Hello, hello! Happy (suffocatingly hot) September, every masochist’s favorite time of year. I’m back again to help you clean your things. In this edition, I’d like to talk about baking soda. Baking soda is a real workhorse in the cleaning world: deodorizer, cleanser, and stain remover, oh my! Baking soda is another cleaning staple that you should always have in your home. Also, if you mix baking soda and vinegar, you create magic. Remember that 4th grade science fair bubbling volcano that you created with vinegar and baking soda? Well, that chemical reaction isn’t just fun to look at; it’s also a powerful cleaning mixture. OK, here we go!

My sweet, dumb Boxer mix has a nervous habit of licking the furniture when she’s anxious (a.k.a. every time we leave her alone or it rains). Our cream-colored sectional is covered in dried drool stains. How can we get them out?

Yeah, the stains caused by a drippy dog mouth can really take away from the look of a couch. Before cleaning the couch, read the fabric tags. Different types of fabrics require different cleaning products and procedures. Check out the tags on your couch for the following letters: “W” stands for water-safe, “S” means solvent cleaners only (no water), “WS” means you can use both water or solvent, and “X” means vacuum only or have the piece professionally cleaned. Here I’ll tackle couches that fall into the “W” and “WS” categories. For this cleaning project, you’ll need white vinegar, tried and true baking soda, cold water (hot water can cook the proteins in dog saliva and make the stain worse), dish detergent, a spray bottle, and a clean, white rag (using a white rag is important; the vinegar in this solution can cause a colored cloth’s dye to bleed onto your fabric). Add 1/4 cup of white vinegar, one teaspoon dish detergent, one teaspoon of baking soda (sprinkle the baking soda into the bottle slowly, so that the solution doesn’t fizz everywhere), and one cup of cold water to the spray bottle. Shake the bottle to mix everything up and lightly spray the cleaning solution onto the stain without soaking it. Let the solution sit for 15 minutes. Now wet your clean, white cloth with cold water, then wring out the excess water. Blot the stain with the rag to flush out the vinegar solution. Let the spot air dry; you can dab it with a dry cloth to quicken the drying process. Once the stain is dry, inspect the area. If necessary, repeat the process until the stain disappears!

The flooring in my house is terrazzo. How do I remove stains without damaging it? 

Ah, terrazzo—my favorite type of flooring in the world. Terrazzo is beautiful; it’s a mix of Portland cement and colored marble chips that was used widely in South Florida in the ‘60s as a floor finish. As carpet became more popular, old terrazzo floors were covered up. Now that carpet is becoming less popular (FYI: carpet is a disgusting dirt trap that you will never, ever get completely clean), homeowners are ripping it out and finding—to their delight—lovely terrazzo! The only drawback to this type of flooring is that you have to be very careful when cleaning it. Since it is made of cement and tiny marble chips, you can’t use anything too acidic (white vinegar) or too alkaline (castile soap) on it. You must use a pH-neutral cleaner (a.k.a. something with a pH of 7 or 8), such as a mild dish soap and water. To remove stains from terrazzo, first remove all loose dirt by vacuuming or sweeping. Next, clean the area with a mixture of mild dish detergent and water and let this dry. To remove any stubborn dirt, wipe the area of the stain with a mixture of warm water and baking soda. Now, cover the stain with a paste made of baking soda and water. Smooth the paste over the stain, and let it sit overnight. Remove the paste with warm water the next morning. If the stain remains, repeat the process. Good luck!

How do I clear a clogged drain naturally?

As a professional cleaner, I see lots of clogged sinks and bathtubs. A slow-draining tub or sink is one of the most annoying things that I encounter when cleaning; it’s exceedingly hard to clean a sink or bathtub properly if you can’t rinse the dirty water out of it. A lot of the time, the cause of a clogged drain is hair that is trapped in the drain strainer (those little, metal bars that criss-cross on the inside of the drain). I’ve found the perfect tool for removing this dirt-covered, congealed hair to be tweezers; that’s right, they’re not just for painfully yanking hair from your face! This process is tedious, but tweezers are perfect for getting in between the strainer bars and picking out the hair. (FYI: Dental kits include tweezers and other pointy implements that are great for this hair removal adventure.) Removing a big, gross glob of hair from the drain strainer with a pair of tweezers and watching the water swoosh down the drain afterwards is one of the most satisfying things ever! If the clog is further down the pipe, baking soda, white vinegar, and boiling water is an option. Pour a half cup of baking soda and a half cup of vinegar into the drain. Let this mixture sit in the drain for an hour, and then pour boiling water down the drain until the water flows freely. Whoopee, free-flowing water!

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illustrations by Ben Claassen III | @dirtfarm

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