Make walls, windows, wallpaper even lamp shades come clean
Almost no one has time for Spring Cleaning but it makes a great togetherness project; cleaning goes faster and moving heavy objects becomes do-able. If you live alone, seriously consider making it a buddy project. You help me with mine; Ill help you with yours.
Elbow grease is the most expensive cleaner in the house, dont waste it. No one gives blue ribbons or trophies for working harder than necessary. I am going to give the names of products I have found exceptionally effective for specific projects. Almost all of them can be found at your local hardware or home center.
Walls: A winters full of dust, smoke from cooking and perhaps fireplaces has settled on your walls. Generally a good cleaning is all that is necessary to make them look freshly painted.
Use the buddy system. One person washes, the other rinses. Each should have a 2 1/2-gallon bucket and a long handled sponge mop. No one has to climb a ladder. My favorite cleaning solution is 2-oz. dry measure of Trisodium Chloride (TSP) per gallon of water. If kitchen walls seem greasy, add 2 oz. of liquid household Ammonia per gallon to the TSP solution. Wear goggles and rubber gloves.
Apply the cleaning solution liberally with the sponge mop. Start from the bottom and work your way up to eliminate water spotting. Allow the cleaning solution to work for two minutes. Then rinse.
Change the rinse water every wall. Change the cleaning solution every room. Wipe up drips or spills immediately with a large 100% cotton towel. If you have to do this job solo, follow the same procedure. Wash a twelve-foot long section of wall, then rinse.
Remove fingerprints from painted walls with your favorite spray household cleaner. Spray the wall, then take a facial tissue and stick it on to the wet, surface. Keep the tissue moist at least 60 seconds, then use it to wipe the affected area. Use a circular motion both clockwise and counter clockwise. When the tissue falls apart, grab more dry facial tissue and complete the job. Do not use a rag. Facial tissue wicks up the moisture and allows you to clean without breaking the paint film.
Wallpaper: Vinyl wallpaper can be washed like a painted wall. The real hassle comes when you need to clean those beautiful (read expensive), hand blocked, imported papers.
Clean delicate wallpaper, lamp shades or fabric window blinds with a special rubber dry cleaning sponge youll find at most hardware stores. Its called the Wall Brite Cleaning Sponge by the Absorbene Company. Start at the top of the wallpaper and gently pull the sponge down the wall. Turn the sponge over when one side gets dirty. When the entire sponge is soiled, rinse in water, wring out and let dry. As soon as it is dry you can continue the job. Never use a moist sponge on delicate wallpaper, fabric blinds, or lamp shades.
Windows: Outside: First, clean off the leaves, cobwebs and associated yuk on the sills and frames with a solution of 2 oz. dry measure TSP in a gallon of water. Sponge on, then rinse with clear water. Dry up drips with a 100% cotton towel.
To clean really dirty exterior glass, mix 1 level teaspoon of liquid hand dish washing soap and 4 oz of vinegar to a gallon of water. Fold a 100% cotton towel and put it on the sill. Sponge the cleaning solution onto the window, then squeegee off. Mop up the water with the towel. Use an extension handle for windows that would normally be too high to reach.
Inside: Mix 1 level teaspoon of liquid dish washing soap and 4 oz. of Ammonia to a gallon of water. Repeat the outside procedure. Sponge on the solution, squeegee off, and wipe up any drips with the cotton towel.
If you have the kind of windows where you can clean both the inside and the outside of the window from the inside, it is still better to use the specialized "inside" and "outside" window cleaners. Inside dirt is greasy. Outside dirt is gritty. The inside and outside formulas have been tweaked to do the best possible job on the windows.
Clean grease and gunk from window tracks and sliding door tracks with window cleaner or Never Dull. If there is major oxidation, use of Peek metal cleaner by Tri-Peek International Inc. will make the tracks clean and free sliding.
Mattresses & Upholstery: Strip and vacuum the mattresses and upholstery. Flip the mattress and vacuum again. If possible replace mattress covers and pillow cases with anti allergen covers and cases to protect them against dust and dust mites. You can get them at most linen specialty stores or on the web at places like www.nationalallergysupply.com. Youll breath easier.
Duct Cleaning: If your house is heated by forced air central heat and you havent had the ducts cleaned yet. As a general rule it is a good idea to have the duct work cleaned and sanitized at least once ever seven years.
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Floor, Carpet and Furniture Cleaning
How to put a shine of your floors and make the carpets as fresh as the great out doors
Floors: Wall to wall carpeting should be cleaned at least twice a year. A professional carpet cleaning service with big truck mounted equipment is best. The secret is extraction. Individual carpet and steam cleaners do not have the power to extract all the cleaning chemicals from the carpeting. The leftover chemicals act like magnets to dirt. Its a good idea to have the company clean the upholstered furniture at the same time.
If you must clean the carpet yourself, rent the most powerful unit you can. The larger equipment has more power to extract moisture and chemicals from the carpet.
If you decide that your carpets and upholstery do not need cleaning at this time you will still need to vacuum big time. First thing, throw away the old disposable vacuum bag and put in a new one. Anti-allergen bags are now made for most size vacuum cleaners. They cost more but are well worth the investment. All of the major manufacturers now make vacuum cleaners with Hepa filters. They are a very good air quality investment.
Hardwood Floors: Water and hardwood are not friends. Generally they should be vacuumed and dust mopped, not washed. Wash hardwood floors by spraying on a non-ammoniated window cleaner, then damp mop. Dry the floor completely with 100% cotton towels.
Vinyl Floors and Tiles: This is a two mop, two-bucket job. Use 2 1/2 to 3 oz. of a good all-purpose concentrated cleaner like Simple Green, Now or Clear Magic to a gallon of warm water. Mop on. Let stand for a couple of minutes. Then rinse with a separate bucket of clear water and a sponge mop. Change rinse water frequently. Heavy duty cleaning requires an ammoniated cleaner like Armstrong New Beginnings and a glaze coat like Shine Keeper.
Ceramic Floor Tiles: Many of the most beautiful 9" ceramic kitchen and hall tiles are "single glazed," or "single fired." There were made to be non-slippery, and that means they have a non-shiny finish. Cleaning is the same as for vinyl tiles. If you want to add a little sheen, pick up a bottle of Brite or Future acrylic floor care product at the grocery store. Mix half-and-half with water and apply with a cotton or sponge mop.
A good cleaner for most glazed tiles is KRC7 by Chemique.
For heavy scuff marks, use a waterless, non-abrasive hand cleaner like Go Jo or Fast Orange. Rub the cleaner into the scuff mark with your hand until it softens the scuff. Let stand for two minutes, then take facial tissue and wipe up the hand cleaner. Repeat if necessary.
Fine Wood Furniture: Once a year your wood furniture should be cleaned, oiled and shined all over. That includes the inside, underside, and sides of drawers, undersides of tables and the bottoms and backs of chests.
Start by washing down the furniture with mineral spirits. Spread the mineral spirits on liberally with a sponge. Let it stand for at least two minutes. If necessary, add cleaner to keep the wood moist. The cleaner needs time to penetrate the accumulated waxes and oils. After two minutes, wipe up with facial tissue. Do not use paper toweling. Facial tissue is far more absorbent and is necessary for proper cleaning. Repeat two or three times. Let the furniture dry over night, then apply a coat of Doozy for shine without finger prints.
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Kitchens and Baths
The rooms in which we clean up are the hardest to clean
The oils, steam, soap scum and spills concentrated in kitchens and baths make them the two hardest to clean rooms in the house. The weather is too nice outside. Lets get this nasty job done and get out of here.
Walls & Ceilings: Weve already talked about walls. If theres grease, dont forget to add 2 oz. of liquid ammonia to the 2-oz. dry measure of TSP (Trisodium Phosphate) per gallon of water mixture.
Counter Tops: If the luster has gone out of your Corian, Gibraltar, Formica or Wilsonart counter tops, you can deep clean, polish and seal them in one application with Hopes Counter Top Polish by Hope Industries. Hope Counter Top Polish is available at most hardware, home center and paint stores.
Kitchen cabinets: Kitchen cabinets can be easily cleaned and sealed with an application of Doozy. Pour the product onto a 100% cotton rag and wipe down the bottom and top of the cabinets and shelving and all doors.
If the cabinets have got the stickies big time, wash them down with a 2 ounce solution of Simple Green to a gallon of warm water. Rinse with clear water that you change every couple of cabinets.
Sinks: Stainless Steel: To bring back the shine clean thoroughly with Bar Keepers Friend. After the sink has been thoroughly cleaned, rinsed and dried, coat with a product like Gel Gloss by T R Industries.
Porcelain: Clean and shine porcelain sinks with bleach, Bon Ami and Gel Gloss®. Open the windows for ventilation, then plug the drain and fill the sink half full with liquid bleach. Fill the rest of the way with hot water. Let stand for ten minutes. Drain the sink and clean with the bar form of Bon Ami (not the powder). Rinse with cold water. When dry, apply a poly-type auto wax or Gel Gloss® to shine and seal the surface. It is always important to seal surfaces that you have deep cleaned. The sealer fills in the surface profile and makes it harder for dust, dirt and soap scum to stick.
Appliances: The stove, refrigerator, freezer and microwave should all be cleaned. Be sure to pull them out and clean behind them. Unplug all electric appliances before cleaning. Use your favorite household cleaner and rinse with clear water. Its a good idea to throw away the old left-overs in the fridge and freezer. How long has that spaghetti been there anyway? Defrost, clean, rinse and dry.
Clean Refrigerator Condenser Coils: Dirty condenser coils are the biggest cause of premature refrigerator failure. Monthly cleaning is good. Quarterly cleaning is mandatory. If you are like most of us you have never done the job properly.
The secret weapon in condenser cleaning is the condenser brush. This is a long, slim brush that tapers at the end and is tipped with a rubber bumper. If you dont already have one, you can buy condenser brush at many appliance and hardware stores and all appliance parts stores.
You will also need a screwdriver and a vacuum cleaner with cleaning wand attachments. You will be alternating between the crevice and brush tools.
Unplug the refrigerator and pull it out so that you can work both in front and in back. Most refrigerators have a protective pull off grill on the front under the door or freezer drawer. Remove the grill. Get down on your hands and knees and carefully brush above and under the condenser grill. If you havent done this for awhile you will be pulling out swaths of dust bunnies and pet hair. Clean them up with the vacuum hose.
When you have completely cleaned under the front go to the back and carefully remove the card board like protective paper that is screwed onto the lower back. Carefully brush and vacuum the back, underside and fan area. Reattach backing. Reattach the pull off grill Roll back and plug in refrigerator .
Baths: If you have a mold and mildew problem on the ceramic tile, walls or ceiling in the bathroom, spray the affected area with Enviro Magic Mildew Stain Remover. If you dont already have it buy the big quart bottle with the trigger sprayer. The product has no chlorine so it is safe to use anywhere.
Showers: To clean soap scum from ceramic tile, tub and shower doors use The Works Bath & Shower Cleaner. This is a fairly strong cleaner so use rubber gloves. Scrub tiles with a small hand brush. Wear goggles to protect your eyes. After the shower walls have been washed and rinsed, let dry for an hour then reseal the surface with Gel Gloss.
Also use Works on the shower doors and the fiberglass pan of the shower stall. Start from the bottom and work your way up. Rinse and let dry for a hour then seal the profile of the doors with Invisible Shield or Rain-X by Uneilko Corp. Do not use a sealer on the shower floor. It will make the floor surface slippery and unsafe.
If the shower floor is badly stained, there is a specialty cleaning product called FSR Fiberglass Stain Remover developed for the boating industry and available at a good marine hardware supply store. FSR is a jelly. Paint it on. It will remove the most severe stains.
To shine metal shower enclosure frames and clean the gunk from aluminum tracks, use Peek metal polish. Never let the polish dry completely. Rub briskly, then buff with a clean rag.
Commodes: If your commode has developed hard watermarks and stains, CLR, Calcium, Lime, Rust Remover by Jamie Industries, is worth a try. Before cleaning the inside turn off the water supply, then flush and plunge to reduce the water seal. Apply the CLR. Let stand for fifteen minutes before brushing with a very stiff scrub brush.
While empty, clean the sediment from the rim holes with a coat hanger. Check out the toilet seat and see if it should be removed and replaced. It is only held on by two bolts and a brand new replacements costs very little, so go ahead, treat yourself to a new seat, its spring.
Clean the outside of the commode with one of the bathroom bubbling cleaners. Be sure to turn the water back on before your next audience.
Tip: Most city water today has so much chlorine and some other chemicals in it that it deteriorates the flapper balls. Non-city water usually has minerals. You can keep the toilet bowl and the water closet a lot cleaner and free flowing by using Whink Rust Guard Time Release Bowl Cleaner in the water closet. The Whink formula is very effective but does not use chlorine or other harsh chemicals that attack plumbing and septic systems.
Whew! This was a big job with no blue ribbons or trophies. But now the whole house sparkles. Be smug. Make the relatives think your house always looks this good.
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