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11 Trickiest Cleaning Problems Solved

Queen of Clean Linda Cobb's secrets for the chores that drive you crazy


(This article previously appeared on Grandparents.)

No one likes to clean. And even among chores, you probably have the ones you mind less and ones you absolutely can’t stand doing. “The chores that drive me crazy? The most miserable for me have always been getting mold and mildew off the shower, and grease on the cooktop,” says cleaning expert and Queen of Clean, Linda Cobb.

These and so many others can be a hassle for people. But with Cobb’s cleaning secrets, not anymore. Her suggestions for 11 cleaning problems:

1. Pet Smells in the Carpet

“Quick action is the best way to handle the problem,” says Cobb. “If you are home when the accident happens, immediately pour club soda on the urine. For feces, carefully scoop up and then follow the urine directions.”

Remember, cleaning is about wiping up dirt and disinfecting. The best natural cleaner is hot soap and water.

— Linda Cobb, cleaning expert

Urine directions:

Step 1: Blot using a pad of paper towels that you stand on.

Step 2: Pour club soda on the area. The idea is to bring the urine to the surface and remove it. The carbonation will bubble up the urine and the salts will keep it from staining. Do this several times and then blot well.

For old accidents, use the same method and then follow with a quality carpet spotter. Cobb likes Carpet CPR and for odors, Odorzout. Odorzout absorbs the odor like a sponge absorbs water. You will need to sprinkle on a thin layer, leave 24 hours and then vacuum up. Repeat until it has absorbed all of the odor.

2. Dusty Chandelier or Ceiling Fan

“I use a vacuum attachment called VaccUFlex,” says Cobb. “It attaches to your vacuum turning it into a sucking machine and getting into all the hard to reach areas. It eliminates taking the chandelier apart.” It’s also great for the cleaning the lint trap in the clothes dryer and crevices in the car. If you don’t have a vacuum that can use an attachment, try buying a telescoping lamb’s wool duster.

“It is no-hassle and picks up all the dust without you having to get on a ladder,” says Cobb. And if you do choose to get on a ladder, Cobb recommends cleaning a ceiling fan with an old pillowcase. “Just slide the pillowcase over blade and pull.”

3. Grease on the Cooktop

“Combine baking soda and Dawn Original or Ultra Dish Soap into a runny paste,” says Cobb. Apply using a gentle scrubbing sponge. If needed, let the area soak for 30 minutes or so. Wipe off with paper towels, rinse and dry. So easy!

4. Streak-Free Windows

On the outside, use a solution of one quart of warm water and 1/2 cup of cornstarch. Sponge it on the windows, and then buff off. “Your windows will be sparkling clean and the cornstarch takes away static electricity which means dirt won’t attract to them as quickly,” says Cobb.

On the inside window, use a solution of 50 percent water and 50 percent rubbing alcohol. “Buy a blackboard eraser or whiteboard eraser to get rid of streaks.”

5. The Kitchen Sponge

We’ve all heard lots of methods. Here’s the one that works best, according to Cobb. You should do this once a week:

Step 1: Wash out the sponge with soap and water and rinse.

Step 2: Wet it with warm water so that it is good and wet and place it in a bowl.

Step 3: Place in microwave for 2 minutes. Remove carefully — it will be hot — and allow to cool. Voila, you’re sponge is disinfected and the steam from the sponge in your microwave loosens the caked on gunk. Just wipe down the inside of the microwave afterwards.

One more note: In place of a sponge, Cobb prefers using a Nature’s Kloth. “It’s made from leftover meat packaging and one cloth equals using 15 rolls of paper towels,” she says. “You can wash 300 times and it dries quickly.”

6. The Coffeemaker

“The old-fashioned white vinegar trick has stood the test of time,” says Cobb. “This will remove coffee oils that cause bitterness and mineral deposits.” Here’s how:

Step 1: Fill the automatic coffeemaker with 50 percent white vinegar and 50 percent water as if you were making a full pot of coffee. Put a filter in the basket if you use one.

Step 2: Turn the pot on and let about half of the water run through and then shut off.

Step 3: Let it sit 30 minutes to an hour and then turn it back on and let the water/vinegar solution finish running through.

Step 4: Wash the coffee carafe, filter basket, etc., and fill the coffeemaker with clean water and run completely through. Do this a second time.

Step 5: Rinse all the removable parts well and you are ready to make coffee.

7. A Smelly Garbage Can

“This is a very simple fix,” says Cobb. Wash the garbage can — when needed — with a solution made up of 50 percent white vinegar and 50 percent water. If it’s a tough smell that just won’t budge, try using Odorzout.

8. Household Cleaners That Don’t Work

“Remember, cleaning is about wiping up dirt and disinfecting,” says Cobb. “The best natural cleaner is hot soap and water.” She suggests washing down kitchen surfaces keeping the cloth or sponge well-rinsed and clean. Dry the surface thoroughly. “If you need something a little stronger, here is my recipe for a great all-purpose cleaner that has kick.”

All-Purpose Cleaning Spray
1 tablespoon borax
1 tablespoon washing soda
1 teaspoon dishwashing soap
1 cup vinegar
4 cups hot water
25-30 drops essential oil (optional)

Combine all ingredients together well then pour into spray bottle. Spray on, then wipe surface clean with a damp cloth or a paper towel. Can be used to clean and disinfect almost any surface. Be sure to label your spray bottle.

9. Rings and Rust in the Toilet

“Baking soda is an awesome daily cleaner,” says Cobb. “You can also add about 1/2 cup of vinegar to the bowl. Let sit and then brush and flush.”

If you have rust and discoloration, shut the water off at the tank and flush the toilet. Then, Cobb recommends sprinkling in Bar Keepers’ Friend Cleanser and scrub it around with the bowl brush. Continue until rust is gone and then turn on water, flush and swish and flush again.

10. Smelly Dishwasher

“I run a product called Smelly Washer through my dishwasher every month,” says Cobb. “If you see mold or debris, saturate a paper towel with white vinegar and wipe it down first.”

11. Mold and Mildew in the Shower

“This is my biggest pet peeve,” says Cobb. But using the techniques below put an end to that gross gunk that builds up in the shower.

To get rid of mildew and mold build up in the bathroom:

Combine one cup of baking soda, one cup borax and one cup hot water. Make it into a runny paste, then scrub and rinse. You can also use this for gunk in front of sinks and the stove.

To get rid of pesky grout grime in the shower:

Mix baking soda and chlorine bleach together to form a thick, glue-like paste. Put on rubber gloves and pat the mixture onto tiles. Let it sit overnight. Next day, rinse out the shower. Voila, clean with no scrubbing necessary!

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