Quick and easy outdoor cleaning and storage tips

Jerome Powell
Mary Hunt

Many outdoor cleaning and storage solutions can be rather expensive, especially when compared with Everyday Cheapskate do-it-yourself or homemade alternatives. Here are some of my favorite cleaning tips and storage solutions for the garage and patio that will give you the results you need without the costs you don’t.

Barbecue cover

Protect your grill without sacrificing your wallet. Fold an old vinyl tablecloth in half and sew up the sides to make a cover for your outdoor barbecue grill.

Charcoal recycle

After the food has cooked on the barbecue, don’t leave coals to just burn out. With a shovel, scoop them up into an empty can and smother them by placing a nonflammable lid over the can. They can be used again.

Storage buckets

Are you sick of all the half-full bags of fertilizer, potting soil, cat litter and pet food in the garage that get wet and turn into soggy messes? Go to your local grocery store and ask the bakery for their empty frosting buckets with lids. Typically, they’re happy to give them away. Just clean, remove the labels and make new laminated labels or print clearly on the bucket. This will save you from having to throw out half-full bags of ruined fertilizer or pet food.

Concrete spot-remover

To clean spots on concrete, sprayed bleach (preferably Clorox) works great. Let it sit for about five minutes; then rinse. Remember to exercise extreme caution when handling liquid chlorine bleach. Do not mix it with anything but water to avoid mixing up a batch of deadly chlorine gas.

More concrete stains

Commercial cleansers such as Ajax and Comet work well to clean concrete that has been stained by mold or leaves. Sprinkle cleanser on the cement, add water and scrub with a stiff broom. Allow it to sit for a few hours; then rinse.

Easy grill cleaning

Instead of scrubbing your grill clean and making a huge mess, put the grill racks in your self-cleaning oven the next time you run the cycle. The chrome will discolor a bit, but you won’t spend all that time scrubbing.

Egg carton fire starter

Here’s an inexpensive fire starter for the barbecue or campfire: Fill an empty paper egg carton with a dozen charcoal briquettes, one in each compartment. Squirt each briquette with lighter fluid, close the fluid container and then close the egg carton lid. Carefully light the container.

Apple storage

If you have more apples than you can reasonably use in a the short term, they’ll last up to six months if you store them in a dry spot between 32 F and 45 F. A cardboard box or Styrofoam chest in the garage, basement or cellar can usually duplicate the conditions of an old-fashioned root cellar.

Alcohol kills

Ordinary rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol labeled 70% or greater kills roaches faster than commercial pesticides. Just keep it in a spray bottle; a couple of squirts will do the trick. Label the spray bottle clearly and store well out of the reach of children.

Stained wicker

To remove mold and mildew from wicker furniture, wipe with a mixture of 25% white vinegar and 75% water. Allow it to penetrate for a few minutes, and then wipe again with plain water.

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