How to Re-purpose Old Items as Household Cleaning Aids - dummies

How to Re-purpose Old Items as Household Cleaning Aids

By Gill Chilton

There are many painstaking ways to clean house and remove stubborn stains. It’s true that there’s a piece of specialist cleaning equipment for every task that you may care to undertake. From stick-dusters to clean the thin gap between stacked video and DVD players to shovelling buckets that combine the flat edge of a dustpan with the volume of a rubbish bin, you can find hundreds of great tools.

However, limited storage space coupled with the fact that you have better things to spend spare money on, mean you may want to improvise. Next time, instead of throwing things away that you think have lost their usefulness, think again.

Use hose for your daily cleaning

The gauze-like fabric of higher denier tights (pantyhose) makes them perfect filters. Use them whenever you suspect treasures like money or an earring may be hidden down the sofa or under the bed. Simply pop the foot of an old pair of tights over the suction hose of the vacuum, and get cleaning. Dust goes through to your cleaner but valuables stick to the tights.

Old tights are also handy in the washing-machine. To freshen fabric hair bunches (scrunchies) and accessories, pop a load inside a tight leg and tie a knot in the leg. Everything stays safely together in the machine, yet the mesh of the tights ensures things still get clean.

Make the right cleaning rags

Old rags are a cleaning must, but not just any old rags. You want to be sure that the items you are cleaning don’t get covered with fluff or, worse, coloured by your cleaning cloth. Old bed sheets are perfect. The material is smooth, lint-free, and subject to minimal fraying. Use pinking-shears to cut the fabric into strips that measure roughly 30 centimetres (1 foot) by 60 centimetres (2 feet).

Whilst white is preferred, you can use coloured sheets, too. Soak them overnight in a weak solution of bleach – 10 millilitres (ml) (2 teaspoons) per 5 litres (1 gallon) of water – then wash them in the washing-machine on the hottest setting to get rid of the colour.

Lather up with a natural sponge

Never throw out those expensive face and body washers when they’re no longer smart enough for the bath. Their high absorbency and capacity to resist staining mean they last far longer than synthetic sponges. Save them for big jobs such as washing down walls or kitchen units (cabinets).

Buff with old carpet

It is always a good idea to keep some small scraps when you lay carpet for the polishing box. Shoes, leather bags – and of course badges – all get a great shine when briskly rubbed against carpet. Those with longer wool piles do the grandest job. The combination of grease- and dirt-absorbing fibres and the friction makes for a brilliant shine.

Clean up on the many uses of toothbrushes

Scrubbing is what a toothbrush does best. If you’re prepared to put in the extra effort that’s needed, you can make hard surfaces look super by giving them the toothbrush treatment.

Most popularly used for scrubbing at the grouting between tiles, you and your (old!) toothbrush can also take on blackened window ledges, the inside of scummy vases, fabric tennis shoes, and the wheels and bodywork of toy cars. For super-charged results use old battery-powered ones.

The shine on leather shoes is particularly brilliant if you first apply shoe cream to the brush. However, you need to devote a toothbrush solely to this job: You won’t be able to clean the bristles afterwards.