A few tips for when you have to face dirt alone.
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
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
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
- Baked enamel (most appliance finishes), epoxy enamel and automotive
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
- General-purpose enamels.
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.
- Latex flat.
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.
- Exterior paints.
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
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
ring. Keep 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.
Stain removal from clothes
We doesn't provide laundry service, so we can't expertly address
stains you find on fabrics. However, we can suggest a web site that may be
able to help you. The site is sponsored by Tide, and can be found at:
Candle wax removal from upholstery, wood or carpet
To remove the wax from carpet or upholstery, you will need a plain brown
paper bag and a steam iron. Paper grocery bags work well.
1. Cut open the brown paper bag so it lays flat.
2. Lay the brown paper bag on the affected carpet., with any printing away
from the carpet.
3. Set the steam iron on a moderate setting and plug it in. Allow it to
4. Once warmed up, place the steam iron on top of the brown paper bag over
the wax spot. Move the iron back and forth over the wax spot. The iron
should never come in direct contact with the carpet, only the paper bag.
As the wax warms up it will begin to absorb into the paper bag.
5. When a dark spot appears on the bag, move a dry area of the bag over
the wax spot and continue to move the steam iron over the area.
6. When no further wax absorbs into the bag, you have removed the wax.
To remove candle wax from wood, apply a plastic bag filled with ice to the
spot, until the wax is brittle enough to crumble off. If some candle wax
remains, place an ink blotter on the area and apply a hot pressing iron to
the top of the blotter.
The manufacturers of Pergo recommend damp mopping at least once a week and
sweeping or vacuuming with an attachment more often if you are concerned
Do not use soaps or detergents because they may leave a film, dulling the
floor. Difficult spots like nail polish, markers, tar and cigarette burns
can be removed with acetone or nail polish remover. Pergo floors must
never be waxed, polished, sanded or refinished.
Marble and granite floors
If polished marble or granite is protected with floor finish, the finish
must be buffed or burnished and periodically replaced to keep the surface
protected and looking good.
Because marble and granite are sensitive and porous, they need to be
cleaned with a neutral cleaner solution and then polished dry. Scratched
and dull surfaces can be revived with a marble restorer (available from
janitorial supply stores).
Cultured marble and certain types of granite are stronger than real marble
and stone, but they do lose their luster after being cleaned for years.
Clean with a spray bottle filled with all-purpose or disinfectant cleaner
and a soft cloth. Always keep the area wet while working. Never use
powdered cleansers, steel wool, metal scrapers or colored scrub pads on
cultured marble or granite. If the surface is worn and looks dull even
after cleaning, polishing compound may bring back the glow. A little
appliance wax, car wax or silicone sealer will also help fill fine
scratches and restore the shine.
Most cabinets are factory manufactured and finished, and even wood
cabinets have enough varnish or other protective coating so that you can
use a cleaning solution. The oil slick that builds up on cabinets -
especially around the handles - is a combination of kitchen grease, food
smears, skin oil and hand lotion transferred to the cabinet. All-purpose
cleaners aren't equal to the challenge.
If your cabinets are plastic laminate (Formica or other plastic), metal,
painted metal or glass, you can wash them all over with a strong alkaline
cleaner, which is available at a janitorial supply store. Or use a
heavy-duty cleaner from the supermarket. Mix according to directions and
apply the solution with a sponge. Let it sit a minute or two, then take a
white, nylon-backed sponge and scrub wherever necessary. Remove the grimy
suds from the sponge by squeezing it into the sink or a slop bucket, never
back into your cleaning solution. Then rinse with a damp cloth and wipe
dry with a terry cleaning cloth to remove any last traces of scum and
leave the cupboards clean and glowing.
Never use acids or powdered cleansers on cabinets. A good overall washing
once a year should be enough. Keep a spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner
handy the rest of the time and spot-clean after heavy kitchen use.
On wooden cabinets, take a gentler approach. To get off stubborn dirt,
wash around all handles and any other grease zones first with hand
dishwashing detergent. Then wash the entire cabinet, including the handle
areas, with an oil soap solution. Just wipe lightly with the solution and
buff dry immediately with a terry cleaning cloth. Always wipe dry with any
grain or pattern. Seldom do you need to add any polish because the surface
has its own sheen when clean. If your cabinets are dull from wear or age,
spray furniture polish very lightly once a year or so to fill in the pores
and bring back some life.
Spot removal from dishwasher
Brown, red or black deposits may be caused by iron or manganese in the
water. To remove, start the empty dishwasher on the rinse and hold cycle;
while the machine is filling, open the door and add 1/2 cup rust remover
from a janitorial supply store to the water; then allow the cycle to
Cleaning the face of a fireplace is a project that demands patience.
Fireplace stone and brick may be hard, but they're also porous. This means
it has plenty of tiny holes for soil to accumulate in.
First, make sure the floor around the fireplace is well covered with
drop cloths. Mix a solution of high-alkaline cleaner and one ounce of
chlorine bleach per gallon of warm water. . Wet the surface of the
fireplace well with the solution, but don't use so much that it runs.
Dirty water running down the face may cause hard-to-remove streaks. Then
scrub the solution in with a brush. You should see the suds getting dark
and dirty as the buildup comes off. Rinse well. If the surface is shadowy,
a light cleaning with a phosphoric acid cleaner may be enough to brighten
it the rest of the way. Don't use any acid stronger than phosphoric as it
will damage the brick or stone.
If the results still aren't satisfying, make a poultice of heavy-duty
cleaner, bleach and diatomaceous earth and apply it to the areas needing
attention. This should draw out any remaining residue. If necessary,
repeat these steps until you get the result you want. The color of the
brick or stone determines how aggressive your use of bleach can be. Heavy
bleaching will whiten a dark surface and cause it to look out of place.
You can use a stronger solution on white or light surfaces.
If you're not comfortable taking these kinds of chances with your facing,
you may want to call in a professional chimney sweep.
Eighty percent of the dirt in your house walks in through the door on
people's feet. The right kind of mats placed inside and out of all
entrances will help cut down on cleaning time. Choose professional mats
you see at the entrances of hospitals and supermarkets, which are
available at a janitorial supply store. They're called walk-off mats
because they give the dirt a chance to be walked off before it gets in.
Walk-off mats are usually nylon or olefin with a rubber or vinyl back for
inside the door, and rubber or vinyl-backed synthetic turf for outside on
the step. They're available in a variety of colors. To do their job well,
both the inside and outside mats should be four strides long. Vacuum mats
regularly or shake them outside. Hose them down and scrub with an
all-purpose cleaner as needed. You can also use upholstery shampoo or a
wet/dry vacuum to clean them. It's important to always hang them until
completely dry so that moisture isn't trapped under the vinyl backing.
If there are any unsealed concrete or mortar joints, they can bleed off
bits of sand and concrete dust onto surrounding surfaces. You should also
make sure your windows and doors seal tightly. Some utility companies will
inspect your home for free to determine if you have any cracks where
things could be going out or coming in.
Keep vacuum bags, filters, seals and gaskets in good repair to prevent
fine dust from being blown back into the air as you vacuum.
Feather dusters typically don't do much but spread dirt around. If you are
using a feather duster on some surfaces, consider looking at alternative
The best way to clean windows, or any large expanse of glass, is with a
squeegee. It does a faster and better job.
You need a professional-quality squeegee and a window wand. If you'll be
cleaning high windows, you also will need an extension pole. The basic
process is simple - apply the cleaning solution with the window wand and
pull the dirt and water off with the squeegee.
1. Mix a capful of ammonia or five drops of liquid dish detergent in two
gallons of water. Resist the urge to use too much detergent; that causes
2. Dip your window scrubbing wand or a sponge 3/4 of an inch into the
solution, picking up just enough water to wet the window without flooding
it. Wet the entire window then go back over it once to loosen any stubborn
soil. Last, run the scrubber against the frame on all sides of the window
to pick up any dirt you've pushed against the frame.
3. Dampen the squeegee blade before you start and wipe it with a damp
cloth between strokes. A dry blade will skip and jump on the window
instead of gliding smoothly.
4. Tilt the squeegee at an angle so that only about an inch of the rubber
blade presses lightly against the top of the window glass. Then pull the
squeegee across the window horizontally. This will leave a 1-inch dry
strip across the top of the window. By squeegee-ing across the top first,
you eliminate drips running down.
5. Place the squeegee close to the frame in the dry area near the top and
pull down to about three inches from the bottom of the glass. Continue
this way across the window, overlapping into the clean, dry area with each
stroke, and wiping the blade with a damp cloth after each stroke.
6. Finish with a horizontal stroke across the bottom and wipe any water
off the sill with a damp cloth.
On some windows, it's easier to cut the water off the frame side as well
as the top, and then squeegee the entire pane using horizontal strokes.
Large (picture) windows should be wet and squeegeed half at a time, the
top half first. Finally, if you're cleaning both the inside and outside of
the window, squeegee horizontally on one side and vertically on the other,
so you can tell whether any streaks are inside or out.
Large (picture) windows should be wet and squeegeed half at a time, the
top half first.
Finally, if you're doing both the inside and outside the window, you may
want to squeegee horizontally on one side and vertically on the other, so
you can tell whether any streaks are inside or out.
For all odors, the first thing you should do is to remove the cause of the
To remove smoke film from washable surfaces, use a solution of heavy-duty
cleaner or degreaser. A dash of water-soluble deodorizer from a janitorial
supply store added to the solution will help neutralize the odor. For
smoky windows, add one part isopropyl alcohol to five parts window cleaner
to help cut the oily film.
Smoke on porous surfaces is a tougher proposition. Light smoke film on
acoustic ceiling tile can be removed by professional ceiling cleaners, but
heavy buildup usually requires painting or replacement of the tile.
Upholstered furniture, draperies and carpeting can be wet- or dry-cleaned,
as appropriate, after a thorough vacuuming, with water-soluble deodorizer
added to the cleaning solution to control residual smoke odor.
If you smoke in the home, change the filter in the air circulation
Also, make sure you let the sun in to help dissipate smoke and other odors
as you try to eliminate the cause. Try to increase air flow by opening
windows, turning on fans or even putting particularly smelly items outside
for awhile. You can fill small dishes with vanilla, vinegar or activated
charcoal for an easy, inexpensive smoke eater. Or, you can purchase odor
neutralizer from a janitorial supply house which will work more