Domestic cleaning probably ranks in the Top Ten of most hated chores, with some couples even having serious arguments over whose turn the duty next falls to. Running a vacuum over a carpet is fairly easy but it’s the specific tasks – such as scrubbing toilets – that make domestic cleaning so unpleasant and boring. Anything that can make these cleaning jobs easier and quicker would help enormously - so here are some common “problem areas” and how to tackle them:
These are usually due to hard water deposits or rust – or just poor cleaning. Most stains can be treated with neat vinegar or with a paste made of borax powder and lemon juice. Rub the paste or vinegar onto the stains and let it dry, then rinse thoroughly. You may need to repeat this treatment a few times to completely remove the stain. For hard water deposits around the shower stall or a sink faucet, soak a cloth in neat vinegar and lay it over the area for as long as possible, then scrub the area and rinse thoroughly.
Before tackling the toilet, make sure you empty the bowl of as much water as possible, by turning off the water source and then flushing the toilet. Always give the bowl a general clean first with liberal amounts of cleaning agent/disinfectant and a bowl brush, which should be all-plastic – avoid the toilet brushes with metal wires as these can scratch and permanently damage a toilet. Then treat any remaining stains with vinegar or bleach (pour a large amount into the bowl and leave overnight then flush in the morning). More stubborn stains might need to be scrubbed with some borax powder and then left for at least half an hour before flushing away.
Mould & Mildew
These can leave unsightly black and green spots and staining in walls and corners. You may need to resort to a commercial remover specially designed for mould although you can try a few home solutions first, such as wiping with a dilute alcohol solution. The most important thing about mould is prevention, which means keeping things clean – as any soil or grease on dirty items can provide a nourishing feast for mildew to start growing - and dry, as mould thrive in moist conditions. For example, store clothing with moisture inhibitors and/or spray them with fungicidal products especially designed to give mildew protection, Also ensure good air circulation by opening windows regularly; using electric fans if natural breezes are not sufficient and opening wardrobe doors to refresh the air inside; and make sure clothes are hung loosely to allow air circulation around them. This will also reduce any musty odours.
Common Kitchen Stains
Coffee rings on the countertops are very unsightly and irritating but they can be easily removed by rubbing with a bit of baking soda mixed with water. Never scrub with harsh abrasives, as this can seriously damage the surface, particularly if you have a stone or marble countertop or any surface with a protective coating.
Baking soda also works wonders on tannin stains in mugs and cups, which can make them look old and dirty. Lemon juice is also a mild bleach which will remove the brown stains. If the stains are very stubborn, you may need to soak them in a dilute bleach solution (eg, 1 teaspoon cholorine bleach in 1 cup of water) for about an hour, although this does leave a strong odour of bleach.
Aside from carpets, many modern households have laminate or tile flooring. While these are both hard-wearing and generally stain-resistant, regular cleaning with the correct products will help to keep it clear of marks.
For wall tiles, wipe with a non-abrasive damp cloth and use an appropriate household cleaner if required (eg, window cleaner for glossy tiles). For floor tiles, vacuum first to remove dirt and grit and then mop with an appropriate household cleaner (note: for unglazed porous tiles, use a soap-free, colourless detergent). Never use abrasives and harsh cleaning agents (eg. steel wool pads) which can scratch and damage the tile surface.
Caring for laminate flooring is easy with regular dust mopping, vacumming or sweeping. A damp mop or cloth can be used for heavier dirt, but never use excessive water and always dry thoroughly with a soft cloth. Always mop up spills or water from wet feet or shoes immediately and never leave excess liquid on the surface of laminate floors. Make sure that you never use the following on your laminate flooring: soap-based detergents, abrasive cleaners, steel wool or other scouring pads, wax or polish and never steam clean or use chemicals which may damage the surface.
Whatever chemicals you use, remember to respect the directions given and follow them exactly; never mix chemicals as this can be extremely hazardous, in particular chlorine bleach and ammonia. Make sure there is sufficient ventilation while you are working and ideally, wear eye and skin protection.
For more tips visit www.stainexpert.co.uk
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