Tarnished silver

#1 Keep Silver Gleaming

Once a coveted luxury, real silver has fallen out of fashion. Part of its diminished popularity is no doubt due to its expense, but the fact that silver requires polishing to remove tarnish probably also factors into this loss of luster. If you love the look of silver, but your busy lifestyle doesn’t afford time for extra cleaning duties, toss a silica gel packet (the kind found in boxes of new shoes, handbags, and vitamin bottles) into your silver drawer. The silica draws in moisture, and the resulting drier atmosphere slows the tarnishing process.

Empty dishwasher

#2 Clean the Dishwasher

It may seem strange, but your dishwasher needs a good cleaning every once in a while. Despite all the water and soap that churn through the machine as it washes dishes and flatware, the working parts in your dishwasher don’t manage to get clean. That’s where a packet of Kool-Aid comes in handy (yes, really). Empty a packet of lemonade-flavored Kool-Aid into the dish detergent compartment, then run the dishwasher and let the drink crystals polish the inside of your appliance.

Cleaning blender

#3 Mix up Dish Soap

The awkward corners and crevices in a blender make it difficult (and a little dangerous) to wash by hand. Instead of struggling to slip a sponge under and around the blender blades, try this: Fill the blender one-third full with hot water, and add a few drops of dish soap. Turn on the blender and let it run for a while. The soapy water whirling around the blender will dislodge food particles that you could never have reached with a sponge.

Spilled wine

#4 Pour a Little Wine On it

It may be true that you can’t fight fire with fire, but you can certainly fight wine stains with more wine. If you’re serving red wine at a party, always keep a bottle of white wine on hand—even if you don’t intend to serve it. The reason, of course, is that if a guest spills red wine on your white carpet or upholstery, you can lift the fresh spill by pouring white wine on the affected area to dilute the red. Pour, blot with a towel, then rinse clean with water. Voilà!

Dog hair carpet

#5 Wipe Up Pet Hair

Even vacuum cleaners can’t always budge up stubborn pet hair that clings to rug and carpet fibers. Next time you’re cleaning the floors, here’s a tip: Take a squeegee (the kind used for washing windows) and scrape it across the carpet. You will be surprised at how much hair it will pull out of the carpeting.