Homemade Cleaning Products

Associate Food Editor Marie Parker tried home-concocted cleaning tips from our community readers. The results were surprising!

A paste of white vinegar and cream of tartar helps remove burned-on gunk from casserole pans or burner pans.

I had burnt food spots on my stove for a couple of days that wouldn't come off just by wiping. I made a paste of 1 tsp. white vinegar and 2 tsp. cream of tartar and put it on the spots. After 15 seconds, it came off like magic. It works on pans, too! This was by far my favorite homemade cleaning remedy.

We have white tile with white grout. The grout was constantly dark looking and, yes, we sealed it several times. I filled a squirt bottle with undiluted hydrogen peroxide and sprayed it on the grout, then scrubbed it clean and white. This is the easiest method I have ever used, and I've tried lots!

I sprayed undiluted hydrogen peroxide on some white tile and grout in my bathroom and scrubbed it with an old toothbrush; it worked fairly quickly. Now I have one really clean spot in my shower. I guess I'll have to use this fantastic remedy again!

To clean garlic-smelling or stained hands, rub them with half a lemon.

This test was by far the most interesting. Jennifer, our intern, was gracious enough to let us borrow her hands, which we stained with a concoction of soy sauce, Worcestershire, parsley and orange peel, then we rubbed them with garlic. After an hour of torture (she said the smell was horrible), we rubbed her hands with half a lemon. All the stain vanished, and the garlic smell was gone! Although we could still smell the Worcestershire, this tip worked well enough to endorse.

Keep houseplants shiny and nice by rubbing them with a cotton ball or cloth dampened with a little milk.

I remember doing this as a kid to my indoor house plants, so I picked a rubber tree plant that had been outside all spring and summer. Using a cotton ball and milk, the dirt easily came off the leaves. It didn't get really shiny, but it was a definite improvement.

Use a mixture of cornstarch and water to clean windows. I have always had trouble with streaking, but never with cornstarch!

I mixed 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1 qt. water together in a bowl. Using one paper towel soaked in the mixture and another for drying, I washed my car windows, which were very dirty. The method worked very well and even made that squeaky clean sound. My windows are cleaner than ever and they're not streaky, either.

I use a paste of Dawn, baking soda and enough vinegar to make it workable to clean my kitchen sinks. We have really hard water, and this is the only thing I have found that works.

I combined 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup liquid dish detergent, then added 1/4 cup vinegar. I used the paste on my bathroom sink and bathtub with very good results. It takes very little scrubbing, but really cleans without leaving a residue. Everything rinses right off.

Find more cleaning tips and homemade products (and share your own!) in our Hints & Tips community forum»