Photo: ThinkstockBy Lynn Andriani
Dirty Linoleum Floors
Getting a '50s-era kitchen floor that's taken on a jaundiced hue back to its original, sparkling glory requires strong cleaners and elbow grease. You want to avoid hot water and alkaline-based cleaners, since they'll eventually turn the surface yellow (and they're probably the reason your floor looks the way it does). Instead, mix chlorine bleach with water (follow the instructions on the bottle of bleach for the correct ratio) and apply it with a wet mop, letting it sit for 30 to 45 minutes. Then, get down on your hands on knees and start scrubbing. Donna Smallin, author of The One-Minute Cleaner, says that "nothing beats a bucket of cleaning solution and a brush" to brighten a dingy floor. Rinse with cool water and then mop with a mixture of one cup of white vinegar per gallon of water to neutralize the bleach.
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Photo: ThinkstockSticky Kitchen Cabinets
If it seems like no amount of kitchen cleaner will remove the grime from years of frying chicken or meatballs, try using Murphy's Oil Soap. John Thomas, a wood refinisher in New York who has worked on countless old and dirty cabinets, likes it because it's gentle. He mixes it in equal parts with water and a dash of paint thinner until the mixture looks milky white. Wearing rubber gloves, he rubs the solution over the wood with a soft cloth (don't use anything abrasive or you might damage the finish, Thomas says). Then, he wipes it off with clean, dry paper towels.
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Even dark liquids like red wine or Kool-Aid can be removed from white upholstered furniture or carpeting. Although most of us know it's a lot easier to lift a stain if you get to it right away, for spots that have been on your carpet since the Reagan administration, follow this advice from Steve Mulloy, director of housekeeping at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. Apply a red-dye remover like Carbona Stain Devils #8 to a clean towel, lay it over the stain and then press a warm iron over it. The heat will transfer the stain onto the cloth.
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Photo: ThinkstockDingy Baseboards
The trim covering the bottom of your walls where they meet the floor seems to attract dirt and scuffs like a magnet. Becky Rapinchuk, who writes the blog Clean Mama, knows how to make them gleam. First, she vacuums them using the brush attachment. Then, she scrubs them from top to bottom using a microfiber rag dipped in warm, soapy water and wrung almost dry. She follows up with a dry cloth to make sure she didn't leave any water on the wood. If your baseboards are white, Rapinchuk suggests keeping a jar of matching paint and a small paintbrush handy so you can touch up scrapes and dings as you are cleaning. One final tip: Run a dryer sheet along the clean, dried baseboards to repel future dirt.
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KEEP READING: 3 More Cleaning Secrets from the Pros
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