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Maintain your home investment

Updated:2007-11-14 13:51:47
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We don’t typically think of the cleaning and maintenance of our homes as “Soil Management” – that sounds more like an agricultural class at the State University. But when considered as an approach to the care of home interiors it becomes a protective concept that can help you protect your investment and maintain the life and beauty of the surfaces in your home. The whole idea rests on preparing and maintaining the hard and soft surfaces in your home so that you prevent soil and abrasion from becoming a problem that you have to continually repair. Simply put – you manage the surfaces and soil instead of them managing you.

Designer's Corner       Designer's Corner       Designer's Corner 

American Homestyle & Gardening Surface-Care Guide recommends the following procedures:

Countertops and Backsplashes

  • Ceramic Tile: Ceramic tile requires little care beyond wiping clean. Built-up dirt can be removed with household soap and water; or use a general purpose household cleaner if the label indicates it is safe for ceramic tile. Never use scouring powders on the tiles since these may scratch the glazing. A solution of chlorine beach and water or a commercial cleanser are effective for cleaning grout.
  • Laminate: Clean laminate with soap and water, or virtually any nonabrasive household cleaner. Solid-color laminate hides nicks and scratches best.
  • Solid Surfacing: These are acrylic and Polyurethane-acrylic materials that mimic the look of stone. (Some of the brand names in solid surfacing include Corian, Swanstone, Nevamar, Fountainhead.) Solid surfacing is non-porous, which helps to keep stains at bay, but it is susceptible to scratches and gouges and hot pans may burn it. Minor scratches and blemishes can be removed with fine-grain sandpaper. Removing blemishes with nonabrasive cleanser is another option.
  • Stone: Granite and marble are popular choices today. Quartz-based granite is better at resisting water, scratches, acids (such as lemon and tomato juice) and hot pans. Because its calcium composition is porous, marble is easier to scratch and stain – an orange juice spill can etch a polished marble surface, leaving a dull spot. Both granite and marble should be sealed and polished to maintain their luster; marble especially may need to be sealed periodically. Consider low-gloss finishes, which hide fingerprints and dirt better than high gloss. Because it stains sassily, marble must be wiped clean immediately after spills; glasses and bottles placed directly on marble countertops will leave rings. Stains can be treated with commercial products. For coffee and tea stains use a poultice of white paper towels soaked with 20-percent peroxide. Commercial marble polish may remove etching caused by citric or other acids.

Flooring

  • Carpet: Treat spills as soon as possible by blotting, never rubbing with a white cloth or paper towels. Apply a household stain removal product or soap and water to whatever can’t be blotted clean (test any strong cleaner on a carpet scrap before use and always follow the carpet manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning). Synthetic yarns resist stains better than wool and many are sold specifically as stain-resistant products. Because of wool’s expense and susceptibility to staining, it may be worthwhile to have a wool carpet professionally sealed and cleaned periodically.
  • Ceramic Tile: Clean tile with a mild nonabrasive household cleaner or soap and water. Waxing is not necessary. Because grout can absorb moisture, it should be scrubbed clean occasionally with bleach (a toothbrush is effective) and sealed with latex grout sealer. Some grouts have the sealer already mixed in.
  • Resilient Flooring: Vacuum or sweep vinyl and rubber to remove debris and mop with mild household cleaners or soap and water. Some vinyl floors are coated with non-stick finished that help prevent dust and dirt from adhering and many vinyl flooring manufacturers offer proprietary cleaning products.
  • Stone: New floors should be professionally sealed, both the stone and the grout, if present. Clean with mild household cleaner or soap and water – never abrasives which can scratch or dull the finish.
  • Wood: Vacuum and mop with mild nonabrasive cleaners (some cleaners cause polyurethane to cloud, check the label before using). Never use hot water or pour water directly onto a wood floor. Installing felt pads under table and chair legs prevents scratches. Generally, a new wood floor with a polyurethane finish will look fresh for five to 10 years. High-traffic areas can be buffed and recoated periodically to maintain their luster without refinishing.

Walls and Ceilings

  • Natural Finished Woodwork: Give it a regular dusting and vacuuming and use a wood cleaner or paste was as needed.
  • Painted Drywall and Plaster: To often walls that need only a good cleaning are repainted. But drywall or hand-plastered walls coated with high-quality paint can usually withstand washing with no ill effects. A sponge, all-purpose detergent and tepid (never hot) water are all that’s needed. Commercial cleansers that are marked safe for painted surfaces can also be used. Test-wash an inconspicuous spot beforehand. Vacuum walls to remove dust and loose dirt and wash from the floorboards up to prevent streaks. Using plastic scrubbing pads or simply rubbing too hard may remove paint and loosen poorly patched cracks in plaster. Rinse walls with a clean, damp sponge and dry with clean cloths. Tough stains may require washing with diluted liquid ammonia or trisodium phosphate. Generally, gloss finishes are easier to clean than flat finishes.
  • Stained Woodwork: Clean stained woodwork as you would a piece of finished wood furniture: the materials and techniques will depend on the particular finish (eg., tough polyurethane, which can be wiped with a damp cloth, versus fine lacquer, which can be stained by moisture). Dusting or vacuuming regularly usually is all the care necessary. Otherwise use a fine wood cleaner or paste. Test it on inconspicuous areas first.
  • Wall Covering: Non-washable papers can be cleaned with commercial wallpaper cleaner, a putty-like substance that is rubbed on and removed. Clean washable paper with a damp sponge soaked in cool sudsy water and wipe immediately after with a clean damp sponge. Pat the walls dry with a towel. Scrubable wallpapers can be cleaned with commercial spray foams that are wiped off with a clean sponge and patted dry. Always test a hidden area first, even on scrubable wallpapers, to make sure there will be no discolorization. To absorb grease stains on uncoated fabric and non-washable papers, press white paper towels onto the stain with a warm iron. Crayon marks can be removed the same way. Commercial spot removers may also be effective, but make sure they’re labeled as safe to use with wallpaper.


source: World Floor Covering Association (WFCA)

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