10 Quick Fixes and Cleaning Tips to Use in a Pinch

It seems like only yesterday we were vowing to get a move on that to-do list. And now loved ones (and other guests) are about to come knocking at the door and your home needs help?fast!

If this sounds familiar, here are a few quickie repairs and cover-ups you can do right now. When your guests depart you can tackle these projects in the long form, but in the meantime check out these shortcuts:

1. Squeaky floor:

Do you walk into your favorite room only to have your wood floor greet you with a series of squeaks and moans? If so, you don't have to crawl under the house to repair it?a trip to the medicine cabinet will provide a temporary solution. Simply sprinkle baby powder where you hear the squeaks. This will absorb some of the space between the boards, giving you the peace and quiet you deserve.

2. Get a stain out:

Before the appetizers have been served, red wine lands on your beautiful white carpet. What to do? Again, a trip to the bathroom is in order. First, absorb as much of the wine as you can without rubbing the stain. Next, mix a dollop of dishwashing liquid with a cup of hydrogen peroxide and gently dab the stain with a paper towel. Hydrogen peroxide is a form of bleach, so don't use it on a colored carpet. Table salt is often touted as a red wine stain reducer; pile it on, let it dry, then clean with a sponge and a bit of household detergent. If it's ink, you can use hairspray to remove the stain. Be sure to spray the area, dab, spray again, dab and continue this until the stain is gone.

3. Garbage disposal:

A quick cleaning might be in order to remove any odors that are getting in the way of your holiday cooking. Just slice up a lime or a lemon and add about one cup of ice and salt and pour it into the disposal. Turn it on while running the hottest water your sink can muster. This concoction will help remove most odors in a matter of minutes. If you accidentally clog your disposal and it shuts down, it may just need to be reset. First, turn off the water and the switch to the disposal. Then look underneath the sink at the unit?there should be a red reset button or a hole where an Allen wrench fits. Either way, give the button a push or the wrench a turn and you will have a reset (and likely operational) disposal to work with.

4. Fill holes in the wall:

Let's say that company is on the way and you notice you've neglected to patch that small?but ugly?hole in the wall. If you don't have any spackle handy and your walls are white, use a dab of white toothpaste. Smooth it on with your finger or a butter knife and hope your guests don't ask about that minty essence wafting from the walls!

5. Quiet the tap:

If that drip...drip...drip is keeping you up at night, we have a quick fix to help you catch up on your Zs. Until you have the time to replace the faucet, tie a piece of dental floss around it and let the string dangle into the sink. This way the water will slip down the floss instead of plunking into the sink.

6. Fixing a broken light bulb:

The light bulb in the bathroom has burned out and when you go to unscrew it, half of it comes off in your hand! To get it out, first turn off the power at the circuit breaker and then insert a carrot or potato into the socket and twist to get out the other half. If this doesn't work (sometimes it doesn't), you will have to go at it with pliers. Assuming the power is off, use the pliers to grip the metal edge of the base of the bulb and twist it out.

7. Do quick wall touch-ups:

Frequently used areas on your walls around light switches, on doors, etc., often get rubbed bare. If your leftover paint is water-based, you can use it to make touch-ups. Donning rubber gloves, dip a new sponge in water, wring it out and then dip it in the leftover matching paint. Start in the center of the spot using a circular motion as if you were washing the area. Use only enough paint to cover the spot. Continue the circling, spreading the paint and feathering it out until it meets and thins sufficiently to blend with the surrounding area.

8. Save the carpet:

With the arrival of guests comes the rearrangement of furniture. Who hasn?t moved their couch only to find an unsightly, flattened portion of the carpet? To remove these indentations, place a damp towel over the area and rub a hot iron over it. The steam will fluff up the carpet so no one will know where the couch really goes. Be careful not to apply the iron directly onto your carpet as it will melt!

9. Cleaning the dishwasher:

After a couple of months grime, soap scum and bits of food can have quite a negative impact on your dishwasher and this isn't the time for it to perform poorly! A good scrub down will restore its power if you are finding that your dishes are coming out less than clean. Run the empty machine with a store-bought cleanser or citric acid powder. Also, remove the bottom tray of the washer and clean the holes in the fan with an awl or another similar tool. Avoid using something that can break off and fall into the holes!

10. Cleaning wallpaper:

Most wallpaper is washable, but if yours is not, lightly soiled areas can be cleaned using a borax powder. Wipe with a clean cloth (a dry one) then remove the powder with another clean dry cloth. A slice of rye bread will work as well. Just rub it on the lightly soiled spot. Other breads won't do?it's the gluten in the rye that does the trick!
Hopefully these tips will help you in a pinch?remember though you'll want to be sure to complete your to-do list once your guests leave so you don't find yourself in the same situation next year!


Excerpted with permission from BeJane.com by Heidi Baker and Eden Jarrin. All rights reserved. Copyright BeJane.com, 2007. Photo Michael Weschler.