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Close to home with Mary Beth Breckenridge

Tips make cleaning easier -- well, a little, anyway

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: March 30, 2012

It's spring, when a homeowner's thoughts turn to ... cleaning.


I don't love cleaning, but I love a clean house. The cleaning tricks in the April issue of ShopSmart magazine caught my eye, so I thought I'd share a few of them:

-- Dust window blinds by putting on lint-free white inspection gloves and wiping each slat clean. What, you don't own inspection gloves? You can buy them on

-- Use a credit card to scrape baked-on spills off oven and microwave interiors. (ShopSmart didn't have this trick, but you can loosen cooked-on food in microwave ovens by boiling a container of water inside the microwave for a few minutes. The steam will soften the gunk so you can wipe it away easily.)

-- Avoid cleaning the top of the refrigerator by covering it with plastic wrap. When the plastic gets dirty, throw it away and replace it with a fresh sheet of plastic wrap.

-- Dust the leaves of broad-leaf plants with a dampened cotton sock worn like a glove.

-- Use an umbrella with a U-shaped handle to minimize the mess when you clean a chandelier. Just hang the opened umbrella upside down from the chandelier to catch the drips. Of course, then you have to clean the umbrella.

-- Vacuum a lambswool duster after each use to remove debris trapped in the fibers, and hand-wash it occasionally. If you use a microfiber duster, wash it after each use according to the manufacturer's cleaning instructions.

-- Use baby wipes instead of cleaning wipes on some surfaces to minimize streaky residue. ShopSmart didn't define "some surfaces," but I'm willing to bet it excludes stainless steel.

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