How to Clean Almost Anything White in Your Home

These days, I’m obsessed with almost everything white. White kitchens, white bathrooms, white walls — the trend is toward simple, streamlined, and sleek. But with two kids, a husband, and a dog, it’s not easy to get white stuff clean. Somehow I manage, though! Here’s what I’ve learned.

Tile and Grout

Though they sparkle when they’re clean, white tile and grout look just plain gross when they’re dirty, and everyday use is pretty good at adding grime to these kitchen and bathroom decor heavyweights.

It doesn’t take much more than a little elbow grease to get them sparkling again. Use a spray bottle with a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water and spray it over the tile and grout. Scrub it with a nylon scrub brush or an old toothbrush (don’t use metal — it could loosen your grout). Rinse with plain water.

For an extra clean, make a paste of baking soda and water and use it to scrub the tile and grout clean. Or, some people like an oxygen bleach (OxyClean) mixed with water. Leave it on for about 10 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing.

Walls and Woodwork

Kid’s fingerprints and scuffs are obvious and come from everyday wear and tear, but even if you’re careful with your walls and moldings, dust and dirt can accumulate and discolor them.

Regularly dust and/or vacuum your walls using the soft brush attachment to keep them from looking dingy. More thorough wall cleaning is as simple as using a gallon of warm water with a couple of squirts of dishwashing liquid mixed into it. Wash with a sponge soaked in your mixture — work in a circular motion from the bottom up —then rinse with clean water and another sponge.

But let’s face it, most of us don’t usually take initiative to give our walls a regular washing. It’s more likely we only clean our walls when there are scuffs, smudges, or, um, crayons on them. That’s where the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser comes in. I love its white sponge for taking off little fingerprints and marks from where my kids’ ball hit the wall. The Magic Eraser works on painted wood moldings too. I recently took off some smudges I’m surmising were on our moldings for years before we moved in.

Laundry

There’s nothing worse than pulling a white shirt or jeans out of the dryer and realizing there’s a grass or (gasp!) sweat stain still on it. Once your bright whites get stained, they probably get relegated to the trash or Goodwill, but you can keep them pristine for longer by giving hem a little TLC.

Always check the label of your clothes and linens to see how they can be washed. In my house, almost all the whites are cotton and can be laundered in warm or hot water. Warm or hot is key to getting dinginess and most stains out (except blood, which needs cold!). I am freaked out about bleach — as a teenager, I once spilled some on a pair of jeans and ruined them, and I’ve never gone near it since. Instead, if there’s a stain, I like to pre-treat with laundry detergent (or OxiClean works too), and then allow it to soak for a bit before washing.

Oh, and I have a secret. I most often use environmentally conscious laundry products, especially on my kids’ clothes. I love Earth Friendly Products Everyday Stain & Odor Remover, Dapple Baby Laundry Detergent, and Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent. I swear to you, they work!

Appliances

White appliances can stay part of your kitchen décor for a long time since their classic look will never get dated. The key, of course, it to keep them grease- and food-free.

The same vinegar-and-water and baking-soda tricks that work for tile can work for white appliances. Check the manual to see what types of cleansers are recommended for your particular models.

You know those days when you’re hosting a dinner party that goes into the wee hours, or the kids get too crazy after dinner and you don’t wipe down your white stove? A few swipes with a Clorox Wipe totally gets off the dried spaghetti sauce or olive oil drips. Try it!

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