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Stop! Read These 20 Cleaning Tips for the Home Before You Tackle the Mess

Posted by Hammond Knoll on Jan 9, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Your home is your castle.

It’s where you take your shoes off and let your hair down (or twist it up into a messy bun!).

A messy, dirty home is not all that easy to relax in, is it?

Believe it or not, there are some right ways – and wrong ways – to clean.

Here is a compilation of our best home cleaning tips and other savvy advice to help keep your residence in order.

1. You can’t OVER vacuum.

But you can UNDER vacuum – and that’s where the problems come in.

Vacuuming is one of the most important routines a homeowner can do to extend the life of their carpet  – other than the recommended maintenance carpet cleaning.

There are all kinds of dirt, soil and pollutants floating around in the air.

When they settle on the carpet, the result is matted, broken-down fibers and dark, dirty, heavy-traffic patterns.

Once that happens, your only hope is a restoration cleaning or – in a worst-case scenario – replacement. Yikes.

But you don’t have to worry. Follow these vacuuming guidelines and save your carpet.

So, how often should your carpet be vacuumed?

It depends on the frequency of the traffic and where it comes from. Here’s a basic guide you can follow:

Rooms with light traffic

This would include rooms like your spare bedrooms and your living room. 

You should vacuum traffic lanes once a week and the entire area (including under furniture and the edges of carpet) once a month.

Heavy traffic areas

Your family room, hallways and stairs fall under this category.

Vacuum these twice a week and the entire area (including under furniture and the edges of carpet) once per month.

Bonus tip: Take 3 passes with the vacuum in lighter soiled areas and up to 5-7 passes for heavily soiled areas. Changing the vacuum pattern will help “fluff” the fibers upright (Plus, this is a great time to try out new dance moves).

Always check with the manufacturer of the carpet to ensure you are within the guidelines of the warranty.

2. NEVER mix-and-match chemicals

There’s no nice way to say it: Stains suck.

You probably pull out the big guns to tackle those nasty, stubborn, set-in spots.

But you have to be careful as you perform your routine residential cleaning. 

Certain combinations of chemicals can make you sick – or worse.

For example, the combination of bleach and ammonia creates a deadly gas. 

Here are some of the less-dangerous-but-still-harmful effects of mixing chemicals that you could experience if you decide to play scientist:

  • Coughing.
  • Nausea.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Watery eyes.
  • Chest pain.
  • Irritation to the throat, nose, and eyes.
  • Wheezing.
  • Pneumonia and fluid in the lungs.

Check out this helpful info from the state of Washington on chemical mixing.

3. Keep the color of your scrubbing pad in mind

You want your vinyl floors to be as clean as possible, so your instinct is to grab the closest scrubber as soon as you notice a spot.

But wait just a second – the wrong scrubber could scratch your floor’s surface.

Scrubbing pads and sponges have different abrasiveness levels. 

  • White and blue are gentle, typically won't cause damage and are safe to use on most surfaces.
  • Green is more abrasive. These pads and sponges will scratch glass and other “hard” surfaces.
  • Brown and black pads are really abrasive and act like sandpaper. They’ll scratch almost everything they come into contact with.

Stick with white or blue pads to be safe. Use neutral cleaners instead of commercial abrasive cleaners like Comet or Barkeepers. 

They don’t help to remove a stain and will most likely leave behind a damaged surface.

4. Use a special pad for your area rugs

You think you’re doing your wall-to-wall carpet a favor by covering it with an area rug to avoid wear and protect it from stains. 

In reality, what you’ve done is caused yourself frustration.

The rug creeps, crawls and wrinkles – one would swear that the rug had grown legs.

There’s a way to stop the creepy-crawly rug.

There are special pads that keep the rug from sliding and protect the carpet underneath from the abrasive backing of the rug. (Over time, the back of the rug will cause fuzzing on carpet fibers.) 

The side that lays on the carpet is soft, while the side of the pad that faces up is specialized to grip the rug and keep it from wrinkling, sliding and bunching.  

We recommend the No-Muv pad that can be custom cut to fit perfectly under your rug. 

5. Use the right solution to remove blood from carpet

Accidents happen.

Once the boo-boos are safely cleaned, kissed and bandaged, one problem remains: Blood on the entry rug and hall carpet. 

Here’s how to handle this residential cleaning situation:

  • Scrape up the excess blood with a blunt knife. 
  • Use a detergent solution ( recipe below), and, starting at the outer edge, blot dry using a white absorbent cloth. 
  • Follow with the ammonia solution. Blot dry.

Detergent Solution:  Hammond Knoll Spot Be Gone OR substitute one teaspoon of liquid dishwashing detergent to 1/2 pint of warm water.

Ammonia Solution:  One tablespoon of household ammonia to one cup of warm water. (Refrain from a stronger ammonia solution on wool carpet.)

6. Keep your glass stovetop sparkling

Does a watched pot really never boil?

Yes, it does – it just seems like it takes forever.

But ponder this: If you weren’t watching the pot and it boils over, making a crusty, sticky, unsightly mess on your glass stove-top, should you have been patient and kept your eyes on the pot?

Yes or no, you still have the messy stove-top to clean. 

Here’s what you can do to handle this tricky situation.

You’ll need:

  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Hot water 
  • Microfiber towel (Our favorite!)

Follow these steps:

  • Once your stove has cooled down, spray or pour white vinegar over the crust. (Using a warm stove-top will create more crust.)
  • Next, coat the areas where you just put vinegar with baking soda.
  • Wet your towel in hot water and wring it out until the towel is just damp.
  • Lay the hot towel over the vinegar and baking soda for 10-15 minutes.
  • Clean the stove-top with the towel using a scrubbing motion. Use the additional baking soda mixture for removing the most stubborn areas. Wipe up the excess debris.
  • Finally, using a clean towel, apply more vinegar and buff it back to a shine. 

7. Give your area rug new edges 

You’ve done the right thing by putting carpets at the entrances to and inside the main door(s) of your home, and you placed them in the kitchen and hallways to protect your precious floors.

You’ve also laid rugs in various areas to prevent slipping and tripping.

Well done! 👏

Have you noticed how worn the edges have come (maybe even a little soiled), but you haven’t done anything with them due to the expense and hassle of replacing the rugs?

What if we told you that you could do it WITHOUT THE HASSLE – all while saving money?

You can have the edges replaced!

Any and all carpets can be trimmed on the edges and have a new edging applied. AND the rug can be cleaned at the same time. WHOOP WHOOP!

It’s a one- to two-week turnaround. we’ll even pick it up and deliver it directly back to you.

How?

Call us at 253-300-3014 or click here for more details.

8. Fix rusty residue

Has this ever happened to you?

You decide one day that you’re going to rearrange the living room (it’s always good to switch things up every now and then).  

As you move the furniture, you notice that the legs from a chair have left rust marks on the carpet.

Now the new arrangement won’t work, because the stains are visible to anyone who comes into the room. 

Frustrating!

Furniture stains left on the carpet are either rust from metal legs or stains from wooden legs.

How NOT to let this happen to you:

  • When carpet is damp (after having it cleaned) – do not put the furniture back for 24 hours. OR, if it’s damp, you can put squares of foil under the feet of the furniture until the carpet is dry. Damp carpet will rust from metal or absorb stain from the wood.
  • If you spill liquid and it runs down the leg of a table that is resting on carpet, use a square of foil under the leg or move the table/furniture until the carpet is completely dry.
  • Protect your carpet every day with a spiked-plastic carpet protector. They come in round or square shapes and different sizes, too. Here’s an example. This will also protect your carpet from indentations!

9. Prevent the rug-on-carpet slide

Rugs on top of carpet are super cool. 

They add texture to a low-pile carpet, they protect the carpet from wear and stains, and last but not least, rugs add a splash of color to your home’s interior.

But, there are a couple of downfalls to having rugs on carpet, such as:

  • The rugs move, slide and shift on top of the carpet which can be a nuisance when you’re constantly having to straighten them. 
  • If the backing of the rug is abrasive, over time, walking on the rug will break down the top fibers of the carpet, causing them to fuzz on the ends.
  • When a heavy piece of furniture sits on the rug that is on top of carpet, the legs can cause damage to the rug. The heaviness of the furniture presses into the rug, causing wrinkles or creasing around the leg. Eventually, the backing of the area rug will be permanently broken.

But there’s good news:

There’s a special pad that can be purchased (right here at HammondKnoll. wink, wink). 

This special pad is called No-Muv.

The No-Muv pad is soft on one side, scratchy on the other, and firm. The soft side protects the carpet while the scratchy side grips the rug to prevent it from sliding. The firmness of the pad protects the carpet from heavy leg indentation.

The No-Muv pad can be custom-cut to fit under your rug. We recommend the pad for rugs 4x6 and larger.

10. Remedy sweat stains

Unsightly sweat stains got you down?

It’s embarrassing enough when your pits sweat out in public.

But how about when your sweat stains remain even AFTER a couple of washings. (White t-shirts are the worst!)

Now THAT’S the pits. (No pun intended. 😉)

Let’s get rid of those rings once and for all:

Step 1 - Soak dress shirts, t-shirts (either dark or light colors) in equal parts cold water and distilled white vinegar. If you have a light stain, then no other steps will be needed, and you can wash the garment as usual.

Step 2 - For stubborn stains, make the stain paste by mixing: 1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide, 1 tablespoon of salt, and a ½ cup baking soda. Apply the paste directly to the sweat stain with a small brush (such as a toothbrush), let it sit for 1 hour, then wash as usual.

IMPORTANT: The above paste should only be used on white clothing. For all colors, replace the hydrogen peroxide with cold water and then follow the same steps.

11. Handle hardwood floor gaps

Let’s talk hardwood floors. 

One day the seams are perfect then the next there is a gap ¼-inch wide between the two pieces of wood.

WHY?

Even though Mother Nature is outside – she affects us indoors too. 

Hence the separation in your hardwood floor.

Wood shrinks as it dries out, and it expands when it gets wet and humid. That regular expansion and contraction over time is the most common cause of gaps and is the main reason why most gaps are seasonal.  

You’ll notice that during the winter, while we’re using indoor heaters, the humidity is low, so the gaps will be very fine if there are any.  

In the summer, with the windows open and the humidity creeping in from the outside, your gaps will be wider.

Keep in mind, gaps should never be more than a ¼ of an inch. If they’re under that width, the best tip for you is to exercise patience. (Sorry, you don’t have much of an option here!)

Hardwood needs to be able to expand and contract. If it doesn’t have enough room to do so, you’ll have buckling at the seams of the hardwood. (Not good! This causes permanent damage to the floor.)

If your gaps are MORE than ¼-inch, we recommend a hardwood floor specialist to tighten it up. (Call HK! We have a couple of solid, reputable companies to send you to.)

12. Clean your car’s upholstery

You’re starving and just ran through the drive-through and ordered your favorite burger, fries and shake. Yum – it smells fantastic!

As you unwrap the burger a big glob of ketchup and mustard land on your car seat. Humph.

You proceed to take the napkin provided and rub the spot, only making it worse..now what?

Take a deep breath, this tip will help you to “safely” clean your cloth car seats:

Blot up surplus spillage. Use a detergent solution (recipe below) and start at the outer edge of the stain and use a light or white-colored towel. (This will avoid transferring colors from the towel to the fabric.) 

Spray or dab the towel in the solution, blotting the affected area. (Do NOT agitate.)  

This may take multiple steps. In-between blotting and re-applying the solution, use a dry towel to blot any excess cleaning solution out of the fiber.  

If a light stain remains, re-saturate the area with the solution. Leave a clean towel on top of the stain with something heavy on top of the towel for 24 hours. 

Detergent Solution: HammondKnoll Spot Be Gone or substitute one teaspoon of liquid dishwashing detergent to 1/2 pint of warm water.

13. Keep your fresh-cut flowers bug-free

Nothing is as beautiful, fragrant, or more rewarding than bringing in fresh-cut flowers from the garden.

Fresh flowers make us happy as they add that splash of color to any room.

UNTIL.

You notice those pesky little bugs crawling on the petals, leaves and often, even on the counter. 

Humph.

Don’t let those buggers get you down. Here’s how to get rid of them once and for all – the “natural” way.

  1. Lightly spray the flowers outside with water.
  2. Shake the flowers upside down prior to bringing them into your home.
  3. Submerge the head of the flowers in a bucket of soapy water.
  4. Re-rinse the flowers.
  5. Shake one last time.

If a few aphids remain, you may need to repeat the process one more time.

14. Save your leather

Leather furniture is the go-to for many active households because it’s tough, easy to clean and withstands quite a bit of abuse.

HOWEVER...

Leather does not appreciate water or any liquid – whether it comes from a spilled glass of water, a water ring from a sweating cup or a wet towel tossed on the seat cushion.

Sooooo, what to do if this happens to you?

How to dry wet leather:

  1. Don’t Panic.
  2. Dry using a tissue or soft cloth. Gently wipe off any standing water and allow it to dry naturally to the point that it is just slightly damp. Do NOT apply unnatural heat, like a blow dryer – not even on the cold drying mode. This could cause the leather to wrinkle.
  3. Condition. While the leather is slightly wet (just damp), apply a reasonably thick coat of leather conditioner (always keep some handy, for when these “oops” happen). Massage the conditioner into the surface of the leather and leave it to dry for several hours or overnight. This will allow the conditioner to penetrate the leather and replenish the natural oils that were stripped when it got wet.
  4. Re-apply. If the leather seems dry in the area that was affected, apply another round of the conditioner to the area, leaving it for several hours or overnight.

Bonus tip: This works for your jacket, purse or anything else you have that’s made of leather.

15. Take care of your porcelain sink

Porcelain sinks ARE:

  • Resistant to chemical stains.
  • Scratch-resistant.
  • Easy to maintain.
  • They don’t show watermarks as stainless sinks do.
  • You can set a hot pan in them.
  • I’m sure we missed something! 😂

There’s just one little issue with porcelain sinks.

They mark easily.

The gray and/or black marks come from the aluminum of pots, pans and utensils.

These marks can make a sink look like it’s unkempt and dirty.

That is until you put this handy little cleaning tip into action.

It’s simple. Actually, it’s SUPER simple.

You need three things:

  1. A damp sponge.
  2. Soft Scrub.
  3. A little elbow grease.

Dampen the sponge with water, apply the Soft Scrub to the sink, scrub the sink with the sponge to remove the stains.

16. Choose the right area-rug fiber for your home

In the market for a new rug?

There are so many fibers, so many rugs, so many choices…

With all those options, how do you make a decision, especially in those areas of your home that get a TON of traffic?

We can start by advising what NOT to buy:

  • Rayon. The sides of the fibers get scratched making rugs look soiled even when they’re not.
  • Olefin. The material is bleach-friendly and resists pet urine stains, however, oil-based stains are really difficult to remove.   
  • Polypropylene. The cleaning capabilities are the same as Olefin, but it’s well-known for packing and causing matting and crushing in high-traffic areas.
  • Cotton. It’s not ideal because it gives up colors and dyes and is difficult to clean once it becomes soiled. Cotton rugs are famous for imitating faux silk.

Here’s our recommendation for your next area rug purchase:

Wool, wool, wool! 

Did we mention wool? 

Yes, we did! 

Wool rugs have it going on, whether it’s handmade or made on a machine.  

It’s naturally stain-resistant and doesn’t wear like the above fibers. Wool can withstand a lot of traffic for years and years.

Wool costs a bit more initially, but it lasts 5, 10 or 15 times longer than synthetic or cotton fibers.  

As a matter of fact, we quite frequently see wool rugs from the 1940s and 1950s that look like they have very little wear when they’ve been properly cared for.

If you happened to have purchased the “non-recommended” fibers, no worries – you’ve got Knoll for the best cleaning results 😀

17. Prevent water spots on shower walls

Water spots giving you the blahs?

These unsightly intruders like to show up on showers with tile, natural stone and even fiberglass.

They’re nearly impossible to remove once they attach themselves to the walls and glass doors.

Well, impossible for the homeowner to remove – but NOT a professional.

How do water spots happen? 

Water (especially well water) contains microscopic minerals. When beads of water adhere to the sides of tile and the liquid evaporates, it leaves behind mineral particles. 

Over time, these particles build up and will cloud your glass doors and obscure the shine on your tile. 

These mineral deposits are actually as hard as a rock. To remove these once they’re formed can be very challenging. 

The goal is to keep them from forming in the first place. 

Here’s one of our best home cleaning tips:

Use a soft rubber squeegee after each shower to remove excess water from walls and shower doors. 

You can also use a synthetic shammy cloth. 

The goal is to remove as much water from the shower walls as possible, which will reduce mineral deposits from forming. 

There are some showerheads or water filters that can be installed in-line to the showerhead that will filter and reduce some of the mineral deposits (Here’s an example of a reputable manufacturer). 

Leaving shower doors cracked open will also help remove leftover moisture.  

If you haven’t used a squeegee and it’s too late – no worries. You’ve got KNOLL to remove the pesky little minerals.

18. Care for your luxury vinyl tile floors

Luxury Vinyl Tile (aka LVT) floors are the newest craze these days.

They have some serious perks. They resist: 

  • Water.
  • Scratches.
  • Stains.
  • Dents. 
  • Scuffs.  

Awesome, right?  

Yes, however, they do tend to get dirty easily. 

Grime collects between the seams where the planks meet – especially with the floors that have  “faux” wood grains.

So, what’s the proper way to keep your floors clean?

Cuz it’s not such a luxury when they get dirty.

Here’s how to keep your LVT clean and shiny.

  • Sweep or vacuum regularly (once a week).
  • Wipe up spills immediately with a dry towel.
  • Use a lightly-damp mop with a cleaner recommended by the floor manufacturer (see links for the top 4 below). If you don’t know, a non-abrasive cleaner can be used.  Always test an inconspicuous area prior to using.

What NOT to use:

  1. Any steam cleaner. Steam can absorb into the seams, causing damage to the floor.
  2. Harsh chemicals. These will remove the coating that protects the floor, causing discoloration.
  3. A vacuum with a beater bar or brush.

Wondering which cleaner to use? We’ve included the top 4 manufacturer’s recommendations and care pages for you.

Did you know LVT floors can be professionally cleaned? Yep, and the floor turns out AMAZING! 

19. Take care of your shag carpeting

Everyone loves a Jolly Rancher candy – apple, strawberry, and the most favored-flavor: watermelon. Who can resist?

However, it belongs in your mouth, NOT on the floor.

So, when it ends up embedded in the carpet, remember this handy little how-to cleaning tip:

  • Use a scraping tool (like a butter knife) to scrape as much of the sticky candy from the carpet as possible.
  • Dip a clean sponge in warm water and gently brush outward from the center of the stain to remove the rest of the candy particles. Be careful not to agitate the carpet as it will cause the fibers to fuzz at the ends.
  • Make a detergent solution of Hammond Knoll Spot Be Gone or substitute one teaspoon of liquid dishwashing detergent and one teaspoon of white vinegar to 1/2 pint of warm water. Spray or drip onto the stain. Using a light-colored towel, blot the stain, and repeat until all the candy and any traces of the stain have been removed. If a slight stain still remains, reapply the solution, leave a towel on top of the stain with something heavy on top for 24 hours. This will help draw the rest of the color out of the carpet.
  • Rinse the carpet with straight water and blot the area with a towel. Let it dry completely.

20. Clean your outdoor furniture

Why is outdoor furniture a target for bird doo-doo?

And, how is it such a magnet for pollen, dirt and mold?

Poly, resin, plastic, wicker and metal outdoor furniture take a beating from the elements during the summer months. It’s even worse if you leave it uncovered through the winter.

It requires an average of 3 to 4 cleanings per year. Here’s what you need to know:

The easiest way to clean the bird poo, pollen, mold and dirt off of your outdoor furniture is to use a specialized cleaning product, such as Star Brite outdoor furniture cleaner. You can also fill a pint spray bottle with water, add a teaspoon of dish detergent and shake the bottle.

  • Spray the solution on the furniture and allow it to sit for 30 - 60 seconds.
  • Using a soft bristle brush, lightly agitate the furniture.
  • Use a microfiber cloth or towel to remove the loosened soil.
  • Rinse with straight water.

Put these residential cleaning tips to work for you

Keeping your home in tip-top shape so it’s the haven you need is important.

With the right home cleaning tips for handling some of the most common mishaps, you’re all set.

What has been your biggest cleaning challenge?

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