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When it comes to homekeeping, there are a few products and tips we like to keep around just because no one's told us not to. Well, lucky for you, we're here. Here are a few tips and tricks to getting rid of the needless objects around the house, direct from "Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook."
The Kitchen Sponge
A kitchen sponge is convenient for wiping down countertops, but did you know the FDA actually forbids it in commercial kitchens because the risk of contamination from such bacteria as salmonella, E. coli, and stapphylococcus is so high?
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Terry dish rags, also called bar mops, can be used instead of sponges; rinse thoroughly and wring out after each use and change them daily. Launder them with your regular white loads.
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Adhesive Shelf and Drawer Liners
To minimize dirt and grim on the inside of cabinets, it is important to line shelves and drawers. The traditional lining is adhesive lining, and it is difficult both to handle and remove. You will actually need to use strong solvents such as turpentine to remove adhesive liner.
These four types of liners are all more effective and easier to use. Each one suits a different sort of cabinet or drawer: felt for silverware, cork for glassware, cedar for spices and dry goods, and rubber for miscellaneous small items (like in that headache of a junk drawer we all have).
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Commercial Air Fresheners
Household odors can really make a stink. They can be separated into two groups: acid odors, such as cigarette smoke, and alkaline odors, such as fish. Commercial air fresheners, while effective, contain toxic chemicals that will pollute the air quality of your home.
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Lemon, simmering in a pan of water on the stove, is effective at neutralizing alkaline odors. Baking soda neutralizes and absorbs both types of smells. For persistent problems, try natural air fresheners such as eucalyptus, rose water, or potpourri.
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Insect Light Traps
During the summer, insects on the porch can be a real pain and it's tempting to purchase insect light traps, which aren't as effective as they advertise. They most likely aren't catching the bugs you need them to. Studies have shown that female mosquitos (the biting kind) aren't attracted to the light. Unfortunately, insects that help the environment by keeping other pest populations in check do seem to be drawn to these lights.
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Abrasive Chemical Cleaners
When ridding the house of bacteria, it is tempting to use harsh chemical cleaners, such as scouring powders. But these products can do more harm than good when used regularly. Scouring powders contain abrasives designed to wear away dirt and grease -- and in the process can wear away the surface you're trying to maintain.
If you have a truly stubborn stain or buildup, purchase one labeled "mildly abrasive" or "safe for acrylics or fiberglass" and "chlorine free." But best of all is the mildest and most versatile: Martha's favorite baking soda and water.