Site Admin Saturday: A Call for Questions

Heather says:

I need your help, I need some questions about cleaning products. My only caveat is they really can’t be brand x vs brand y style. I don’t have the budget, set up, or time to run out and perform Consumer Reports style testing.

I’m looking for anything:

What do I use to accomplish _____?
How does ______ type of cleaner work?
Why shouldn’t I mix ______ and ________ ?
Is there a more environmentally friendly alternative to _________ ?

Have I mentioned that you look lovely today?

Send your domestic questions to: helpme@home-ec101.com.



36 Comments

  1. Greg Benedict on December 7, 2010 at 11:37 am

    I'd also love to hear more about cleaning older hardwood floors. We're getting ready to rip a bunch of carpeting out of my wife's grandfather's house and it's quite dirty underneath.

  2. Prema on February 10, 2010 at 1:01 am

    Hi There, My biggest bugbear is trying to get my wooden slat blinds clean and resistant to all that dirt they seem to collect! Would love to know if there is a special tool you can get for cleaning slat blinds. Also…whats the best cleaning solution for wooden blinds? Do I polish or do I wash? I am really trying hard to avoid staining the wood finish.
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  3. vip2000 on January 19, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    When I purchased a set of stainless steel Al-Clad pots I had no clue how to clean them so I called their 800 number. The rep. advised that I use Barkeeper's Friend and Dobie Cleaning Pad. You need very little. Just sprinkle in pot, add a little water to make a paste and rub with the Dobie Cleaning pad. It takes very little elbow grease, and my pots shine with no residue! However, do not use the dobie on the outside or on the lid of these pots (it'll scratch). Use a regular sponge or dish rag for the outside.

    • vip2000 on January 19, 2010 at 1:13 pm

      My reply was specifically regarding pots, but Barkeeper's Friend is good for appliances as well – I wouldn't recommend it for mirrored or highly polished finishes.

  4. amy on January 19, 2010 at 11:26 am

    What is the best way to clean stainless steel appliances? I've heard olive oil like the poster above but can you give the actual steps or tell if there is a better way?

  5. Ceci on January 18, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    I heard you can use olive oil to clean stainless steel applicances, is that true? Can it be used to clean anything else?

    What can I use to get the burned milk off my ceramic glass stovetop?

    My elderly dog has become 'unpredictable' and he particularly likes to go in the corner where I don't notice it's wet. What can I use to get rid of the stain/smell? Natures Miracle and Kids 'n Pets have not worked so far.

  6. Jennie on January 18, 2010 at 10:30 am

    What's an environmentally safe toilet bowl cleaner?
    I too want to know about cleaning ovens….I have a self cleaning oven and I thought you can't use oven cleaners on them but I've never run the self clean cycle before.

  7. Jennie on January 18, 2010 at 10:30 am

    What's an environmentally safe toilet bowl cleaner?
    I too want to know about cleaning ovens….I have a self cleaning oven and I thought you can't use oven cleaners on them but I've never run the self clean cycle before.

  8. Canadian Carrie on January 17, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    I also wouldlike an alternative to bleach. My mom and grandma use it like it's going out of style, which really asI typed that, I realise that it actually may be going out of style! I know Shaklee has a simliar product, but even that has a harsh chemical…..
    Is antibacterial bathroom cleaner good enough for my bathroom?

  9. Premee on January 17, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    What's the least elbow-greasish way/cleaning product to clean an acrylic tub?
    Is it OK to put plastic shower liners/shower curtains in the dishwasher, or is that an urban myth?
    Is there a permanent way to keep mildew from coming back around my bathroom sink? The smell of bleach makes me sick and woozy.
    And you look lovely today too!

    • Canadian Carrie on January 17, 2010 at 8:31 pm

      I started using Norwex cloths, they are awesome on my tub surround! They are awesome foreverything actually!
      I have never heardofputting a shower liner in the dishwasher, how do you put it in so every surface is cleaned?

    • La Reveuse on January 18, 2010 at 3:48 pm

      Put your plastic/vinyl shower curtain liner in the washing machine (clothes). Hot water, detergent, and a little bit of bleach if you like. It will come out looking brand-new. I wouldn't think the dishwasher could get it really clean, but this does and I've never had one tear. Done it for years, even for a friend whose liner had some scary things growing on it. 😉

  10. Gypsie on January 17, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    I know nothing about cleaning an oven. I know there is a self cleaning mode but do you have to use oven cleaner too?

    I am also interested in a list of tasks and how often they need to be accomplished and how to accomplish them.

    How about how to clean hardwood floors? We are in the process of refinishing the hardwood that was under our carpet and we have never had hardwood before. (real hardwood about 55 years old).

    • La Reveuse on January 18, 2010 at 3:46 pm

      To use self-cleaning mode, follow the directions in the book that came with your oven. For mine, you take everything else out (like the thermometer I use because ovens just aren't reliable IMO), take everything off the top (like spices, spoon rests, candles, etc.–it gets hot), turn it on, and lock the door with the lever thingee. It will smell bad for a while, but eventually won't (so running bathroom and exhaust fans in the house and opening doors and windows helps). It does take several hours. I personally don't leave the house when I'm doing it. Another tip is you can put your drip pans in, upside down, and it will burn off most of the grunge that's on it. NO CLEANER. The oven will heat to such a high temp, it will burn anything in there to ash. Cleaner could release some major nasty toxic gases into your house, don't do it. 🙂 When it's hot, you won't be able to unlock it. When it's done, it will cool down and then release the lock. Good day to use your crock pot or order pizza. Just wipe out ash with a damp cloth when you're done. Easy.

      • Gypsie on January 18, 2010 at 4:21 pm

        Thanks. I dont have the manual for my oven cause it came with the house. But that info is incredibly helpful!

        • Ceci on January 18, 2010 at 6:52 pm

          You should be able to find a manual online on the manufacturers website. That is what I had to do with my oven. It too came with the house.

  11. cheie on January 17, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    what can be used to clean the dark brown burnt on junk around my burners – it seems to happen when WATER boils over – food spills are easy to get off – this stuff is TORTURE!

  12. HeatherSolos on January 17, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Thank you! These are all great questions and they will be answered over time (some of these will require a bit of research). You are the best!

  13. lee on January 17, 2010 at 3:33 am

    What can I use to really clean the fiberglass floor of my shower? It is turning grey and black (not mildew), and nothing we have used will completely remove it! We have tried scrubbing with scrubby pads and scrub brushes using vinegar, bleach (not together! — speaking of not mixing…), BarKeepers Friend, KLR, Lysol, etc. I'm eyeing the sandblaster…

    • Melissa B on January 19, 2010 at 12:47 pm

      I've used a very cheap brand called Mean Green. Make sure to ventilate, but that stuff will clean anything, also works well on linoleum floors.

      • lee on January 21, 2010 at 3:12 am

        Thanks! I'll check it out!

  14. Stacy on January 16, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    My husband has been working on the car, and put an article of clothing in the laundry that smelled of gasoline…or kerosene, or both. Anyway, I put it all in a load, not really thinking about it, and now I can't get the smell out of the whole load. I've washed it four times with soap, hot water, vinegar…no luck. Smells like gas. What do I use to get that smell out?

  15. alison on January 16, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    I'd love a list of routine household maintenance tasks, when/how often to perform them, and how to perform them.
    I'm thinking about things like dusting the coils behind the fridge and water cooler, also what kind of maintenance should I be doing with my clothes dryer other than cleaning out the lint trap? Should I be doing something with the hose at the back? how often?

  16. Alice Dick on January 16, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    What's the least expensive cleaner type that works reliably (i.e., if vinegar is cheaper than Windex but requires a lot more effort, I probably would not use it). Also, does anybody wax/polish their furniture anymore? If so, what are the benefits of doing so versus just dusting it?

  17. RandomUses on January 16, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Definitely would love a list of what you can't mix and WHY– what will happen if I mix the two. Sometimes it is worth knowing that the problem is that one will neutralize the other, versus they will blow up if combined!

  18. Meeks on January 16, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    What can be used to clean the lime spots off of my shower knob and head, at the same time as requiring the least amount of elbow grease and be environmentally safe?
    Do steam cleaners (like the Shark) really disinfect? How long must the steam stay focused on the surface for it to be effective against germs?

    • Kathy on January 17, 2010 at 12:15 pm

      Either take the shower head off and soak it in a bowl of vinegar, or fill a baggie with vinegar, and with a rubberband, secure it to the shower head for a while.

  19. Heather on January 16, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    My most puzzling thing to clean right now is a pair of lamps from the 1960's. I love them dearly but I don't think that the shades have ever been cleaned. I have looked for 6 years for replacement shades but have never found any the right size. I can't stand how dirty they are but I am scared to clean them because I think they will just fall apart on me. I wish I was clever enough to know how to recover them or something. What would you do?

  20. Sweetie Berry on January 16, 2010 at 11:42 am

    What can be used to cleanse fresh vegetables but not add more chemicals itself?

    What containers should not be "remixed" or reused except for the cleaner that was in them (could produce dangerous comb)

    What products can be used on Pergo effectively?

    What mops work the best?

    What works best on ceramic tile to give it a shine?

    • Kathy on January 17, 2010 at 12:19 pm

      I make my own vegetable fruit cleaner with BH2 from Shaklee. No chemicals, just ph balanced organic cleaner. They have the most environmentally safe cleaners and I have used them for over 40 years. With the same cleaner you can shave your legs, get grease out of clothes and so much more.

      • Canadian Carrie on January 17, 2010 at 8:25 pm

        I agree, I use Shaklee Basic H for everything!!! Fruit veg cleaner, with water in a spray bottle for counter tops and tables, walls, etc. put it ona skin cut to stop bleeding/ infection. Kids bubble bath/tub cleaner in one! Lubrication for a squeaky hinge, the list goes on!

  21. Connie on January 16, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    From my mother:
    How do you clean a framed picture?
    What's the least time-consuming way to clean the leaves of an artificial tree?
    Is there a product that will keep a television screen from collecting so much dust?
    Is it necessary to wash walls before you paint them?
    What law of physics is it that allows my husband to wash rugs, socks, towels, and jeans in the same load of laundry and have it come out okay, but if *I* have a stray sock in with my towels, it's fuzzed up forever?!?!?!

    • Kathy on January 17, 2010 at 12:14 pm

      The laundry questions is answered by "dumb luck"!

    • La Reveuse on January 18, 2010 at 3:38 pm

      As for the painting/walls, yes. Your walls will have a layer of grease and dust that you can't necessarily see, but will prevent the new paint from adhering well. Worth the time it takes when you don't have to do 4 coats.

      • Ceci on January 18, 2010 at 6:53 pm

        What can I use to clean them besides the chemical stuff? All the DIY websites I found say to use TCP (i think thats what its called). Does normal soap and water not work?

  22. ThatBobbieGirl on January 16, 2010 at 11:43 am

    No, actually you haven't mentioned that I look lovely today. Good thing, too, because I'd know you were being sarcastic. Meh.

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