Clean It — Don’t Cover It
Odors. They are everywhere. When pleasant, we might call them “scents.” When not-so-pleasant, we might call them malodors.
Odors are caused by a variety of sources. Some odors are pleasant, welcoming, such as from a fresh-cut batch of flowers or a nice, home-cooked meal. Others are not pleasant, “malodorous,” such as from an unattended cat litter box or rotting garbage left too long in a trash bin.
And when something is malodorous, you must do something about it. Sometimes, the urge is to just cover it up. That can be a very bad idea as odors just keep getting worse and worse and you eventually have a difficult situation to deal with.
You want your home to be neat, clean, and odor-free, except for odors (scents) that you introduce because they are pleasant and welcoming, such as air fresheners, perfumes, scented candles, etc. A rule of thumb is this: When it is clean and dry, there should be no odors.
Your carpet, furniture and other absorbent materials in your home, over time, become soiled and often collect odors. Normal “dusty” odors are part of life between cleaning, and routine chores keep them manageable. Yet odors from urine, feces, body perspiration, and other sources are offensive and must be removed.
There are three principles to follow when it comes to keeping your home clean and odor-free.
Remove the source
When something is deposited, spilled, or has come into contact with a surface, the first step is to remove contamination. This means scraping, rinsing or otherwise removing any odor-causing sources. The sooner you do this, the easier the job will be. An example would be blotting and removing a fresh pet “accident”, as odors will quickly become worse over time.
Clean affected areas
Once the source is removed, there is still some contamination on the surface. A thorough cleaning is important to remove any residual matter that can cause odors. Using hot water is best, if the surface can handle higher temperatures. Some furniture fabrics are heat sensitive, for example.
Deodorize and disinfect
Now it’s time to use odor-removing products, such as an approved deodorizer and/or disinfectant. This should be the final step in odor removal. Follow manufacturer directions exactly, as using too little or too much product can be counter-productive.
And never forget, your favorite cleaning professionals know how to clean and tackle tough odors. Let them do the dirty work. It pays to call a pro!
Detergents, Soaps and More
When it comes to your home, you usually have two prime, important goals in mind: Keep your home clean and keep your home healthy. Family is important to you.
To do that, it takes a lot of thought. Not about your cleaning technique… but about the products you choose to do the cleaning.
When you wander the cleaning supply aisle at your favorite department or big-box store, the options are endless. The list of ingredients is long and the descriptive words are confusing. While a scientist working in a laboratory knows what those ingredients are, it’s not your fault that they mystify you.
What do you really need to know? The basics. Here they are.
Detergent versus Soap
Most of the products you use are “detergents” — in that they are man-made or synthetic. They clean great, and usually don’t leave a sticky residue. Soap, on the other hand, is natural, clean great as well, yet can leave a sticky residue if not rinsed off completely. Choose either one, but keep in mind the residue issue. You don’t want to clean a surface and then have the sunlight shine on it and show you a white, sticky residue.
This weird word you might have heard of is the active cleaning agent. It stands for “surface active agent” and in layman’s terms it “makes water wetter.” Think of a waxed surface. The water beads up. Yet if you add a little dish detergent, which has surfactants, the water spreads out. Surfactants allow water to penetrate surfaces, which is how we clean.
pH can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. It is simply a measurement of alkalinity and acidity. Consider a lemon. It’s acidic. So is coffee, tea and most foods. Most of your cleaning products are going to be alkaline, the opposite of acidic. When you have an upset stomach, you reach for an antacid, because the alkalinity in the antacid will counteract the acid that is upsetting your stomach. Cleaning is like that, balancing pH, in addition to using surfactants so water can do its job.
But the bottom line when it comes to choosing products? Choose a reputable brand. One that has good consumer reviews. And when you really want to know what’s best for your home when it comes to cleaning… contact your favorite cleaning company. They have the intel.
The Chewing Gum Dilemma
We’ve all had this happen.
Walking along and enjoying the day and we notice a bit of stickiness underfoot.
We stop, awkwardly lift the affected foot and inspect the bottom of our shoe. Yep, there it is. A glob of chewing gum. It has attached itself and has seemed to have taken up permanent residence underfoot.
Getting a bit of gum on the bottom of our shoe may be a common occurrence and yes, it is a little gross as well, considering it spent many minutes in someone’s bacteria-ridden mouth. Hey, we all have bacteria!
But the procedure for removal is easy, as you grab something to scrape it off and no doubt just go about your business, with the friction of the show hitting the ground eventually removing the residue.
However, when gum gets into clothing or other fabric, that’s a different challenge.
Removing gum when it is warm or room temperature is very challenging. Without special solvents that the professionals use, you might just make a mess of the chore. So you make the best of what you have. And that’s something cold.
With gum in carpet or an area rug, use an ice cube in a small, zip-lock bag. Rub the ice cube on the gum until it starts to harden and when it seems hard enough, break the gum off the fibers. Just don’t force the issue as you could physically damage the fibers. If you are successful in removing most the gum, you now need to deal with the residue. A very small amount of dry solvent, such as rubbing alcohol, on a white cloth can help remove the residues. Contact your favorite carpet cleaner for complete advice and to avoid damage.
For clothing or garments, you can be a little more aggressive. Put the affected item in a bag and stick it in the freezer for several hours until completely frozen. Immediately after removing the item from the freezer, break off the gum. Any remaining residue can be removed with typical laundry pre-treatment products and then, of course, put the item in the washing machine. Upon removal, before drying, make sure there is no remaining sticky residue. If there is, use a dry solvent on the spot and wash again.
Sounds like a lot of work? It is. That’s why when you need anything cleaned, it pays to call a pro!
How to Remove Hard Water Stains
Spots and stains, no matter where they land, are unsightly and ugly, and you work hard to remove them.
A spot is easy to remove, as it is a deposit of substance that sits on top of a surface. Examples include chocolate, milk, or ketchup. A stain is a different challenge altogether, as it means the substance has penetrated or is strongly attached to a surface. Examples include mustard, curry, or Kool-Aid.
Hard water stains are common occurrences, yet often challenging to remove. And if you don’t get to them quickly, they can become even tougher to tackle.
What are they?
Hard water stains, often called lime deposits, are basically limestone, calcium and magnesium, among other mineral substances. They all come from ground content. The more minerals in the ground, the harder the water.
Certain areas of the country have more mineral content than others, and without a water softening system in a home or business, the result is a buildup of hard water stains anywhere water stands and dries, such as around sinks, underneath water fountains, and on bathroom floors.
They can also be a problem in toilets and other receptacles that hold water. Mineral deposits can also affect appliances, such as coffee pots.
If you have ever washed dishes, your car, or other shiny surfaces, and the water is hard, you can easily see the issue. White “scales” of minerals are a problem.
How to remove them
Obviously, the best way is prevention. Wiping up water from surfaces before it dries keeps water stains at bay.
But when they do occur, you need to consider which type of cleaning product will react with the mineral stains.
The most common mineral stain cleaning product is white vinegar, which is acidic. Since mineral stains are alkaline, like rust, an acid-based cleaning product is required. White vinegar is safe, easy-to-use, and effective for most mineral deposit issues. Use it as you would any cleaning product. Apply, allow a minute or two of contact time, and wipe away.
But if the mineral deposit is heavy, and white vinegar doesn’t do the trick, then a formulated product from your department or hardware store is your next choice. These are stronger acid products and you must follow directions when using them. Applying them to certain surfaces can damage those surfaces so be sure to read the fine print.
Always wear protective gloves and glasses, as skin and eye contact with any cleaning product can be hazardous.
And, as you know, when you have cleaning questions or need professional cleaning services in your home, do the smart thing. Call your favorite cleaning company. After all, it pays to call a pro!