Dashing all your dirt, and nary a nerve you’ll fray. What fun it is to share my tips, to help you clean in an eco-friendly way! Well, well, well: it’s December. 2020 is, thankfully, almost over. It’s time to put a shedding tree inside of your home and allow your children to sit on the lap of a strange man with a beard, amongst the plethora of things that cultures do during this time. It’s also a time for giving. These tips are my gift to you. Enjoy.

What is an all natural way to clean copper? I’ve tried lemon and salt and vinegar. The fumes from the chemicals that do work are awful.

When I was a kid, we had some beautiful Christmas ornaments made of copper, and boy did they become tarnished after years of decorating with them. My family did use salt and vinegar, but these ingredients were used along with boiling water. You’ll need one cup of vinegar, one tablespoon of salt, three or four cups of water, and a large pot. Bring the water to a boil and then add the vinegar and salt to the pot. Next, place your items into the pot and boil until the tarnish fades. If the items are not tarnish-free after boiling, you can place them (after being cooled) into a mix of warm water and dish soap and rub them lightly with a soft rag. Finally, let your copper stuff air dry. Did this not work? Well, luckily there are a few other options. Since I enjoy unusual life hacks, I’m going to share my favorite remedy. Ketchup! Yep, it’s not just a condiment for hot dogs and french fries! The salty, acidic tomato sauce in ketchup helps to remove tarnish on copper! So open that bottle and squirt out some fart sounds and a dollop of ketchup onto the copper item you are polishing and spread it all over. Walk away from (or stare at) the item for 10 to 15 minutes. Finally, rub with a soft cloth and rinse well. If the item is especially tarnished, you can sprinkle a heavy layer of salt over the ketchup before polishing it with the soft rag. Salt is mildly abrasive and will help to remove the tarnish. To keep your copper things shining bright longer, use a soft rag and wipe a thin layer of mineral or linseed oil on them after cleaning.

How do I get tomato sauce residue off of Tupperware?

My grandmother made a mean shrimp creole. I have the recipe and will be making copious amounts of it this holiday season and freezing some of it. It will surely stain my plastic food storage containers. Instead of living with these reddish-orange stains, I’m going to enlist the help of my old pal baking soda. Mix up some baking soda and water to form a paste. Scrub the paste into the container and let it sit overnight. Wash the container with dish soap and water in the morning, and the stains should disappear. If not, repeat the process.

How do you get musty, old smells off of an old upholstered Victorian couch?

I am currently dealing with this same issue. After living in a mold-filled apartment for eight years, all of my clothes smell terribly musty. Oh, baking soda, you sneaky genius—we get to utilize you again! First things first, vacuum the couch. Next, sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda all over the couch. If you’d like to add a nice smell, you can sprinkle a few drops of the essential oil of your choice into a bowl of baking soda and mix it up, then sprinkle it over the couch. Let this sit overnight, then vacuum the couch again. If at all possible, put the couch outside in the sun, and let those UV rays slay that stinky, bacteria-rooted smell. This should do the trick. If not, repeat these steps again.

What do you recommend I get as a Christmas present for someone I know who is a self-described clean freak?

Oh man, I am SO excited about this question! I use this tool and tell everyone that will listen about it, because it is a little slice of heaven. OK, if you want to buy your clean freak the best cleaning gift ever, please buy them a Shark Navigator Pro Liftaway NV370 (Make sure to get the NV370. It is the OG, and it comes with better tools than any other Shark vacuum cleaner). This vacuum cleaner is like the Toyota Corolla of vacuum cleaners: reliable, affordable, and will run forever if maintained properly. This vacuum, like a Transformer, takes on many forms, all of which are super useful. In one configuration, it cleans carpets and rugs beautifully. In another configuration, it easily sucks up all those Christmas cookie crumbs from your bare floors. Have animals? Welp, this vacuum has a rad pet hair attachment that really sucks! Seriously, y’all. I could go on and on about this vacuum. I’ve used this brand and model for years, and it’s a real workhorse. Make sure that the Hard Floor Hero accessory is included with the vacuum when ordering. If it’s not, order it separately. It is THE BEST for bare floors, and I always hear the song “Juke Box Hero” by Foreigner when I think of this tool (and hopefully now you will too). Anyway, many of my clients and employees have purchased this vacuum since experiencing its power. Your clean freak is gonna love it.

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illustrations by Ben Claassen III | @dirtfarm

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