The Best Cleaning Tools for the Job
A set of durable, versatile cleaning tools will make the work go easier.
- Excerpted from Houseworks, by Cynthia Townley Ewer
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Collect, don’t scatter. The number one goal for dusting: to collect and remove dust, not scatter it. Forget images of flapping dust cloths. Instead, dust with the calm and controlled motions of a Tai Chi practitioner. Coax dust motes into your tools; don’t disperse them into the air so that they resettle on the surfaces you are trying to clean.
Dust top to bottom. When dusting, it’s inevitable that some dust will fly, no matter how careful the cleaner. Give yourself a second chance to collect escaped dust particles by starting at the top and working down: ceiling fan or light fixtures, wall-hung artwork, window moldings, furniture and baseboards.
Dust damp. Use just-damp dust cloths as you work. The moisture will attract and hold dust. But beware of too much moisture. It can harm wood furniture and delicate surfaces. As an alternative, spritz your cloth with an aerosol dusting spray. Never spray surfaces directly; spray the cloth instead to avoid buildup and overuse of these products.
Tools for Wet Cleaning
When it comes to cleaning, some household areas are all wet: rooms such as the bathroom or kitchen, which contain a water source and are home to food preparation, bathing or grooming activities. Water splashes, soap film, airborne grease and smoke from cooking, and overspray from personal-care products combine with household dust to up the cleaning ante in a wet room.
To clean a wet room, you’ll use a greater number of cleaning products and cleaning tools than when cleaning a dry room. In the cleaning tote, rely on degreasers/all-purpose cleaners to cut through oily dirt and dissolve dried-on stains. Pair a degreasing spray with a good supply of fresh cleaning cloths; using a fresh cloth makes sure you remove the loosened soil, not just spread it about in a more even layer. To save money and go green, stock cleaning totes with homemade window cleaner, white vinegar and baking soda for sparkling kitchens and bathrooms.
Keep specialty tools like scrapers and abrasive scrubbing pads at the ready; they’ll help you deal with sticky smears and blobs on counters and fixtures. Always spray the area generously with degreaser spray before scraping; the cleaner helps loosen dirt and protects the surface from scratching. A cleaning toothbrush reaches into cracks and crevices; use it in corners, the grout between tiles, and around the rim of sinks and fixtures. The toothbrush’s long handle will keep your knuckles out of the fray; stiff bristles work best to scrape out hardened food or entrenched mold.
The presence of water often requires specialty cleaners. Depending on the content of the water supply, you may need to use limescale remover to treat hard-water deposits, or rust remover for reddish stains in areas with iron in the water supply. Handle these power cleaners with great respect, following the directions on the label.
Dressed to Clean
A casual approach to cleaning can be risky to your clothing! Tackling cleaning chores dressed in a nightgown or in office clothes isn’t just haphazard; it’s dangerous.
Take cleaning seriously and dress for the job. Avoid loose clothing that will catch on handles or interfere with tools. Comfortable clothing that provides a free range of motion keeps the cleaner on the job longer, and more happily. Washable clothing is a must; a white cotton T-shirt or top will be easiest to keep stain-free.
Wear sturdy, supportive shoes; these protect feet from injury. Avoid wearing footwear that is easy to slide out of, such as flip-flops, especially if using a step stool. Springy sneakers or lace-up walking shoes keep you on your feet, and protect toes from splashed cleaning solutions or a dropped tool. Add a cleaning apron with pockets for further protection, and to keep tools and cleaners close at hand. If your apron has side loops, hang spray bottles of cleaning solution from them ready for use. Line apron pockets with plastic bags to corral bits of trash. Stockpile a stack of cleaning cloths in one pocket, a cleaning sponge in another. You’re dressed to clean.
Excerpted from Houseworks, by Cynthia Townley Ewer
Text Copyright © 2006, 2010, Cynthia Townley Ewer, extracts from Houseworks, reproduced with permission from Dorling Kindersley Limited
To clean your home in record time, try these tips from professional cleaners.