Monday, August 1, 2011

Brushes, Scrubbers, Rags vs. Paper Towels

Now that we've fussed over the products, the what cleans what portion of cleaning, there is the question of how to smear the cleaners around. I will try to be brief... I will!!! 

Brushes I use on multi-level surfaces -- like tile and grout, screens, faucets -- any surface where you need to get into funny little places. 

Scrubbers -- like Scotch-Brite scrub pads -- I cut them in half so they fit my hand better. These are used to get rough with stuck on grime, food, gummy filth. They can be used on wood  (carefully), paint, plastic, laminate, stone, tile, porcelain, iron, ceramic -- most hard surfaces but NOT STAINLESS! (On stainless use nothing more abrasive than a paper towel.)

Magic Erasers -- admittedly I was at first skeptical of these unsubstantial looking sponges. The great claims that they magically remove stains, scuff marks, crayon, soap scum, tar, and all manner of icky filth and grime struck me as hyperbole of the worst order. Frankly, I think they are too expensive to use like a scrubbing sponge, to wet and powder with Comet and scrub a tub -- way too pricey. What they do a superior job on, however, is grime -- like grease built up on a stove or tea kettles or pots. Used dry, rub over the greasy grime, the kind of grime that defies even ammonia, and magically the grime disappears. 

Rags -- There are rags and there are rags. There are folks who dump old T-shirts, jeans, socks, whatever in the cleaning rag bag and never figure out why their cleaning rags don't clean... Proper cleaning rags need to be, first of all, clean. Dirty old shirts are not what I want to clean a table on which I plan to eat. Secondly, cleaning rags have to be absorbent -- We are not interested in smearing around our cleaning products -- we want to rub the cleaning products in and lift the dirt out. So if you are going to use rags, use actual terry cloth rags made specifically for cleaning. Toss the old clothes in the rubbish bin. 

Rags are all right to a point... but how many rags will you need to clean a room or an entire house. We can't wipe up window cleaner now and then wipe up furniture polish with the same soaked dirty rag -- the result will be a smeary mess. 

If you are intent on using rags then plan your strategy accordingly. Dry dust first, smack at dusty lamp shades and pesky cobwebs with clean dry rags. Next, polish all furniture with the same rag. Wash all windows with a fresh rag. Finally, if doing floors on your hands and knees, use the window rag or a new rag -- not the furniture polish rag. 

For me it is Paper Towels all the way -- they are fresh each and every time you reel off a new one -- you can use as many or as few as necessary. Shiny things get shiny, grimy things get rubbed and scrubbed. 

There are those who instantly remark that rags are the more Earth conscious choice... except we have to wash them -- soap, water, electricity. And dry them -- tumble tumble in the gas or electric drier (yes, we can hang them on the line, no we are not likely to.)

For my time and money -- Paper Towels. Hands down. You can, if you want, mix it up -- rags for floors, paper towels for everything else... 

I know for sure I can clean a house entirely with paper towels -- not entirely with a pile of rags... which ever you use have them on hand and ready to go -- Ready, Set, Clean!