Happy Birthday to My Workhorse, Hoover

I call him Hoover and he’s worked hard for me since the day I hauled his long, lanky self into the house back in 2008.

Agriculture et métier : paysan et cheval de trait au labours

My dear Hoover (not really a horse, but isn’t that a beautiful specimen) still holds the record for the best thing I ever bought. Not only did my Hoover SteamVac rescue me from the endless loop of worthless commercial carpet cleaning companies, he’s saved me thousands of dollars over these eight years. I paid $147 for Hoover, which is still cheaper than one visit from a carpet cleaning company.

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While I enjoy hard surface floors in some areas of my home, I am not ready to give up on carpet. I love how it looks, how it feels under my feet and how it warms up a room. But I hate dirty carpet. Cannot abide a spot. The thought of what lurks between the fibers of poorly maintained carpet still gives me the heeby-geebies.

And so today, I want to give you an update on how my dear old Hoover is doing. But first a quick review on how Hoover and I partner up to keep my home and office carpet clean and pristine.

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Florida’s Mold and Mildew No Match for Magic Tub and Shower Potion

The only thing better than figuring out for myself how to do things cheaper, better and faster is when I get to teach these tips and tricks to my readers. Teaching this one to Mike was the best ever! His response just made my day.

Dear Mary: I can’t thank you enough for telling us about your magic shower and tub cleaner. I live in moldy ol’ Florida and I have a tile shower in my older home. I used to bleach it every 10 to 14 days days and by 14th day it would be pretty bad—I’m talking mold and mildew. Since using your magic formal, I’ve bleached only one time this whole summer. I squirt it down two to three times a week and OMG! It’s so easy and well worth it. Love your articles. Please continue to keep us informed. Thanks again. You saved my life. Sincerely, Mike.

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Dear Mike: I am laughing because I’m tickled by your excitement. The stuff really is like magic, isn’t it! I know that so many readers are chafing at the bit to know more about this secret concoction that has saved your life (it saved mine too, so I know how you feel). I call it my Magic Tub and Tile Soap and Scum Remover but maybe we need to add Mold and Mildew to that label as well. Whatever, it is truly magical.

I suggest readers read the original column to get the specific details. But for those who can’t wait, here’s a quick reminder of the recipe. Into a 32 oz. spray bottle, pour 1 cup blue Dawn dishwashing liquid; add enough white vinegar to fill the bottle to within an inch of the top. Done. Shake to mix and spray away. Spray the walls, the floor; fixtures, glass doors, shampoo caddy and every surface inside the tub and or shower. If the soap, scum, mold and mildew are shall we say, “well developed,” leave it overnight.  Read more

How to Remove Moss, Mold, Mildew from Outdoor Surfaces—Even Big White Marble Domes

Something weird is going on in Washington D.C. and I’m not talking politics. It’s the big, white, marble dome on the Jefferson Memorial. The caretakers of that beautiful structure are flummoxed by what to do about the grungy, gooey mold-like gunk that has begun collecting on the dome, turning it from white to a dingy, dirty mess!

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So far, experts have managed to give the yuck a name—biofilm—and determined that it’s a combo of algae, bacteria and fungi.

Here’s the problem: How to treat this icky stuff without damaging the soft marble of the Jefferson Memorial so that it remains safe for the environment and visitors alike.

When I read about this situation, of course I knew what to do. Of course! But I won’t be calling anytime soon to share my directive, which would include a helicopter with a huge sprayer and a thousand gallons of one of the most amazing products I’ve come across in a very long time. However, I am excited to share that with Ruby, who wrote:

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Make It Yourself: Copper Cleaner, Aluminum Cleaner and Dishwasher Detergent, Too

There are so many good reasons to make your own household cleaners. It’s cheaper, healthier and greener, too. The homemade household cleaners I share with you from time to time do not contain chemicals. That means you can always count on them to be non-toxic.

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DEAR MARY:  The copper post tops on my deck are becoming tarnished. Do you know of a natural (cheap) way that I can clean them without causing any damage to the copper? I’m enclosing a picture of this problem. Patti

DEAR PATTI: I really like this beautiful treatment on your deck. Thanks for sending the photo (always a good idea, by the way). I do have a solution for you using ordinary items from your pantry. It is cheap to make, easy to use and works great. Best of all it contains no toxic chemicals.

Copper Cleaner

6 tablespoons table salt
6 tablespoons flour
white vinegar

Make a paste of equal parts salt and flour with a few tablespoons of white vinegar. Apply to copper item with a soft cloth and rub gently to remove tarnish. Rinse with water and dry.

DEAR MARY: I have inherited a set of vintage aluminum canisters. Somewhere along the line, this canisters were washed in the dishwasher and came out so discolored they are no longer pretty. I have tried a couple of cleaning methods that did nothing to restore their beauty. Do you have any suggestions? Ina

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Help! Rust Stains on My Fiberglass Bathtub

Dear Mary: Our water is very hard and as a result has created rust-colored stains in the fiberglass bathtub. I’ve tried to scrub it away with Comet, but that did nothing. How can I remove these terrible stains? MaryAnne

Rust on white tile on bathroom tub

Dear MaryAnne: I’m going to assume you have already tried applying a paste of baking soda and white vinegar to the stains, allowing that to sit for a few hours. If that or the Comet didn’t work, I have two options for you, starting with a product you may have already but never dreamed you’d use in a bathtub: Lysol Professional Toilet Bowl Cleaner. Cover the stains with it and allow to sit for an hour or so. You may need to scrub a bit with a Scotch-Brite or similar type scrubber. I am reasonably confident this may take those stains away, that’s how well it works to clean fiberglass, acrylic and porcelain tubs.

However, if your stains are really stubborn—or you would need to go out and purchase the Lysol toilet cleaner—I’d skip that and go straight for the big gun in rust-removers, Iron Out. I love this product because unlike other commercial rust removers, it contains no harsh or abrasive chemicals. And boy does it work well to remove rust stains from just about anything, including fabric.

Good luck and be sure to let us know how this works for you.  Read more

Need Cleaning Supplies? Check the Pantry

The next time you need cleaning supplies, take a trip to your pantry, not the store. You already have the ordinary basic household items required to mix up any number of cleaners you need to keep the place sparkling clean and germ-free. Recipes? You need recipes? Well, this must be your lucky day, because I’ve got recipes!

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All-purpose cleaner. Mix 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1 cup plain household ammonia, 1/4 (one-quarter) cup baking soda with 1 gallon warm water. Dispense in a spray bottle.

Window, glass and mirror cleaner. In a spray bottle mix together 2 cups isopropyl rubbing alcohol, 2 tablespoons liquid dishwashing detergent and 2 cups water.

Floor cleaner for ceramic tile, vinyl and linoleum floors. Mix together 1 cup white vinegar and 1 gallon hot water. Mop ceramic tile and all types of vinyl floors with this solution, no need to rinse.

Heavy-duty floor cleaner. Mix together 3/4 (three-fourths) cup plain household ammonia and 1 gallon warm water. Use on heavily soiled non-wood floors. No need to rinse.

Wood floor cleaner. Mix together 2 quarts boiling water and steep two regular tea bags in it. Let the water cool to room temperature. Remove bags. Use a well-wrung cloth mop or sponge mop (make sure it is just barely damp) to wipe the floor. The tannic acid in tea is great for the wood and leaves a beautiful shine. Read more

Help! My Shark Vacuum is Acting Awkward and Stubborn

Did you hear about the shark incident in Florida? A young woman was bitten last Sunday and rushed to the hospital with the shark still attached to her arm!

Rescuers killed the shark before transporting the victim, but still it hung on. That was one stubborn shark and a lot creepier than the stubborn Shark one of my readers has been dealing with.

White Shark vacuum

DEAR MARY: We purchased the Shark vacuum you so highly recommend. I do love the suction and cleaning prowess of the machine, but it seems awkward and difficult to push around on good quality plush carpeting. Marge

DEAR MARGE: Oh dear—something is not right! I can’t be sure which model Shark you have (the one I love, recommend and use nearly every day is Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional) but for sure your Shark should not be difficult to maneuver on carpet!

With the Brush-Roll turned on, you’ll discover the Shark Pro has a self-propelling feature that pushes it forward, similar to a power lawn mower. Something tells me that perhaps you are attempting to use your Shark on carpet without this feature engaged.

Assuming we have the same model, take a look at yours. You should see a Power button and also a button for the Brush-Roll. In Power mode, you’re ready to vacuum hard surfaces like wood and tile. When you move to carpet, you need to press the Brush-Roll so it lights up green. When the Brush-Roll is engaged and you step on the foot release, you can feel the self-propelling feature kick in. Shark will nearly vacuum that carpet on its own!

If the suction is still too much for your plush carpet, you can make another adjustment. Towards the top of the handle, there is a ring you can turn to adjust the level of suction.

Once you’re set, all you need to do is follow behind and steer the thing with minimal effort. I sure hope that helps. There is nothing about a Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional that should be awkward to push around.

If yours is a different model than mine, look for adjustments for suction and an indicator that the brush roll is engaged. And don’t forget to make sure that your Shark and filter is cleanRead more

Who Else Doesn’t Want to Scrub Floors on Your Hands and Knees?

Exhausted overworked woman just scrubbed floor on hand and knees

 

DEAR MARY: I live in Florida and LOVE your blog. I look forward getting it in my email inbox every day. My question: What is the best tool, machine or method to clean tile? I have a lot of it. Thank you, Alice

 

DEAR ALICE: The best as well as the cheapest method for getting all of that tile clean and sparkly is to get down on your hands and knees and scrub it hot water and mild soap, then rinse it several times until the rinse water comes up completely clean. Then dry it with a clean, soft cloth until it gleams. Were you looking for a more realistic method, given that you have a lot of tile? Well, I’ve got you covered. I’m not suggesting the hands and knees method because if I won’t do it myself, I wouldn’t expect you to.

The problem with any type of flooring is that dust and dirt (sometimes so fine you can not see it until you remove it) get ground into every time you walk on it. You can’t feel it necessarily, or as I said, even see it. But over time that wears on the finish causing the floors to look dull and dingy.

Once a week you should vacuum the floors well to get up loose dirty and debris. Then every two weeks, clean and scrub the floors with an excellent cleaner and a good mop that cleans and wipes the floor nearly dry in a single effort. Here’s the recipe for the best floor cleaner ever: Mix one part rubbing alcohol to four parts distilled water plus a few drops blue Dawn dishwashing liquid. Mix this up in a spray bottle each time you clean the floors. Or if you make it up ahead, be sure to label it well and keep it out of the reach of children.  Read more