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Ask the Expert: Cleaning the Halls Before Decking Them This Christmas

For many people today, balancing work and family makes it harder to set aside the time to tackle domestic chores. Finding shortcuts and innovative ways to clean our homes has become a real necessity; something as simple as more quickly cleaning outside windowsills by opening and wiping from the inside after a rainstorm.

Saves getting out the ladder, and harnesses the help of Mother Nature. I love things like that. Here are my three favorite sMARt tips for easily getting holiday cleaning chores done.

Clean Silver

We have all been there: tarnished silver.  No more—here’s my foolproof way to get the job done fast and easy! Fill with water a pot big enough to hold and cover whatever you are cleaning, and bring to a boil. While waiting for the water to boil, take each tarnished silver piece and gently wrap in aluminum foil. 

Once the water has come to a boil bring stove to a low simmer and add one cup of baking soda. Now drop the silver into the boiling water. You will notice that the water will begin to smell as the sulfur begins to turn the aluminum black; this is a chemical reaction to the foil, cleaning every nook and cranny of the silver. That’s when you know it’s ready to be removed from the hot water. The better quality silver the better it works. Unwrap each piece — you can wait till it cools down — then simply take a soft cloth to polish when done.

Clean Crystal and Decanters

If you’re like me, you enjoy fabulous wines throughout the year, so come the Holiday season you may begin to notice a residue at the bottom of your decanter or even some slight staining on glasses which either haven’t been used for a while or were put away without being properly cleaned. Well you can’t place them on your dining table or even display them looking like that!

Fill the bottom of the vessel or glass with warm water and a splash of bleach, then leave overnight. (In fact, it may only take a few moments). In the morning you will notice that the bleach has broken-down the stain, thus allowing you to wash it completely. Wash thoroughly and store. 

Clean Hardwood Floors

Every time I clean my hardwood floors I always think of Cinderella and my grandmother. (No, they weren’t related!) As a young boy, I remember how my grandmother was a master at making hardwood floors shine — and without store-bought products! She just had that grandmother’s touch that we always admired and loved. Today, after years without a grandmother, I still follow her simple tip that comes by the way of the tea bag. 

Did you know that the acid in teas bags can create a lush shine on hardwood floors? Using two tea bags, make a teapot-full of tea with boiling water, the pour it into your bucket. Wet your mop (or a soft cloth if you want to do it by hand) and wring it out so it is damp but not sopping; it will allow the floor to dry faster. Simply wipe your floors with a very thin layer and watch the shine and beauty of your floors come back to life. 

Try these tips and in no time you’ll find it’s even more fun to deck the halls — right after you’ve confidently cleaned them.

And there you have it. 

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Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

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