Ah spring cleaning... we can't say it's our favorite annual ritual but boy do we love the results. Sure, you'll clean the windows till they sparkle, finally dust those hard-to-reach-and-easy-to-ignore corners, and maybe even reorganize your closet. But there are a few spots and surfaces that shouldn't be ignored, so here's a friendly reminder plus tips for the most efficient ways clean and care for them.
Taking Care of Stainless Steel
To keep your stainless steel bright and clean, Adam Kamens of Amuneal Manufacturing Corp. suggests using a light mist of wax-based aerosol spray once or twice a week. Don't put on too much - you don't want to soak the surface and make it greasy. Wipe the mist with a clean, lint-free cloth, and never use oils to keep away fingerprints - lint will stick to the oil. Also, don't use cleaners with bleach after you've put on the waxy layer, or it will dry out and lose some of the luster. And finally, don't use anything abrasive, not even mild products like Soft Scrub or Scotch-Brite pads. You don't want to scratch or ruin the surface. Find out how to deal with accidental scratches.
Cleaning Painted Walls
To clean your painted walls, Carl Minchew, director of Product Development at Benjamin Moore, suggests starting with a clean cloth or sponge and water. If that doesn't work, dip the rag or sponge into water mixed with a little dishwashing liquid, the milder the better. If the stain persists, apply a few drops of soap directly onto the wet sponge or cloth you're using. For more stubborn cases, you could apply a little soap right onto the stain. If you need to resort to a stronger product like Fantastik or Formula 409, realize they have strong solvents in them and can soften the paint surface. Make sure that whatever you do to get rid of the stain, you rinse the wall afterward with plain water. Learn how to get rid of permanent marker and more.
Caring for Your Tiles
Marty Hoffman of Hoffman Brothers Floors suggests cleaning bathroom and kitchen tiles with a cleaner that has "neutral pH" on the label. You can also mix baking soda and water for a homemade cleaner: Pour 1/2 cup baking soda into 2 gallons water and mix very well. Then apply the liquid with a string mop or sponge mop. For grout, use the same baking soda and water mixture, but for tough stains, call in the pros.
Removing Stains from Countertops
Getting rid of stains on granite can be tricky, but the key, according to kitchen designer Florence Perchuk, is to wipe up stains ASAP. Also have your countertop sealed a few times as soon as it's installed. You'll know it's sealed properly when water beads and forms droplets on the surface. Then have it sealed again a year later. You can poultice away rust, and you remove soap scum or mildew with a solution of 1/2 cup ammonia in a gallon of water. For most coffee or juice stains, you can use a little hydrogen peroxide in water, plus a few drops of ammonia. For everyday wear-and-tear, buff away small scratches with superfine dry steel wool, called "grade 0000." For all other stains, check out the Marble Institute of America's Website or call in the professionals.
Caring for Your Area Rugs
Philip Costikyan of Restoration by Costikyan says you should clean your area rugs every four or five years - or every 10 years if a rug is not walked on much. Overcleaning contributes to wear and tear. Really fine silk rugs need be cleaned only every 20 or 30 years. For treating stains at home, keep a bottle of club soda on hand. Stains caused by pets, coffee, orange soda, red wine, and anything with dye or an acid base are the hardest to remove, and the key is to act quickly. Pour club soda directly onto the area, let the soda absorb into the yarn, and the salt in the soda will neutralize the acid. Blot again and again, until the residue is gone. For bloodstains, you should use milk instead, and for soil and grease-based stains, mix 1 part Ivory soap detergent with 16 parts water. If you still see residue when it dries, call an expert. Find out how much cleaning and repairs typically cost.
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