We found simple ways to tackle pain-in-the-neck cleaning tasks (think heater vents, lamp shades, and flat screens).
By Sarah Stebbins
Solution: While glass cleaners are fine for shining up old-school TV screens and computer monitors, the alcohol and ammonia in these products can, over time, etch and cloud the delicate plastic coating on high-def panels, says John Herrman, contributing editor at the online gadget guide Gizmodo. To remove streaks and smudges, he suggests gently running a barely damp microfiber cloth across the surface; follow with a dry cloth. (Microfiber cloths are lint-free and less abrasive than cotton or paper towels.) Never spray anything directly onto the screen. If this doesn't bring desired results, try a cloth moistened with equal parts distilled white vinegar and water, which works just as well as specialty screen cleaners sold at electronics stores, says Julie Edelman, author of The Ultimate Accidental Housewife (Hyperion). Dust screens and casings regularly—again, microfiber is best. To reduce static that attracts dust in the first place, Edelman advises swiping a used dryer sheet (a fresh one will leave residue) over the screen every month or so.
Stickler: Lamp Shades
Solution: Remove dust on sturdy fabric shades with a tape lint roller. Brush paper or delicate fabric pieces, such as silks or antiques, with a clean paintbrush, or aim a blow-dryer, set on a low, cool setting, down over the top, says Edelman. For spots, rub on stain remover and lightly blot with a barely damp cloth. Tip: A Tide to Go pen (drugstore.com, $4) almost always does the trick on fabric shades that have stains.