Window and Door Screens

This work is often done in the spring before bug season, or at the end of summer if you store your screens for the winter season.  Try to pick a warm day with a bit of a breeze to facilitate drying.

The  proper way to clean screens is to remove them from the window frames or doors.  If you are planning on cleaning multiple screens at one time, (and it is best to considering the set up!) it is wise to number both the screen and the window with a permanent marker before starting.

Construct a simple wooden 2X4 frame on a flat smooth deck or patio big enough to accommodate your largest screen.  Cover the frame with a heavy plastic or tarp and fill it with water and a few teaspoons of dish washing soap.

Lay one screen at a time into the frame, and gently brush it with a soft brush, or a synthetic broom.  Brush both directions and along the screen frame before flipping the screen over and repeating the procedure on the other side.

Lift the screen out of the frame and allow the cleaning solution to drain off before rinsing the screen off with a garden hose sprayer on a gentle setting.  Give the screen a quick shake and set it against a fence or wall in the sun or breeze to permit drying.

If you are storing your screens, it is best to protect them with a piece of cardboard or plywood and cover them with an old bed sheet or plastic tarp to keep them from getting dusty before the spring.

Before replacing your screen, using a bucket and sponge or clean rag, wipe the frame of the window to remove any accumulated dust.

In the event you cannot remove your screen, you can vacuum with a soft brush attachment, which will remove the bulk of accumulated dust.  Using a plant mister, spray the screen with a water/dish soap solution, and using a dry clean cloth, wipe off the screen.  If possible clean the exterior, then the interior.

Keeping Resin or outdoor furniture looking new longer…

The cleaning of outdoor furniture is always an issue, being outdoors they get more exposure to dirty and effects of the sun, rain and cold.  The clean up of outdoor furniture is  common question we receive.  Here is a idea to make the clean up easier and have your furniture looking newer longer. Apply a good quality car wax and wax them like you would wax your car (paste wax is better).

Dusty garage? or drywall dust in your home….

If you have a super dusty or dirty garage floor or you have done some drywall repairs in your house the drywall dust can get everywhere.  The one product you need to help knock down the dust is sweeping compound. You spread on the floor and then sweep the sweeping compound attracts the fine dust or drywall powder and prevents it from going airborne.  The truth is unless you have a high filtration vacuum it is likely better to use sweeping compound.  Sweeping compound can be purchased at hardware stores or any janitorial supply store.  The more common type is oil based sweeping compound but you can also buy wax based sweeping compound, its the perfect solution for super dusty floors.

Cleaning algae from your roof

If you have black, unsightly stains on your asphlat roof, the most likely cuase is algae feeding on the limestone within your asphalt shingles.  While there several ways to prevent further growth, and many companies that provide roof cleaning, it is a project you can do yourself, of course taking all the precautionary measures required when working at heights, on potentially slippery surfaces.  In order to remove or limit future algae growth you will need to remove the existing algae stains.  There are a number of commercial cleaners available, but oxygen bleach is just as effective, and not as hard on your lawn, shrubs and the environment in general.

Watch the weather closely and try to wait for a dry, overcast day.   This cleaning solution works best out of direct sun, but you also need a dry spell so the cleaning solution isn’t just washed away!

Using a pump type sprayer (a backpack style unit is ideal as it will free you both your hands for other things, like holding onto the ladder, keeping your balance on the roof, etc).  Mix up the oxygen bleach in the reservoir of the pump sprayer.  Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct dilution rates as each product may recommend slightly different proportions.  Wear your safety goggles and gloves when you are mixing the solution.

Spray down the roof with the oxygen bleach solution.  It is best to spray the entire roof so that you do not have lighter coloured patches where the bleach was sprayed and darker areas where it was not.  Allow this treatment sit for 20 minutes to half an hour, but if the day is warm or windy enough that the solution may dry, then you will need to re-apply the solution.

Agitate the roof gently with the stiff broom using caution not to scrub so hard as to remove granules from the shingles themselves. The bleach will kill the algae and lighten the stains and using the broom, you will be able to scrape existing algae off and remove the stains as well.  Work in a systematic manner from the peak down to the gutter.  Use caution for the last section you are cleaning as you will need to stand on the area you have just scrubbed and it may be slippery!  Use a safety harness over the peak and secured properly.

Rinse off the roof thoroughly using the garden hose using a gentle sprinkle of water starting at the peak and working toward the gutter.  Never use a pressure washer, or even a focused stream of water from a pressure type nozzle.  This will either dislodge excessive granules from the shingles or force its way under the shingles!  If it doesn’t actually cause your roof to leak it will reduce the lifespan of regular asphalt shingles each time it is done!  Also use caution to not apply such significant amounts of water that it races over the gutter and into your yard.  This just adds another step to the clean up process.  The rinse will dilute the bleach and remove the algae so that you can determine if you need to repeat the treatment or just let the roof dry.

Use caution and remember that if you don’™t feel up to performing this job yourself there are many contractors that professionally do this kind of work.  Get references and ask to see before and after pictures it CAN make a huge difference in the appearance of your home!

Brass Door Knocker

I have a laquered brass door knocker that has been exposed to weather for many years. What is the best way to clean it without damaging it?

Brass begins to develop a patina within hours of being exposed to the elements. Brass is a alloy of copper and zinc, and although when cleaned and polished it can have a brilliant shine, if it is not protected it can tarnish and actually pit the surface. Most brass architectural hardware, such as your door knocker have a protective coating applied to them. These coatings prevent immediate damage, however almost all fail after a few years of exposure. This said, there are some new technologies in coatings which are much more durable than those applied even a few years ago.

If your door knocker has had one of these coatings, you will be able to tell if it appears the surface is protected in some areas, yet damaged in others. Some of these coatings appear to flake off of the protected surface. You can try cleaning the piece yourself, however if the damage has pitted the surface, or if the protective finish is only partially intact, you will likely not be very happy with your efforts.

If the surface is completely intact, washing with a mild detergent (such as dish soap) is enough to remove the grime that accumulates over the years. It is a good idea to protect the lacquered surface with a couple of coats of high quality paste wax. This will prevent the elements from damaging the lacquer finish itself, and effectively provides another barrier to the brass itself.

If the piece does not appear to have a protective coating, you can try a metal polish. Metal polishes have a very fine pumice suspended by detergents and sometimes a wax. You apply the cleaning polish, and rub, and rub, and rub. And finally to polish the piece, you buff some more with a clean dry cotton cloth.
Once the piece is polished, you need to protect it with a lacquer that is suitable for outside elements. I have also heard of using several coats of automotive paste wax, to prevent elements from reaching the brass, although you cannot control the glossiness of the piece when using wax (lacquer’s at least come in different gloss levels).

For serious damage, a professional will take your piece, and possibly sandblast it to remove pitting and the remaining protective coating. They will then polish and apply a protective coating.

Double Glazed Windows

This question was submitted from Caitriona C.

“How do I clean the interior of double glazed windows”

If you are referring to the inside of a double glazed window the answer is you can’t clean it.

If the window has dirt or moisture, etc. on the inside it has been compromised and must be replaced since it no longer has a seal and the effectiveness of the window is completely negated.

Egg from exterior house siding

The exterior of my 20 year old aluminum sided home was egged. I did not notice this until mid winter when it turned black. How do I clean the egg stain from the siding without causing damage to the siding finish?

Happy Halloween!

The best solution is to use a pressure washer, but use caution because a high pressure unit can also damage the surface of the siding. The pressure washer can actually remove the paint from the surface.

It is a big expense to rent a pressure washer, so unless you have other areas (siding, patio, driveway, etc) to clean, it likely isn’t worth it. We have had some success in mixing an equal amount of vinegar, hot water, and a few drops of dish soap (1 cup of each) and soaking a thick terry towel. Hold this towel on the egg for an hour or so (a 2X4 can be leaned against the wall to hold up the towel). Agitate with a stiff scrub brush and hose down with your garden hose. This works great on auto finishes and we have had responses saying it worked from vinyl siding, however the stain was relatively fresh.

Exterior Gutters

This question was submitted from Louis M.

“How can the ground-in dirt and stains on an exterior gutter be removed?”

Ground-in dirt can be cleaned with success, however stains may be more of a challenge. The best thing to try for stains is a general purpose solvent or paint thinner. However if the stain has been there a long time exposed to the elements it may not come off easily.

Try these techniques :

When cleaning gutters, the main thing to be concerned about is safety. Be sure you are using the proper safety gear and if you have access to some kind of construction scaffolds it would be helpful.

Most good general purpose cleaners will be effective at cleaning gutters.

The key is to have a washing pail with warm water and either a sponge or a stiff brush. Preferably, use a sponge with a scrubber on the reverse side for stubborn stains.

Also have a pail with clear water or your garden hose handy for rinsing. Wash and rinse as you go; if the soap and dirt dry on the gutter before you rinse it off then you will have a greater challenge. Since dirt attaches itself to soap residue, the gutters will stay cleaner, longer if they are properly rinsed.

If the soil on the gutter is super bad you can use a stronger chemical called TSP (tri-sodium phosphate) available at any hardware store. Be sure to read the instructions on the container and follow all safety recommendations.

If you want to make the job a little easier, pre-spray the gutter as you are working to allow a little time for the soap to break down the in ground dirt.

Grease Stains off Wood Deck

This question was submitted from Richard G.

” How do I remove grease stains caused by a barbecue from a wooden deck?”

If the wood has been treated (stain or paint) you will have a bit of a chance. Unsealed wood will simply absorb the grease and it will discolor permanently.

Try these techniques :

Wood is very porous. Stains and paints, however, will partially seal these pours and form a bit of a barrier.

If this is the case you will need to remove or clean the stained surface, and refinish the wood.

You can remove the finish mechanically (sander, scraper) or chemically. Most home centers carry excellent wood cleaning products.

After you remove the stain (or as much of it as possible) be sure to reapply new paint or stain for continued protection from the elements (and BBQ grease!)

Gutters and Eaves

General Information:
Cleaning gutters or eves regularly will help increase the life of the gutters and prevent back-ups and overflows.

Tools & chemicals:
Rubber gloves, hose, bucket and multi-purpose chemical. You may also want a scoop or old slotted serving spoon.

Start by scooping out leaves, debris etc. with your hands using rubber gloves or with a slotted spoon or cat litter scooper. Clean gutters at least once a year. Scoop out leaves etc. more frequently to prevent back up and overflow. Once you have removed the large debris, hose out the gutter. Use a mild soap and warm water and a brush to clean off the gutters. If your gutters are very dirty or havent been cleaned in years, you may have to use a more aggressive chemical. After cleaning is a good time to inspect for damage and facilitate repairs. Use ladders according to safety standards.


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