Do you find cleaning supplies confusing? Do you wander down the cleaning aisle of the grocery store and feel like all the hundreds of new products are going to leap off the shelf, fling themselves into your cart and insist you take them home. And there you go, running out of the aisle, chased by bottles and cans, sponges and wipes.
Whew, that was close. If we aren't careful our supply closet ends up looking like this:
Someone didn't run out of the cleaning aisle fast enough.
The person who owns all these supplies can't possibly clean, as she'd have no idea where to start.
And where to start is to simplify... think about what we need to clean -- what type of grime and what is the surface? In my mind there are hundreds of types of dirt-soil-grime -- but only three surface types: Porous (wood and some stones), non-porous (plastics, paints, polymers, ceramics, porcelain, glass, metals) and fibers (fabric, carpets, grass-cloth wall papers). With only three types of surfaces I rarely have need for more than four, maybe five types of cleaners. This is good because I come into each home fully stocked and ready to go -- everything I need to clean a home top to bottom fits into a single bucket:
My Big Five Go-To supplies are ammonia (a little goes a long long way), mildew remover (hyper-concentrated bleach -- Tilex is much preferred), a powdered cleanser (Comet, Ajax, Soft-scrub), lime-calcium remover (CLR or Lime-away) and furniture polish (Pledge, Behold, beware bargain brands -- they cost less for a reason.). If I can come into a home with this traveling cleaning show, fully prepared and ready to rock, there is little need for hundreds of bottles and cans and sprays.
One caveat -- I do sometimes use a vinegar spray on hardwood floors -- vinegar is prefered on hardwood because it provides a superior clean to most floor cleaners, dries faster than water alone and does not over-dry the wood the way a harsh product such as ammonia would.
So, there are our supplies:
WARNING -- Bleach and Ammonia should never NEVER be mixed or come into contact with one another -- toxic gas danger.
Ammonia I use in a spray bottle mixed with water. It is my everything cleaner -- windows, mirrors, counters, stainless, floors. Take away my ammonia and there goes my career! Ammonia cuts greasy grime, dissolves hairspray, removes finger prints from paint, stainless, plastics, porcelain. It cleans and shines.
Tilex kills mold and mildew -- that is it's primary talent and focus. If your stainless is looking dull, give it a shot of Tilex or any handy bleach. Bleach dries too quickly to do a nice job making a stainless fridge glisten -- instead it tends to streak. Once the fridge is brightened from bleach (and dry), spray with ammonia and wipe till dry.
Scrubbing cleansers, such as Comet, Ajax or Soft Scrub have their uses on stubborn grime, like dirty feet marks or soap build up in a shower stall or tub, removing stuck on food in a sink. I also use it to scrub toilets. Use sparingly and rinse thoroughly.
CLR is a godsend. If you live in an area of hard water there is nothing that gets tubs and faucets sparkling clean like CLR. What happens is the calcium is carried by the water in our sink, shower and tub -- the calcium then mixes with soap, hangs on as it dries and leaves white spots on walls, pipes and fixtures. Not only is it unsightly, it also can build up on faucets, stop the water flow, and corrode faucets causing permanent damage.
Pledge -- Pledge sometimes gets a bum rap, when in fact this lovely product is well formulated to do what it is supposed to do -- which is to remove grime from wood surfaces and leave them fresh and shiny.
So there they are -- the bare minimum of house cleaning products. No need to buy a hundred products when all you need to do is buy a few of the RIGHT products.
As we continue I will further show in depth how each product is used, as well as explain the occassional need for additional products. Next time -- All About Ammonia!