Garbage Cans

The most effective way to clean the outside of the garbage can is to hose it down then scrub it with a brush using some multi-purpose detergent.

For the inside, if it is heavily soiled, mix a disinfectant solution and water and let the solution sit in the garbage can. Using a deck brush, scrub the bottom and sides of the garbage can. Let soak then rinse out. Let the garbage can air dry before placing a garbage bag in it.

Hardwood Floor Unfinished

Here is a recently submited question:

How do I clean and make a hardwood floor glossy without refinishing?


You can use a few different off the shelf products which both clean and add polish to the floor. You should be sure that you have really swept or vacuumed the floor well before using these products. Since they have solids in them (wax) and dust will affect the apperance.

You could also use a wood soap such as a Murphy’s Oil soap which will leave a bit of a sheen after cleaning. However the shine will not last with the above methods and you will have to constantly reapply them.

If you have hardwood that is very worn you may have to apply the cleaner/polish product a few times to get the shine up as the wood absorbs the wax.

Tools & Techniques:

Use a hardwood floor mop and a spray bottle to apply the cleaner/polish.
Spray only an area that you can effectively clean.
A hardwood floor mop looks like a dust mop only the fibers are shorter with a large surface area for polishing and cleaning.
If you don’t have a mop use something like a beach towel which will do an effective job of polishing, but is hard on the knees.

Paint from Brick

Brick is a very porous material. Many paints and coatings “soak in” to brick or concrete, and this can make them difficult to remove. If the paint is primarily on the surface, a good scrubbing with a mildly acidic cleaner works best. But if the paint has penetrated, you will have to do a heavy etching with muriatic acid to remove it. Working with Muriatic acid can be dangerous so make sure you read all the instructions so you don’t hurt yourself or the bricks.

There are some specialized coating removers that come in a paste form that work well for this type of application, but they are not widely available at this point in time. The Hydrostrip line from ICI or a product called Masonry Strip available from Napier Environmental Technologies are the products to look for. They are also sold under the brand name found in paint stores like Sherwin Williams, Cloverdale Paint, and major home centers like Home Depot etc. check for a 1-800 to locate the product near you.

Yards & Lawn

The yard is probably the most popular place to spend most of your time and also is probably the biggest creator of summer projects. To start with spread the work over a few weekends so it isn’t as overwhelming. For most, because we spend much less time outside during winter, our yards are neglected. There are exceptions, like the fortunate residents of Florida and Hawaii, but for the most part being beneath a foot of snow puts our yards at the bottom of our priorities.

Then the snow melts, and you wonder, where did all of THIS come from. Snow carries with it, pollution and dust, which is left behind when the snow melts. The freezing and thawing cycles of winter can push rocks up to the top of the soil, crack concrete patios, and shift improperly built fences and structures.

The first task would be to survey the entire yard. Walk your entire fence line to check for visible damage. Shake the posts to see if they are secure. Check for damaged boards, rotten posts, and evidence of mildew or fungus. There are many products available for cleaning fences and protecting them from future weathering. Some of the best environmentally friendly (safe for lawns and plants) products available is made by Biowash, which can be found at most Home Centers.

Retaining walls should also be inspected for cracks, or movement. There should be material (ie. crushed rock) that drains well behind retaining walls, so excessive moisture does not build up and cause damage during freezing cycles. Water is also very heavy, and may stress walls if there is no means for drainage.

The best general cleaning of a yard involves removing fallen branches and twigs, sweeping and hosing down drives and walks. Check driveway for fluid leaks from vehicles. Absorb as much as possible using, non clumping kitty litter, or a commercially available absorbent powder. Remember antifreeze tastes sweet, and attracts pets, however it can be fatal for pets that lick it up.