Our experts have
lots of tips for everything from the general process
of cleaning to keeping odors out
of your refrigerator. Here are a few of our favorite
to easily keep your home fresh and clean.
No need to
wax. Just sweep and mop on a regular basis
and they stay clean and shiny. Mop floors
with clear water or just a dash of liquid
dish soap. Be sure to change the water
when it gets cloudy. Too much soap or
dirty water will make floors dull or sticky.
Don't use scrub pads on ceramic tile floors
or you might scratch them. Our professional
cleaners wash most floors by hand, cleaning
and drying a small area at a time.
Old grout may need cleaning with
a wax stripper or heavy-duty cleaner plus
a grout brush. Use a bleaching cleanser
on tough spots. Once the grout is as clean
as you can get it, rinse it well. When
it's thoroughly dry, apply a coat of masonry
sealer so that it doesn't absorb dirt
in the future.
For mildewed grout in
tubs or showers, use a grout brush with
a 1:5 solution of chlorine bleach and
water. Never use bleach in combination
with any ammonia-based product and be
sure the area is well-ventilated. When
you've finished cleaning, rinse the area
well to remove all traces of bleach.
Clean colored grout with
a heavy-duty cleaner and a grout brush,
but don't use bleach because this may
remove the color from the grout. Be sure
never to use a bleaching solution on colored
grout. A masonry sealer can be applied
to clean, colored grout to ward off future
are alkaline, so an acid-based cleaner
is the best way to clean them. Phosphoric
acid works well and is safe for most surfaces.
Grocery store cleansers with phosphoric
acid contain 4 percent to 6 percent acid.
You can purchase lime scale removers at
janitorial supply stores that contain
8 percent to 12 percent acid to get the
job done faster. A higher concentration
of acid is safe on most household surfaces
as long as you rinse the surface to remove
all traces of the acid after the cleaning
is complete. Let the acid sit for a few
minutes after you apply it to let it work.
Tough hard-water deposits may take more
than one application. Scrub the applied
areas with a white, nylon-backed scrub
sponge. Make sure you read any manufacturer's
warnings before applying phosphoric acid
solutions to surfaces in your home.
Wipe down mini-blinds
with a damp fabric softener sheet. This
eliminates the static that causes dust
to stick. The same trick works for TV
and monitor screens.
No wax - linoleum
or sweeping is the best way to maintain
the finish. Then damp mop with plain water
or add just a drop of liquid dish soap.
If the floor has some tough spots to clean,
use a white, nylon-backed scrub sponge.
This will keep soil from wearing away
the surface. However, if time and traffic
eventually dull the glossy top layer,
you may want to add a floor finish or
wax to restore the shine. Choose any good
commercial floor polish or try a self-polishing,
metal-interlock floor finish available
from a janitorial supply. Traffic areas
may need finish applied more often than
the rest of the floor. It's a good idea
to keep doormats at all the entrances
to your home, as they will catch much
of the dirt that could eventually damage
hair removal from upholstery and carpets
To remove pet hair from fabric or upholstery,
try a pet rake (a brush with crimped nylon
bristles), velour brush, tape roller or
even tape wrapped around your hand. Use
light, even strokes to remove the hair.
Another option is to try the rubber bottom
on a clean tennis shoe or a slightly dampened
sponge (as long as the dampness won't
harm the upholstery).
pet hair from carpet, use a vacuum with
a good beater brush or brush roll. Plain
vacuums don't generate enough lift to
remove all the pet hair from the floor.
option for both upholstery and carpets
- especially at the edges where pet hair
tends to collect and vacuums have a hard
time reaching - is a "pet sponge."
These sponges, which are used dry, are
available at pet supply stores.
soap scum build-up is a lot easier than
cleaning it, squeegee water off shower
walls and doors after every use or wipe
them down with a towel. For tile walls
or frosted shower doors, apply a light
coating of lemon oil periodically to help
prevent build-up. For a porcelain tub,
apply a light coat of boat or car wax
to the sides (never the bottom) of the
too late for prevention, use a degreasing
agent and lots of elbow grease. Get a
good alkaline soap scum remover at a janitorial
supply store or dissolve a handful of
automatic dishwasher detergent in a bucket
of warm water. Cover the affected area
completely and let your cleaning solution
soak for at least 15 minutes. Do it right
after a shower when the walls will be
wet. After soaking, use a stiff scrub
brush or a white, nylon-backed scrub sponge
to clean the walls. You may need to soak
and scrub a couple of times to get rid
of all the build-up. Then rinse well with
bowl ring remover
The earlier you
attack this problem, the easier it will
be to remove the ring. A thorough cleaning
with a commercial acid-based bowl cleaner
may do the trick. If the bowl cleaner
doesn't work, try using a green, nylon-backed
scrub sponge along with the acid. For
an old ring, use a pumice stone. Wet the
stone with the water in the bowl and rub
it on the ring. Keep the stone wet the
entire time you're scrubbing. Pumice stones
should only be used on vitreous china
toilets - never on colored, enamel or
plastic fixtures. Once you've gotten rid
of a ring, weekly cleanings should keep
it from coming back.
dust mop regularly to prevent dirt from
building up and damaging the surface.
Any wood floor can be cleaned with a quarter-cup
of apple cider vinegar mixed with a gallon
of warm water. Wood floors are best cleaned
on your hands and knees because you should
only clean a small area at a time and
then dry it and move on. Never get wood
floors too wet or allow them to dry naturally.
Finished wood floors often can be cleaned
just with water. However, the finish will
eventually wear off, and you'll either
have to re-finish the floors or start
and Granite floors
If polished marble
or granite is protected with floor finish,
the finish must be buffed or burnished
and periodically replaced to keep the
surface protected and looking good.
marble and granite are sensitive and porous,
they need to be cleaned with a neutral
cleaner solution and then polished dry.
Scratched and dull surfaces can be revived
with a marble restorer (available from
janitorial supply stores).
marble and certain types of granite are
stronger than real marble and stone, but
they do lose their luster after being
cleaned for years. Clean with a spray
bottle filled with all-purpose or disinfectant
cleaner and a soft cloth. Always keep
the area wet while working. Never use
powdered cleansers, steel wool, metal
scrapers or colored scrub pads on cultured
marble or granite. If the surface is worn
and looks dull even after cleaning, polishing
compound may bring back the glow. A little
appliance wax, car wax or silicone sealer
will also help fill fine scratches and
restore the shine.
Clean cabinets with heavy-duty cleaner
and sponge with warm water. Mix according
to directions and apply the solution with
a sponge. Let it sit a minute or two,
then take a white, nylon-backed sponge
and scrub wherever necessary. Remove the
grimy suds from the sponge by squeezing
it into the sink or a slop bucket, never
back into your cleaning solution. Then
rinse with a damp cloth and wipe dry with
a terry cleaning cloth to remove any last
traces of scum and leave the cupboards
clean and glowing.
For all odors, the
first thing you should do is to remove
the cause of the odor.
smoke film from washable surfaces, use
a solution of heavy-duty cleaner or degreaser.
A dash of water-soluble deodorizer from
a janitorial supply store added to the
solution will help neutralize the odor.
For smoky windows, add one part isopropyl
alcohol to five parts window cleaner to
help cut the oily film.
on porous surfaces is a tougher proposition.
Light smoke film on acoustic ceiling tile
can be removed by professional ceiling
cleaners, but heavy buildup usually requires
painting or replacement of the tile. Upholstered
furniture, draperies and carpeting can
be wet- or dry-cleaned, as appropriate,
after a thorough vacuuming, with water-soluble
deodorizer added to the cleaning solution
to control residual smoke odor.
make sure you let the sun in to help dissipate
smoke and other odors as you try to eliminate
the cause. Try to increase air flow by
opening windows, turning on fans or even
putting particularly smelly items outside
for awhile. You can fill small dishes
with vanilla, vinegar or activated charcoal
for an easy, inexpensive smoke eater.
Or, you can purchase odor neutralizer
from a janitorial supply house which will
work more effectively.
Cleaning tips - Top