I haven't abandoned my quest to prepare Mark Bittman's 101 Simple Salads for the Season. I promise to update you on my progress soon.
But, for the moment, I've been side tracked by a helpful story I found online with time-saving household hints courtesy of Jeff Bredenberg, author of How to Cheat at Cleaning: Time-Slashing Techniques to Cut Corners and Restore Your Sanity.
1. Keep Dirt Outside Where it Belongs
Establish a no-shoe rule inside your home, and you'll prevent all kinds of muck from ever touching your floors. Place a basket or shoe rack by the front door and ask everyone to deposit footwear there. Keep in mind that you may piss off friends who consider their shoes to be an indispensible part of their outfit.
2. Cover up
Use washable slipcovers on couches and upholstered chairs to prevent permanent stains. If you can't bear to cover up all the time, use the slipcovers on high-risk occasions, such as kids' parties or holiday gatherings. So many colors and styles are available that you don't even need to spring for custom-made ones. Just make sure you can pop them in the washing machine.
It's a good idea, but I have no plans to follow Bredenberg's advice. Slipcovers remind me of my late Great Aunt Dottie, who wouldn't remove her plastic slipcovers unless the President was coming over for tea. Seems like an awfully timid way to life life! Besides, our leather couch washes off pretty easily.
3. Create a Disposable "Counter top"
Next time you cook something that's likely to make a mess, cover the counter with wax paper. Afterward, just crumple up the paper -- and the mess. Needless to say, this is not so environmentally friendly!
4. Make Appliances Clean Themselves
To clean a food processor or blender, fill halfway with water, add a squirt of dish washing liquid, close lid and turn on. The food will spin off the blades. Then just rinse. Be careful not to mistake it for a fruit smoothie!
To clean a garbage disposal (not that we have one), empty a tray of ice cubes into the disposal, toss in some orange peels, then grind until the ice disappears. Any bad odor will also disappear.
To clean a microwave, heat two cups of water in a microwave-safe bowl on high for five minutes. The steam will loosen cooked-on splatters. Then simply wipe away the grime with a paper towel.
To clean a toilet bowl, throw denture tablets in to make stains vanish overnight. The next morning, just brush a tiny bit and flush. Denture tablets also remove coffee and tea stains from mugs and get rid of crusty buildup in the bottom of flower vases. Just fill with hot water and drop one in.
To rid your furniture or drapes of pet hair, warm a dryer sheet and rub it over the material. This zaps the static cling, allowing the hair to fall off so it can be vacuumed up quickly.
To clear dust out of the crannies of computer keyboards or piano keys, use a can of compressed air -- sold at office supply stores. This also works on pleated lampshades and chandeliers.
Most importantly, know when enough is enough!
No matter how much you scrub, certain household items, such as door mats, stove top drip pans and shower curtains, will never come completely clean. So when they get too soiled, suck it up and replace them. Your friends and family won't think any less of you!