Some tough cleaning questions answered
A few months ago, we asked our readers about their worst cleaning issues. We wanted to know what made them crazy and what problems just stumped them. Well, more than 700 of them got back to us with questions about how to clean everything from toilets to grout to kitchen cabinets.
We picked 39 of the questions and brought them to our cleaning experts, and we asked them about the best products we’ve tested, and about greener, less-toxic cleaners. Here’s just some of what they said. For all the answers, look for our April issue, on newsstands March 15.
Q What’s a good cheap way to prevent or get rid of hard-water stains on stainless steel?
What to do White vinegar is a mild acid that’s good at removing residue from hard-water deposits on teakettles, faucets, shower heads, and coffeemakers. For coffeemakers, add a cup of white vinegar and run it through a regular hot water cycle. You can also unscrew a grungy shower head and soak it in vinegar.
Q How do you get the ring out of the toilet bowl?
What to do Use a cleaner with some abrasive muscle to attack rust and stains. We like Comet. It’s cheap, and in our tests of toilet bowl cleaners, it beat out the liquid cleaners and a competing powder cleaner by Kaboom. Also clean your bowl more often to keep stains from building up.
Q What’s the best way to clean dark stains like grape juice on light carpet?
What to do For wine or grape juice, first blot with water, then blot with a solution made from 1 teaspoon of liquid detergent mixed with a cup of warm water. If that doesn’t work, dabbing on some 3 percent hydrogen peroxide from the drugstore may lift it. (Just be sure it’s a fresh bottle.) If that fails, call in a professional cleaner.
CLEANERS TO AVOID
• Antibacterial products such as those with tricoslan may contribute to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
• Undiluted ammonia can burn skin on contact. Do not mix with products that contain chlorine bleach—it makes a poisonous gas.
• Undiluted chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite) is extremely irritating to eyes and lungs.
• Drain, metal, and oven cleaners with sodium hydroxide (lye) can burn eyes, nose, and throat tissue on contact.
• Toilet bowl cleaners with hydrochloric acid can cause serious eye damage and skin burns.
• Furniture, floor polish, and glass cleaners with naptha can cause headaches and nausea.