A few of our favorite tips for when you have to face dirt alone.
Take advantage of our many years of experience cleaning homes.
Here are a few of our favorite house cleaning tips to easily keep your home fresh
In addition to cleaning wood floors, Murphy Oil Soap makes a great laundry pre-spotter, especially on organic stains like grass or blood. Wet washable, colorfast fabric, add a drop of Murphy directly to the stain, squish through the fabric and wash as usual. Visit www.murphyoilsoap.com for more cleaning tips.
Ceramic tile floors
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 stains.
Hard water spots
Hard-water deposits 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.
Regular vacuuming 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 your floors.
Painted wall cleaning
The type and quality of the paint greatly affects how you clean a wall and how easily dirt comes off. Generally, there are four types of paint finishes:
Baked enamel (most appliance finishes), epoxy enamel and automotive paints.
These paints are durable and stain-resistant. Dirt typically cannot penetrate the hard finish. These surfaces can withstand scouring with mild abrasives, and can also handle heavy-duty cleaners and degreasers. With these finishes, be most careful of scratching or dulling the finish by using harsh abrasives, steel wool, colored scrub pads and strong solvents.
Most often found on interior walls, especially kitchen and bathroom walls, this surface is stain-resistant and can handle moderate scrubbing. Do not use abrasive substances or colored scrub pads, which can scratch the finish. Use a neutral cleaning solution and a white, nylon-backed scrub sponge. Only use heavy-duty cleaners or abrasive cleansers when you're willing to take your chances on ruining the paint. If you have latex enamel paints, avoid leaving them wet for more than a minute or so. Oil-based enamels are more water-resistant. Keep in mind that gloss enamels are the most durable and washable, followed by semi-glosses and then satin finishes.
The most common household paint, flat latex is not as washable as enamels. Heavy-duty cleaners or hard scrubbing can remove the paint along with any dirt. Use mild detergents and gentle scrubbing, and don't let any solution sit on the surface for more than a minute.
These paints are typically oil-based or latex and should be scrubbed only with a mild detergent and then rinsed with a hose. Use a long-handled brush for hard-to-reach areas or stubborn spots. Some people like to use pressure washers on the outside of their homes, but like harsh chemicals, these can loosen the paint, so use with caution.
Pet 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).
To remove 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.
Another 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.
Pet stain removal from carpets
First, blot up any liquid by putting towels or absorbent rags over the spot and stepping on them. Start with gentle pressure and increase it up to putting your full weight down. Change to fresh rags or towels, until no more liquid comes up.
For fresh stains, apply a bacteria/enzyme digester from a pet store, following the directions - it's the only way to deal effectively with both the stain and the odor. Bacteria/enzyme digesters work slowly, so leave the solution on as long as the directions say. Urine has probably penetrated into the carpet and pad, so use enough solution to reach as far down as the stain. Apply the solution, put plastic over it, and step on the spot several times until the area is well saturated. Then, leave the plastic on the whole time the digester is working to make sure the spot doesn't dry out.
Old or dry stains are hard - sometimes even impossible - to remove, but try the bacteria/enzyme digester. If it's a popular accident site, the bacteria may produce enough ammonia in the course of breaking down the stains to create a super-alkaline situation that interferes with its own action. In this case, you may need to neutralize the spot after the digester has been working for about four hours. Mix a solution of one cup of vinegar to a gallon of warm water. Rinse the area with this solution and apply a fresh batch of bacteria/enzyme solution.
If the stain or odor remains, call a professional deodorizing specialist. A complete cure will probably involve cleaning the entire carpet by extraction and replacing the pad underneath, if not replacing the carpet.
Soap scum in tubs and showers
Since preventing 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 tub.
If it's 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 clear water.
Toilet bowl ring removal
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 ringKeep 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.
Vacuum and 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 waxing them.