Garbage disposal: Pour 3 tablespoons Borax into the chamber, let sit for 1 hour, then flush with hot water. To combat lingering odors and keep blades sharp, freeze ½ cup white vinegar mixed with water in an ice-cube tray, toss in a few cubes, and run the disposal. And to break up grease deposits that could collect, feed the disposal a small fruit pit or a chicken bone every now and then (nom nom).
Garden tools: Tap to remove dirt clumps, wipe clean with a cloth, and follow with a gentle exfoliation treatment: Fill a 5-gallon bucket with builder’s sand (sold at hardware stores), then pour in 3 cups mineral oil to make the sand damp. Insert the metal blades or tines of tools, plunging them in and out a few times. The sand will act as an abrasive, and the oil will condition the metal. To prevent rust during the off-season, store tools in a bucket of fresh sand and oil.
Gutters: You’ll need a ladder; heavy work gloves, plus latex or rubber gloves to wear underneath; and two buckets for this twice-yearly task (spring and fall). Put a trowel and a scrub brush in one bucket and climb the ladder. (For safety, the top of the ladder should be no lower than your waist as you work; have a helper hold the ladder steady if possible.) Hook a bucket to each side of the ladder. Starting near a downspout, use the trowel to move leaves, twigs, and other debris into the empty bucket. Have your helper hand you the hose to flush out finer material. Use the scrub brush to dislodge stuck-on dirt as the water flows. Clogged downspouts? Loosen debris by poking the hose up through the blockage. (No need to turn on the water.)