Tipnut's Housekeeping Library: DIY Recipes, Tips & Tricks

It's something we all strive to do: Keep living spaces tidy, organized and running efficiently. It's not only healthier but I find this to be very true: When our home is in order, the day goes smoother and our family interactions are better balanced. Some personalities function in chaos just fine, rarely does a family thrive in messiness and disorganization.

So what's the secret? There are plenty of tools and products on the market promising to help get the job done...many are excellent timesavers...but if you're looking for the best cleaning hacks to solve a particular problem (maybe discover how to remove a stain or get rid of a foul odor), I have a large collection of tips and recipes here to browse through. Some methods are so unusual they may lift an eyebrow or two but the results can be amazing. The best part is: many times the DIY solutions are quick & easy plus save money by costing only pennies for ingredients that are found in our pantries already!

Rubber Gloves & Spray Cleaner to Wipe Down Surfaces

This website has been online for 15 years and it began as a place to share all the best housekeeping tips I've collected and tinkered with as a housewife for over 30 years. I'm also an avid collector of vintage hacks & tricks found in old magazines, cookbooks and manuals (happily sharing those neat-to-know goodies that actually work).

Like so many, managing a well kept home is one of the ways I choose to nurture and care for my family so it really is a passion of mine. Know an alternate method providing better or "just as good" results? It sure won't hurt my feelings to hear about it! Please share your tried & true, it might be exactly the help someone is looking for (the comments area is below each article).

Ready to get started? Simply check out the section below and click on either the title of the article or the "Click to View All" category link of interest and voila! discover solutions galore. Have fun and I'm confident the "I can't believe this works!" fix is to be found!

In This Archive

  • DIY Recipes
  • General How-To
  • Kitchen
  • Laundry

TN Recommends

I've had one of these Little Green carpet cleaners for years & it's saved the day many times. A must-have feature is the removable water tank so it's a breeze to empty & refill. Have a pet with a sensitive tummy? This little guy comes in handy!

A tool that gets put to regular use in my home is an extendable cobweb duster, they're handy to reach up into corners, top of high shelves and even tackle the ceiling itself. I prefer those with detachable heads like this one for convenience of washing. Very economical too!


General Tips & Advice

Quick Tricks For Washing Mini-Blinds

Mini-blinds may be a nice, affordable window treatment, but they sure can be a pain to maintain since each slat has to be attended to one by one. There’s no way around that though I do have a few quick ideas…

Solving Chewing Gum Mishaps

Many of us enjoy chewing it, but boy misplaced gum sure makes a mess! Here are several approaches to try removing it from every day items. First a few tips for lifting as much as possible before trying a remedy...

Attack Limescale Buildup: Pantry Items To The Rescue

Limescale is calcium carbonate that leaves a white film on surfaces or settles inside appliances such as tea kettles and coffee pots. Hard water is often the culprit and can be stubborn to remove with regular household solvents...

5 Soap Scum Busters Made With Simple Ingredients

Soap scum is a combination of residue, mineral deposits and dirt that forms a grimy layer over surfaces and is a common trouble spot in bathroom maintenance (typically shower walls, doors, tubs and fixtures). It doesn’t have a chance to…

Caring For Suede Accessories & Footwear

Suede is soft and luxurious but unfortunately it’s quite porous so that makes it a stain magnet. It’s not washable so you either need to get an item handled professionally or try a few of these methods to get the…

Concrete Care Plus Suggestions For Lifting Stains

Sometimes beverages are spilled on patios, or mildew, moss and white salt spots develop (especially when located in shade or humid environments). Here’s a handy tip sheet detailing ways to wash that up with some DIY recipes...

Tipnut’s Guide To Spring Cleaning

Want a peek at this year's battle plan for my home? I've also included references to DIY mixes, tips for specific jobs and assorted fix-it projects that will help make this Spring's job a big success. Every surface is conquered,…

Make-It-From-Scratch Cleaners

14 Bleach-Free Surface Disinfectants

A mix of chlorine bleach and water is an effective household disinfectant but the bleach is pretty harsh on fabrics, skin and the environment (stinks too). Whip up some bacteria busters using herbs, essential oils, vinegar and other basic ingredients.

Damp Mop Recipes For Shiny Hardwood Floors

An assortment of cleaner mixes for hardwood flooring, simple materials needed. Keep in mind a little goes a long way, use just enough liquid to dampen the mop and scrub away.

Required: High Heat & Muscle For Sparkling Grills

Barbecue season is finally here which means regular grill scrubbing comes along too. It's so nice to be able to cook outdoors but those metal spokes sure can accumulate some nasty crud buildup. I find the simplest method for removing…

5 Simple Deck Washes: Maintenance & Mildew

Wood decks are a nice feature for the back yard but a bit of TLC is required to keep them looking as good as possible. They can be expensive to build and replace, so it's smart to want to extend their lifespan as long as possible.

DIY Scented Gel Air Freshener: {Smelly Jelly Version}

A nifty trick to freshen rooms with a long-lasting fragrance that is customizable in a variety of ways: color, scent and size. Terrific bonus: no heavy, chemical-laden perfumes are used.

77 Practical Uses For Baking Soda Around The House

Baking soda (also known as bicarbonate of soda or bicarb) is a frequent ingredient required in many baking recipes, but it's a staple in household solutions too! Here are over 50 ways to put it to work.

Bring 'Em To A Shine: Brass, Copper & More

Here's a list of homemade solutions I've collected over the years to help remove tarnish and buff metals to a shine, some of them may surprise you! Directions For Use: Using a damp cloth or toothbrush, scrub with one of…

Free Daily Chore Chart Printable

Freshen a thermos by first filling it with 1/4 cup white vinegar or baking soda, add hot water to the top. Soak for an hour then rinse out.

Dishwasher: Orange Tang juice crystals contain citric acid which lifts stains nicely. If appliance needs TLC to fight scum buildup, run a full cycle (empty load) with powdered orange Tang tossed in.

Mr. Clean Magic Erasers + footwear (rubber soles) = looking brand new!

Laundry Pointers

Freshly Done Loads Stink? Ditch Those Musty Smells!

Are things smelling musty or "off" after being freshly washed? This could be happening for a few reasons: Wet articles left in the machine for too long (overnight) before moving to the dryer. Items packed that weren't completely dry...

Getting Colors Brighter & Whites Whiter

With simple ingredients likely already found in the home, you can boost laundered pieces to help keep them looking new (and prevent fading too). Here are a few quick tips separated into two groups...

Folding Towels, Sheets & More: {Handy Reference}

Is folding items such as fitted sheets, t-shirts, towels and even socks a puzzle that can't be unlocked? Here's a quick reference sheet I've put together to help get the job done. Over a dozen items listed so far…

Wash Down Filled Pillows & Comforters? Yes But...

Goose and duck down filled pillows, duvets and comforters are soft and luxurious to sleep on though they do require a bit of care to keep clean. It's not advised to launder as frequently as one would regular bedclothes, but there are a few things you can do...

9 Underarm Stain Removal Techniques

Looking for ways to clear up those nasty yellow armpit patches that sweating occasionally leaves behind on shirts? Or trying to combat crusty residue from deodorant? Here are several different remedies to try, each using basic items.

Hanging Laundry To Dry Outdoors: Clothesline Helpers

Line drying outdoors, done hit or miss, can be the most exhausting part of the wash-day procedure. Here are a few rules to follow which will ensure less stooping and straining: Don’t have the clothesline so high that each piece...

Quick Tips For Drying Laundry For Safety & Results

In a rush for a load to dry–what to do? Try tossing a thick cotton towel in with the wet items. The towel will absorb some of the moisture. If it's a large load, throw in two or three...

In The Kitchen

How To Keep Stainless Steel Appliances Gleaming

Shiny stainless steel appliances look lovely in the kitchen and even after several years of use they can still look brand spankin’ new…but there is a downside: the ever-present fingerprints, water stains and smudges (especially around the water dispenser, refrigerator…

Inside Of Dishwasher A Bit Funky? A Quick Fix!

We use this appliance daily to wash the household dishes, but maintaining the inside of the machine isn't high on our To-Do lists. Who would think to do so? We assume they'll do a great job cleaning themselves every time a load is run.

Getting Rid Of Flour Bugs & Pantry Pests

Opening a bag of flour and noticing the contents crawling with tiny critters is cringe-worthy and horrifying, but it happens. It doesn’t mean you’re a lousy housekeeper or that the dwelling is dirty, this is a common occurrence because...

Upkeep For Miscellaneous Kitchen Gadgets

(originally published January 18, 2007) Once the toaster is completely cool and unplugged, here are a few things to try getting melted plastic off from the side of it. You may want to test a small area first to make…

Have A Tidy Refrigerator With Just A Few Minutes A Day

Dreading the chore of a thorough washing of the refrigerator? This should be done regularly (or it turns into one foul and funky mess), here’s an easy way to avoid the big task: Break the job down into…

The Ultimate Cookware Maintenance & Care Guide

Copper: Sprinkle tarnished area with salt then drizzle fresh lemon juice to cover. Gently rub, rinse then towel dry. You can also try mixing equal parts flour, salt and vinegar to make a thick scouring paste (Source). Cast Iron: To…

Bringing It Back To New: Cleaning A Coffee Pot & Machine

If your favorite, daily powered-on kitchen gadget is looking a little grungy lately, here’s an easy way to make it look brand spanking new (and that’s not an exaggeration). If you have your doubts because the carafe is really coated,…

Bucket of Supplies & Tools
Organized & Ready: Supply Kit

One of the secrets to efficient house cleaning is to tote a customized kit from room to room, saving time since supplies are right at our fingertips.

For the kit itself, use a bucket, a plastic caddy, a box or whip up a housekeeping apron to stick everything in big pockets. An apron is especially helpful when decluttering while wiping down since an arm can be kept free to cart around an empty box to fill up from room to room.

Suggested items to stash:

Rubber Gloves

Rags; I love old terry towel rags

Feather Duster & Microfiber Cloth

Old Credit Card: the edge works great to lift crusty, hard to remove grime.

Small Spray Bottle of Plain Water

Artgum Eraser for lifting up tacky spots

Nylon Scrubby

Small plastic tube of Baking Soda just in case a gentle abrasive is needed. You can use an old Tupperware salt shaker for this (they have a snap lid).

Small Tube of Toothpaste: It's an amazing spot and mark remover!

Toothbrush: For scrubbing in tiny places. Also some Detailing Brushes for dusting (cheap makeup brushes work great).

Plastic Bags: To collect bits and bobs to throw out (in other words: trash!) as well as toss dirty rags into until I take them down to the laundry room.


Once chores are done, take out anything that needs to be chucked or washed, restock what's needed, then store the kit away with all the tools and supplies left in it. The next time you begin chores, the kit is ready to go.

Quick Tip: In many cases a little goes a long way with cleaning products, homemade or commercial. Costs can quickly add up so save some money by using just the amount needed.

Quick & Easy Tidy Home Hacks

  • Company coming in just a few minutes? Short notice? Kitchen upside down? Place all dirty dishes in the sink & cover with a large cutting board--voila! Dirty dishes are out of sight.
  • Take 15 minute "de-clutter" breaks throughout the day...once in the morning, once in the afternoon and right before bedtime. Everything is put back in its place, a load of laundry started, tables wiped down, towels straightened, coffee cups go in the dishwasher, etc. It's amazing the difference this makes!
  • Dust accumulating in tight crevices & corners? Figurines & collectibles? Intricate woodwork? Here's a clever hack to get at it: canned air! Give a quick, short blast and blow the dust out of the tiny creases...now it's wiped away easily.
  • Does a pile of shoes heaped at the door drive anyone else nuts? Here's a nifty way to camouflage the clutter: Have a basket at the door for everyone to toss their shoes in.
  • Floor vent trick: Tea towel on its last legs? Fold it over then sew into approximately 1" to 2" strips (about 1/2" between each channel). Cut them between each 1/2" gap to separate and voila! Slip a putty knife or a paint stick or a butter knife into one strip at the open end (the other is still closed on the fold), hold onto the fabric/blade edge & then dip into soapy warm water (if necessary), squeeze out excess water then drag blade up & down between each slat to remove the crud. Yields a batch of strips, can be laundered and reused.
  • Are the drapes not able to be laundered? Toss them in the dryer, cool setting (or air) along with a damp towel. Freshens up the drapery fabric while the towel grabs hold of the fuzzies/dust/pet hair bits.
  • Microfiber cloths are popular for more reason than one, they're long lasting & wash up nicely yes, but they really shine when polishing because they are lint free & leave no fibers behind. This makes them ideal for dusting and working with mirror/glass surfaces.
  • Tough grease splats on the kitchen backsplash (tile)? You might not notice until the light hits them "just right". Here's how to get rid of that spotty mess: Take a damp sponge, sprinkle baking soda across the top then gently scrub the backsplash in a circular motion. Wipe well (clear water) so no "cloudy" bicarb residue is left behind.
  • Save those used dryer sheets! They're ideal for wiping down baseboards/wood trim.
Tidy Home Hacks

Good Things For Removing Grime

Colorful Nylon Bristle Brooms

Brooms are a tool we use daily in homekeeping. Their most common use is to keep floors dirt free, but they're also handy to sweep dust bunnies from lower ceilings & walls (keep a separate broom just for this job). One thing to do on a regular basis is to wash the nylon bristles. Fill a pail with hot soapy water (favorite dish soap will do the trick) and give the broom a few good dunks and swishes. Rinse well to get rid of the soap then set outside in the sun (bristle side up) to air dry.

Clothes Drying On The Line Outdoors

It's only been the past few decades that we haven't had to hang our wet garments out to dry and thank goodness for our electronic clothes dryers! Don't put away the clothesline just yet...there's really nothing like fresh linens in from the line. Why not consider hanging bedding and sleepwear out on hot summer days? Now the "can't-be-beat" freshness can still be enjoyed when snuggling in for the night (without giving up the convenience of a clothes dryer).

Assorted Brushes

One of the most overlooked gadgets for housekeeping is the humble brush...its initial purpose is typically anything from painting to cosmetics to crafts. If it has bristles, it can be put to good use! I like to collect all shapes & sizes then use them for dusting knick-knacks, tight corners, grates, even behind appliance dials. One thing's for sure: pay attention to tight spots & notice what a dirt and grime trap they are; you will definitely find a wee brush is a clever way to clean them!