24 of the biggest cleaning problems — solved
Remove carpet spots
Here's the method our GHRI experts have found works on most dried-in blotches: Take two empty spray bottles, and fill one with cold water. In the other, mix 1/4 teaspoon plain dishwashing liquid and 1 cup warm water. Spray the detergent solution onto an absorbent cloth (not the carpet — you don't want to wet it too much), and dab, don't rub, it on the spot. As the stain dissolves, blot with a clean section of cloth. Keep applying and blotting this way until the stain is gone. Spray another cloth with the cold water, and use it to rinse the detergent solution from the carpet; blot again with a dry cloth. Then, pile on a stack of white paper towels, and place a heavy pot on top; leave overnight to soak up any residual staining deep in the carpet. In the A.M., remove the pot and toss the paper towels; fluff the fibers with your fingers and allow to air-dry.
Pump up the brew
Purge the fridge
Pull the trash can over and dump lingering leftovers, spoiled food, and open bottles of condiments, like grill marinade from last summer. You could remove all the glass shelves and bins and wash them or give them a fast once-over with a wet cloth or sponge. Don't forget fingerprints and splatters on the door front and handle. A fresh box of baking soda absorbs odors, too.
Clean ceiling-fan crud
To get rid of the grime that all ceiling fans seem to collect (created by dust clinging to greasy airborne particles), place an old fabric tablecloth or sheet underneath the fan; a shower cap to protect your hair from debris also isn't a bad idea. With an extendable duster, go over the tops and bottoms of the blades to capture loose dust. Or just grab a step stool, and dust with a dry microfiber cloth on both sides of blades. Shake out the cloth, lightly dampen it; wipe blades again, this time picking up any oily film. Give glass fixtures a pass with a clean section of cloth while you're up there.
Soaking a sponge in bleach killed 99.9 percent of the three bacteria strains from all our test sponges (scrub and regular cellulose), a benchmark based on the EPA's requirement for sanitization of non-food-contact surfaces. Mix 3/4 cup of bleach in one gallon of water, and soak the sponge for five minutes.
Fix a shady situation
Zap oven spills
Burned-on blobs welded to the bottom of your oven can give off odors and smoke. If you have time to run a self-cleaning cycle, even a short two-hour one, it's your best bet (and you can go do something else while it works). If not, just focus on the worst stains. Take a metal spatula and gently chip off any loose pieces, with any luck, this alone might do the trick. If not, liberally spritz with full-strength ammonia from a spray bottle. Leave it for at least five minutes, then sprinkle on enough baking soda to completely cover the stain; add just a few drops of white vinegar. Let it bubble for a minute or two, then whisk away the grime with a scrub sponge. Rinse with a clean, wet, regular sponge.