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How to Clean Almost Anything—The Secret Cleaning Tips From The Professionals

We are the cleaning experts. We know all the tricks to get stuff clean without damaging the underlying surfaces. From gross shower curtains to that greasy black stuff in your washing machine, we have the answers.

The only way to maintain a clean house is to get rid of all your children, loved ones, pets, and never use the kitchen or bathroom again. Because that’s not possible, you’re going to get stains, dirt will build up, and you’ll have a mess to clean. We have some tips and tricks to help you with some of the trickiest problems.

A few things to note before getting into the cleaning:

  • Baking soda is alkaline. Vinegar is an acid. When you put them together, there’s a foamy reaction which looks impressive but results in salty water, in terms of chemicals. Use one, or the other; together, they are nothing.
  • Bleach and chlorine are essentially the same thing. It is a great cleaner but it’s not always the best for treating mould, because it only bleaches the surface, and does not kill the mould itself. Vinegar is more effective for killing the mould below the visible surface.
  • Bleach should NEVER be mixed with other products as it can cause a toxic gas that can kill you.

How to Clean Plastic Shower Curtains

Remove all rings and hooks and put the shower curtain in the washing machine. Add detergent and wash on the gentle cycle. Dry in the sunlight to keep kill bacteria/ mould removal. If you still have mould stains that have overstayed their welcome, soak in bleach and throw through another wash to remove the stains.

How to Clean Carpet Stains

This depends on the type of carpet, and the type of stain. Regardless, never rub the carpet, instead, dab. Rubbing pushes the stain further in, makes the carpet wetter, and also affects the finish of the carpet.

  • For liquid spills, quickly soak up as much excess moisture as possible. Mix a squirt of dishwashing liquid in cool water, and apply onto the stain. Use a clean cloth to dab it dry. For stains with solid bits (like mud), remove all solids and then use cool soapy water to dab the rest clean.
  • For wool carpets, turpentine can be used on grease, blood, nail polish, shoe polish, tar, makeup, and other tough stains. Isopropyl alcohol can be used on ball point pen. Urine should be removed as quickly as possible as it can stain permanently, treat with a detergent solution and dry thoroughly.
  • Nylon or other manmade carpets can usually be cleaned using cool soapy water. You may need repeated applications for some stains.
  • It’s important to use as little water as possible when cleaning. The enemy of clean carpets is moisture, as it attracts more dirt. So if you use more moisture to clean, it takes longer to dry, and ends up making more of a mess.

If in doubt, refer to the manufacturer for their specific guidance. If the whole carpet is looking filthy, call in the professionals who can use their commercial cleaners to do a thorough job.

How to Clean Stains or Marks on Timber Furniture

  • Water rings: Place a clean dry towel over the affected area, then use a clothes iron to gently and carefully heat the area. Or, try a paste of toothpaste and/or baking soda and gently rub until the stain has gone.
  • Heat marks: Apply some lemon juice to the affected area, and rub with a cloth until stains lift.
  • Markers/ other black stains:
    • Try a baking soda/ toothpaste mix and gently rub
    • If that doesn’t work, try a half chlorine/water solution on a clean rag, and place the cloth on the stain for ten minutes. Remove, and let dry completely
    • If that doesn’t work, you can apply any of the following (but not together): vodka, rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, or hairspray. These may likely remove the varnish too, so be sparing and maybe apply in an unseen area first.
    • If none of these work, might be time to sand it back and refinish.

How to Clean Burnt Pots

We’ve all incinerated dinner. Luckily, there’s some ways to clean up even the most burnt, sticky mess ever.

There are two tried-and tested methods to clean pot insides:

  • Put dish soap and water in the pot, leave for an hour, and then scrub off what is possible. Then, put the pot back on the burner with dishwashing soap, and heat. Let simmer for a while. Let it soak overnight, and then scrub.
  • Add vinegar OR baking soda and water to the put, return to the heat, and boil for ten minutes. Remove everything possible, then use salt or baking soda to scrub the remainder.

Pot exteriors have a few more options:

  • Give the pot a scrub with Bar Keeper’s Friend, a cream scrubber like Ajax, Borax, washing soda, or a mix of dishwashing liquid and sea salt (because it’s abrasive). Use crumble up foil or a pot scrubber to scrub.
  • If it’s mostly a greasy sticky mess, tea tree oil can be super helpful in removing gunk, but it won’t get it clean on its own.
  • A Magic Eraser and a bit of elbow grease.
  • Tomato sauce has vinegar, and salt together. Its thick texture means it sticks to the surface. So, apply it liberally, leave for a few hours, and then scrub off.
  • The lazy person’s solution is oven cleaner- just make sure the area is well ventilated and wear plastic gloves. You can possibly put it in a plastic bag and leave it outside in the sun for a while to heat it up and speed up any reaction.

How to Clean Toys

Kids are a mess. Always take the easiest route. 

Soft toys can go straight into the washing machine, and then dry outside in the sun

Things like Lego, Duplo, bath toys, or other hard plastic items can be bagged up in a pillowcase and then thrown in the washing machine. Some things can benefit from a round in the top drawer of a dishwasher

Soft toys with electronics inside can be cleaned with three parts water to one part vodka or vinegar. Add a few drops of tea tree oil. Gently wash the outside, leave in the sun to dry.

How to Clean Shower Glass

The best option is prevention, and wiping down the shower every time you use it. If you did not do this (let’s face it, no-one is this organised and proactive), you’re going to need a cleaning product, time, and elbow grease. This list of suggestions starts with the easiest and most gentle, and end with Armageddon.

  • Spray vinegar on the shower door, leave for ten minutes, and wash off
  • Using an abrasive such as Jif or baking soda to scrub the walls, rinse off
  • Use a painter’s scraper to remove the build-up
  • Steel wool or Magic Erasers
  • CLR or oven cleaner
  • If it’s truly bad, try a fine grade sandpaper on a wet surface (like 3000) or cerium oxide discs. This will scratch the glass at a micro level however.

All techniques require a bit of patience and time; there is no magical fix (sorry).

How to Clean Scale off a Toilet Pan

Lots of people recommend sandpaper, but that’s going to scratch the surface of the pan and cause further problems. Throw a bunch of CLR or 30 Seconds in there, let it soak overnight. Give a good brush, et voila!

How to Clean Your Washing Machine

Got black spots on your clothes? It’s build-up of fabric softener or soap. Got a musty smell? It’s because the washing machine got wet and didn’t dry. Either way, it has the same fix.

Chuck two dishwashing tablets in the washing machine, or a pack of washing machine cleaner. Run the hottest cycle possible. Stop halfway through and let soak for an hour. Restart, finish the cycle, then run another hot wash to removal all soap and build-up.

Dishwashing tablets may void your warranty though, and too many will cause too much foam and could cause an error. 

As an aside, fabric softener doesn’t need to be used, it is an extra expense you don’t need. Instead, a bit of white vinegar will do a fantastic job, and it doesn’t leave a vinegar-y smell.

Also, store the machine with the door open, at least for a few hours after each wash to let it dry out. This helps to prevent that awful musty smell.

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