They say that if you really want to learn something, teach it.

It is through this column that I feel I have learned the most about how to improve the home — whether it is fixing a broken toilet or just making a cleaning process more efficient.


This column has introduced me to many people, through email or in person, who have shared countless ideas with me. Some have asked questions that have inspired columns and others have shared tips and tricks of their own. While these quick tips do not necessarily warrant a column on their own, they are still incredibly useful.

Here are some of my favorites:

Use your dishwasher. Even though the word “dish” is in the name, you don’t have to limit what you put in there. Add light fixture domes, sponges, dish brushes, durable vases and even bathroom accessories like toothbrush holders or soap dispensers. Make sure to turn on the drying cycle to reduce the chance of water spots.

Add water. When wiping down your kitchen countertops and table at the end of the night, wipe with a damp cloth or paper towel first. You’ll pick up the debris and get a smooth surface before you disinfect. This will let you extend the life of whatever cleaning product you use, whether it is disinfecting wipes, spray, or vinegar.

Quiet squeaky doors. Use WD-40 or petroleum jelly to lubricate the hinges. Move the door back and forth to work it in.

Get out the alcohol. If you have a particularly stubborn stain, use rubbing alcohol to get it out (unless it’s a very delicate fabric like silk or rayon). The alcohol can help to break down stains better than detergents and stain removers often can. If you don’t have rubbing alcohol, try something else with high alcohol content like hand sanitizer or even vodka.

Vacuum your cabinets before you wipe them down. After emptying your cabinets, use the brush attachment to pick up dust and debris before wiping them down.

Hose down your plastic blinds. Blinds are very simple to take down and put back up again. Clean them off outside using the spray mechanism on the hose. Make sure to spray both sides thoroughly and let the blinds dry in the sun before re-hanging.

Clean your ceiling fan with an old pillowcase. Slip the case over each blade individually. The case will catch the dust and debris as you go.

Have a comment or question for Joanne? Email