Coffee heat rising

Monday Household Hint: Clean tile grout

Magic Eraser works nicely to clean grout on a tiled countertop. First clean dirt and any residual grease off the tile (to degrease, spray the tile with vinegar; wipe clean and dry). Then scrub the grout lines with a dampened Magic Eraser. Finally, wipe away residue rubbed off the eraser.

To clean black mold off tile in a tub or shower surround, put some chlorine bleach in a clean spray bottle (be sure no residue of any detergent remains in the bottle!). Clean soap residue off the tiles as best as possible (vinegar will help with this, but if it’s very thick you probably will have to scrub it off with scouring powder), and then be sure all cleaning product is thoroughly rinsed away. If the bathroom has a window, open it; turn on the exhaust fan. Then spray the grout with bleach. Let it stand for some time. You may have to spray badly mildewed areas more than once to fade the black out. Use chlorine bleach only on white, as it may fade colored grout. Rinse thoroughly and dry after use.

It’s also possible to use oxygen bleach (the stuff that’s pitched as “color-safe” in the grocery store’s laundry section). ? It must be mixed with hot water to work. Combine oxygen bleach with very warm or hot tap water in a spray bottle (not so hot as to burn yourself) and apply liberally to mildewed areas. Oxygen bleach is said to be safer for colored grout, and it emits fewer noxious fumes.

To discourage regrowth of mold on tile and grout, leave the shower door or curtain open after showering. If possible, open the window after showering. Train users to wipe the tilework dry after showering. A squeegee or a microfiber cloth (hung over the top of the shower frame or curtain rod to keep it dry) works well to remove water and soap, and if used regularly minimizes bathroom cleaning labor.

It is important to avoid deposits of soap scum, hard water, and mildew by cleaning and drying the surface after EVERY shower. Once hard-water soap scum has built up, it’s difficult even for professionals to remove.

Bonus Frugal Household Hint: Free water

Here in lovely uptown Phoenix, we awoke to pouring rain. Gloomy day for commuters, joyous day for plants.

Put a light dose of plant food in your favorite houseplant watering container and set it under the eaves to collect runoff. If it has a narrow opening (I use old gallon juice jugs, for example), set a funnel in the opening to capture more water. When the container is full, pour the rainwater on the indoor plants.

Plants seem to be able to tell the difference between rainwater and tap water. It’s like spring tonic for the indoor set. And it’s free!

Do you harvest rainwater? Please share the ways you catch store, and use runoff.

Frugal Household Hints: Stovetop cleaner

With everyone getting ready for New Year’s Eve entertaining (or maybe just taking advantage of a day off to clean up after the Christmas and Hanukkah festivities), this seems like a good time to launch a weekly feature: household hints for the tightwad. So, let’s start with this one:

Liquid stovetop cleaner made for glass-topped stoves has many other uses.

  • Windows and mirrors. Smear a thin coating over the glass, allow to dry, and rub clean with a soft rag. Gets all the grease, toothpaste splatters, and dog kisses-much better than blue window cleaners.
  • Gas stoves. Perfect for cleaning the shiny metal surface of a gas stovetop. Don’t get the paste into the little burner holes.
  • Teakettles. Cleans and polishes a teakettle that’s collected grease while sitting on or near a stovetop.
  • Kitchen and bathroom tiles. Does an incredible job of cleaning and polishing tile. Another tip: Try a Mr. Clean “Magic Eraser” on the grout.
  • Hazy drinking glasses. Polishes the stubborn deposit left by a poorly functioning dishwasher.
  • Tableware. Polishes stainless steel knives, forks, and spoons. I have used a tiny bit of it on silver with no harm, but I wouldn’t make it a habit.
  • Self-cleaning oven’s door. Works to remove the last bits of grease and haze from the inside of an oven door after the self-cleaning cycle has run and the oven is cool.

Voilà! One product does the work of glass cleaner, tile cleaner, and metal polish. And IMHO it works a lot better on glass and tile than anything else, especially when you’re dealing with that little skim of grease that settles on everything in a kitchen.
Have you found anything else to do with the stuff? Please share!