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Cleaning Tips

Tips for the Kitchen

  • For more effective dishwashing, add a few tablespoons of vinegar along with the dishwashing detergent when washing dishes. The vinegar cuts the grease and leaves dishes sparkling.
  • To clean up spills in your oven, sprinkle the spills immediately with salt. When the oven has cooled, brush away the burnt-on food with a damp sponge.
  • To disinfect smelly sponges, wash sponge thoroughly, then microwave it while it is wet, for a short period. When you see steam from the sponge, the bacteria in the sponge will be dead. Remove carefully, it will be hot! Wash the sponge thoroughly before use. Make sure the sponge has no metal components!
  • Granite countertops - The best way to clean granite countertops is by mixing a little dish detergent and warm water. This soapy mixture followed by rinsing and then drying with microfiber cloths will take care of the daily maintenance of your counters. Note: It’s important that you dry the counter to avoid water stains. However, if you do overlook a spill and a stain settles on your countertop then you have a few natural options available.
  • To remove hard-water and lime build-up in a teapot or kettle, pour in two cups of vinegar and bring to a boil. Let simmer for about 10 minutes, then rinse well.
  • To remove mineral deposits in a tea pot or burnt spots on a coffee pot, put some ice cubes, cut-up lemon, and salt with a tad water and swish around and let sit overnight.
  • To whiten an old stained sink , poor a half cup of salt in it and then scrub it with a lemon. Let it stand for a few minutes and rinse.
  • To remove skid marks on linoleum rub the spot with toothpaste before washing the floor.
  • To keep your plastic containers from getting stained from tomato based foods, rub the inside with vegetable oil before placing the food in the container.
  • Kitchen Cabinets - Create a cleaning solution using laundry or grease cutting dish detergent and water. Mix together 1 cup of detergent for every 2 cups of warm water. Apply to your cabinets using a clean cloth or soft sponge. Scrub the cabinets while taking care not to remove or scratch the finish. Rinse with water to remove the soap residue and dry. Vinegar and Water: Use vinegar and water to remove a sticky film on your cabinet exteriors. Rinse the cabinets with plain water to remove residue.
  • Removing kitchen and food odors: Soak pure vanilla on a cotton ball and place in a saucer. Put the saucer in the car or refrigerator to remove odors. Keep cotton ball out of reach of children as it contains some alcohol.
  • Odor producing mold and bacteria in garbage cans: sprinkle 1/2 cup Borax in the bottom of the garbage can.
  • Cleaning coffee maker: Pour straight vinegar into it as if you are making the coffee, no filter is need. Turn coffee maker on as if you were making a pot of coffee. Repeat this with a new batch of vinegar until it runs clear of calcium deposits.
  • Run your sponges through your dishwasher every few days, and dispose of them every few weeks. They breed bacteria because they do not get the opportunity to dry out in between uses.

Tips for the Bathroom

  • Shower curtains can be renovated by being washed, on gentle cycle, with a pint of white vinegar.
  • Cleaning grout. When cleaning grout the natural method is not only effective but it’s also cost conscious. Mix together a half cup of hydrogen peroxide for every cup of water in a spray bottle. Spray the cleaning mixture on the affected areas, clean and then rinse with water. After rinsing make sure to towel the floor dry. You can also substitute vinegar for the hydrogen peroxide and get the same clean effect. Use a stiff brush to clean your grout in areas where tougher buildup has occurred.
  • Soap scum – Soap scum build up can be a source of frustration for homeowners when cleaning their bathrooms. This cloudy glaze is very difficult to remove. Cleaning soap scum is hard to do because it is composed of a variety of things including: mildew, hard water, mineral deposits, soap talc and body oils. Baking soda is your friend when it comes to soap scum. Sprinkle a large amount of baking soda on a cloth or sponge, dampen and scrub. For tougher soap scum build up you can also try making a paste out of baking soda and vinegar. Let the paste sit on the stain and then scrub. The acidity in the vinegar will help break down the scum. If you have stubborn soap scum that refuses to budge you can also try spritzing lemon juice on the stained area and then scraping with a tile scraper. Please note: do not use a tile scraper on granite, travertine or slate tile as it will damage the surface.
  • Toilet Bowl Ring Removal - 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 keeping 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.
  • Once you have removed the soap scum from the shower, daily maintenance can help prevent future build up. After showering take a squeegee or a towel and mop off excess water.
  • Buildup on shower doors: Wipe with lemon oil. Removes buildup and keeps doors protected longer from future buildup.
  • Tubs - 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.
  • Hard water spots - 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.
  • Tile floors - When cleaning tile floors you must first clear the surface of debris and dirt. Next vacuum along the baseboards to remove any dust or loose dirt build up. Finally move the surface cleaner of your vacuum to the lowest setting and vacuum the tile. Mix equal parts water and vinegar in a bucket—make sure the water is very hot! Fill another bucket with water to rinse the floor. Next wring out your mop as much as possible. Mop the floor from side to side and then up and down to get between the grout. If you are cleaning a large surface area you may need to make a fresh batch of vinegar and water half way through the cleaning. Finally, rinse the floor with clean water and make sure to wring out the mop as much as possible.

Bedrooms/Family Rooms/General/Miscellaneous Tips

  • Use crumpled up black and white newspaper dipped in vinegar to wash windows. Dip paper in vinegar and wipe the glass until almost dry, then shine with dry newspaper or cloth
  • Children's stickers can be removed from wood by applying white vinegar to the sticker, letting it soak and then scraping off.
  • Hardwood floors - When cleaning hardwood floors it is important to remember water is the enemy. Use it very sparingly and avoid mopping in excess. For example, if your formal dining area does not see a lot of foot traffic then sweeping regularly and mopping only once a month may be sufficient. If you have hardwood floors in your kitchen on the other hand, you may need to mop several times a week. The key to cleaning hardwood floors is to damp mopping. Wring out your mop as much as possible so that the least amount of water possible goes onto your hardwood surface. Do not use a mixture of vinegar and water, as over an extended period of time the vinegar may have a tendency to reduce the shine of your floors.
  • Clean those dirty, dusty, mini-blinds in your house in a snap! Fill the bathtub with warm, soapy water and let the blinds soak. If they are white blinds add a little Clearly Clean peroxide cleaner to get rid of any stains.
  • Use cooking or salad oil for lubricating non-essential mechanical things like hinges, tools etc. A light coat of oil will keep tools from rusting and you don't need to buy expensive and toxic chemicals like WD-40 etc.
  • Don't buy special cleaners to get out baby formula stains, use a little isopropyl alcohol on the stain, then a regular stain remover. Works like a charm.
  • Removing Crayon from walls: use damp sponge and colgate toothpaste. Rub carefully.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Dirty neck rings around shirt or blouse collars can be removed by putting shampoo on them. Rub the shampoo in like you were washing your hair. Shampoo is specifically made to remove body oils. A cheap bottle of shampoo kept by the washing machine is handy for all kinds of stains in clothing. Don't forget this trick when you are traveling.
  • For removing ink stains: Ball point pen stains can be removed by using hair spray - let the hair spray dry and wash the item. Table salt will absorb ink when it is spilled - pour salt on the wet ink and continue to add salt until there is no more "wet ink". Then vacuum or wash. Other types of ink can be removed using rubbing alcohol.
  • Ceramic tile floors - 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.
  • 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.
  • Pergo floors - 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 about scratches.
  • 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.


Disclaimer - Before following any of the cleaning information, methods, advice or suggestions above, always test a small area that is less visible first. Also, you should consult the manufacturer's care instructions and warnings before trying any of the above. Due to the general nature of the advice in this material, Final Touch Housekeeping assumes no responsibility or accepts liability for any loss, damage or injury,which may be incurred as a result of any action inspired by information, advice or suggestions through this material.

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