If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. But sometimes we stumble across a few hidden gems that make our lives easier. And, when it comes to cleaning house, we can all use a little “easier.” Check out these products you may have already written off and let them surprise you. DOLLAR STORE CLEANING PRODUCTS If you’ve ever ducked into the local dollar store to buy some Mylar balloons for your niece’s birthday party, you might have noticed the jugs and spray bottles, plastered with the word “Awesome.” Surely, this knock-off soap can’t work as well as your brand- name products, right? You’d be surprised. Online reviewers sing Awesome’s praises, suggesting it should really be a higher price for how well it works. Just make sure you wear gloves when you use it. DETERGENT PODS You use too much soap in your washing machine and dishwasher. At least, that’s what the New York Times reported as the No. 1 complaint from repair people and appliance experts. Modern appliances are designed to use less water, and as soap becomes more concentrated, using too much can damage your machine. That’s what makes detergent pods so handy. They don’t look like they can clean all your dishes or an entire load of clothes, but they actually provide the perfect amount for modern machines. You save money on detergent and machine repair! FOAM CLEANING BLOCKS Anything with “magic” in the title sounds like a scam. For this reason, you may have avoided the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and similar melamine foam products. But this is one case where the product lives up to its wild claims. Melamine foam is abrasive and can break down and remove material from fine cracks and textures, making it an effective cleaner. It can be used to whiten sneakers, clean tub scum, and remove permanent marker from your fridge. Since the snake oil salesmen in the days of old first tricked trusting folks out of their hard-earned cash, consumers have wised up and are quick to write off perceived scams. Still, every now then you get lucky, and the cheap white sponge really does make the stove look like new. That Actually Work
NEVER CLEAN YOUR EARS AGAIN Can Cotton Swabs Damage Your Hearing? THERE’S AN OLD SAYING anyone with small children will be familiar with: Don’t put anything in your ear that’s smaller than your elbow. Pretty sound advice for getting kids to stop sticking jelly beans in their ears, but it’s not advice adults take to heart. After all, if you don’t stick something small, like a cotton swab, in your ear, how are you supposed to clean out the wax? The truth is, you shouldn’t remove the wax at all! The medical term for earwax is cerumen, and it exists to naturally clean your ears. The outer ⅓ of the ear canal produces a watery substance that mixes with bits of dead skin and hair to form wax. This wax has antibacterial properties, serving to protect and lubricate your ear. As you move your jaw when talking or chewing, the wax works its way through the canal, removing dirt, dust, and other foreign particles before falling out of your ear. Gross, but effective — unless you interrupt the process by shoving a cotton swab into your ear. Though you may see yellowish wax on the end of the cotton swab after you “clean” your ears, more earwax is being shoved backwards into your ear canal than is being removed. The wax gets stuck, creating a thick buildup which can block the ear canal, lead to hearing loss, or rupture your eardrum. Putting cotton swabs in your ears can also push fungus, bacteria, and viruses deeper into the ear, which may result in pain and infection. Every year, 12 million Americans go to the doctor’s office suffering from “impacted or excessive cerumen,” which is medical terminology for “bad earwax problems.” More often than not, these problems are the result of excessive cotton swab use and require the doctor to perform an earwax removal procedure. Our ears rarely need us to get involved with the cleaning process, but if you just can’t leave your ears alone, there are better options than a cotton swab. Drops of baby oil, mineral oil, or over-the-counter wax- softening products can be used to loosen earwax so it falls out more easily. At-home treatments are usually successful in removing excess wax, but if suspect earwax may be causing you problems, don’t try to get it out with a cotton swab. Call your doctor and learn how to safely address the problem without potentially damaging your ears.
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