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15 Of The Best Spring Cleaning Hacks That I've Seen In A Minute

Some easy ways to literally make cleaning a breeze...

Home Improvement

I've got a friend who lives to clean. I'm not playing. When she's in a good mood, she wants to clean. When she is totally pissed off, she wants to clean. So, in her world, there is no need to really spring clean because she does it on the regular. Then there's me. Don't get me wrong, my place is in good shape; still, I pretty much have a cleaning day (which is either Thursday or Friday) and there are definitely a few times a year when I'll spend a good three days just going ham on my place. One of those times is during the traditional spring cleaning season. During then, there are some particular hacks that I will apply.

That's what I'm gonna share with you today. Whether you're like my girl and you clean on steroids or you're more like I am and you seasonally go off the charts, here are 15 things that can make getting your house in order so much easier, cheaper and even healthier (because they most don't contain any chemicals) to do.

1. Boost Your Laundry with Epsom Salt and Your Fave Essential Oils

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Do you want to make your laundry smell amazingly fresh without the use of any dyes and chemicals? One of the easiest, safest and most effective ways to do that is to apply a blend of Epsom salt and your favorite essential oil (or oils) to your machine. All you need is one cup of Epsom salt and 20-30 drops of an essential oil (depending on how potent you want your laundry to be). Combine the two ingredients in a bowl, let them air dry for a couple of minutes and then transfer everything to a mason jar. Add about a tablespoon of the homemade booster to your machine before you add laundry and start to wash. You'll wonder what took you so long to add this tip to your wash day routine.

2. Clean Your Sinks—and Irons—with Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide

If it's time to give your sinks a deep cleaning, all you need to do is sprinkle some baking soda onto them and use a sponge to rub it in. Then pour some hydrogen peroxide to deeply penetrate and remove any residue.

Ever wonder how to clean your iron? For the record, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide are also unstoppable in cleaning the back of irons too (and we all know that can be a headache!). Mix two-parts baking soda with one-part hydrogen peroxide. Then heat up your iron on a low setting to soften up some of the gunk that's on it. With a wooden spatula, remove as much residue as possible. Then turn the iron off, let it cool and apply the baking soda and hydrogen peroxide paste. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes and scrub the iron with a scrubbing cloth. Then rinse with cool water and repeat as often as needed.

3. Try Olive Oil and White Vinegar (or Beer) on Your Wooden Furniture

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Do you have hardwood floors or some wooden furniture that has some surface scratches in it that you would like to remove? A combination of one-part olive oil and one-part white vinegar can do the trick. At the end of the day, you're just making some homemade furniture polish sans the unnecessary chemicals. You can even add a little bit of fresh lemon juice for good measure. Something else that works pretty well on wood is beer. Just pour a little bit of it on a soft rag and rub your furniture down. You might want to test this on a little corner of a table or chair first, simply because some beer is stronger than others; yet if you're looking for an easy way to make your wood shine, ale will do it.

4. Here’s How to Clean and Fluff Your Pillows

Lawd, why don't pillows ever stay white 'n fluffy? If yours are that old dingy pale yellow color, soak them in the washing machine, two at a time. Then pour a couple of capfuls of hydrogen peroxide and white vinegar to your machine's drum and wash them in a light cycle. That should whiten them right on up. As far as the fluffy part goes, before throwing yours in the trash and getting another set, why not toss them into your dryer on low for about 10 minutes? Sometimes, that's all that's needed to spruce them back up a bit. Word on the street is, if you put a tennis ball into the dryer as well, it will help to pound out any lumps that your pillows may have.

5. Put Some Lemons in Your Dishwasher

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Is your dishwasher giving your glasses that spotty look? Oftentimes, that's due to nothing more than calcium deposits. A simple workaround is to cut up a few slices of lemon and let them go through your next washing cycle. Your glasses should come out crystal clear if you do.

6. Use Mineral Oil on Your Stove

Is your stovetop all sticky 'n stuff? It might sound odd but the way to actually get the stuck-on oil off is to put some mineral oil on it. Literally pour a little bit of mineral oil on the area that you want to clean up, let it sit for a couple of minutes and use a cleaning rag to remove the stickiness. It tends to glide off even faster if you warm the mineral up a bit first.

7. Use Coarse Salt and a Potato on Your Cast Iron Skillet

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One of my favorite cooking items is my cast iron skillet. The only thing that sometimes drives me crazy about it is the fact that it can sometimes not be the easiest to clean. A cool hack for cleaning your cast iron skillet is to preheat your oven to around 350-400 degrees. Pour some coarse salt on the pan and then slice a potato in half so that you can rub the skillet with it. Do so in a circular motion and then rinse and pat the pan dry with some paper towels. For tips on how to season the pan following cleaning it, click here (which is where I got the hack in the first place).

8. Try a Carpet Rake on Pet Hair

If you've got a pet that constantly sheds on your carpet and vacuuming never seems to get all of their hair up, invest in a carpet rake. The long short of it is it's basically a broom for your carpet in the sense that it does the same job that a broom would do on your tile floors, except the rake is made out of much stronger bristles. If it's something that you'd at least want to read more on, you can check out a list of some of the top carpet rakes on the market by clicking here.

9. Pour Some Kool-Aid into Your Toilet

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Listen, don't shoot the messenger because I wouldn't be surprised in the least if you never saw Kool-Aid the same way after what I'm about to say but it's actually a really great product for scrubbing your toilet.

The citric acid that's in the lemonade flavor one is so potent that you can use it to deep scrub your toilet. Just pour the packet in, let it sit for a couple of minutes and use your toilet brush to clean as usual. Your toilet will sparkle in a way you never thought a popular drink brand could make it do.

10. Clear Out Your Showerheads with Vinegar and a Ziploc Bag

Is it time to unclog your showerheads? Get yourself a Ziploc bag (one that is big enough to cover your showerhead up) and pour some white vinegar into it. Then wrap the bag around the showerhead with a rubber band and let it sit for an hour. Remove the bag, run the showerhead and you should notice that water is flowing from it better.

11. Revive Your Mattress with Baking Soda and Lavender Oil

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Did you know that you can vacuum your mattress? Yep. And if you want to make it fresher, sprinkle some baking soda on it and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before you do. If there happens to be stains on your mattress, a combo of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide can get those out. Just remember that hydrogen peroxide can "bleach out" colors, so using it is best if your mattress is white.

If you simply want to deodorize your mattress, mixing one cup of baking soda with 20 drops of lavender essential oil and then putting everything into a mason jar that has a shaker lid, will make it possible for you to easily sprinkle the mixture (it'll smell amazing too!). And what if you sprinkle too much? Your mattress can pick up the extra. Just make sure to let it all sit for about 20 minutes first.

12. Get Rid of Microwave Gunk with Some Fresh Lemon Water

Sometimes microwaves can get a little gunky. If yours is basically at that point and you want to give it a thorough cleaning, all you need to do is squeeze 1-2 lemons worth of lemon juice and then add some water to a microwave safe bowl. Put the bowl into the microwave and let it run on high for about three minutes. It will help to penetrate the gunk, so that it's easier to wipe off.

13. Pour Windex on Your Carpet and Crayola Stains

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If you've got kids and you don't have any Windex in your house, let this serve as a PSA to get some as soon as possible because it's a great way to remove stains. When it comes to ones that may be on your carpet, spray some directly onto the stain and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Then put a lightly colored rag over the stain and your medium-low heat iron on top of the rag. If you let the iron remain long enough, you should see some of the stain come through the rag. If you repeat as often as necessary, most of the stain should go away. Just remember to always keep the iron on the rag and get a new rag, if necessary. Oh, and if you've got a toddler who thinks your walls are their canvas, spraying some Windex onto their masterpieces should easily remove the crayons. As far as the carpet goes, only use the blue Windex brand if you've got nothing else. Sometimes, the ironing process can leave a hint of blue behind, if you're not careful.

14. Create Some Homemade Garbage Disposal Cubes

Does your garbage disposal currently smell like, well, garbage? That's what can happen when months of old food residue is stuck inside. A great hack for removing the odor is to make some DIY cubes out of lemons and lime slices. Simply cut them up into small cubes and place them into your ice trays. Then fill the trays up with white vinegar and some lemon or orange essential oil drops. Place them into the freezer for 24-36 hours. Then run some hot water down your kitchen sink for a couple of minutes, pour 1/3 cup of baking down the drain and then place a cube inside and turn the disposal on (remember to move your fingers out of the way). The citrus and vinegar of the cubes will nix the odor and the ice will help to sharpen the blades of your disposal. How cool is that?

15. Dust Your Paintings with Bread

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Something that I started collecting more of in my mid-late 30s was art. Sometimes paintings can get dusty. Well, here's something that's super off the chain.

Rather than trying your luck by trying to dust your painting with a rag, pull out a piece of bread instead. It's gentle enough to not affect your art and yet "spongy" enough to remove the dust at the same time.

Hey, don't knock it 'til you tried it, chile. Welcome to spring cleaning season, sis.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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