Some pros offering good, clean suggestions
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
The days are getting longer and warmer. It’s time to start thinking about spring cleaning—tackling those less-than-routine household cleaning chores.
To make spring cleaning more effective, Michelle Jungermann, director of social enterprises for Spot-On Cleaning Company in Canandaigua, said to work from the top down, knocking down cobwebs up high before dusting mid-level areas and finally vacuuming. Spot-On employees use vacuums as much as possible since they remove dust instead of stirring it up with sweeping.
Instead of climbing ladders to clean, Jungermann recommends using a telescoping dusting wand.
She also emphasized the importance of following package directions. For example, most products have “dwell time,” meaning how long the cleaner should remain on the surface.
“That goes for any kind of cleaning whether disinfecting or not,” Jungermann said. “Follow the label.”
Wiping it up too soon may mean that the product has insufficient time to work but leaving it on too long can damage surfaces.
Cleaning Venetian blinds is tough for many people. Tina Servis, owner of Maid 4 Time in Rochester, has a few techniques. To vanquish tacky build-up, she reaches for Dawn dish soap or rubbing alcohol and a microfiber rag.
“Apply the soap directly to the rag to break down grease on the blinds,” she said. “Use a separate clean cloth to wipe it. Any rag will work.”
If the blinds are just dusty, she uses the vacuum cleaner wand with the brush attachment.
If climbing and crouching to clean trim and baseboards has become challenging for you, follow Servis’ lead and use the vacuum wand with the brush, followed by a damp sponge mop.
Servis adds fabric softener to her mop water—1/8 cup per gallon of water—to soften up the gunk on hard surfaces.
Reach fly specks and other smudges on painted walls and ceilings with a lightweight Swiffer-style mop. (Test an inconspicuous area first to ensure the disposable mop head will not damage the surface.)
If your bathroom is prone to mold, Servis offered a method more effective than bleach.
“Bleach does not kill mold; it just changes the color,” she said. “Tea tree oil does. Add it to some water and you can put it on a Swiffer to mop the ceiling.
It typically takes longer to come back. And it makes your bathroom smell good.”
She also suggests using a “spaghetti string” style mop for areas such as the base of the toilet and behind it.
“If there is urine on the floor, you can use shaving cream,” she said. “Put it on the tile or linoleum, then let it sit 30 minutes. It will remove the urine smell. You could also do it on an inconspicuous spot and test it to make sure it won’t damage the floor.”
Stains or rust in the toilet that bowl cleaner won’t remove may be etches in the porcelain. Servis said that a wet pumice stone from a hardware store can help.
“You wet it down to use, but test in an inconspicuous spot first,” she said.
She also uses Bar Keeper’s Friend for rust and spots on porcelain.
Zep, an acid bowl cleaner available at OfficeMax.com, lifts the most stubborn toilet stains.
For rust in a fiberglass tub, Servis uses a Magic Eraser sponge. She warned to avoid over scrubbing, since it can be abrasive.
Cooking debris baked onto a stovetop can be challenging to remove. For tough spots, Servis uses The Pink Stuff, an all-purpose cleaner available at Target.
James Aures, owner of Booie’s Professional Services in Canandaigua, said that for carpet stains, the trick is to use the right product.
“You have to be careful with stain removers,” he said. “Sometimes they’re too strong and they’ll bleach your carpet.”
Test the cleaner on an inconspicuous area first. Ideally, you should blot a spill with a white towel immediately to increase the chances of removing the stain.
“Then go to water and then something else,” Aures said.
He likes Don-John carpet cleaner, available online.
Another good stain remover, Amodex, sold at Lowe’s, is ideal for removing stains such as permanent marker, printer toner and ink. Use it first and without any water for the best results.
Few people like cleaning windows because every swipe seems to leave streaks instead of clean, clear glass. Erica Gray, general manager of The Maids in Rochester, said that using newspaper or coffee filters to wipe away the glass cleaner will leave no streaks. Cloth rags and paper towels get wet quickly and cause streaks.
“You want absorbent materials,” she said. “Some cloths get tainted with other cleaners. That can leave streaks.”
To keep cleaning easier, she recommends assembling a caddy of the cleaning supplies you use the most.
“You can take it with you room to room and you won’t have to run around the house searching for everything,” Gray said.
She likes using Magic Erasers for wall scuffs and build-up on shower walls.
“They work great inside the fridge for that residual jelly that hardens in there,” Gray added.
If a deep spring-cleaning day seems overwhelming, ask family for help or enlist a cleaning service.
“We do a lot of one to two times a year cleaning appointments to help people get back on track,” Gray said. “You don’t have to commit to a more frequent schedule.”