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Shower door soap scum, greasy dirt on lamps and kitchen cabinets…some things around the house just don't come clean. We talked to professional house cleaners and got them to spill their best-kept cleaning secrets. Use these tips to simplify your housecleaning—and save time and effort.
Grease and dirt build up on kitchen cabinets
over time. To clean your cabinets, first heat a
slightly damp sponge or cloth in the microwave
for 20 to 30 seconds until it's hot. Put on a pair
of rubber gloves, spray the cabinets with an all-purpose
cleaner containing orange oil ($4), then wipe off the
cleaner with the hot sponge.
For stubborn spots, let the cleaner
sit for five minutes first. Wipe in the direction of the wood grain.
Rinse and reheat the sponge as it becomes saturated. Then wipe
the cabinets with a cool, damp cloth. The orange oil leaves a
shiny coating. This works for any wood or metal surface.
Keeping shower doors clean and
streak free is a challenge—unless
you know the pros' secrets. Start by
cleaning any mold, mildew or streaks off the glass
with a glass cleaner. Use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
($1) to get into the cracks in textured glass. Scrape off
tough buildup with a razor blade. Dry the doors with
Treat the doors with a product like Aquapel ($8;
autobodydepot.com) or Rain-X ($5 at auto parts
stores and home centers). These glass treatments form
an invisible film on the glass to increase water repellency,
causing water and soap to bead up and run off
the glass. (Squeegee off the water after bathing to keep
soap scum from building up again.) Spray or wipe on
the glass treatment, then wipe it off with a microfiber
cloth. Overspray won't harm surrounding surfaces.
The products repel water for six months.
Every pro we talked
to was a big fan
of Swiffer Sweeper
products, particularly the Wet Jet
($20). It lets you throw away the traditional
mop and bucket and clean your
hard floors in less time and in a more
sanitary way (mops are often full of
bacteria, which get spread on the floor
during cleaning). Three cleaning solutions
(for different floor types) are
available for the battery-powered Wet
Jet. The solution is automatically
sprayed onto the floor with the push of
a button. Disposable, textured pads
absorb the spray as they clean. Since the
Wet Jet is very portable, it's great for
spot-cleaning spills. The downside is
that it doesn't work as well as a mop on
extremely dirty floors or on mud that
gets tracked into the house.
Throw out the old cotton rags and the paper towels and
use microfiber cloths instead. These cloths are composed
of ultrafine synthetic fibers that are woven together to
create a “microfiber.” The fibers rub together during
cleaning, creating a static charge that attracts dirt and dust, so you can tackle
dusting chores without using sprays or chemicals (although you can still
use them if you want). The tiny fibers have sharp edges that scour well, but
they aren't abrasive, so they won't scratch surfaces.
Use the cloths for cleaning appliances, sinks, and TV and computer
monitors, and for drying dishes, washing windows and any other chore
that requires a
cloth (wet or dry).
($20 for a 10-pack
at discount stores)
leave a streak- and
lint-free finish, are
and can be washed
Forget the broom—clean
out the garage with a leaf
blower. It's fast (about
five minutes), you don't have to move
heavy stuff, and you can clean work surfaces
and shelves along with the floor. First
put away papers or anything else that you
don't want blown away. Open the overhead
door. Put on a dust mask, earplugs and
safety glasses, then turn on the leaf blower
and blow out the dust and debris. Use the
leaf blower to get under workbenches and
to clean off the benches themselves. If you
don't own a leaf blower, you may be able to
use your shop vacuum by connecting the
hose to the exhaust port. This cleaning
method works great for screen
All-purpose cleaners won't remove
rust stains from sinks, tubs and toilets,
even with a lot of elbow grease.
The trick is to use a stain remover
like Super Iron Out ($10 for a 5-lb.
jug). Look for a rust stain remover or a product that
contains diluted hydrochloric acid (also listed on
product labels as hydrogen chloride, HCL or muriatic
acid). Be careful not to use a product containing
bleach—it'll set the stain.
For toilets, add Super Iron Out to the water in the
bowl, then clean with a stiff nylon-bristled brush. For
sinks and tubs, first wet the surface with water. Apply
Super Iron Out to a damp sponge (wear rubber gloves
and a mask—this stuff is powerful!). Wipe the stain
with the sponge until it's gone. Rinse the surface with
plain water to completely remove the Super Iron Out.
That's right. We've found another use for
duct tape—cleaning. The stickiness of duct
tape makes it perfect for a makeshift pet hair
remover and this method is faster than vacuuming.
It also works on seats in vehicles. A sponge or
cloth wrapped with duct tape works great for getting into corners.
Wrap duct tape around a paint roller cover, sticky
side out. Roll the paint cover over furniture or carpet to pick
up the pet hair. Add more tape as the surface gets full of hair.
Soap has a nasty way of forming a hard-to-remove film
on tile in tubs and showers. You won't get
rid of it by rubbing. Instead, wait for the
surface to dry, then scrape off the scum
with a 4-in. plastic putty knife.
For grout lines and textured
surfaces, use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.
To prevent soap scum buildup, stop using real soap
and start using a synthetic. Chemically speaking,
any soap in a liquid or gel form, and some bar
soaps (Zest and Ivory), are actually synthetic
soaps and much less likely to leave a tough film in
your sink, shower or tub.
The best way to prevent stains is to treat spills immediately.
That's why pros love stain pens, like Tide to Go
and the Clorox Bleach Pen Gel, which are designed to
remove small stains from upholstery, grout, caulk,
porcelain and clothing (avoid the
bleach pens for colored fabric).
Just press the tip into the stain
to release the solution, then rub
the tip across the stain to remove
it. Inexpensive ($3) and portable,
they're great at removing food
and drink spills.
Before applying a cleaning
solution to an entire surface or
fixture, first test it on a tiny area
to make sure it won't damage or
discolor the finish.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
Share what's on your mind and see what other DIYers are thinking about.
February 21, 10:03 PM [GMT -5]
SWIFFER WET JET IS SAFE FOR KIDS AND DOGS....
Some people just seem to believe anything they get in an email...
Swiffer wet is safe for pets and kids.
December 28, 1:15 AM [GMT -5]
Hey thanks for the tips. We generally don't give much importance to these things. I shall keep this in mind from next time. Thanks for your time.
December 02, 11:11 PM [GMT -5]
I have tried many different products and natural things to clean and shine my stainless steel fridge. I found what works the all time best???? WD-40. It cleans and shines at the same time and stays clean for weeks. Keeps finger marks at bay. Just spray some on a rag and quickly wipe down the fridge. It takes a whole 30 seconds.
November 06, 9:05 AM [GMT -5]
Be careful with Iron Out!! It works awesome at cleaning rust and for washing laundry in our irony well water but it will permanently damage your lungs if you accidentally breathe it in (I learned the hard way with only a moment of exposure when a bottle broke). You won't know for hours after that something is wrong because it doesn't have an unpleasant odor or burning sensation right away..
October 23, 1:27 PM [GMT -5]
Great tips! I need some serious professional cleaning in Charlotte NC, but maybe these will help out a lot. I'm hosting a party for a work event and I want everything to look nice because I'm known as the clean freak at the office. Thanks!
October 08, 7:18 PM [GMT -5]
Good article on "Top 10 Household Cleaning Tips" but I believe I have a much less expensive tip on cleaning pet hair from furniture.
1: Use rubber latex gloves, dampen slightly, "the slightly thin rougher surface gloves work better then the smoother styles", with a little moisture on them just start rubbing the fabric, the hair comes right off, it works so good you should have a vacum hose along with to suck up the hair balls.
2: Take a clean wash cloth, wet it, wring it out, rub along fabric and the hair comes right off, again, include your vacum hose to suck up the hair.
No wasting duct tape and a 3 to 5.00 paint roller unless of course it's a clean used one. :)
October 07, 10:40 PM [GMT -5]
I do house cleaning professionally and I have a few more tips.
1. When I have a lot of chrome such as faucets and shower fixtures to clean I use turtle wax automotive chrome cleaner. You can get it in the automotive cleaning section of any department store. Using a clean cotton or microfiber cloth rub it into the chrome with a little elbow grease, wait for it to powder, then with another clean cloth wipe it to a beautiful shine. I have had some really dirty fixtures to clean and most look like new when cleaned in this manner. And my customers are amazed!
2. For the latest and popular stainless steel fixtures and appliances I use Scott’s Liquid Gold. Spray it on sparingly and wipe it with a clean microfiber cloth in the direction of the grain and you will get a nice smooth clean look without all of those hard to remove finger prints.
3. Oven cleaning: I always use oven cleaner on every oven even self cleaning. I do a lot of rental units and sometimes it takes two separate applications, the first application to get rid of the heavy grease usually in the ovens in these units and then a second for the final cleanup. I use hot water and a clean sponge to wipe out the grease then paper towels to bring out the shine. You really do not want to waste a nice microfiber cloth on this cleaning. Most of the time the drip pans on the burners also need replacing you can by a whole new set at any appliance store for about $15.00. They usually have a universal type which fits most units.
4. To clean mirrors and most flat glass like clear shower doors I use vinegar and water mixture and a squeegee. They always come out sparkling clean.
August 19, 9:44 PM [GMT -5]
My daughter had a professional cleaning business of many years and using only natural products.
Melaleuca's Tub 'n Tile, when used on soap scum, melts it right off..
Also, using Melaleuca's No Work, when sprayed in a shower will keep soap from being able to adhere to the shower sides
July 20, 11:10 PM [GMT -5]
GREAT TIPS!!!! THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
July 15, 4:34 PM [GMT -5]
Using orange oil will bite you. Clean and dry. If you ever decide to either paint or restrain your cabinets you will thank me they charge more because of the build up left.
I am atalso a professional cleaner. I only do high end. It is my job to be educated about surfaces. I cringe everytime a professional says use vinegar. It also says they aren't a professional or they would never recommend it. Vinegar is a acid. It will etch your floor surfaces, used on tile it will damage it, used on grout it will weaken and damage it. I never use this on anything. I never use ammonia products on glass, time will cause it to start eating away at the mirror it will damage a whole lot of things. Using vinegar on other floors again will damage the surface that is protecting them, in a little time ou will start seeing the damage. It will also void warranties on new floors and tiles. Contact your manufactors most products are evirmentally safe or simplely use water and a micro fiber clothier and dry your floors. Take time investage.
July 06, 8:22 PM [GMT -5]
What is best way to clean dark granite daily as to not get the streaks? Also, I heard you should deep clean the granite once a year. How do you do that?
May 02, 4:11 PM [GMT -5]
OK so here's what I have learned from cleaning professionally as well.
Always start from top to bottom cleaning the house, get cobwebs, wipe down walls, dust, sweep, mop, etc...
Microfiber clothes will work wonders! BUT you have to learn how to upkeep them. When washing them do not add fabric softener, and do not dry them. Ring them out and then hang them up to dry. If you follow this you will avoid dreaded microfiber bunching. You can buy microfiber clothes at a dollar store as well and they are just as good as any other store.
Vinegar and Baking soda is your friend. Use them often and learn how to make your own cleaners out of it. You will never buy cleaners again. Learn whats in your cleaners at home. Look at a ingredients list on a bottle and Google what each ingredient/chemical is and does. You'll freak out!
The most important thing you need to know, and most people don't know about is....
SWIFFER USERS!!!!! LOOK HERE!!!
Look on the back of the box of your swiffer pads... Notice how it shows no pets or kids? Well if you go ask your vet why they will tell you that swiffer pads contain a chemical that causes liver damage and kidney stones. If you see your animals licking the floor its because it tastes sweet!!! This will cost a lot in vet bills! And as for children and babies do you want them crawling on that surface that contains chemicals that can hurt their liver and kidneys? This rule applies to both wet and dry swiffers. Be careful what you use and always look at your ingredients even if it says all natural on it.
April 27, 7:50 PM [GMT -5]
The Swiffer Wet Jet is way too expensive to use all over my house, and its solutions damage the stone tiles in my hall and bathroom. But it is excellent for small messes, such as the cat's hairballs etc.
July 06, 11:58 PM [GMT -5]
These are great tips! I have cleaned houses for almost 14 years, and I have another small one. If you don't have time to run the cooktop grates through the dishwasher, soak them in the sink while you clean the rest of the kitchen. Fill the sink with the hottest water you can, adding a dishwasher tab, or other dishwasher detergent to the sink as it fills to dissolve it completely, then add the grates. This get rid of a great deal of the gunk, without a great deal of the scrubbing. A side benefit is that it cleans the sink for you, a well!
May 13, 9:13 PM [GMT -5]
Best way to clean mirrors is vinegar and water in a sprayer with a good quality squeegee. I do house cleaning as one of my handyman services. It also work good on glass shower doors if they are newer and have no built up soap scum.
March 18, 9:55 AM [GMT -5]
I love learning new ways to tiddy up. Do you have any suggestions for cleaning composite decking, like Trex?
March 13, 10:40 PM [GMT -5]
magic erasers work really well on dry erase bulletin boards
March 08, 4:00 AM [GMT -5]
VERY HELPFUL TIPS.
DO NOT LIKE PUTTY KNIFE ON TILE - DANGER OF SCRATCHING - USE CLR OR LIMEWAY
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