With friends and family coming through your door for the holidays, it's almost certain they left some messes behind.
Check out these Trib Tips to freshen up your entryway before the stains of the season rout your grout. And Linda Welch of Ohio shares a "tree-cycling" tip to spruce up your yard and help wildlife at the same time.
Make your tile smile
To clean slate or any other type of tile the old-fashioned way, a simple mixture of dish soap and warm water should do the trick. Fill a bucket with warm water, add a couple of squirts of soap, and scrub away with a rag or chamois-style mop.
Avoid sponge mops. They'll drag dirty water into the grout and you'll have even more mess to clean.
Make sure you thoroughly rinse the soap from your tile with clean, warm water. Any film left on the surface can attract dirt.
If you can tolerate the smell of vinegar, try this cleaning concoction: mix 1 cup white vinegar with 1 gallon of hot water. The vinegar solution will dry without leaving a nasty film behind, so there's no need to rinse.
If your tile has lost its luster, shine it up with a lemon juice bath. Test in an inconspicuous area first to make sure your surface can tolerate lemon's acidic properties.
In a rut
Your grout takes a beating this time of year. Because of its porous nature, it easily absorbs mud, spills and grease.
The following are several concoctions that can help you cure the crud. Before trying any of these methods, test in a small inconspicuous area, like a closet or under a piece of furniture.
— Mix a solution of half hydrogen peroxide and half water and spray it into your grout tracks. Wait about 10 minutes, then scrub clean with a cloth.
— Sprinkle baking soda on the grout and scrub with a toothbrush. Spray liberally with white vinegar. The soda will fizz your filth away.
— For really stubborn stains, mix hydrogen peroxide and baking soda into a paste. Apply to the affected area and wait about 20 minutes. Wipe with a wet rag.
— If company is on the way and you spot a stain in your grout, zap it quickly with an ordinary pencil eraser. No mess, no fuss.
Vie for vinyl
If you're lucky enough to have vinyl flooring in your entryway, you have the easiest cleaning job of all.
Mix 1 gallon warm water with 1 cup white vinegar and 5-10 drops of liquid soap. Pre-treat stains and spots with the solution. Wait 10 minutes, then mop the entire floor with a sponge mop.
Don't let the wet mess linger. Prolonged soaking can loosen flooring adhesive.
For difficult spots, try a pencil eraser.
Baby wipes are close to the same size as those expensive name-brand dry mops. Simply wash a new baby wipe to remove the oils, dry, then attach. The wipes are extremely durable and should hold up for an entire mopping session.
Linda Welch of Edison, Ohio, spruces up her yard with done-for-the-season holiday trees. She secures them to birdfeeder posts for winter landscaping that requires no digging.
"Birds love it,” Welch said. “They can hide if a big hawk comes after them.”
Have some household hints or savings secrets of your own you'd like to share? We'd love to hear from you. E-mail your suggestions to Marie Havenga at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, address and phone number. You may also snail-mail ideas to: Trib Tips, 101 N. Third St., Grand Haven, MI 49417; or call 616-847-2628.