How Do I Clean THAT? 5 Tips for Tricky Jobs

Sheri Reed

plastic novelty strawYou have a dirty floor, you use floor cleaner. Streaky window, grab the window cleaner. But plastic straws? Makeup brushes? Some cleaning jobs aren't lucky enough to get entire products devoted to them, which means they're probably pretty grimy right now.

Here are 5 quick and easy solutions to cleaning the some of the dirtiest items around your home. The good thing is you already have most of this stuff lying around the house already.

1. Plastic straws

Fine if you can run the soap and hot water through the loop-the-loops the minute your little one finishes dinner. More likely they are discovered days later under the coach, after they are nicely gunked up and on the verge of turning green. Soak them in a bowl of half part water and half part vinegar. Grab a pipe cleaner from your child's art supplies and scrub the insides as best you can. White ones are best, as the cheap colored ones sometimes leak. If any gunk remains, toss it. Just not worth it.

hair brush2. Hairbrush

To clean your hairbrush, mix: 1/2 cups of water, 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar, and 20 drops of tea tree, lavender, or eucalyptus oil (optional). Then:

  1. Grab a plastic fork to remove all hair from brush or comb.
  2. Mix ingredients in container that will allow brush or comb to be submerged.
  3. Soak for 20 minutes.
  4. Rinse and air dry.

3. Microwave

This one is tricky because fumes from cleaning products often linger within the appliance and could soak into your food. You need a natural approach. Fill a microwave safe bowl halfway with water. Cut a whole lemon into several slices, place in water, put entire bowl in microwave. Zap for five minutes. Remove the bowl and wipe down the sides -- the dried spaghetti sauce, butter grease and unidentified black stuff sponges easily off -- and it smells great too!

ceiling fans4. Ceiling fan

After hearing a friend's fan-blade-dust-dinner-party disaster story, I have a little ongoing anxiety about post-winter fan blade dust buildup. She was hosting an end-of-winter dinner party with friends, and she not only burnt the roast, but also her husband, in a desperate attempt to clear out the smoke from the burning roast, turned on the ceiling fan, which threw giant clumps of dust all over her pretty dinner table. Oh my -- time to grab the pillowcase! Just hook the open end of the pillowcase over the fan blade and pull it across the dusty blade, catching all the dust inside the case. I think I might figure out a way to add some dusting spray to the case beforehand too.

5. Natural hair makeup brushes

Cleaning your makeup brush helps remove the oils, dirt, and any bacteria that gets caught up in the bristles. It helps keep your skin clear and lessens the chance of clogging pores. Here's how to clean it:

  • Place only the bristles under warm and slow-flowing running water and gently fan out. You can also use bowl of water and submerge bristles and swirl around.
  • Remove bristles from water and add a pea sized drop of baby shampoo or an oil-free face wash and lather. You will see the old makeup start to change the color of the lather.
  • Suds up and lightly rinse bristles under water until the water runs clear.
  • Gently squeeze out any excess water and reshape brush.
  • Lay brush on its side, with bristles over an edge so they don't get out of shape. Don't lay it on a surface -- that can make bacteria seep in. 
  • Never use heat to dry brush. Let it dry naturally.

Images (top to bottom): wwarby/Flickr; sh0dan/Flickr; ashleigh290/Flickr

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