Q12: How do you clean wood floors?
A: Because Nifty Maids does not provide carpet or upholstery cleaning, we are really not qualified to address questions about carpet and upholstery cleaning. You can visit the ServiceMaster web site and address appropriate questions to their experts.
A: Because we only do routine dusting and lemon oiling of wood furniture, we cannot address questions about damage from moisture, candle wax, products, etc. If you have questions about furniture restoration or repair, please feel free to visit the Furniture Medic web site.
A: When cleaning ceramic tile floors, you don't have to worry about wax or floor finish. You just need to sweep and mop them on a regular basis, and they'll stay clean and shiny. They can be mopped with just clear water, or you can add just a dash of liquid dish soap. Make sure you change the water as soon as it gets cloudy. Keep in mind that too much soap or dirty water will make the floors dull and/or sticky. Don't use scrub pads on ceramic tile floors, or you could scratch them. At Nifty Maids, we wash most floors on our hands and knees, cleaning and then drying a small area at a time.
A: If you have old grout, you may need to clean it with a wax stripper or heavy-duty cleaner plus a grout brush. You may need to use a bleaching cleanser on tough spots. Once you have the grout as clean as you can get it, rinse it well. Once it's good and dry, apply a coat of masonry sealer so that it won't absorb dirt in the future. If you have mildewed grout in tubs or showers, you can use your grout brush with a 1:5 solution of chlorine bleach and water. Anytime you're using bleach, make sure you don't have any ammonia-based products around and that the area is well-ventilated. Also, once the cleaning is done, rinse the area well to remove any traces of bleach.
If you have colored grout, you should clean it with a heavy-duty cleaner and a grout brush. You'll want to be sure not to use a bleaching solution on colored grout. A masonry sealer can be applied to clean, colored grout to ward off future stains. If colored grout doesn't come clean with a heavy-duty cleaner, you may want to try a 1:5 mixture of chlorine bleach and water, but keep in mind that this could also remove the color from the grout.
A: Hard-water deposits are alkaline, which means that an acid cleaner is the best approach for cleaning them. Phosphoric acid works well and is safe for most surfaces. If you buy cleaners containing phosphoric acid in a grocery store, it will likely contain about 4 percent to 6 percent acid. You can purchase lime scale removers at janitorial supply stores that contain 8 percent to 12 percent acid, which will get the job done faster. A higher concentration of acid is safe on most household surfaces as long as you rinse the surface to remove all traces of the acid once the cleaning is complete. You should let acid sit for a few minutes after you apply it to let it work. Tough hard-water deposits may take more than one application. You can scrub the applied areas with a white, nylon-backed scrub sponge. Make sure you read any manufacturer's warnings before applying phosphoric acid solutions to surfaces in your home.
A: Removing pet hair on fabric and upholstery goes much faster if you use a pet rake (a brush that has crimped nylon bristles). Use light, even strokes to remove the hair. You can also try velour brushes, tape rollers or even tape wrapped around your hand. Another option is to try the rubber bottom on a clean tennis shoe or a slightly dampened sponge (as long as the dampness won't harm the upholstery).
To get hair off carpets, use a vacuum that has a good beater brush or brush roll. Plain vacuums don't generate enough lift to get all the pet hair up from the floor.
Another option for both upholstery and carpets (especially the edges where hair tends to collect and vacuums have a hard time reaching) is a "pet sponge." These sponges, which are intended to be used dry, can be purchased at pet supply as well as home stores.
A: Preventing soap scum build-up is a lot easier than cleaning it up, so consider using a squeegee on shower walls and doors, a soap like Zest and/or using a towel to dry off the walls and doors. If you have tile walls or frosted shower doors, using a light coating of lemon oil on them periodically will help stop the growth of soap scum. And, if you have a porcelain tub, you can try to prevent build-up by applying a light coat of boat or car wax to the sides (never the bottom) of the tub.
It will take some elbow grease to get rid of existing soap scum. You'll need a degreaser to cut through it. You can get a good alkaline soap scum remover at a janitorial supply store, or you can try a handful of automatic dishwasher detergent dissolved in a bucket of warm water. Make sure you cover the affected area completely and let your cleaning solution soak for at least 15 minutes. Applying this solution right after a shower is a good idea since the walls will already be wet. After the appropriate soaking time, you'll need to use a stiff scrub brush or a white, nylon-backed scrub sponge to clean the walls. You may need to soak and scrub a couple times to get rid of all the build-up. Once all the build-up is removed, make sure you rinse well.
If you also have for a while and then scrub with a stiff brush or a white, nylon-backed scrub sponge. Rinse well once the area is clean. You'll need to use acid cleaner only once in a while, with the soap scum remover being used more often. Remember that overuse of strong acid cleaners on ceramic tiles can cause grout to deteriorate.
A: Using bleach on a toilet bowl ring may seem like a good idea, but it doesn't do the job. You should try to catch rings early, as they will be much easier to remove and may even come off through a good cleaning with an acid bowl cleaner. If the bowl cleaner doesn't get rid of the ring, you can try using a green, nylon-backed scrub sponge along with the acid. If you have an old ring, you'll have the best luck using a pumice stone. Take the stone and wet it with the water in the bowl, and then rub it on the ring. Make sure to keep the stone wet the entire time you're scrubbing. Pumice stones should only be used on vitreous china toilets - never on colored, enamel or plastic fixtures. Once you've gotten rid of a ring, weekly cleanings should stop it from coming back.
A: Even though they're called "no-wax floors," time and heavy use can wreak havoc with their appearance. When the glossy layer of a no-wax floor gets worn or dull, you may want to add a floor finish or wax to maintain the shiny appearance of the floor. It's best to keep no-wax floors vacuumed or swept on a regular basis to maintain the finish. However, once it's time to protect it, you can choose a floor polish sold at grocery or discount stores, or you may want to use a self-polishing, metal-interlock floor finish that can be purchased at a janitorial supply store. Traffic areas often need to have finish applied to them more often than the rest of the floor. For regular maintenance, sweep and damp-mop the floor with plain water or water with a couple drops of liquid dish soap. Regular sweeping and mopping will keep soil from wearing away the surface. If the floor has some tough spots to clean, you can use a white, nylon-backed scrub sponge on it. It's a good idea to keep doormats at all the entrances to your home, as they will catch much of the dirt that could eventually damage your floors.
A: Different types and qualities of paint greatly affect how you clean a wall, as well as how clean it will come. There are generally four types of paint finishes you might encounter:
Baked enamel (most appliance finishes), epoxy enamel and automotive paints:
These paints are durable and pretty stain-resistant. Dirt typically cannot penetrate the hard-finish. These types of surfaces can withstand scouring with mild abrasives and can also handle heavy-duty cleaners and degreasers when necessary. With these finishes, you need to be most careful of scratching or dulling the finish by using harsh abrasives, steel wool, colored scrub pads and strong solvents. General-purpose enamels:
This type of paint is the most common found on interior walls, especially kitchen and bathroom walls. This type of paint is pretty stain-resistant and can also handle moderate scrubbing. You should be careful, however, that you don't use abrasive substances or colored scrub pads, as this finish can be scratched. Most of the time, you should use a neutral cleaner solution and a white, nylon-backed scrub sponge. Only use heavy-duty cleaners or abrasive cleansers when you're willing to take your chances on ruining the paint. Make sure if you have latex enamel paints that you don't leave them wet for more than a minute or so. Oil-based enamels are more water-resistant. Keep in mind that gloss enamels are the most durable and washable, followed by semi-glosses and then satin finishes.
This type of paint, which is a pretty common household paint, is not as washable as enamel paints. When you use heavy-duty cleaners or scrub the surface hard, you run the risk of removing the paint along with any dirt. Be sure to use mild detergents and gentle scrubbing, and don't let any solution sit on the surface for more than a minute.
Obviously, this type of paint is mostly used outside. These paints are typically oil-based or latex, and should be scrubbed only with a mild detergent and then rinsed with a hose. You may need to use a long-handled brush for hard-to-reach areas or stubborn spots. Some people like to use pressure washers on the outside of their homes, but these, along with other harsh chemicals, can loosen the paint. These should be used with caution.
A: First, blot up any liquid by putting towels or absorbent rags over the spot and stepping on them. Start with gentle pressure and keep increasing it (right up to putting your full weight down) and changing to fresh rags or towels, until no more moisture is coming out.
If the stain is fresh, apply a bacteria/enzyme digester (can be purchased at a pet store) according to directions -- it's the only way you can deal effectively not only with the stain but also the odor. Bacteria/enzyme digesters work well but they work slowly, so be sure to leave the solution on as long as it says. Urine has probably penetrated down into the carpet and pad, so use enough solution to reach as far down as the stain did. Apply the solution, put plastic over it, and step on the spot several times until the area is well saturated. Then, leave the plastic on the whole time the digester is working, to make sure the spot doesn't dry out.
If the stain is old and dry, you may find it anywhere from hard to impossible to remove, but go ahead and try the bacteria/enzyme digester. Bear in mind that if it's a popular accident site you're treating, the bacteria may produce enough ammonia in the course of breaking down the stains to create a super-alkaline situation that interferes with their own action. In cases like this you may need to neutralize the spot after the bacteria have been working for about four hours. Mix up a solution of one cup of vinegar to a gallon of warm water. Rinse the area with this and then apply a fresh batch of bacteria/enzyme solution.
If the stain is still there, you'll probably need to call in a professional deodorizing specialist. A complete cure will probably involve cleaning the entire carpet by extraction and replacing the pad underneath, if not replacing the carpet and sealing the hard-water, you'll need to use a phosphoric acid cleaner to remove the scale. Again, let the acid soak subfloor.
A: Wood floors should be vacuumed and dust mopped regularly to maintain them. Doing this will stop dirt from building up and potentially damaging the floor. Any wood floor can be cleaned with a quarter-cup of apple cider vinegar mixed with a gallon of warm water. Wood floors are best cleaned on your hands and knees because you should only clean a small area at a time and then dry it and move on. You should never get wood floors too wet or let them dry naturally.
Finished wood floors often can be cleaned with just water. However, the finish will eventually wear off, and you'll probably have to either re-finish the floors or start waxing them. Keeping wood floors free of dirt through vacuuming and/or dust mopping is the best thing you can do to maintain the look of your floors.