Saturday, July 31

Smothering Brass with Brown Sauce: Nine Unusual Spring Cleaning Tips from Readers | Life and Style

Beat the rugs on the snow

This is a method I learned from my Austrian mother-in-law for cleaning rugs and small rugs. Place them upside down on fresh snow and beat them well with a cane rug beater. Then hang from a fence (or a children’s swing), remove any snow that is still clinging to the rug or rug, and let it dry. You will see that the patch of the floor where the carpet was placed will be quite black. I realize that this method will not be an option for everyone, but in Scotland (where I am from) it is particularly effective. Evelyn Zisch, retired, Austria

Lemon cleaning.
Photograph: Jens Rother / Getty Images / iStockphoto

Use lemon on quartz

Cut a lemon in half and rub it over any tea stains on a quartz countertop. Lemon easily removes stubborn stains and does not damage quartz. Christabel Harley, teacher, Brighton

Unblock with Crocs

Long hair (mine and my two daughters) and dog hair (spaniel) is notorious for clogging our carpets, and so is the vacuum cleaner. To remove myself, I simply slip on an old pair of rubber Crocs, and with a vigorous motion up and down the carpet, any loose hair comes out in mounds, no need to get on my hands and knees. Foolproof and satisfying! Kate Harris, proofreader, Leeds

Croc in.
Croc in. Photography: Cristina Fumi / Alamy

Leave baby powder on the stains.

If you spill oily food on your clothing, carpet, or upholstery, scrape the pieces off with a butter knife or spoon and then pile baby powder on the stain. Leave on for at least 12 hours, then apply the powder to the fabric with your fingers and leave it for another 12 hours, minimum, or as long as you like. The powder will extract the oil from the fibers of the fabric. You can then brush, vacuum, or shake off the remaining dust, and in most cases, you won’t even have to wash the item. Works especially well on men’s ties. Rebecca Agar, housewife, London

Clean the plants with milk

I always clean the leaves of the plants with a cloth soaked in milk. This keeps mealybugs out and makes the leaves nice and shiny. Carolyn, Research Scientist, Oxford

Patio cleaning.
Photograph: itman__47 / Getty Images / iStockphoto

Sprinkle patios with washing powder

To clean a patio of concrete or stone slabs, use washing powder. Sprinkle a little on the surface, add a small amount of water and work with a stiff brush. Let it sit overnight, then rinse it off the next day. The bleach and surfactants in the powder release dirt and do a good job of destroying the light deposits of lichen and algae that darken the surface (although it is less effective on heavy lichen deposits, which appear to be impervious to most treatments ). Neil Hardy, Retired, Sussex

Frying the brass with brown sauce

To clean quickly and get a high shine, smother your brass and copper items with supermarket-priced brown sauce (which usually costs around 50 cents, much cheaper than most brass cleaners). Leave the sauce in for as long as you can tolerate the smell, 10 minutes to an hour. Then clean and polish. Caution: be prepared to never eat a butty of chips and brown sauce again. Anonymous, Cornwall

Cleaning the wood with olive oil

Olive oil is ideal for illuminating small wooden items in thrift stores; just lightly sand and wipe with the oil, let it sink in, then wipe off the excess. Let dry at room temperature for a few days before using. You don’t even have to sand all the varnish, it usually mixes up. Olive oil also rejuvenates old, dry leather belts. JM Jackson, mixed media artist, Seattle

Olive oil.
Photograph: dulezidar / Getty Images / iStockphoto

Clean the windows with a dishwasher.

I use liquid detergent for a lot of general household cleaning. We live in a Grade II listed Victorian building with single paned lattice windows. They are brittle and drafty, and the metal frame is warped, making it a real headache to clean. I clean them as little as possible, panel by panel, with a sponge and a dishwasher solution and warm water, gently drying as you go with a soft cloth. If I’m feeling brave, I spray them with a vinegar-based window cleaning solution and gently buff. I’m not sure whether the Conservatives would approve of it or not. Lucy, England

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