Saturday, 18 October 2014

Spring Cleaning 101: Tips & Techniques

By J. A. Young

   Spring cleaning is a seasonal rite of passage many of us enjoy and others of us grudgingly endure.  To make the most of this great effort, cleaners should employ the proper cleaning techniques to do the job effectively and safely for the items in question.  This frequently involves using the right cleaning solution.  The following text advises how to clean a myriad of household items from books, baseboards, mirrors, floors, walls, and so forth.

   Having the tools of the trade is the first part of your cleaning journey.  Rubber gloves, dust masks, goggles, comfortable shoes should accompany a battery of brooms, mops, buckets, various brushes, rags, sponges, dusters, a chamois and a vacuum cleaner (with attachments).  You will also need to consult your pantry (or grocery or hardware store) for a many items needed to make cleaning solutions.  Household commercial cleaners may also be used, but there are many traditional mixtures that can effectively (and organically) do the job.  When stocking your supply pantry with natural cleaners, choose baking soda, lemons, vinegar and salt.

Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products - Vinegar, lemon, salt and baking soda

   Before getting started, it’s a good idea (sometimes the simplest notions are overlooked) to begin at the top and work downward. It’s a sad day when you scrub the floor of grime only to watch stars of dust float downward from the ceiling fan. Also, it may be helpful to perform a dry run of cleaning—that is, wipe away dust and grime before you apply wet methods. This will eliminate extra muck from the task.
   Ceiling and walls - Cleaning the ceiling and walls can be accomplished with two buckets, a mop, a couple large sponges and a drop cloth. Fill one bucket with mild soap* and water and the other bucket with clean water for rinsing. You’ll need the drop cloth for furniture when washing the ceiling (the mop tackles this fine). Use the large sponges for the walls and baseboards (skirtings).
   Brass, copper and chrome - To clean brass fixtures or items make a paste of salt and vinegar (using equal parts). Rubbing a fine layer over the surface will prevent tarnish. Copper may be similarly cleaned. Chrome should be wiped down with vinegar and baking soda on a damp cloth. Club soda also cleans up chrome nicely.
   Tiles -To get rid of mildew on tile, use a mixture of water and ammonia. To clean grimy tile, scrub with a solution of scouring powder and water. 
   Electronic equipment - Cleaning electronic equipment can be accomplished by dampening a washcloth with isopropyl alcohol and rubbing dust and grime from the surface. Never pour any agent on the devices themselves.
   Microwave oven - To clean the inside of the microwave oven fill a microwavable bowl with water and a pile of lemon slices. Heat on high for about two minutes. Afterwards, wipe the interior clean.
   Stainless steel - A combination of baking powder and water may be used to clean stainless steel. Use a chamois to buff each item after cleaning.
   Wood furniture - For cleaning varnished wood furniture, consider using some cooled black tea dabbed on a soft cloth (a drop of furniture cream will also do the trick.) Various furniture oils available at the grocery store are suitable for furniture polishing. 
   Floor - Most all-purpose cleaners* diluted in water are suitable for cleaning vinyl. This will do for hardwood floors as well only take care not to disperse water too liberally. You can also clean wood floors with a half cup of apple cider diluted in water.
   Dusting - Dusting is best accomplished with a damp cloth or cheesecloth so that you pick up dust rather than displace it. From tabletops to books, dusting often a weekly chore. Consider toothbrushes or paint brushes remove grime from cracks and crevices.
   Drains - Equal parts baking soda and white vinegar flushed with water will freshen all your drains. To clean a stainless steel sink, vinegar is an ideal cleaner. To remove stains in the sink, rub vigorously with a slice of lemon.
   Countertops and surfaces - Mild soap* and warm water cleans mirrors, countertops and refrigerators. Use your vacuum cleaner attachment to clean the refrigerator coils. Warm sudsy water will also help you tackle the stovetop. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to clean the oven.
   Coffee maker - To clean your coffee maker, brew a pot of white vinegar (sans coffee). Then brew several pots of plain water to flush out the system.
   Major cleaning routines can usually be accomplished over a weekend. Consider setting aside some time this spring to give your home the cleaning overhaul it needs!

Photo: ©123rf/Geografika

* Savons d'ailleurs recommend using ​Marius Fabre Savon noir - Liquid Black Soap with Olive Oil for all household cleaning duties.

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