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Clean Ideas: End-of-Summer Cleanup

Tips for getting things ready for storage

Before you get caught up in all the back-to-school activities, spend some end-of-summer time returning items to their best possible state before you store them away. This will prove to be a time saver when you want to use them again next spring.

  • Musty beach towels: Launder, using the hottest water that's safe for the fabric. Add a small amount of fabric softener to the final rinse. Machine-dry thoroughly.
  • Sandy sleeping bag: Turn the bag inside out. If the sand is damp, let the bag air out until the sand is dry. Shake the bag to remove as much loose sand as possible; then brush or vacuum away the remaining residue. If the bag is soiled, clean according to the sleeping bag's care label instructions.
  • Muddy tennis shoes: Let the mud dry completely. Then take the shoes outside and bang the soles together to remove as much of the dried mud as possible. Using a solution of warm water and hand dishwashing liquid and an old toothbrush, scrub gently to remove the remaining dirt. For stubborn dirt marks, scrub with a nylon pad. Wipe with a damp sponge or damp paper towels. Stuff the tennis shoes with clean paper towels and let them air-dry.
  • Grungy plastic tablecloths: A wipe-down with a soapy sponge may clean the top of the tablecloth, but not the flannel backing. To clean the whole thing, machine-wash, using the gentle cycle. Machine-dry on the delicate cycle for about 15 minutes. This is just enough time to remove the creases caused by machine washing, but not long enough to harm the vinyl. If the cloth is still damp, line-dry.
  • Grubby molded-resin outdoor furniture: Clean with a mild detergent and water. Avoid abrasive powders, chlorine bleaches and silicone cleaners.
  • Soiled outdoor cushions: Acrylic, polyester and cotton fabrics should be spot-cleaned by sponging with a solution of liquid dishwashing detergent and lukewarm water. Rinse with clear water and air-dry.
  • Dirty plastic pool toys: Mix 3/4 cup of chlorine bleach per gallon of warm water. Soak the prewashed toys for five minutes. Rinse and then air-dry. If the toys aren't used during the winter, store them in a closed container so they'll stay clean and dust-free.

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