Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes
As the world shifts into a new year, you might be looking for ways to improve your life. Between healthier food choices, sleeping more, spending less and trying to stay more organized. If organization and staying clean are toward the top of your priorities this year, you should learn some basics of cleaning—including tricks to make life easier, and also things to avoid.
For example, Bob Villa says you should never use vinegar on marble, your knives, granite, or ceramic tiles. While vinegar can be an excellent cleaner for many surfaces, it can break down certain finishes and ruin your home's surfaces.
With so many tips and tricks floating around online, do you think you know what's a real tip and what isn't? Take this quiz to test your knowledge! Be sure to enter your email to win a Minky Couture blanket.
To see why certain quiz answers are true or not, scroll past the quiz for more detailed explanations.
Here is a list of the quiz tricks and why they work (or don't).
Does hairspray remove ink and marker stains?
No. Back in the day, hairspray contained high levels of alcohol, the real ingredient that removes ink and marker stains. Today, however, hairsprays have much lower levels of alcohol and some are even alcohol-free, according to Good Housekeeping, because it turns out alcohol dries out your hair.
Rather than using up your hair products on your upholstery or clothing stains, you can try dabbing on rubbing alcohol with a cotton ball or rubbing gently with an alcohol wipe.
Will WD-40 remove sticky labels?
Yes. While it is traditionally marketed as a lubricant, WD-40 can also be used to remove sticky residue, like that left when you try to remove a label or sticker.
"All you need to do is simply spray some WD-40 Multi-Use Product onto the sticker," explained WD-40's website. "Once applied, let the formula sit for several minutes and then use a clean rag to wipe away the unwanted residue."
Can a tennis ball help with scuff marks?
Yes. Scuff marks made when leather or rubber scrape against your floor can be removed with a tennis ball and some elbow grease. For a low-effort solution, you can grab a clean, dry tennis ball and rub it across the scuff.
A higher-tech version of this cleaning hack comes from Apartment Therapy and involves using a box cutter to cut an x shape on one side of the tennis ball just big enough for the end of your broom handle to squeeze in. Voila! You have a built-in scuff-remover you don't have to get on your hands and knees to use.
Should you use toilet bowl cleaner anywhere else?
Absolutely not. Toilet bowl cleaner is highly acidic and can ruin other surfaces in your home. Despite what TikTok trends might say, the experts at SF Gate recommend using a much gentler cleaner on your floors, your countertops and showers—no matter how dirty.
Can Coke or colas be used as a cleaning agent?
Yes. Coca-cola isn't just for drinking—it makes a pretty potent addition to your cleaning arsenal, as well. According to Clean My Space, a can of Coke can be used to clean an oil spill off your driveway, break down the scent of a skunk, remove rust, clean grout, and remove grease and asphalt stains from clothing.
Will vinegar kill weeds?
Yes. Vinegar is a great alternative to chemical-laden treatments used to kill the weeds clogging up your sidewalk cracks and creeping into your garden.
"Dish soap, vinegar and a spray bottle are all you need for making your own weed killer," according to Birds and Blooms. "The acetic acid in vinegar 'sucks out the water' from the weed, which dries it up. The dish soap helps break down the outer coat of the plant, which helps that vinegar to work best."
Keep in mind that the vinegar doesn't know the difference between your tomato plant and a dandelion. Be careful to spray close to the plant and avoid windy days when a breeze might blow your vinegar spray onto desirable plants.
Should you microwave your kitchen sponges to sanitize them?
No. In fact, though microwaving your kitchen sponges can reduce their bacterial load by 60%, the remaining bacteria will just recolonize the sponge, potentially yielding stronger versions of the bacteria.
A study published by Scientific Reports on Nature.com found that kitchen sponges "represent the biggest reservoirs of active bacteria in the whole house" and can house bacteria ranging from campylobacter spp. to e.coli to salmonella. Not only are sponges carriers of these diseases, but they can become disseminators, spreading the germs over kitchen surfaces and cross-contaminating hands and food.
Moral of the story: Most kitchen sponges should be used once and then thrown away. Better options for cleaning up the kitchen would be paper towels that are disposed of after use or rags that can be thoroughly washed after each use.
Can you wash things besides dishes in your dishwasher?
Yes. If you're washing nothing but dishes in your dishwasher, you're doing it wrong. Your dishwasher can be used to clean a plethora of other items, Just start looking for items made from the same material as your glass and plastic dishes and metal pans.
The Spruce suggests cutting down on elbow grease by working smarter, not harder. Dirty exhaust fan covers, kitchen brushes, or silicone oven mitts? Throw them in the dishwasher. Other items The Spruce suggests putting in the dishwasher include your microwave turntable, refrigerator shelves and bins, light fixtures, switch plates, rubber tub mats, hairbrushes and combs and kids' plastic toys.
With this new knowledge in hand, seize the new year and start cleaning—safely—and effectively today.