This article is by GRS staff writer Adam Baker. Baker recently shared an in-depth video example of how you can save $521 when booking airfare online.

Recently my 19-month old daughter managed to get her tiny hands on a ballpoint pen. Normally, this wouldn’t have been a major event. This time was different. In the 30-45 seconds it took for me to notice, she’d thoroughly covered two-and-half cushions of our microsuede couch with a beautiful masterpiece in ink slashes and squiggles.

While I’m proud of the her dedication to detail and new art skills, this wasn’t exactly the platform I wanted to her display them on. I confiscated the pen and walked straight to the computer; I knew that time is of the essence with ink.

I found a wide variety of solutions on the internet. Two simple ones were most common: rubbing alcohol and/or Windex. Really? I knew water would only make matters worse, so my first though wasn’t to use rubbing alcohol.

I took a short walk to the corner store for a bottle of rubbing alcohol and a large pack of Q-Tips. Two l-o-n-g hours later, the ink was mostly gone. After the damp spots dried, the damage was all but invisible. Success!

As a fan of simplicity, I loved this easy, straight-forward solution to my problem. Afterward, I spent more time than I’d like to admit scouring the web for similar creative cleaning hacks that involve everyday products. There are more than you can imagine, but several in particular caught my eye.

The many uses for cola
It’s actually scary what cola can be used to accomplish. While there are many sites dedicated to amazing uses for this common soft drink, two cleaning solutions appear on almost every list:

  • Polish tarnished chrome. Apparently the only other material you need is a piece of crumbled aluminum foil. Pour the coke on the chrome, scrub lightly with the foil, rinse with water, and repeat.  This can be used on everything from old motorcycles to bathroom sinks.
  • Clean stains out of toilet bowls. Supposedly the acid in coke works well to break down stains in a toilet bowl. While this is commonly listed as a legit cleaning solution, a 2003 episode of MythBusters concluded that this was “busted” — it doesn’t really work.

However, the Myth Busters episode did confirm some other uses for cola:

  • Shine and clean pennies,
  • Help clean a battery terminal, and
  • Even remove blood stains.

I’ve never been a huge fan of cola, and you can be sure just makes it more likely that I won’t be reaching for a can of Coke anytime soon.

Removing oil stains
Oil stains are some of the toughest to remove once they set in. When a spill occurs and you don’t have specially-designed cleaner on hand, you have two other options:

  • Kitty litter
  • Powdered dish-washing detergent

With either product, you should sprinkle the granules and let them sit for fifteen minutes or so. Next, soak with hot soapy water and scrub with a push broom. (Or you can use a pressure washer, if you have one.)

I also found an interesting suggestion for using dryer lint to soak up oil on Lifehacker.  The article doesn’t go into much detail, but this is a better option than paper towels or traditional towels, which tend to smear the stain rather than absorb it.

NOT-so-permanent markers
As with the oil stains, it’s exponentially easier to remove permanent marker if you get to the scribbles before they have a chance to set into the paint. In this case, many straight-forward cleaning solutions work very well.

Depending on the surface of the wall and type of paint, some options cause more fading than others. When in doubt, test the following options in a closet first so you can gauge gauge any negative reaction to the paint:

  • Basic rubbing alcohol,
  • Bathroom hand sanitizer, and
  • Toothpaste (works better with baking soda as ingredient)

In all three instances, many people claim that scrubbing with a tooth brush gives good results!

Removing ink stains
In my own story above, we needed to remove ink from a microsuede couch. We had several options to choose from. In each case, though, experts suggested try the chemicals in small inconspicuous spots first since microsuede fabric has many different forms. Options included:

  • Rubbing alcohol,
  • Windex, and even
  • Nail polish remover

In our case, the rubbing alcohol did an effective job when applied to small, targeted quantities.

But let’s face it: You’re more likely to get an ink stain on your clothes, not your microsuede sofa. When this happens, the most important rule is not to use hot water or apply strong pressure right away. Both hot water and intense pressure actually cause the ink to set in deeper, making it more difficult to remove. Instead, try applying:

  • Hairspray,
  • Foaming shaving cream, or
  • Nail polish remover

After applying the chemical directly onto the stain, blot gently, switching the cleaning fabric frequently to maximize the amount absorbed. Once you’ve absorbed as much as possible, you can rinse the fabric thoroughly and attempt to wash it regularly in hot water.

Note: As a rule of thumb, you should test any alternative cleaning solution on a small sample before attacking the actual stain. And in nearly every case, you’ll have greater chance of success the quicker you’re able to start cleaning.

What other creative cleaning hacks have you found for around the house? Which of your homemade remedies have been most effective — and which have failed miserably?

Photo by geishaboy500.

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