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I strip and make the bed at the same time. Have the clean sheets ready and put them on as you take the old ones off, from the top, down. When you are ready to take the sheets to the machine, the bed will be already made!
Hydrogen peroxide woks great on stained white grout. It is antimicrobial and antifungal. I spray it on, brush the grout gently and wipe clean with a dry cloth. No need to rinse, and no odor.
Decide what you are going to clean and how you are going to clean it before you begin a task. You'll find that your effectiveness increases dramatically that way.
Weather permitting, take your vacuum cleaner outside to change the bag. There is always some dust released and better to release it outside than in your clean home!
Have two or more hampers and presort your laundry as you undress. That saves a ton of time later when you are ready to wash it.
I turn almost all of my clothes inside out before washing them. They don't fade or wear out quite so quickly that way.
Not quite a cleaning tip, but quitting smoking WILL result in a cleaner house (not to mention cleaner lungs, clothing, and automobile).
Two cups of Epsom salt in your bath will reduce the soap scum ring around the tub. An added plus is, you'll feel more relaxed. Add some essential oils (I recommend lavender), soft music, and candles and enjoy!
If your home has a tendency to develop mildew issues, one thing you can do is clean the exit vent on your clothes dryer. That will reduce moisture in your home and your dryer will dry more efficiently, using less electricity.
Prevention is the best medicine for dust. If you are given a choice between hardwood floors and carpet, choose the hardwoods (or tile, or any hard surface flooring). Carpet generate a lot of dust fibers, as do drapes and fabric furniture covering. The same is true of blinds and shutters. They generate much less dust.
I may have mentioned this one before. Every spring, before the pollen begins to be released, do an air exchange. Open windows on nice days and let the old stale air be blown out of your home, bringing in fresh new air. Your air filter can only work so hard.
If you need to dust a ceiling fan that is very dusty, spread several old sheets over the furniture in the room to keep cleanup to a minimum.
When you are considering new bookshelves, look at the barister style with the glass doors. They keep your books and whatnots much freer of dust, you can still enjoy looking at them, and (in my opinion) they look very classy.
This is an organizing tip but is a cleaning tip as well. Only keep one active project on your desk at a time. You will feel more like cleaning it.  Research has suggested one's desk has very high levels of bacteria.
ALWAYS use trashcan liners. Easier cleanup, no germs left behind.
A friend of a friend told me about this one. Use a tennis ball to remove black scuff marks from floors.
One way to reduce dust and other particulates in your indoor air is to use a good mat outside each entry door. Better still, make everyone take their shoes off.
I have found that often a rust stain will respond to lemon juice. You may need to do several applications for the stain to lift completely.
Here's a preventative to scratches on your hardwood floor; felt pads on all your furniture legs. Once a scratch occurs, it attracts dirt like crazy and needs additional attention when cleaning the floor.
Ballpoint pen marks don't happen to geeks; that's what a pocket protector is for. The rest of us however may find a mark on that new shirt a little daunting. I use lighter fluid, a clean sponge, and two clean dry cloths. Make a pad of one cloth and place under the fabric as a blotter. Saturate a small corner of the sponge and carefully drip it into the stain. Then gently rub in ONE DIRECTION until the stain disappears. Blot with dry cloth and repeat until there is no stain left.
Ah, Valentine's Day coming up.  Perhaps you may spill a little red wine or some chocolate on your favorite little strappy dress. With either stain, NO HEAT. Red wine: sponge with water and a little vinegar, then alcohol if stain remains. Wash in cold water. Chocolate: after you lick it all off your dress (mustn't waste it) sprinkle a little baby powder to absorb the oil. Then, brush that off and use hydrogen peroxide to spot thru the fabric into a blotter (test first for colorfastness). Sponge with cool water and do not expose to heat until stains are totally gone. 
Humidity. Too little; your laundry is a static electric nightmare, too much and you have mushrooms growing in the shower. This time of year we need a little more. I have a fountain in my home office and a tropical fish tank in another room to do help provide moisture. That way, my socks aren't plastered all over my bathrobe when I pull them out of the dryer.
Last week I mentioned providing for guests. One thing you might consider when having overnight guests is providing, along with clean towels and bed linen, a brand new bar of soap. That may be a no brainer for some of you but believe me, it isn't always remembered by everyone. Guests appreciate it.
Tracking mud and snow into your house? Besides lovely coco mats placed outside entry doors to catch dirt, I have places for guests to sit and remove their shoes before entering. There can be some nasty bacteria and fungi on your shoes.
Although some parts of the US are opening their windows already, most are still closed up tight. Time to think about looking at your systems filters and changing them if they look dirty.
This year resolve to keep home cleaning tasks up.  I do not use my formal dining room often, and let it get dusty. It took a while to fully rid the room of dust, going behind china cabinets and other furniture, picture frames, window sills, hardwood floors, area rug, and chandelier. I sneezed and blew my nose the rest of the day. Do not let this happen to you!
Happy New Year! The sweater I was working on now has only one stain and the person (not me) who first tried to get the stains out had rubbed this one stain too hard to get it out. It has become more of a hole than a stain. Hydrogen peroxide and ammonia got the others out. Don't rub fabric harshly or this is bound to happen.  See you next week.
I'm working on a cream wool sweater taken out of storage with multiple yellow mystery stains. I'll let you know next week how it turns out! Merry Christmas!
For all you Santas out there making your lists and checking them twice, if your ballpoint pen has leaked or if you just drew on yourself accidentally, my favorite ink remover is hairspray. Saturate and blot through the fabric into a clean cloth until stain is gone or nearly gone. Pretreat with mild laundry soap and launder in warm water. Air dry.
Chocolate! Love it. But not on my white jeans. Chocolate chemistry: fat, protein, and sugar. Carefully scrape excess up and away from the fabric, not pushing it deeper into the fibers. Next, pat cornstarch (an absorbent) on the stain and brush it off. Blot with a clean rag and COLD water until no more color comes off. Hydrogen peroxide can be used but do a test area first. Wash in cold water if washable.  No dryer or iron until stain is all gone as heat will set this stain forever.
Choosing a cleaning service. A recommendation from a trusted friend who is a satisfied customer is one of the best routes to take. If that isn't available to you, check references, find out how long they have been in the business, see if the Better Business Bureau has had any complaints against them. Be cautious. Integrity would be higher on my list than skill, although I would rather work with someone who is experienced. I you are in the Atlanta area, call me and if I can't fit you into our schedule I'll help you find someone good who can.
Thanksgiving's over; time to ready your home for the next round of holiday messes. This is not so much a cleaning tip as a gift tip. Every year I do a certain number of cleanings for folks who are receiving them as (surprise) gifts. The giver usually takes them out for a nice dinner and a movie, giving me time to get in and work my magic. Coming home to a spotless house is a wonderful surprise. Be sure to take care in choosing your cleaning service.
One year we had an electric mixer/pumpkin pie filling accident which involved cleaning an entire wall in a very short time. Hot soapy water, a sponge mop, and a dish towel did the job in about 15 minutes. Nobody was the wiser. Happy Thanksgiving all of you!
Refrigerators. Get ready for the turkey etc. with a thorough fridge cleaning. I start with the top shelf and take everything off, remove the shelf and wash it in the sink, wipe the ceiling and walls, then dry. Do the next shelf down before placing the top shelf back in place. Continue moving down including the drawers and UNDER the bottom drawer. That may need soaking with a hot soapy sponge as things tend to collect there and get very yukky. The result: a clean slate for Thanksgiving.
Every so often, particularly in the cold and flu season, clean your telephone receiver's earpiece and mouthpiece with a soft cloth dampened with isopropyl alcohol 91%. You'll be protecting all your family members from each other's cooties.
Trick or Treat! One year I had a candle drip on my carpet and it all came up with a handful of paper towels and a steam iron. Just scrape the cooled and hardened wax off as much as possible and place a paper towel over the spot and iron, checking underneath for results. Keep at it until all the wax is gone and the spot feels like soft carpet again.
Now that your filters are changed, you might want to go over everything with a cloth dampened with a light spray of vinegar. It is germicidal and will freshen the whole house, now that the windows are going to be closed and the cold and flue season is coming. I also like to use a few drops of eucalyptus oil in my burner at this time.
Fall is a good time to change the filters on your heating/air conditioning system. It not only helps the system to work more efficiently, but will reduce the dust particles that settle on all your lovely furniture.
Cooler weather means bringing in plants for many folks. I keep my floors from getting water stains if I am over-zealous in my watering by being sure I place oversized plant saucers, with cork pads underneath. These can be gotten at your local hardware  or home improvement store.
If the tannin in falling leaves stains your walkways, a very weak bleach solution should do the trick. I use a bucket and a long-handled brush like a mop, then I use the hose to finish the job. This is one of the few times I condone the use of clorine bleach. Since it is outside, the ventilation is usually very good and the chances of breathing too much are minimal.
Did the painters drip trim paint on your brick patio? Comes up with alcohol and a wire brush. Then hose off.
Broom maintenance. Store your broom upside down with the bristles up to prevent permanently bending the straw. It will last longer and sweep more efficiently.
NEW TOOLS! I have found a bucket with a matching work basket with which I am thrilled. They nest inside one another. I put supplies such as sponges, cloths, brushes, and feather dusters in the bottom, and the product bottles such as window cleaner, vinegar, alcohol in the top. I found mine at Linens and Things but they may be found elsewhere.
To apply acrylic floor polish to your (clean) vinyl floor, use an 11 inch baking dish to hold the liquid polish and lightly dip a clean sponge mop. Start at one end of the room, placing the mop against the baseboard and pulling it toward you. Do not push the mop and lift as this leaves a mop mark. Work backwards toward the door from which you expect to exit. Let dry before re-entering the room.
Always air dry garments you have treated for stains until you can see on the dry garment that the stain is entirely gone. Otherwise you may set what is left of the stain, permanently.
Quick dishwasher unloading: organize silverware as you load. Keep all forks in one slot, all spoons in another, all knives in yet another. Unloading takes a lot less time.
Here's a laundry tip from an old mom; always empty pockets before putting anything in the wash. You'd think this would be a no-brainer .
Oops, your ballpoint pen missed the page and hit your sleeve (or pants leg)! Take that mark out with lighter fluid. Sponge and gently agitate to loosen the ink from the fabric fibers. Launder. Sometimes you may need to repeat. I have also seen hairspray work on this type of stain.
So, Junior dropped mashed potatoes on your new carpet! Resist the overwhelming urge to wipe them up with a sponge or other cloth. Take instead a knife and lay it at the edge of the blob pressing down on the carpet fibers. Scrape it toward your other hand which will be holding a napkin to catch the hopefully still intact bit of potatoes. There will be less starchy mess imbedded in the carpet then and you can clean what's left with your damp sponge, blotting dry with a clean dish towel.
I learned this trick when I bought my last car, which had flame decals decorating the sides. To remove them, heat them with your hair dryer on the high setting. It softens the glue and they peel off relatively easily. Note: you can use this method on those rubber bathtub decals as well.
I often clean my shower while I'm taking a shower. I scrub down the walls with baking soda and vinegar and rinse with the shower massage. After the shower, I use a large boat sponge (the kind you wash your car with) to wipe the walls and floor dry, buffing with my bath towel after I am finished drying me. Those tiles are always gleaming, and it only takes three or four minutes.
Vacuum cleaners:I clean the hose, the metal wand (the long pipe-like part), and the actual vauum head (the part that touches the floor and that the dirt goes up into). I run about three or four inches of hot water in my bathtub and put some vinegar (about a cup) in. Then the hose, the wand, and the head are immersed. Let sit for ten minutes.  Take each one and agitate it in the water to loosen interior dirt. I use a shower massage to run clean hot water through each part until the water runs clear. Hang the hose, prop the wand so it will drain, place the head so air can cirulate and let them dry.
I don't usually advocate using mothballs because of their toxicity but here is an application that you might find useful: for vacuuming up fleas from your carpet or flooring (they hide in the cracks of hardwood floors, too) place one or two mothballs in your vacuum bag and vacuum. Discard the bag immediately afterwards by placing it in a plastic garbage bag and taking it out to your outside trashcan. The fleas should be dead in minutes.
While we are still in the kitchen, take those fan filters from above your range top and put them in the dishwasher with the other dishes. The grease and grime will come right off in a normal wash cycle. Result? A better smelling kitchen!
Steam clean your microwave. Place a microwave-safe soup bowl of water in it and heat on high for five minutes or so. You want the water to boil. Then leave it in the oven for at least fifteen minutes. The steam will soften dried spills and make cleanup easy. Just put on rubber gloves, take your sponge and use the hot water to wipe the microwave clean. Never use an abrasive to clean the inside of your microwave.
More coffee wisdom. Mineral deposits taste terrible and can be banished with a six to one ratio of water to baking soda. Brew a pot of that followed by a pot of plain water. Love that java!
You want great coffee? Brew a pot of 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 water. Dump that out and brew another pot of plain water. Dump and let dry. Voila, next pot of coffee will taste like heaven.
OLD RED FRUIT STAINS. The worst has happened. You pull that white top from the bottom of the laundry hamper and that raspberry stain is dry. Rub some glycerine into the stain, leave for 30 minutes, rinse with cool water, then sponge on lemon juice and blot off. NO HEAT. Let dry naturally in a cool dry place.
RED FRUIT STAINS.  Did sweetie pie turn her grape juice over on her new white cotton top Grandma gave her? The quicker you deal with this kind of stain, the better. I would flush the stain under running cool water first, working from the back of the fabric (to back the stain out the way it entered). If it isn't completely gone, dab some lemon juice on, rinse as above and let dry. No heat, no dryer. More on this next week.
Marble is very porous and stains easily. Some stains penetrate deeply and removal is difficult. Marble polish that comes in powder form seems to work best on water rings. For scratched floors,  your local monument craftsman can advise you on how best to buff out scratches and restore that new-floor gloss. He may even be willing to come do it for you. It never hurts to ask.
The gooey, slimy vegetables in the bottom of the crisper can be prevented by a dry sponge. It absorbs moisture and veggies stay crisp longer. And when its time to clean, you already have a sponge handy!
Guys, cut yourself shaving and got blood on your collar? Hydrogen peroxide should do the trick if you saturate the corner of a sponge and dab liberally, then take the dry end of the sponge and blot clean. Repeat if necessary.  And please replace your blades in your razor frequently!
Warm weather...cookout time! For my gas grill's grilling surface, I place the rack on newspapers and spray cooking oil on it. Then I attack it with a stiff wire brush, wiping the oily, sooty residue off with paper towels. Repeat until clean. You do not need to sterilize; the fire will do that for you. Happy grilling!
To keep mold and mildew at bay in the shower; if you have an exhaust fan, use it, leave the shower door or curtain open after showering, use a squeegee on the glass or give the curtain a good shake into the tub before exiting. My shower doors look like they just came from the manufacturer and I never need to clean them!
Oily stain on the front of your favorite blouse or shirt? Baby powder will usually lift it right out. Sprinkle and let set for a few hours then wash the item as usual. I've gotten salad dressing out this way many times.
Use the pair of pails method to wash floors. Two pails of hot clean water. Apply soap to wet sponge mop and scrub two foot section of floor. Rinse in clean water, wring out thoroughly. Lifting the mop and placing it two feet away, pull it toward you and then lift. Rinse, scrub, and repeat until the whole floor is done. Change water frequently. Lovely clean floors.


Grass stains are easily removed with isopropyl alcohol. Apply and agitate to loosen the stain. Wash in cold water. If there is stain remaining, use a little hydrogen peroxide and rewash.


Iron oxide (rust) comes out of most fabrics with lemon juice and salt. White fabrics do even better if dried in the sun. Then wash as usual.


More lampshade cleaning; if all else fails, vacuum the shade with the brush attachment. I also wipe my lightbulbs regularly.


I take my miniblinds down and wash them in the bathtub with a little vinegar and mild soap. When they have been fully rinsed, I rehang them with the blinds all the way down and in the open position, the slats not touching each other, until they dry.


I find I don't need as much soap when I use white vinegar with baking soda in my wash to freshen it.


This is not exactly a cleaning tip but a money saver. When drying clothes in the dryer, throw in a couple of dry bath towels in the same color scheme as the wet wash. The wash will dry in far less time, reducing the power used.


Dried urine at the base of a toilet will come up with a few sprays of pure distilled vinegar. Leave on for fifteen minutes or more. For serious buildup, simply repeat until gone. I use this method on rental cleanups, which are typically a bit more challenging than regular residential cleaning.


Candle wax on carpets is removed by first breaking and scraping the excess wax off the area, then placing a paper towel over the wax drips and gliding over it with a hot steam iron, replacing the paper towel as it absorbs the wax. Keep the iron moving to avoid burning or melting the carpet. 


From the top down is the dusting rule. Ceiling is first, going clockwise/counterclockwise in the room, as you prefer. Wipe or feather all surfaces. Dust particles fall to the floor, ready for your vacuum. (See 11-21-04 in the archives for dust reduction)


White rings on your beautiful wood table; steel wool 5X or finer, scratch cover oil to match the finish, latex gloves, clean dry cloths. Work with the grain in long strokes, using moderate to hard pressure over the entire top surface of the table until the stains are no longer visible. Polish dry with cloths. Not recommended for high gloss finishes. 


I use soda water as a first response to remove wine stains from carpets.


Polish your mirrors with vinegar and alcohol. If you wish, you may add a drop or two of essential oil to either one for some healthy aromatherapy.


Isopropyl alcohol is wonderful for shining bathroom and kitchen fixtures and is antibacterial as well. Don't use too much, and be sure the room is well-ventilated, because the fumes are a bit irritating to the eyes and lungs.


A feather duster is good for between cleaning touch ups on blinds, bookshelves, windowsills, knick knacks, and anything else on which dust likes to settle. 


Baking soda and vinegar will take soap residue off your tub and leave it fresh and gleaming for pennies per cleaning


For your fluted lampshades, use a clean wide paintbrush to dust, using downward strokes.


For hardwoods in high traffic areas, a vegetable oil soap and warm water may do the trick.


Vinegar is the gentlest cleaner for your fine hardwood floors. It is a mild solvent with antibacterial properties.


To reduce dust particulates in the air, use higher rated air filters for your heating/air conditioning system and change them every month.


Healthy Cleaning Solutions, Inc., 3338 Alden Place Drive, Atlanta, GA, 30319