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If These Walls Could Talk

Home Maintenance

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11/01/2010 - Spring cleaning is a refreshing ritual to welcome summer, but fall cleaning is even more neccessary to ready our homes for the extra time we spend indoors during winter. Here are a few tips for caring for your home's interior.

First form your plan of attack. Make a list of everything you want to accomplish. Get rid of clutter, and give or throw away items you no longer want or need. They can't collect dust if they're not there. When cleaning a room, start from the top and work your way to the bottom. That way you won't be knocking dust down onto clean surfaces. On surfaces that can't be seen, such as cabinet tops, put down paper. Next time, instead of cleaning you'll only need to throw the paper away.

You don't need to buy a huge array of cleaning products. Home formulated cleaning solutions work as well, or better, than their more expensive counterparts. For lightly soiled windows try five tablespoons of lemon juice in a gallon of water. For heavily soiled windows, use 1/2 cup ammonia, one pint of rubbing alcohol, and one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid with a gallon of water. A professional squeegee makes window cleaning esceptionally easy. If you want to further polish the glass use a leather chamois. Newspaper makes more of a mess than it's worth.

Nothing works better than inexpensive dilluted household chlorine bleach to remove bathroom mildew. Dilluted chlorine bleach is also the best thing to use for sanitizing countertops and butcher blocks.

Furniture polishes, waxes, and oils are good for non-refinished antique wood furniture, but are a waste on new wood furniture. Modern wood furniture almost always has an inpenatrable synthetic finish. Any oil or wax simply sits on top. A little liquid dish soap and a damp sponge works as well as anything on this furniture. For older wood furniture, try one of these two home brews: 1/4 cup walnut oil and five drops of lemon extract, or one teaspoon of light olive oil with 1/4 cup of white vinegar.

Be very careful when using strong household cleaners. Never combine chlorine bleach and ammonia. The two, together, form a lethal gas. Oven cleaners should also be used with caution. They contain lye, and are corrosively alkaline enough to cause serious burns. This not only affects skin, but inhaled droplets can burn your throat and lungs. When using these products, always wear a long-sleeved shirt, rubber gloves, goggles, and a paper face mask. Toilet bowl cleaners can also be quite toxic and should be used with care. The product Goo-Gone will remove adhesives, paint, and gunk. Again, however, you should use protective gear and have plenty of ventilation when you use it.

A bright, freshly-cleaned house is a delight to settle into for winter. If the cleaning task seems too daunting, consider hiring a professional. When used just once or twice a year for deep cleaning, they're usually worth the splurge.

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