your clothes will smell nice and fresh when you unstore.
Footwear gone wild?
An over-the-door shoe hanger keeps a dozen pairs of shoes off the floor, organized and at your fingertips.
Forget hospital corners
They don't make any difference, no one sees them, and only Martha Stewart cares.
Keep the 'fridge clear
Resist the temptation to plaster the 'fridge with the kids' "artwork," baseball schedules, snapshots, etc. It's visual blight.
Recruit the kids to help with cleaning
Fifty cents an hour can be big bucks to them because they have limited ways to generate income. They'll also learn teamwork, responsibility and a good work ethic.
Men in the kitchen
Ketchup is the best condiment.
Fill two old socks with cat litter, tie off, and place inside the shoe. A dryer sheet place in the shoe or under the insole works too. And launder the insoles occasionally.
Use 'em to cover food in microwave (no spatters), filter cork bits from wine, clean your glasses/tv screen/computer screen (no scratches), place on paint brush handle to catch drips.
"Men never close cupboard doors, drawers, or toilet seats," says a female friend who swears 100% of her gal-pals agree. Well, OK, it's true. However, it's a habit that's deeply embedded in our DNA (that means "not our fault"). But boys, it's not that tough to overcome. Just close doors and drawers, and lower the lid on the biffy. Don't fight it, just do it. It's easy, and it will defuse some of her biggest pet peeves.
A primo organizing tip: make a list!
A simple housekeeping "to-do" list is important for guys.
- It helps you stay more focused and goal-oriented, so you get done faster.
- It removes all doubt about what to do next.
- With a regular routine, you stay on top of cleaning tasks so they don't get out of hand.
- You see what needs to be done and realize that your chores are finite.
- It feels good to check things off as "done." Really, really good.
Keep cords and wires corralled
I loathe wires and cords with every fiber of my being, especially where there are millions of them (like behind the TV/entertainment center or computer station. Solution: gather them up and cinch them together with a hair clip, a velcro wrap, or by running them through an empty toilet paper roll.
A vacuum tool in a pinch
Add extra length to your vac's hose to reach under the fridge and into nooks and crannies: use the cardboard tube from paper towels. The end even flattens to let you get into air register slots.
Bottle openers are back
Use the v-shaped end of that old bottle opener to clean your grill grates between cookouts, remove plaster remnants before patching a hole in the wall, or cut packing tape on cartons.
Multi-tasking binder clips
They come in several sizes. You can use the appropriate one for 1) a bookmark, 2) a money clip, and 3) keeping IDs handy at the airport by attaching to your belt or pocket with a binder clip.
Chalk prevents rust
Put a few sticks into your toolbox to absorb moisture and prevent rust on tools and toolbox alike.
Unjam a zipper with hair conditioner
Just a dab along the zipper's teeth should do it. More hair conditioner uses: lubricate a shower curtain rod, coat tools to prevent rust, oil skate wheels, polish golf club heads and chrome bathroom fixtures.
Those amazing clothespins!!!
Whoever invented these things gets a prize! Clip-on (spring-loaded) clothespins DO have some quick & clever uses:
- Reseal chip and snack bags (when the self-resealing edge doesn't self-reseal)
- String outdoor Christmas lights along house gutters, onto trees and bushes, etc. (Ho-ho)
- Grip a nail when pounding into a tight spot (save your fingers)
- Clip pairs of shoes together in the closet so you don't lose one shoe (you moron)
Keep your picnic cooler tidier and drier - just fill a large jug with water, freeze, and place in the cooler instead of loose or bagged ice cubes.
Reflections upon a plumber's butt-crack
After four hours of fruitlessly trying to fix a small drip in a bathroom faucet -- having made several trips back and forth to the hardware store to purchase one 99-cent part per visit and using curse words that haven't even been invented yet -- a plumber's butt-crack is a welcome sight indeed.
Just cut sandpaper with them. Amazing but true! Don't thank me...your happiness is all that matters.
Speedy shoe polishing
Spray Pledge or Endust onto a cloth and wipe it over shoes to quickly "polish" them.
Removing candle wax from carpet
I did it tonight: dark purple candle wax (and lots of it) on my white carpet. Steps to remove:
- First, you swear. Cuss up a STORM because this is a tough stain to remove.
- Gently rub a ziploc bag filled with ices cube over the wax to make it brittle, then "shatter" the mass, remove all you can with a table knife, and vacuum the debris.
- Grab paper towels or a cut-up paper bag (brown, from supermarket) and pre-heat an iron to "high."
- Place bag over stain, then put iron on top of that.
- As wax melts and wicks up into the bag, pull bag up and toward you as you hold the iron directly over the stain. Make sure you're not burning carpet, and keep area of bag with wax on it off of the carpet.
- Keep doing this until wax is no longer wicking up through the bag.
- Then spray remaining wax spot with a quality carpet-stain remover solvent, let it work for a minute, then blot with a clean white cloth. Repeat if necessary.
- Rinse with plain lukewarm water, blot with clean cloth.
- Ask forgiveness of family for swearing (and of Your Maker if you "took his name in vain").
It's really wise to try and avoid ANY carpet stains because removing them - and writing about it - is a total stone drag.
My friend Adina presents this inexpensive, home-made, hard-working, green, all-purpose cleaning solution. To make 24 oz., combine:
- 3/4 cup white vinegar
- 1-1/2 teaspoon borax
- 24 oz hot water
- 2 tablespoons dish soap (organic if you have)
- 24 oz. spray bottle
(Adina, of Minneapolis, is also a foodie and gardener. Visit her blog soon.)
The history of Spring Cleaning
Before electricity, people spent winters heating and lighting their homes by burning wood, oil, kerosene and candles. The residue from these fuels coated literally everything in the house with a layer of greasy, sooty black grime, which became more visible as the spring days grew longer and brighter. So spring is when homes got their major cleaning. The end.
MANdatory Advice: a web site you HAVE to see.
Highly recommended: ManOfTheHouse.com has housekeeping tips galore, PLUS brilliant, life-enhancing advice for your relationships, parenting, cooking, travel, career, grooming, high-tech gadgetry, DIY projects, movies, investments and finance, health and fitness...WHEW! See ya there!
Make your bed - make your day.
Make the bed first thing every day. It takes about two minutes and makes the whole bedroom look clean and organized. You also get a head-start on a productive day. Are you cool or what?
Multitasking coffee filters
- Use them to clean your TV and computer screens without scratching.
- Strain wine that has tiny bits of broken cork in it.
- Cover foods while microwaving to prevent spatters.
Blood on the carpet
If it's a crime scene, wait until CSI leaves. After that, apply 1) a solution of a few drops of mild dishwashing detergent in water, let it work for a few minutes, then blot; 2) apply a 1:3 ammonia/water solution, let work, blot; 3) rinse with clean water, blot, and repeat if necessary.
The first rule of plumbing
There's no shame in calling a plumber. Sure, try to fix the problem if it's not serious. But any plumbing job can easily turn into a major time-suck for you. Plus, you don't want to risk an improper repair because water damage can be uber-expensive. P.S. - I'm very proud to have resisted the temptation to add a cheap "butt-crack" joke in this posting.
Guest tip on window washing
In bucket, mix a few drops of liquid car wash soap with warm water. Use a car wash brush with extending handle to wash window, then squeegee the pane and buff. Wipe squeegee edge with a clean dry cloth after each pass. Thanks to Galen Wolfe, Savage, MN
Tom builds on the topic:
- The soap can also be a few drops of dishwashing detergent.
- Don't wash windows in the hot sun - the solution will probably dry with unsightly streaks.
- Wash window interiors with vertical strokes, exteriors with horizontal ones (or vice-versa). If one side needs a touch-up, you'll know which one it is.
- Crumpled newspaper is not good for washing windows - ink gets all over your hands and leaves a film on the glass. Use a squeegee, then buff with a cotton cloth.
Laundering down-filled items
Comforters, sleeping bags, pillows, down jackets – basically anything with a down or polyester “fill” – get really heavy when wet and can unbalance and ruin your washer and dryer. They should be washed and dried in heavy-duty commercial machines at a laundromat. When drying, toss four or five tennis balls in – they'll keep the items fluffy.
Bashing bathroom mildew
Make a 1:3 bleach:water solution in a spray bottle and spritz a very fine mist onto tile, porcelain or any other bleach-safe surface. Mildew will be gone fast. Be sure to test surfaces before spraying, use ventilation, and never, ever mix any two cleaning solutions together. Thanks to Barbara Laffan AGAIN (this could become habit-forming)
Bon voyage, frying pan grease
Don't pour oil in a frying pan down the drain. Just put a few newspaper pages in the pan while you eat and it will soak most of it up. Then simply trash the paper. -Thanks to Barbara Laffan, Venice, CA
Comin' out in the wash
Laundry activity shall be outsourced whenever possible.
Starbucks coffee at a Costco price
Costco's store-branded coffee (Kirkland) is actually Starbucks coffee, but costs about one-third the price. Example: 1 lb. of dark roast at Starbucks is $10.99; the same price at Costco buys you 3 lbs. of the same coffee Several solid sources have confirmed this about these two Seattle-based companies.
Spritz, don't splash
Put your cleaning solutions into spray bottles so you can spritz onto the counters, hard-surface floors, etc. Then let the stuff work for a minute or two, and wipe it up with a rag or sponge (counters) or a sponge mop (floors). The "spritz don't splash" tactic keeps you light, streamlined, and mobile - as opposed to toting heavy, sloshy buckets of water around. This is such a key piece of advice that it's one of Clean Like a Man's hallowed Men Commandments.
Make the bed, make your day
It only takes two minutes to make your bed each morning, and it makes the whole bedroom neater...plus lets you start the day feeling that your whole life is in order.
Strategic MANuevers for dusting
- Use a clean paint brush for pleated lampshades and other tight spots.
- Put clean white socks on handst o dust blinds.
- A blow dryer set on "cool" for plants, books, etc.
- Rubber gloves, dampened, for pet hair on upholstery.
- BONUS: Spray Pledge, Endust, etc. on your dust cloth, not onto the surface to be dusted.
Vacuuming throw rugs
It's way easier to vacuum throw rugs - both rubber-backed and cotton - if you put them on carpet first. Otherwise the vac tends to suck up the edges, which can easily get tangled in the roller bar and burn out the engine. -Thanks to Kelly Guest, Minneapolis
Making quick getaways
Strategic MANeuver: For quick, firedrill-free getaways, keep your WALLET, CAR KEYS & CELL PHONE together on your entryway table. That way you'll always know exactly where they are...no more crazed, last-minute hunting.
I believe with all my heart that wires - stereo, TV, computer, phone and extension cords - blow. To tidy them up, first unplug everything and label each cord. Then consolidate all of them in one or two power strips, gathering them as you go and bundling them tightly together with electrical tape, small bungee cords, or carabiners.
The dope on soap.
Antibacterial soap isn't that much more effective for killing germs as many regular soaps are. The important factor is the amount of time the soap stays in contact with your skin - the longer, the better. (By the way, time your next hand-washing...it'll last about 5 seconds. You almost have to make a conscious effort to wash longer.)
Sharp Dresser'd Man
Stow an old dresser inside your bedroom closet - it creates oodles o' extra storage space for socks, t-shirts, bedding and more.
Quick Chip Fix
Got nicks and chips on your white enamel stovetop? Awww! But hey...the quick fix is to just add a dab or two of White-Out (aka, "liquid paper"). It hides the blemishes beautifully and lasts a long, long time.
Get the kids to clean.
Kids are capitalists - cash is meaningful to them. But it takes a lot less money to motivate youngsters that it would to impress you. Just offer them chump change (like, 50c an hour) to help you out with housekeeping, and they'll love it! They'll also learn how to clean, acquire a good work ethic, and benefit from working alongside dad and mom.
Dust books on the bookshelf once a month with the vacuum brush attachment on your vacuum. The same attachment also lets you handle lampshades, the tops of picture frames and doorway trim...just about any flat surface where dust collects.
Ya know those "uglissimo" impressions left in the carpet when you move furniture? There are two ways to get rid of them. 1. Hold a steam iron about an inch above the dent, blast it with steam, let it cool a bit, then fluff it up with a towel or just your hand. 2. Let an ice cube melt inside the dent, then use an absorbent towel to blot up the moisture.
80% of housekeeping consists of uncluttering, dusting, and vacuuming. Master these skills, grasshopper!
Stay away from wallpaper.
Don't even think about it. Well, okay...maybe grasscloth, but that's it!
Streamline your reading material
Organize a junk drawer
Put a plastic silverware holder inside, then group like items (change, pens, paper clips, etc.) together.
Coming clean on soap
Antibacterial soap is more effective the longer it's in contact with your skin. Take more than a few seconds to wash your hands, otherwise you might as well be using Irish Spring.
Snuff scuffs fast.
Scuff marks on polyurethaned wood floors usually sit on top of the finish. Some easy shortcuts to remove them: 1) Try rubbing the mark with the sock on your foot. 2) Rub with a clean tennis ball - its nubby surface will pick up the mark but won't scratch the floor. 3) Add baking soda to a dampened cloth and rub the scuff away; rinse with an unused section of the damp cloth and buff dry.
DIY shoe trees.
Don't have a cedar shoe tree handy? Use a rolled-up magazine inside dress or casual shoes to help them maintain their shape, and crumpled newspaper in sneakers. The newspaper also helps absorb moisture and odors.
A flappy pants cuff can be temporarily fixed by using a piece of two-sided tape or duct tape folded in half.
Do one thing well.
Focus cleaning and organizing efforts on a specific area, not "the whole house." Tackle a desktop, the kitchen counters, the living room. Or even smaller areas...maybe just the coffee table. Being 100% done with one thing has far more visual impact (and inspiration value) than being 25% done with four things.
How to set the table
Sad but true, most men don’t know how to accomplish this simple task. But it’s easy. Just remember that the silverware goes in alphabetical order, left to right: Fork >Knife >Spoon (the dinner plate goes between the fork and the knife). To quickly remember the order, use a mneomic device, matching the first letters of the table setting – Fork, Plate, Knife, Spoon – with an easy-to-remember sentence. For example: “Fred, Pass Ken the Squirrel”, or “Fat People Kiss Sloppily”.
Extra credit: the knife blade points inward, toward the plate.
Getting ink stains off leather
If it's a nice and/or expensive item, I recommend going straight to a professional for the best treatment, rather than doing-it-yourself and risking further damage. If you indeed want to DIY, try a mild, soap-based dishwashing detergent like Ivory. Solvent-based solutions and products marketed specifically as "leather cleaners" could remove colors and cause other damage.
Vac facts: smart bag emptying
Empty when bag is half full - otherwise it loses suction and makes the motor work harder, risking burnout. With disposable bags, remove and put duct tape over the opening to prevent dust clouds. If you have a reusable cloth bag or a bagless vac, take it outside and put into a garbage bag before shaking it clean. It's OK to machine-wash reusable bags once or twice a year.
Keep shower enclosures mildew-free
Run the bathroom exhaust fan or open a window while showering to minimize moisture. When you're done showering, squeegee off walls and doors, then, as you're stepping out, spray down the interior with a 50/50 water/Lemon Lysol solution. Mold and mildew die!
Quick-cleaning the grill
My friend, grillmeister Steve, shares this tip. When he gets the food off the grill he closes the cover and turns the burners up to "max." Then he goes in to serve the grub and sets a timer for 3 minutes to make sure he doesn't forget about the grill (he has forgotten in the past). After 3 minutes he turns the burners off, flips the lid and easily scrubs food residue off the grates with a wire brush. All bacteria are also burned to a crisp. Bada-boom!
Save big, then go small
Purchase staples like dishwasher detergent and laundry soap in bulk (I prefer Costco). They come in huge, heavy containers, so pour a portion of each into smaller, easier-to-handle containers for frequent use. For my powdered dishwasher soap, I use a 1-qt. plastic deli container and cut a pie-shaped "V" into the top for easy pouring.
Beautiful planters, instantly
When making a planter for the patio or front steps, don't plant things individually. Just go buy a hanging planter and transfer the whole arrangement (dirt ball and all) into your new pot. Fill in the sides with potting soil and you're done, dude!
To quick-clean a tile bathroom floor, take a laundry-bound bath towel (just used after showering, maybe) and swab down the floor. It's damp, so will pick up dust, dirt, hairs and even the smallest debris. Especially useful in those hard-to-reach spots, like behind the commode.
Ketchup is the best condiment.
Car seat care
Nice leather car seats? Haul a dog around? (Me too). Clean leather w/ the scrubby side of a Scotchbrite sponge & a little dishsoap in water, then apply a leather conditioner. (A car detailing pro told he uses fine steel wool and soap for extremely tough leather stains, but this seemed a little extreme).
No more junkmail
Opt out of catalogs you no longer want at catalogchoice.org; remove yourself from junk mail lists in general at obviously.com/junkmail or www.dmachoice.org.
If your iPod has a polished metal back, you can use as a vanity mirror to comb your hair, make sure there's no spinach in your teeth, etc. Or if you get lost in the wilds, use it to signal for help by reflecting/flashing the sun at the rescue helicopters.
Great guy inventions
Greatest inventions in history of guys: fire, the wheel, the TV remote, hardware stores, Jags, carabiners. More suggestions? Send 'em in.
Mothballs - not a social disease.
Storing wool clothes for summer? I got Enoz mothballs @ Home Depot. Label: "kills moths, plus eggs and larvae too." That's what you want.