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9 Old-Fashioned Cleaning Tricks That Work

Imagine your grandmother’s home; we bet it’s clean and tidy. Neat as a pin, right? Every surface dusted and polished, books and magazines tucked away out of sight, and never a crumb to be seen on her kitchen counter.

How do they do it? Well, years of experience has taught them which home cleaning remedies — from the bizarre to the old and faithful — really work. Here, they share their top old-fashioned cleaning tricks that actually work.

1. Dust damp.

“I dust everything with a damp cloth,” says Edith, 84. “Just make sure you dry any wooden surfaces with a separate towel afterwards, so you don’t get watermarks.”

2. Remove stains.

Denatured alcohols will remove tea and coffee stains from some fabrics, says Beryl, 76. “Dilute it in some water first and then leave it on the fabric to soak in. Just wash as usual and it’ll come right out.” For blood stains, Beryl suggests soaking fabrics in extremely salty water, and then washing.

(Note: it’s a good idea to do a spot test on an inconspicuous section of the fabric before using an alcohol-based cleaning solution.)

3. Clean your drains.

“I do this every week,” says Victoria, 63. “My own grandma taught me this trick, actually! Pour a tablespoon of baking soda down your drain, followed by a cup of white vinegar. Let it fizz, and then pour a kettle full of hot water down the drain.”

4. Sanitize your cutting board.

Got a stinky wooden board? Scrub with coarse salt and a halved lemon, then rinse with boiling water. “Leave it in the sun to dry,” says Anne, 75. “It’s the best sanitizer.”

5. Eliminate mildew.

Mildew and grout: It’s not a great combination. To nix the mold, Penelope, 80, says you should spray a mixture of white vinegar and water (use a 1:3 ratio) on the mildew, leave it to settle for 10 minutes, and then wipe it away.

6. Clean your toilet.

For a fresh, clean toilet, Beryl says she sprinkles Borax around the bowl, followed by half a cup of white vinegar. “Then you just leave it overnight, and flush in the morning.”

7. Deodorize your shoes.

Penelope says she puts her husband’s smelly running shoes in the freezer overnight — in a plastic bag — and then leaves them out in the sun to thaw. “It’s like magic!” she says.

If you don’t have room in your freezer, fill a spare pair of socks with dried herbs and spices (bay leaves, rosemary, cinnamon sticks, and so on) and leave them in your shoes between wears.

8. Banish window streaking.

To avoid streaks after cleaning your windows, mix 1/4 cup of white vinegar with a tablespoon of cornflour and two cups of warm water in a spray bottle. Spray generously and buff away with a soft cloth or newspaper.

9. Get rid of fridge smells.

Victoria swears by this age-old trick: “Put a bowl of coffee grounds or baking soda in the back of your fridge. It will soak up any yucky smells.” She says it also works in the bottom of your trash can.

This article originally appeared on our sister site, Homes to Love.

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