Welcome back to my column that will hopefully give you some tips to deal with cleaning issues both small and disgustingly heinous, all while using eco-friendly products that you probably have laying around the house. Okie dokie, let’s do this!
My stainless steel fridge always looks streaky. Please help!
Honestly, stainless steel appliances are a major pain in the ass to clean. But if you must have them, I shall give you the remedy for your streaky dilemma. Do you have white vinegar? Maybe. Do you have olive oil in your kitchen? I bet you do. Maybe some mineral oil in your bathroom? Possibly. You’ll use the vinegar to clean off the food grime and to disinfect the surface (this grime tends to reside on or near the handles). The olive or mineral oil will help with the streaks and with masking scratches and watermarks. When cleaning stainless steel, always go “with the grain” (The grain is the lines that you can see in the stainless steel and feel with your fingers; they are either vertical or horizontal). Put a little bit of white vinegar on a t-shirt or microfiber cloth and wipe off the food grime. Next, apply a few drops of olive oil or mineral oil to another microfiber rag or t-shirt and, moving in the direction of the grain, wipe off the appliance. Buff with a dry cloth to finish the job.
My garbage disposal stinks. How can I get rid of this odor?
Garbage disposals, if not rinsed out well daily, will eventually smell like, well, stinky garbage. No bueno. If you, my friend, have not been diligent in disinfecting the disposal, have no fear. In about ten minutes, your garbage disposal will be smelling like your favorite citrus fruit. You’ll need a scouring pad, dish soap, baking soda, vinegar, and some citrus peels. First off, you’ll need to give the drain, the walls of the drain, the rubber gasket leading to the disposal blades, and the disposal blades themselves a good scrubbing and disinfecting. (By the way: the technical name for the rubber garbage disposal gasket is “baffle.” Just found this out, and it makes me really happy.) First, first, first—make absolutely sure the garbage disposal is off. I like to go so far as to put a piece of tape over the switch to assure that it’s not accidentally switched on. You don’t want to amputate any fingers. Now you’ll mix some vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spray around the sink drain and inside of the grinding chamber. Next, squirt some dish soap onto your scouring pad (you can make your own dish soap using castile soap and essential oils). Use the scouring pad to scrub around the drain, inside of the drain, and on top of and under the baffle, making sure to remove all of the grime and food particles from it. Sometimes the baffle comes out, which is wonderful because it makes cleaning it a billion times easier. Finally, carefully wipe the disposal blades (on top and under). Next you’ll pour a 1/2 cup of baking soda into the disposal, followed by a 1/2 cup of vinegar. The baking soda and vinegar mixture will fizz, which is really neat. Leave the sink to fizz for a few minutes, and then flush the garbage disposal (run hot water into the drain and turn on the disposal). Finally, throw a few cut-up citrus peels in while running cold water down the drain, then turn on the disposal again. And voilà! You now have a disinfected and nice-smelling garbage disposal.
There are water rings all over my wood furniture. How can I get rid of them?
There’s an ingenious, easy trick to get rid of these. Got a hairdryer? Perf. With the hairdryer on the highest setting, hold it close to the ring and let ‘er blow. You should see it disappearing after just a few minutes. Once it’s gone, you can add a bit of mineral or olive oil to a soft rag and wipe the spot where the ring was to recondition the wood.
I live in an old house with asbestos tiles on the floor that need to be waxed. How do I wax the floor?
OK, you really need to be careful here. Asbestos is a dangerous substance. Dust particles from asbestos can become lodged in the lungs and cause all kinds of serious problems. Stripping the existing wax to prepare for a new coat can accidentally release asbestos dust into the air, so I’d try to forgo waxing and make the existing wax on the asbestos tile shine anew! Here are some tips to remove stains and to bring out the luster of the old wax. You’ll need the following items for this project: baking soda, a soft-headed toothbrush, castile soap, an essential oil of your choice, white vinegar, a bucket, two clean rags, a mop, linseed oil, and some isopropyl alcohol. The very first thing that you should do is sweep all the dirt and dust off of the tile. Now grab some baking soda—baking soda is really good for cleaning stains on waxed, tile flooring because it’s abrasive enough to remove stains, but not so abrasive that it leaves scratches. First, you’ll make a paste from that baking soda by mixing it thoroughly with warm water. Dip a soft-headed toothbrush into the paste and lightly brush the stains with the paste. Allow the baking soda to settle on the tiles for about ten minutes before wiping it up with a clean, wet rag. Now you’ll do a thorough mopping of the floor with the following solution: 2 gallons warm water, 1/4 cup baking soda, 1 tablespoon castile soap, a few drops of the essential oil of your choice, and 1/4 cup white vinegar. Now you’ll empty the bucket and fill it with warm water, and mop once more. Let the floor dry completely. Now pour 4 parts linseed oil and 1 part alcohol into a large bowl. You’ll dip a clean rag into this mixture and lightly rub it over the tile. Let this dry completely. And now, you have rejuvenated your asbestos tile floor!
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illustrations by Ben Claassen III | @dirtfarm