Butcher block quick tips…

Butcher Block

Using a mild soap and water Wipe the butcher block and wipe dry immediately.  Don’t allow moisture to sit on butcher block it give bacteria etc. a breeding ground to grow.

Glass cooktops

Here is a excellent tip submitted by Lisa, I have never seen the name brand of cooktop cleaner in my area but I will definitely look for it based on Lisa recommendation.

I clean houses for a living, and the best way to clean a glass cooktop is to purchase a bottle of Weiman Glass Cooktop Cleaner. Squirt a generous amount onto the cooktop and spread around with a wet paper towel then wipe off with a dry paper towel until the cooktop shines. For cooked on stains, VERY CAREFULLY use a paring knife or other knife with a sharp, straight edge held almost parallel to the surface to scrape the residue from the surface before removing the cleaner with the dry paper towel. You may have to use more cleaner or wipe it away and reapply it to get everything. This works extremely well, and I have had clients ask me how I get their cooktop so clean.

How to wash your hands…properly

According to the Canadian Pediatric Society here are the four steps to proper hand-washing.  I should also add  that you wash for about 15-20 seconds, about the same time as it takes to sing  the Happy Birthday song.

Four steps to proper hand washing

  • Wet your hands under running water.
  • Scrub your hands well with soap.
  • Rinse your hands under running water.
  • Dry your hands with a clean towel.

When water and soap are not available, use premoistened hand wipes or alcohol-based hand rinses. Keep hand rinses out of the reach of children because they may be harmful if swallowed.

Sharpie marker out of Ethan Allen upholstered couch…

Here is the answer to a  question I received recently…
Step one…no sharpies near the fancy couch!
Sharpie marks on the Ethan Allen ouch that’s not good, sharpie and markers are rarely cleaned using a water based cleaner like spot cleaners etc.  They are normally cleaned using some kind of solvent, however solvents are harsh and will remove all colors including the stain and or damage many fabrics.
The best solvent for this application (for cleaning fabrics etc) is likely a  dry cleaning solvent (which can be purchased at any janitorial supply store).  Even so you will want to test an inconspicuous spot first and always tamp or blot the stains with a white cleaning towel no scrubbing allowed. the idea is you want to transfer the stain onto the absorbent cleaning towel with the help of your cleaning agent.
However if the couch is expensive you are likely better off getting a professional carpet/upholstery cleaner.  Be sure that they are iicrc certified (www.iicrc.org)  they will have a multiple options and lots experience with spot cleaning all types of couches etc.

Crystal Decanters

Decanters for wine and spirits are decorative vessels for storing and serving a wide variety of beverages.

Wine can be permitted time to ‘breath’ before serving, and a leaded crystal decanter is far more stately than a Jim Beam or Jack Daniels bottle.  Often the decorative crystal or glass tops do not seal completely, and when used for alcoholic beverages, the alcohol can evaporate and leave stains, or even a hazy or cloudy appearance.

The first step is to place a thick towel in the bottom of the sink, as a sharp blow on a corner or edge might crack or chip the decanter.  Using warm water and soap fill the decanter and allow it to sit for a few hours or overnight to loosen any residue.  A bottle brush will allow you to gently scrub the bottom to loosen up tough stains.  Rinse the decanter thoroughly, as any remaining soap can taint the taste of future contents.  The decanter may look clean, and clear when wet, however the hazing or water stains, similar to a hard water deposits, may only be evident after the inside is dry.  Allowing a mild acid, such as white vinegar to sit in the decanter, again over night, usually will remove this film.  Some people use rice, rock salt, or baking powder to act as a bit of an abrasive that will aid in the removal of these stains as it is shaken or swirled around in the vinegar solution.  If the vinegar is not acidic enough to remove the film, a mild commercial acid such as CLR can be employed.  Limit the time that the CLR remains in the decanter, and give it a quick wash with regular dish detergent and water, ensuring a thorough rinse before drying the inside.

Some decanters have very narrow necks.  Roll up a good quality paper towel and slide it inside the decanter.  (A cheap paper towel might fall apart or leave lint inside) Spin it around to unroll it inside, being careful not to allow the paper towel to fall inside completely!  Remove the paper towel and let the decanter sit out overnight to dry completely, then fill it up with your favorite beverage to be displayed and served in style!

Cleaning out a garburator

Garburators are under appreciated and generally unnoticed appliances…that is until they stop working, start to smell funny or sound like a blender filled with marbles and nails.

Garburators are essentially a hefty motor attached to an impeller that pulverizes food until it is small enough to pass into the drain pipe as you run water into the unit.

These units are very reliable, but many older units tend to have problems, especially when they are not used for extended periods.  Garburators mix water and electricity which is typically not an ideal combination.

The most common problem is that the unit just stops working when you press the switch, and this is often realized after you have dumped the most disgusting mix of old food scraps into the unit, and they start to smell because the pieces are too large to wash into the waste drain pipe.

First things first – press the wall or sink top button and listen carefully.  If it is working you will definitely hear it turn on, or you may hear a very soft humming or buzzing noise from beneath the sink, or you will hear absolute silence.

If you hear nothing at all, grab a flashlight and look at the bottom or side of the giant motor hanging beneath your sink.  There will be a small (usually red) button, which is an internal safety reset.  Press this button in (you may need the end of a pencil or your pinky if it is inset into a small indent).  If this button has ‘popped’ out, there is a problem with your garborator, but if the button is depressed already, try to identify the breaker on the main electrical panel, and see if it is switched on.  If the breaker is tripped, reset it by turning it off, then turning it back on.  Test the garborator again.  If it works, fantastic, otherwise you may hear the humming noise, (perhaps just briefly) before the breaker or safety reset trips off again.

If you hear the humming, even if just briefly before the breaker shuts off, likely the unit is seized.  This sounds like bad news, but frequently it is simply because the unit hasn’t been used for months, or years.

Turn off the breaker, ensure that the switch is in the ‘off’ position, and proceed to remove the rubber gasket in the mouth of the unit.  With a flashlight, you should be able to see clearly into the unit (after you have scooped out all the disgusting food scraps mentioned at the beginning).  With most the food removed, you can usually wash away the small scraps, unless the drain is plugged, in which case you need to remove the waste water in the unit as well.  There are special suction tools for this, but in a pinch a turkey baster, or a car wash sponge will allow you to soak up enough water to see the impeller.

The impeller should turn freely.  If it doesn’t turn (try the end of a wooden spoon) easily, this is what is causing the reset switch or breaker to trip.  Food, dishwashing goo, rust and other assorted stuff can seize up the impeller, which causes the reset switch or breaker to trip, resulting in the clogged and/or smelly garborator.

Sometimes a wooden spoon with a long handle is enough to spin the impeller loose but often a small crowbar or large screwdriver is required.  Be certain the unit is turned off at the breaker when trying to free the impeller!  If you aren’t comfortable or absolutely certain you have disabled power to the unit, call a plumber!

Once the impeller spins freely, replace the rubber gasket or garborator sink stopper, turn on the breaker, double check the safety reset switch and turn the unit on.  If you had the impeller spinning before, the unit should roar to life.

If it is smelling sour, cut up a lemon and dump it into the unit to help clean off whatever it is that is causing the odor.  In fact, once a month or so, it doesn’t hurt to cycle the unit, to be sure it doesn’t seize up again.

If this does work, you have just spent 20 minutes saving several hundred dollars, if this doesn’t correct the problems you are experiencing, likely you require a new unit.  Good luck!

Blotting…say what?

What is blotting?  It does sound kind of silly when you say it but it one of the basic techniques in your cleaning arsenal.

One the most common mistakes I see people make when dealing with a spill is grabbing a wet dish cloth or towel. In most cases the best method is to blot or absorb the stain before introducing water or cleaning solution.

Blotting is the act of absorbing a stain with a dry absorbent towel such as a terry towel or even a paper towel (best using white towels so no colors from the the towel will run into the carpet or fabric you are blotting.) Blotting immediately after a spill or stain has occurred is the best way to combat stains. Blot by placing the towel over the stain. First fold your towel in quarters so you can flip over the towel a few times to get the maximum absorbency of your towel.  Placing a thick terry towel on a spill on a carpet and applying pressure or weight to the towel will often remove the majority of the stain.  Quick action and you won’t even have to spring for any fancy spot cleaners.

Nail Polish remover

Nail Polish remover normally contains the solvent acetone or amyl acetate. It is useful in removing nail polish (obviously…) from your finger nails and also fabric. Use a blotting action and test for color fastness. It will damage certain fabrics, but is usually safe on bedsheets etc. It is also effective at removing glues including crazy glue I don’t know about you but I usually stick my fingers together in addition to the object I am trying to repair, no matter how careful I am when using crazy glue.

Old stickers or decals

Spray with window cleaner or warm soap and water.  Scrape of with a scraper or credit card.  Depending on the surface WD-40 is effective as well.  Just be sure to test a small areas first to be sure the WD-40 has no ill effects.  WD-40 leaves an oily residue so it needs to be rinsed with soap and water.

How to clean the kichen sink

The vast majority of homes have standard, very durable stainless steel sinks.  There is a reason for this – they are inexpensive, stand up to years of use (and abuse), and can be cleaned up to look almost as good as new.

The most common staining with stainless steel sinks is the brown residue left when coffee is poured out, but not rinsed away.  This discolouration can be a subtle yellow to a dark brown, especially if the sink is located at the office near the coffee station.

There are several solutions, the quickest is a cream cleanser and an SOS or abrasive scrubbing pad.  If you don’t feel like scrubbing, a mild acid such as CLR will typically remove these and any hard water deposits.  Just plug the sink and pour in at full concentration and leave overnight!

If the sink is very dull, or badly scratched you can polish it with fine steel wool, and metal polished typically found in the automotive isle for restoring the finish on aluminum wheels.

For acrylic, or solid surface materials check the underside of the sink for the manufacturers name and consult their web site for proper care instructions.  Usually to remove minor staining an acrylic safe cleaner and/or melamine sponge (such as a Magic Eraser) will remove surface staining.

The best preventative cleaning is to rinse the sink after each use, especially after discarding coffee, tea, colas and tomato based foods.