How to Clean Almost Anything: An A-to-Z Guide
Air conditioners: When your A/Cs are in use (say, from May through September), it’s smart to clean them monthly so they don’t get listless (or conk out completely) on the hottest days of summer. First turn off the power and pop off the front panel. Remove the spongy filter and soak it in the sink in equal parts warm water and white vinegar for about an hour. Use the vacuum’s crevice attachment on the coils. After you’ve replaced the filter (wait until it’s dry) and the front panel, dust the exterior and the control buttons with a disinfecting wipe. Have central air? Once a season, unscrew the vent covers and clean the slats on both sides with a damp cloth.
Air mattress: For an item that’s used only occasionally, an air mattress accumulates a surprising amount of dirt and dust. Next time you inflate yours for use, give every side of it a once-over with the vacuum’s upholstery attachment or a handheld vac. Then wipe the mattress top (getting into all those little grooves) with a chemical-free wipe (Seventh Generation Disinfecting Wipes, $3, target.com) and air-dry.
Apron: If machine washing hasn’t conquered those greasy food stains, try a presoak treatment that uses an oxygen-based stain remover, such as OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover ($9.50, walmart.com). Let the apron soak for up to 6 hours in 2 to 4 scoops of powder with 1 gallon water, then machine wash as normal, using detergent and more OxiClean. (Follow the package directions.)