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Living Space: Cleaning myths exposed

By By Katherine Weber
Feb. 2, 2012 at midnight
Updated Feb. 1, 2012 at 8:02 p.m.

While vinegar is effective to clean windows and glass, don't use it on mirrors, as it can corrode the silver backing.

When it comes to cleaning, there's a lot of misinformation out there. Are natural cleaners really the best? Maybe you wonder if the cleaners you use at home are the right choices.

Some products can actually damage the very items they're intended to clean. Knowing the right products and the right way to clean can make your home cleaner, prevent damage and help you clean more safely, too.



Natural products

While products, like vinegar, get lots of great press for being natural, it's important to remember that vinegar is acidic, so it should be used carefully. Vinegar, as well as lemon juice, should not be used to clean natural stone surfaces, such as granite or marble, and metal, such as stainless. It's never a good idea to mix vinegar with bleach; this can cause a chemical reaction that's toxic and has hazardous vapors.

Vinegar also doesn't clean up grease very well; just think about how vinegar and oil don't mix in salad dressing and you'll get the picture. And while vinegar is effective to clean windows and glass, don't use it on your mirrors; if vinegar seeps behind the surface, it can corrode the silver backing.



Tines up or down?

Loading the dishwasher is a source of frustration for many people. One person tosses in the silverware pointed down, while other wants it up. Actually, silverware should be place in both directions to be cleaned most efficiently. When it's all pointed in the same direction, the pieces nest together.



Laundry lore

Sheets and towels should be loosely placed in the washing machine, if it's top loading, and not wound around the central post. This way, the machine will clean more effectively and not get out of balance. On that next load, bundle - don't wrap.



Bleach beliefs

While nothing beats elbow grease, it has become common practice to bleach dirt away. However, in a toilet or shower, for example, you only bleach the dirt and make it white; you haven't really removed it. A good scrub with cleanser is the best way to clean the commode or shower. If a toilet, tub or sink has become stained, scrubbing thoroughly followed by a small amount of bleach will usually get it sparkly white again.



Vacuum last

Unless your vacuum is spewing dust, the rule about cleaning from the top down still holds. Vacuuming should be the last cleaning chore you do because the floor is the lowest point in the house. When you dust, crumbs, hair and particles fall to the floor. Following the straighten, clean, wipe, dust, mop and vacuum method will keep your house the cleanest.

For more information, contact Kathryn Weber through her web site, redlotusletter.com.

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