Cleaning Tips

Freshen Your Vacuum Cleaner Bag

You know that unpleasant smell that appears every time you use your vacuum cleaner? It's a combination of dust mite poop, pet hair, tracked-in dirt, pollen, shed skin, spills. . . you get the picture. No wonder it's awful. You can't change your vacuum bag every time you use the machine, but we have a great tip for you. Pull out the bag and drop in a dozen or so pellets of laundry scent booster. The next time you use your vacuum cleaner you will be amazed at the nice scent wafting through your place. The stuff lasts until you change the bag.

Magic Cleaning Solution

Each Cub has his own charm and his own way of doing things. He may even have his own secret cleaning solution. This one is a substitute for that horrid, lung-killing oven cleaner that burns your eyes, sets off the smoke alarm for weeks after cleaning, and makes all your baked goods taste like chemicals.

Make a mixture of the following household ingredients in a spray bottle:

  • 1/4 cup Dawn dishwashing liquid
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cut white vinegar
  • 1 1/4 cups water

Before going to bed, spray it on the inside of your oven (including the racks) and leave it overnight. The next day, wipe if off and rinse. You'll be amazed and you'll thank the sexy boys of Cub Cleaners.

More Detergent is Seldom the Answer

By using too much detergent, you are actually doing the oppositeWatch your detergent use! of what you think. Rinsing and spinning have a hard time getting rid of excess detergent. Some places can't clear the soap or detergent and get horrible bacteria buildup that you can't see: under collars, underarms, inside pockets. Yuk.

Here is the secret tip: Use half the amount of detergent you normally would. We wager that your clothes will come out just as clean as you expect. If not, add a bit more until you are satisfied.

There is a caveat, however. If you have exceptionally hard water, you may need a bit more detergent than you are using. Luckily, your detergent bottle or box will give you good directions. Save money and get better looking (and smelling) clothes. Win, win!

Should I Vacuum or Dust First?

The eternal question.Like the boxers or briefs argument, there are arguments on both sides:

  • • Dust first because dust and allergens are floating in the air all the time. Get them off your furniture and then vacuum them up and you’re done with them.
  • • Vacuum first because vacuuming stirs up dust and other floating particles and they will end up on surfaces throughout your house. So you can then dust to remove them.

 

Sorry, there is no easy answer to this one because it depends upon a number of variables:

  • • How much carpet you have v. how many bare floors and surfaces,
    • How complex is your Knickknack Profile? Are you a smooth-surface modernist or do you have several collections that gather dust? 
    • What room are you talking about?
    • What did your mother tell you to do?

 

It boils down to this: If you don’t have lots of dust, the vacuum v. dusting issue doesn’t matter at all. The guys at Cub Cleaners have years of experience as professionals and they have found the best combination of solutions to markedly cut down on the amount of dust in your place.

• Do kitchen and bathrooms first. Clean the counters and then sweep and mop. You will cut down on the dust in the other parts of the house. Same with any other rooms with tile or hardwood floors. 
• Next, vacuum carpets. Then use a slightly damp microfiber cloth to dust. It holds the dust beautifully.
Follow some basic tips and it won’t matter which comes first:
• Change your vacuum bag and filter often, at least monthly. A vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter helps trap the tiniest particles.
• Dust and vacuum weekly. This keeps the chore in control and is especially important if someone in your family has allergies.
• Vacuum halls and entry ways very several times each week. This helps prevent some of the dust from entering the main rooms. 
• Stop dust before it starts. Change the filters on your heat and air conditioning system.

Despite what your mother told you, we have learned that if you take these precautions and keep up with your work, ultimately it really doesn’t matter whether you vacuum or dust first.

Clean your Air Conditioner

Air conditioners need regular cleaningAs the weather warms, your thoughts will inevitably turn to your trusty air conditioner. The thing has sat idle for a few months, so it needs some care before resuming its labors for the summer. Now is the time to get ready.

If you have central air conditioning, find all the vents and vacuum them thoroughly. If you're feeling particularly ambitious, it's a good idea to unscrew the vents and clean them or drop them into the dishwasher.

Do you have a window unit? Unplug the thing and remove the front panel and the filter (usually a spongy thing. Clean the inside works and coils with your vacuum cleaner, getting into every little crevice.

Rinse the filter of visible dirt and then soak it in a half-and-half mixture of water and white vinegar for an hour or so. Rinse it well afterward and let it air dry.

While the filter is drying, clean the exterior of the unit and its controls with mild soapy water or a disinfecting wipe. (Actually, it's a good idea to regularly use a wipe on all appliance controls and remote devices.) When everything is clean and dry, reassemble and plug in the beast. You are ready for the hottest days of summer!

Clean your Phone
Clean your mobile phone regularly.

You eat a burger, shake hands, handle money, and heaven only knows what else while handling your mobile phone. Think about how dirty it must be and how many germs are just waiting to crawl onto your face. That's a sobering thought.

Regularly clean your phone. You can use a commercial cleaner, but unless it smells like alcohol it is probably just cleaning off some dirt, not killing the germs. The best approach is to spray just enough disinfectant cleaner onto a soft dry cloth to make it moist but not soaking, and then wipe the phone clean. Pay particular attention to the mic area. If you want to make extra sure, go back over the plastic parts (avoid the screen unless it has a screen protector) with a cotton ball barely moistened with rubbing alcohol. (Or use Russian vodka if you are boycotting.) And for heavens sake, listen to your mom and wash your hands several times a day.

Disinfectant or Antibacterial? Good question.

Look carefully at labels on your cleaning products to make sure they are doing what you expect of them.

Disinfectant liquids and sprays for surfaces contain bleach, alcohol, pine oil, or ammonia as the active ingredients. These compounds fight viruses, mildew, and bacteria.

Antibacterials, as their name implies, are designed to kill bacteria. If they don't kill viruses, why would you use an antibacterial? Well, labels can be misleading. Consumers wrongly assume something "antibacterial" is more powerful, so companies use that term. If you read the label, you will see that many are really disinfectants.

The type of disinfectant you choose depends upon your intended use. Bleach and alcohol tend to work faster than ammonia and don't smell as bad. Alcohol is flammable until it has dried.

Pine oil products are fine for some surfaces, but don't use them on surfaces that will touch food.

If you are preparing food and need to quickly disinfect a surface that was just touched by raw meat, for example, us a produce that contains chlorine bleach.

Be cautious of overusing disinfectants and antibacterials, as this can contribute to the emergence of resistant bacteria. Only use them on surfaces where contact may cause illnesses. For example, there is no need to use disinfectants on walls and only use on floors if you have toddlers crawling around licking the floors. Bathtubs, showers, and even toilets can be cleaned with ordinary household cleaners unless they have mildew problems. (Taming mildew will be a future tip.)

Rescue Your Favorite Shirt

Even if you have beautiful armpits, you may get yellow stains on your white shirts. Get rid of them by mixing a solution of 2 crushed aspirins and 1/2 cup of water and letting the ugly spots soak for a few hours before laundering. Your favorite whites will be rescued for another day.

Cleaning Grandma's Baking Pan

You know you have at least one disgusting rusted baking pan or cookie sheet. You can't part with it because it belonged to you dear grandmother, reminds you of your ex, you hate the idea of tossing out something that still works, or you are too cheap to buy a new one.

That's cool. Cub Cleaners once again comes to your rescue with a solution.

1. Wash off the nasty food.

Cleaning a rusty pan.

2. While the pan is still wet, coat it with baking soda. Let sit for 30 minutes.

By now the baking soda should be a very thick paste. Scrub the pan hard with scouring pad. One of those green plastic thingies works. This takes time and elbow grease, so keep at it. It took time to get into this horrible a condition. It deserves some effort.

3. When you finish, Rinse anddry thoroughly. Spray with a light coat of Pam or similar spray oil. Wipe off any excess oil with a paper towel.  It won't be perfect, but it will be a whole lot better.

Remember that the pan rusted because it is steel and came into contact with water for too long. The secret to preventing this from happening again is to wash the pan in the sink when you have finished baking or cooking, dry it with a towel or paper towel, and stray it lightly again. Never soak the pan in water and do not put it in the dishwasher.

The Nastiest Place in the House? The Kitchen Sink

That's right, your kitchen sink area has ten times more germs than your toilet seat, according to studies made by Dr. Kelly Reynolds, an environmental biologist with the Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona.

Think about it: you prepare raw meat and veggies in the area, rinse off the cutting board and knives, and everything looks nice and clean. But little invisible leftovers cling to the surfaces of the sink and grow at an alarming rate.

After you prepare raw meat (and at least a couple other times a week) you should scrub it down with a good stiff brush, paying particular attention to the area around the drain. Then spray a mixture of 1/4 cup of clorine bleach + 1 quart of water all over the sink, faucet hardware, and cleaning brush. Let it sit for 10-20 minutes, and rinse.

Using Cologne Samples

You know those pesky smelly cologne and perfume samples bound into magazines? By the time you get three or four of them in one magazine you are bound to either gag or have a sneezing fit.

Do we have news for you! Save them up and put them to good use. One at a time, please. Cut one out of the magazine, open it up, and tuck one in a drawer with your undies. Or socks, or whatever. It keeps them fresh without being overpowering and you get to feel all righteous about reusing stuff.

Reuse those smelly cologne samples.

Cleaning with Russian Vodka

We all know it's not politically correct to drink Russian vodka now that they hate gay people and are hosting the Olympics (what ever will those figure skaters do?). Don't dump out that Russian vodka just yet. We have some better tips:

First, read the label. Most vodka you think is Russian isn't. Even if it sounds Russian, read the label. For example, Stolichnaya is from Luxembourg. If it's not Russian, fix yourself a vodka-cran and stop reading.

If it's Russian, you can use it in a number of creative ways.

  • Dab some on on a clean soft cloth and use it to clean porcelain, chrome, or glass items. Buff a little and they will sparkle.
  • Put some in a spray bottle and spray on mildew. Let it sit for 15 minutes and use a toothbrush (an old one, please) to scrub it clean.
  • Put a few drops of vodka and a teaspoon of sugar in a vase with water and your cut flowers will last longer. And if they don't, they at least die happier.
  • Spray or dab some under the arms of that slightly smelly blazer that you can't afford to take to the cleaners just yet. Fresh!
  • Spray your smelly feet with vodka. It takes away the scary odor.
Caring for Pillows

Have a pillow fight at least weekly to fluff up your pillows. Put them outside to air out occasionally when it's breezy (and not raining). Otherwise toss them in the dryer on a no-heat cycle with a dry towel and some clean tennis balls or a sneaker. Yeah, it's noisy.

Look at the care tags to see how to clean your pillow. Don't launder them too often because it's a pain and they lose some texture if you do it often. You can usually machine wash foam or synthetic-filled pillows on a gentle cycle with warm water and very mild detergent. Carefully hand-wash feather and down pillows and roll them in towels to get out as much moisture as possible, then spin them in a washing machine several times.

Dry pillows thoroughly so they don't get mildew. Whether drying in the sun or a machine, punch or knead them every 20 minutes to distribute the stuffing and get it all dry.

Next time, use a pillow cover over the pillow before putting on a pillow case. They absorb hair products, moisturizers, and messy drooling and are easier to wash than pillows.

Rescue Your Hopeless Keyboard

So you come home and your roommate's cat has spilled Mountain Dew all over your keyboard (yeah, right) and it has mostly dried out. You try to clean it as best you can, but keys still stick. You are faced with tossing it in the Goodwill bag and letting them deal with it.

Wait, there is one more chance to resurrect it, and it sounds scary. Take out batteries (if it has any) and put the whole thing in a mesh laundry bag and run it through a rinse cycle in your dishwasher. Pull it out, shake it a few times, and get out the blow dryer.

What's the worst that can happen? It goes back into the Goodwill bag. Otherwise, you save yourself money and are astonished with your new keyboard. It may lose some keys in the process (hence the mesh laundry bag) but you can snap them back in place. You don't know which ones go where? Look at your smart phone, dummy.

Cleaning and Maintaining Cutting Boards

Those frighteningly germ-infested boards can baffle even the most fastidious cleaner. Plastic and wood are the same. What to do? If possible, use different ones for meats and veggies. But we know you won't do that, so here's the plan.

Wash it as soon as possible after using it with a brush and dishwashing liquid. (Plastic cutting boards can go right in the dishwasher.) Don't let a wood board sit it water because it will warp more than Pat Robertson's mind. Regularly freshen and smooth your wood cutting board by sprinkling some salt on the surface and rubbing it down with the cut half of a lemon. To seriously disinfect boards, occasionally clean with a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water. Store boards on their sides rather than stacking them.

Occasionally, lightly sand wood boards with fine sandpaper and wipe down with mineral oil. Everyone loves well-oiled wood.

Refresh Your Disgusting Mattress

There is hope. Follow these steps:

1. If your mattress cover is stained, soak it in cold water with OxiClean, then wash it in the hottest water possible. Add a cup of white vinegar to the wash water to help deodorize it. If you don't use a mattress cover, buy one now so your mother won't disinherit you for being a complete slob.

2. Using a sieve, lightly dust the top evenly with some baking soda. Leave the soda on when you make the bed because it will gradually draw out more dirt, odors, and moisture from the mattress.

3. Toss a couple tennis balls in the dryer with the mattress cover to fluff it back up.

4. Remake the bed, leaving the baking soda. You can vacuum it up the next time you change the sheets. Hopefully, that is before Christmas.

5. If you want to sleep better, tuck a couple of lavender-scented dryer sheets under the mattress cover before you make the bed.

Microfiber Cloths

Microfiber cloths feel and look so delicate, but don't be fooled. You can't kill them. They are one of Cleanings Little Miracles.

Their effectiveness is the combination of extremely thin polyester and nylon fibers woven in intricate ways to provide millions of little edges to trap dirt and dust. They also get all staticy and the charge attracts dust. They are nonabrasive and cheap.

But you CAN kill them and make them ineffective. The secret is to wash them but don't use any fabric softener and don't put them in the dryer. Toss them over a chair or something for a couple hours and they are ready to go.

Cleaning Shag Carpets

Please, please tell me you don't have any. Surely not on purpose. They came with your apartment and you can't change them, right?

The reason shag carpets suck is that upright vacuums with rotating brushes destroy the loops and they get caught. Your only tool is a canister vacuum that just sucks and doesn't rotate. They don't suck enough to get out all the dirt. So it builds up, gets nasty, and you get allergies and sneeze and cough and die young.

If you have a shag carpet and can't get rid of it just yet, vacuum as best you can as often as possible. Use a rug rake to make it all nice and fluffy and the pile all going in the right direction. Then step on it and it will be all messy again. Then invite your OCD neighbor over and watch him panic.

Really, get rid of shag rugs. Please.

The Cub Cleaners Secret Magic Tool #1

One shouldn't give out company secrets, but in this case we will make some exception.

Ask any Cub what his favorite is and he will tell you, "a toothbrush."

Yes, toothbrushes make it easier to get behind and around faucets, between and around dials on appliances, in grooves, in tiny holes, narrow openings, and hard-to-reach places. The long handle and ergonomic shape allow you to put just the right amount of pressure at the right place. Stiff toothbrushes are hard to find, but medium ones are easier. Check your local dollar store for multi-packs.

Oh, and toothpaste has great cleaning power without damaging delicate surfaces. You know, like chrome plating and teeth.

Of course there should be no shortage of toothbrushes because you change yours out every month like you are supposed to, right? Yeah, right.