Like all collective wisdom, "cleaning tips" really just represent a shared inheritance of knowledge. We like to think of it as a little Foundry jewel cache of accumulated methodologies or *tiny* tweaks to a routine that can make a serious difference.
This little hoard is precious in the way that a passed-down story or song is precious: better in the retelling, honored by its sharing. These are the ones that we remember, and execute—almost rhythmically—when it's time to do whatever job is to hand and do it better than we might have.
There is nothing TOP SECRET or EARTH SHATTERING about these particular spring cleaning tips + tricks. Like, there's nothing particularly SACRED about: when you're done cleaning the toilet, add one more squirt of cleaner to the bowl and let the brush just sit in the bowl there for a few minutes, then, flush one last time with just the brush in the water, cleaning the toilet brush itself.
Nothing sacred, just the opposite. BUT once you know it, it becomes part of the rhythm and ritual that make things easier and better in a way that does not necessarily involve scrubbing your baseboards with a toothbrush or enlisting the help of dwarves, mice, or hamfisted labradors (though if YOU have any tricks for getting the aforementioned to help, we're all ears).
So with baskets practically brimming with top cleaning tools, here we have some of our tried + true tricky tips + tipsy tricks for a brand-spanking-new cleanly vibe.
- The best way to keep tarnish at bay on silver is simply to use it. Our shiniest silvers are the ones we use every day, always hand-washing and drying with a super soft flannel cloth. And if your pieces do tarnish (as tarnish on metal is basically inevitable), never fear: tarnish is actually protective. Distinct from rust, verdigris, or firescale (a purplish oxidized copper stain on the really old stuff), tarnish doesn't penetrate past the surface and actually can prevent further oxidation. Don't tell our grandmothers, but we actually like the look of some tarnish, especially on pieces with special engravings.
- How to Sweep 101: Sweep towards you brushing any dirt with repeated, light strokes inward from all corners of the room until you have a tidy little heap that can be brushed into a dustpan. Brush in all the dirt you can, then move the dustpan back a few inches and sweep up the line of dust that was left. Repeat this last step until all the dirt is in. A little hand broom is perfect for this last step, especially if the dirt is a fine particulate like wood ash.
- How To Sweep 202 (advanced methodology for big open areas, borrowed from the dude in charge of cleaning up after the elephants at Barnum and Bailey circus no joke): When sweeping a large area, don't start at one side of the room, sweep in a long row and then walk back to sweep another row. instead: Start in one corner and sweep one long sweep (like about the length of your arm). Step sideways and make another single stroke. Continue moving sideways after each stroke. When you reach the other side of the area you're sweeping, step forward one broom stroke and work your way back towards the other side. Also, he says consider using a shovel and not a broom if you have a real big elephant-sized mess.
- Goat Hair Dust Brushes are great for electronics. The electrostatic nature of the goat hair fibers draw dust up and away for the deepest clean with minimal contact (and no cleansers). We have specific ones for delicate beloveds like computer or record player. Detail brushes are great for keyboard or to clean any fuzz off the needle.
- Mayonnaise (with or without cigarettte ash, depending on whose grandmother you ask) gets water rings out of wood.
- Lazy Dog's Lime + Mineral Remover: For any place where lime or mineral deposits have accumulated (usually around faucets and drains) a vinegar poultice can cure any number of ills using just vinegar and time. Soak a cloth in plain white vinegar and wrap around the area, leave for an hour and when you come back, the deposits should have become soft enough to remove. Don't use this on/around marble, as the acid in vinegar can be harmful to marble.
- Clean a musty steam iron with vinegar: Pour a little white vinegar into the water tank and let the iron steam for a few minutes. After cleaning with vinegar, iron a clean rag so that any vinegar residues are left on the rag. Let iron cool and rinse with plain water.
- A Giant Scrubbing brush is ever so handy. Anna likes using hers outside to clean off the deck or outdoor furniture. The wide head and long handle are ideal for cleaning large, hard to reach things (the top of the car/aforementioned circus elephants etc).
- Toothpaste makes a good silver polish in a pinch.
- Mind The Tip: The tips of a brush's bristles are what provide the cleaning power. If you find yourself pressing hard as you clean, and all the bristles splaying out, you probably need a brush with stiffer bristles. That being said, test a stiff brush on the surface of whatever you're cleaning to make sure that it's not so stiff it scratches.
- Soaking Enamelware: Since enamelware can chip easily, we like to soak any enamelware in need of a deep clean in a solution of 2tsp baking soda and 1 quart water to remove burnt-on food.
- Clean the leaves of indoor plants with the inside of a banana peel.
- Wood floors should not be scrubbed: Scrubbing (and rinsing clean) involves a great deal of water. Only surfaces that can stand up to moisture should be scrubbed. Ungrouted tile and wood floors should be wiped, mopped, and/or buffed.
- Dust from the top down.
- Similarly but in reverse, unload the dishwasher (if you use one) from the bottom up: If anything on the upper racks is still wet, water will spill onto the empty racks/not get the stuff on the bottom wet.
- Oxygen and enzyme cleaners can be used loads of places outside of the laundry: Treat stains on fabric, clothing, carpet, etc. Clean grout stains, soap scum, sinks/tubs, toilets, drains in the bath. Clean pots/pans, blenders, sinks, cutting boards in the kitchen. Excellent for carpet stains and deodorizing carpets. Can be used in carpet cleaners. Perfect for outdoor furniture, coolers, camping gear, tents, weathered stains. And, of course, in the laundry room: Add a whitening/brightening/deodorizing/softening boost alongside Laundry Soap for those loads that need a little something extra (dingy clothes, workout clothes, cloth diapers).
- A dust cloth is our favorite quick surface clean *wipe swipe done*. BUT don't use a dust cloth on delicate or unstable finishes: Finishes that are flaking, cracking, or have lifting edges or delicate paint jobs shouldn't be dusted with our favorite dust cloths. Use a soft bristled duster instead to maintain the integrity of the finish.
- A freshly sliced half lemon can clean *almost* anything: With its high citric acid content, lemon juice is a natural remover of alkaline stains (like from coffee, tea, and liquor) and many tarnishes. Cutting a lemon in half and dipping it into a dish of salt turns it into a naturally gentle abrasive tool for stubborn stains and dirty copper kettles alike. Citric acid can affect colorfastness, so test a small area first if working with precious materials.
- When polishing furniture, always rub with the grain of the wood.
- Don't forget to clean your cleaning supplies: Dust cloths, flannel cloths, sponge cloths, mops, brooms, and brushes of all sorts need to BE clean to MAKE clean. Don't forgot to clean your supplies after use. This should also include buckets, basins, and even the humble dish drying rack.
The right cleaning solution can make all the difference between squeaky clean and just plain squeaky. Our favorite thing about our refillable bulk bottles is that they are infinitely versatile-ready to be locked, loaded with whatever solution fits your needs. Maybe that's something from our bulk section or maybe it's a DIY all-natural cleaning concoction. No plastic, no pthalates, no problem. Here, a few of our favorite DIY Cleaning Supply recipes for your bullpen, sized and apportioned to be mixed up right in the bottle that comes in this month's share:
LAVENDER-INFUSED VINEGAR CLEANER
- 1/4 Cup Dried Lavender Buds
- 1/2 Cup White Vinegar
- Small-ish Clear Jar with lid (big enough to hold 1/2 cup of vinegar with a little headroom)
- 1 Cup Water
Add the lavender flowers to the jar and cover with the vinegar (you'll see a beautiful pinky color bloom almost immediately!). Close the jar and let sit in a sunny place for 3-5 days, shaking occasionally if you feel like it. If you're using a mason jar, consider putting a piece of parchment between the lid and the jar top to stop vinegar corrosion.
Pour the vinegar through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth to remove the flowers and add to your Foundry amber bottle. Fill the rest of the bottle with water and get spritzing!
And because this is completely kiddo-safe +2 years, we love handing off the spritzer to the little ones and letting them tackle their own dribs and drabs.
- 3 tsp. Liquid Castile Soap (like unscented Dr. Bronner's)
- 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
- 3/4 cup White Vinegar (the cheap stuff!)
- 4-8 drops citrus essential oil (lemon, grapefruit, sweet orange)
WOOD FLOOR CLEANER
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
- 20 drops evergreen essential oil (pine, balsam fir, scotch pine, cypress etc.)