7 Clever Ways To Clean All Of The Stubbornly Dirty Things

Sometimes, elbow grease just isn't enough. For those times, we offer these tips on cleaning the seemingly uncleanable.

March 10, 2017
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1. Yellowing Pillows

We ask a lot of our pillows. They’re supposed to take buckets of our face-sweat and drool every night, with nothing but a thin sheet of cloth to guard them, and yet we expect them to remain fresh-off-the-shelf clean? Please.

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When your pillows start to show their fatigue (usually by turning a queasy shade of yellow), use this special recipe to get them gleaming white again.

First, fill your washing machine about a third of the way with hot water. Throw in one cup each of liquid laundry detergent, powdered laundry detergent. Then wash the pillows on the hottest water your washing machine can pump out.

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When you’re done, dry them on low heat. If they’re actual feather pillows, use the air cycle instead.

2. Rust Stains on the Porcelain

As if bathrooms weren’t already gross enough, faucets tend to leave streaking rust stains. Luckily, there’s an easy, gentle way to scrub those stains clean. You may even have these ingredients sitting around in your kitchen. Here’s what you do:

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Cut a lemon in half. Rub the cut end over the worst of your offending rust stains. You might even want to squeeze a bit; the more lemon juice you transfer to the surface, the less elbow grease you’ll have to apply later.

Next, go find a book to read. You need to let the lemon do its terrible work for at least three hours.

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Finally, pour a fourth of a cup of salt onto a nylon brush and attack the stains. The acid in the lemon combines with the abrasiveness of the salt to blast those stains into the void.

3. Stovetops

Gas stoves are totally superior; we’re not disputing that. But everyone who’s ever worked on a gas range knows that it’s impossible to prevent little nuggets of food from falling down among the burners. There, the heat slowly turns them into the kitchen equivalent of a barnacle.

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Don’t despair. Just remove the grills, grab some baking soda, and follow these directions:

Pour a healthy heap of baking soda on all caked surfaces of the range top. Then soak some kitchen rags in hot, hot water. Wring out the rags and lay them over your filthy burners, fully covering the lumpy, charred area.

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Leave the rags and come back 15 or 20 minutes later. Now try scrubbing the surface with a rag and a little dish soap. Pretty soon, your stove will be cleaner than ever, and you won’t even have to break out the hammer and chisel.

Baking soda is also a good option for ceramic stovetops. Use a damp scrubber to create a paste and apply to the surface, then wipe clean with a soft cloth. For burned on residue, pour a few tablespoons of olive oil on the substance and let sit for a few minutes. Scrape with a stainless steel spoon (don’t press too hard!) and wipe away particles with a soapy sponge or Magic Eraser.

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4. Coffee Makers

Over time, you might start to notice your morning Folgers developing a skunky edge. That’s because the inside of your coffee machine is filthy, which is gross and upsetting, but probably not enough to break your caffeine addiction.

Here’s what you do:

Grab a bottle of white vinegar. You probably have one under the sink. If it’s not there, get some here or hit up a Dollar General. You know how you put water into a coffee maker? This time, fill that space up halfway with vinegar. Then turn your machine on. Let it pretend it’s making coffee; joke’s on the machine. It is actually brewing cleanliness.

Warning: This step will make your whole house smell like vinegar.

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Once that brewing cycle is done, empty the vinegar. Fill the coffee maker up with water—all the way up this time. Run another brewing cycle.

Repeat the water cycle at least three times, and get ready to enjoy your morning pick-me-up again.

5. Mildewy Shower Curtains

Those vinyl shower curtains or, curtain “liners”may look like disposable placemats, but they’re actually designed for continuous, ongoing use. You just have to get the mildew off every now and again.

Here’s how you do that:

Unsurprisingly your washing machine plays into this pretty heavily. Be sure to bring two or three towels that you don’t mind bleaching later.

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Drop one towel into your washer first. Then layer the shower curtain over that towel. Then put in the other towel.

Pour in your favorite laundry detergent and start the washer. A few minutes into the cycle, pour in a little bleach.

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Run the whole mess through an extra spin cycle or two to avoid puddles on the floor. But when you’re done, just hang up your newly clean shower curtain and let it dry the rest of the way. Oh, and wash those towels again before using them.

6. Water Rings on the Coffee Table

This is why we can’t have nice things. You get a spiffy wooden coffee table, and next thing you know, it’s covered in rings from all those beverages you drink while watching Netflix.

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That’s okay! Just head to the kitchen and get ready to enjoy a new finish on that wooden furniture.

Mix roughly equal parts of olive oil and salt together. The goal is to create a thick paste. Take your miracle paste and rub it over the rings on your coffee table. In fact, coat the rings and let it sit there.

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Half an hour later, wipe away the oil and salt, and be amazed: No more stains.

7. Mold on the Shower Caulk

You can scrub mold off tile. Try that on the caulk lining your shower seams and you’ll end up with a much more annoying DIY job ahead of you.

There is an easy way to get those annoying black spots off of bathroom caulk. It might require a trip to the beauty shop (or—who are we kidding?—Amazon), but it’s totally worth it in the end.

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This trick requires a product called “cotton coil.” Soak that cotton coil in bleach, then lay it gingerly across the offending caulk. It needs to sit overnight, so plan your showers accordingly.

By the time you remove the bleached cotton, though, you’ll see that all that mold is finished.

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Even better, it’s not likely to come back for quite a while.

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