A Few Of Our Favorite Cleaning Tips
It may sound trite, but “cleanliness IS next to Godliness.” Cleaning is without a doubt the single least expensive home improvement category AND it is one part of home maintenance that you definitely can do yourself. Here are some examples:
MARBLE actually consists of petrified sea shells (calcium carbonate). Marble is in fact NOT stone, but a form of alkali – petrified alkali. Marble can be easily dissolved with a mild acid. Orange juice, grapefruit juice and lemon juice are high in citric acid and can etch marble. By the way, this is why we strongly suggest against using marble as a surface in the kitchen. Marble is very susceptible to damage from so many common foods. Vinegar contains acetic acid and it also can eat a hole in a marble surface. Oh, and don’t forget alcohol. It also will dissolve marble. Alcohol is found in hair spray, adult beverages and perfumes and cologne. By the way, some types of marble are denser than others. Not all react to acid attack. So what do you think the experts say will clean marble faster than anything? You got it — a mild acid! However, it is recommended that the selected acid be used in combination with a mild abrasive such as salt crystals. That’s why we recommend slicing an orange or grapefruit in half (you can use a lemon, but it’s pretty small), dip it in a plate of salt and rub it onto the marble. Flood the area with fresh water to rinse. Then, pat dry with a soft towel.
STAINLESS STEEL is one of the hardest metals known to man. And a good quality stainless steel sink can out last most kitchens if properly cared for. Stainless steel doesn’t rust, but many of the elements that attach to it do. Also, cleaning a brushed stainless steel surface with a metal scrubbing pad such as SOS® can be a big mistake. Fibers from the pad can get caught in the stainless surface and rust. Is that what they mean when they say, “Choose your own brand of poison?” Talk about causing yourself unnecessary work! Also, abrasive cleaners should not be used on stainless steel. They literally can rub a hole in the finish. Abrasive cleaners should not be used on most household surfaces (i.e. glass, tile, plastic laminate, linoleum, porcelain and plastic, etc.). A non-abrasive cleaner such as Barkeeper’s Friend is safer to use and will get your home just as clean.
COPPER & BRASS are very soft metals and easily oxidize (tarnish). Actually, the fact that these are soft metals makes them easier to polish to a high sheen. Slightly tarnished copper or brass can be cleaned with any number of household ingredients such as a paste made from table salt and vinegar or ketchup by itself (some to make your fries taste better and a little extra to clean the copper pan you used to warm them. Just like the movie says, “Wipe on – wipe off.” No, we don’t have anything against commercial metal polishes. Some are quite good. But, if you can get it clean without making a special purchase – why not?
CERAMIC & PORCELAIN TILE covered in mineral deposits and soap scum can be effectively cleaned with many non-abrasive substances – never use scouring powder on tile. Pure lemon oil (any brand) is our favorite and it works great. Use a nylon scrubbing pad soaked in the oil to get the surface clean. The more buildup the more scrubbing will be required. Oh, and keep in mind that lemon aid (the juice) is for drinking not cleaning tile. Lemon oil (from the skin of the lemon) is what should be used her.
TILE GROUT is extremely porous. Whitening chemicals are best here. One that does well is Hydrogen Peroxide. A standard 3-percent solution can be poured right onto the affected area and the cleaning-foaming action can make light work of your grout cleaning job. Chlorine Bleach also is good. The problem with tile grout is that it must be regularly cleaned. Once dirt is allowed to sink deep into grout’s pours getting it out can become impossible. With grout, surface dirt should be cleaned regularly. This is just about the only way to keep it clean.
MILDEW can be found everywhere – inside and outside. Both chlorine bleach and alcohol work well on mildew. By the way, if you try these chemicals and neither works you may have algae growing where you think mildew exists. Keep in mind that algae is not be affected by alcohol or bleach and can only be eradicated with a proper algaecide (pesticide for algae). For mildew removal: mix one-third of a cup of powdered laundry detergent and one-quart of liquid chlorine bleach into three quarts of warm water. Add the bleach to the water first and then the detergent. And although this formula is relatively mild be sure to wear gloves and eye protection and make sure that there is plenty of ventilation. Transfer the thoroughly blended concoction into a spray bottle or pump sprayer and soak the affected area. Continue to re-spray the area keeping it wet until the black mildew turns white. Rinse with fresh water and pat dry with a towel.
POLISHED METAL (I.E. FAUCETS & SHOWER HEADS, ETC.) should never be scrubbed with an abrasive. Even a nylon scrubbing pad can scratch a polished metal surface. Instead, soak a rag or towel in pure vinegar. Gently ring out the excess liquid and lay it over the affected surface. Keep the rag wet by covering it with plastic wrap (prevents evaporation). In one to eight hours lime deposits will disappear with a gentle wipe.
SINK DRAINS can really be a pain. Hair and soap scum can build up and create an unmanageable clog. Preventing this kind of problem is easy. You will need one cup of old-fashioned table salt, one cup of baking soda (replace the one in the frig and use the old one for this formula), a cup of vinegar (any kind) and two or three quarts of boiling water. Add the dry chemicals to the drain (pour slowly) and then the vinegar. Let the mixture fizz for a minute or so and then pour in the boiling water. Do this before bed once a month to keep your most used drains open and running free.