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Win the War on Dirt!

How to Safeguard Your Investment by Keeping it Spick and Span.

So you’ve bought your first home, or perhaps you are getting ready to sell your home. Which ever it is, you may now be faced with the formidable prospect of cleaning. It’s a big and timely job. Along with the constraints of everyday life (work, taking the kids to soccer practice, grocery shopping, etc.) you now have to find the time to keep your house looking well maintained and welcoming. But besides the want to have a hospitable home there is a very practical reason to keeping your humble abode clean and shiny.

Your home is one of, if not the biggest financial investment you will ever make. For that reason alone every homeowner should take the time necessary to keep their investment shipshape. It seems like a daunting task, but that’s okay, there is help available. Consider this your boot camp. Here you will find helpful tips and information that will help you to win the war on dirt!

Knowing Your Enemy

The first step to winning a war is to know who you are fighting. It can be hard to know just what needs to be done. Here’s a helpful list of the twelve things that everyone can do in order to keep their house sparkling clean.
* Vacuum the carpets and rugs
* Dust the blinds
* Mop all surface floors (tile, hardwood, linoleum etc.);
* Spot clean hand prints and smudges etc.
* Dust the woodwork
* Clean the counter tops and front cabinets
* Clean everything reflective (glass doors, glass tables, mirrors etc.)
* Clean the sinks, tubs and showers
* Sanitize the toilet
* Remove all the trash
* Clean appliance fronts and tops
* Vacuum upholstery and drapes

Planning is the Key

Every great commander knows the most important step to victory is planning. In order to get that spick and span home that you want, you have to create a plan and stick to it. In other words, “Plan your work, and work your plan.”
Make a house cleaning schedule. Survey each room in your home. Look at what has to be done (make a note of the trouble spots) and decide what tools and cleaners you’ll need and what can be thrown away.
This is where you decide when something has to be cleaned and whose turn it is to clean that something. It’s also where you decide whether it’s necessary to hire a house cleaning service; after all, some things are better left to professionals.

The Draft
You do not have to do this alone. Get help. If there are other able bodies in the house get them to help you. This task isn’t for you alone. Assign the chores based on fairness and ability and then set definitive times. Don’t let people weasel out of their duties. This is something that has to be done and it makes the whole process much easier if everyone does it at the same time.

Chemical Warfare
There are a multitude of products and cleansers out there to use. The trick is finding out which product to use for which job. The main purpose of these products is to make your house easier and quicker to clean, without them a simple act such as cleaning windows can become a challenge. A lot of these products can be harmful and dangerous (especially to children) so make sure to take care when using them. Here’s a run down of the most common chemical cleansers you can use.

All-Purpose Cleaner
It cleans any surface not harmed by water. It’s ideal for use on tile floors, marble, terrazzo and walls. These products will not film or streak as they clean, brighten and deodorize surfaces.

Directions: Dilute with warm or cold water. Start by using ¼ cup (250ml.) per gallon (4 ltr.) or 1 tablespoon (15ml.) per quart (1ltr.). Adjust by using more or less cleaner to suit the situation.

Basin, Tub, Tile Cleaner
These products rapidly clean and remove soap scum and lime deposits from shower walls doors, sinks, ceramic tile, fiberglass, vinyl, porcelain and stains steel.

Directions: Apply by spray, sponge, or cloth. Keep the surface wet for a few minutes then scrub and rinse. Heavy encrustations of lime and scale may require initial cleaning with a toilet bowl cleaner.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner
These cleaners are designed to effectively clean and deodorize the inside of toilet bowls and urinals. They clean, de-scale, and make porcelain fixtures sparkle.

Directions: Squirt around the inside of the toilet rim allowing the product to thoroughly coat sides. Allow to stand for 10 to 20 minutes then swab or scrub bowl and flush. For heavy encrustations, leave product in bowl overnight.

Stain Treatment
These laundry, carpet and upholstery stain treatments remove organic based stains caused by wine, blood, soil, grass, mold, food, vomit, feces, urine, and perspiration. They break down and deodorize organic matter as they clean, leaving a fresh scent.

Directions: Shake just before use. Stains and severe odors: Apply directly to odor source or stain after removing encrusted matter and solids. Let stand for 15 to 45 minutes. Scrub with a white rag or soft brush. Blot with a white towel. Rinse if desired.

Furniture Protector & Polish
These products clean, polish and protect finished wood, polished metal, finished stone, fiberglass, vinyl, polished stainless steel and all laminated surfaces. Use on furniture, cupboards, countertops, appliances, car interiors, file cabinets, computer equipment and office furnishings. They create a shiny finish that resist fingerprints and repel dust without waxy buildup or discoloration.

Directions: Spray surface to be cleaned and wipe dry with paper towels or lint-free cloths. Dilute only with water. Avoid over spraying on floor surfaces (will cause slippery conditions). Wipe with rubbing alcohol to remove excess spray.

Glass and Window Cleaner
These products clean glass without leaving film or streaks. They work on contact to remove fingerprints, soil, grime, water spots, etc. with minimal wiping.

Directions: Spray surface to be cleaned and wipe dry with paper towels, lint-free cloths, or newspapers.

Natural Weaponry
Of course chemical cleaners are not the only things you can use to get your house to sparkle. Each cleaner, chemical or natural, has its place, but for lighter cleaning jobs many natural cleaning products will work just fine, plus they don’t come with the risks associated with most other products. Here are some substitutes for chemical cleansers.

All-Purpose Cleaner
All you need for most cleaning jobs is a few tablespoons of baking soda in a quart of warm water. Or mix some vinegar and salt with warm water.

Scouring Cleaner
Many brands are made with chlorine bleach which releases hazardous gases when mixed with ammonia. Try plain salt or baking soda instead.
For a disinfectant version, mix equal amounts of baking soda and borax with a little hot water.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Commercial products can burn your skin and eyes. As an alternative, pour ½ half cup (125ml.) vinegar and baking soda in the toilet bowl and scrub with a brush, or scrub with 2/3 cup (175ml.) borax and 1/3 cup (90ml.) of lemon juice.

Glass Cleaner
While commercial glass cleaners are less toxic than many other cleansers, they can still irritate eyes and lungs. You’ll find that club soda works fairly well, or just warm water with a little vinegar.

Furniture Polish
Most commercial brands are made with petroleum distillates which are flammable. Try olive oil mixed with a little lemon juice.

Heavy Artillery
Not every cleaning job can be done with a mop, sponge, bucket and broom. Sometimes you have to bring out the big guns.

Pressure Washers
These are the hot new house cleaning power tools for homeowners. Pressure washers are water machines which increase water pressure (measured in pounds per square inch) and then deliver it through a lance or gun or wand. Pressure washers use either cold or hot water or steam to clean. They are gas, diesel or electrically powered (because electric pressure washers are quieter and there are no fumes, it is the first choice to be used inside the home). The hot water and steam can effectively clean most surfaces covered with dirt, grease and grime. When you use cold water in your pressure washer, it will effectively wash away dirt, debris, even strip paint. You can use a pressure washer to clean surfaces like metal, concrete, asphalt, stone, plastic and wood.

Tips for using Pressure Washers:
As mentioned these devices use water under high pressure, which means they can be dangerous. Make sure to learn how to use a pressure washer before you start a cleaning job.
Start away from what you’re going to wash and move toward it.
When purchasing or renting a pressure washer for general outdoor house cleaning, it is better that you stick to the residential category. The pressure washers in this category are light weight electric or gas powered.

Vacuum Cleaners
They may be common place, but they are an important weapon in your arsenal against dirt. All of them have one basic function: to suck the dirt out of your carpet, and hopefully leave it looking the way it did when you first brought it home from the store. Unfortunately all vacuum cleaners aren’t made equal. This is where you need to do your research when choosing the best vacuum cleaner for your home. First you need to consider your needs: How much carpeted space is there in your home to be vacuumed? How often do you vacuum? And what type of carpet do you have? Once you’ve answered these questions, with a little research you should be able to find a vacuum cleaner that suits your needs.

Enlist Allies
When it comes to cleaning there are a lot of unknowns: what cleaners to use, how to find the time, what to clean. Sometimes, it may just be best to enlist some allies, in other words, enlist the help of a house cleaning service. If things get too overwhelming or if you just need a break it may be to your benefit to hire a professional. The question of course is how to enlist help; with so many options available how do you choose the right service for you? Well here are four steps you can take to help you choose the right service for you.

1. Decide and write down what house cleaning you want done in your home by the house cleaning service you will eventually hire. You can write down which rooms you want cleaned, what items or furniture you want cleaned, like laundry, floors, carpets, ceilings, dishes. You can even decide on whether you want the house cleaning service you hire to make beds.

2. Next to your list write down the price you would be willing and can afford to pay for the house cleaning services you listed. State the price that you would be willing to pay per month. There are many house cleaning services out there. To help you find one that’s right for you and matches closely with what you have listed in step one and two you can…

3. Make a list of potential house cleaning services to hire by: asking for recommendations from friends and/or neighbors who use house cleaning services; using the classifieds and the telephone directory or using the internet.

4. Most house cleaning services offer free consultations. Using the list you made, contact the prospective house cleaning services and set up appointments. During these appointments you can find out what house cleaning services they offer, what they charge, as well as get an idea of their personality and professionalism.

Winning the War
With all the information provided above, you should be well equipped to win the war on dirt and protect your investment. Cleaning your home is one of the most basic ways you can ensure the value of your home does not depreciate. If you’re just buying a home remember to clean it well when you move in and keep it well maintained throughout your time there. If you are looking to sell, remember that a clean home looks much more presentable to prospective buyers and that a home that has been cleaned often will be in much better condition.

This paper is intended for informational purposes only. Nothing contained herein constitutes legal, financial or other professional advice. Transmission of these materials is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any relationship of any kind between the provider and the recipient. Some of these points may not apply in your area. Different term and conditions may vary from state to state and province to province. All articles, text and photographic material presented here is for the use and pleasure of the recipient only. Download PDF

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