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     Cleaning Products You Should Never Be Without
       excerpted from Talking Dirty With the Queen of Clean: Second Edition Copyright © 1998 by Linda cobb

    There are five cleaning products you should never be without, and most of them are things you already have in your home. You can purchase generous-size containers of all of them for a total of $10 and they will last for months. They can be used alone, together or in conjunction with other common household products such as salt or dishwashing liquid to help you handle most of the cleaning problems in your home. They are especially good for people with allergies and those of us who want to cut back on the chemicals in our homes.

    Here's Your Shopping List
    White Vinegar
    Baking Soda
    Lemon Juice
    Club Soda
    Spot Shot Instant Carpet Stain Remover®

    Now we'll take them in order and talk about their many uses.

    White Vinegar

    Use white vinegar to remove heavy soap scum and mineral deposits from showers, tubs and sinks. Warm the vinegar and put in a spray bottle. Spray on showers, tubs and sinks and let soak for 10-15 minutes. Then use a nylon scrubbing sponge to remove scum. Respray if necessary. To remove mineral deposits from around drains, close drain and pour in enough white vinegar to cover the drain area. Let soak overnight, scrub with a nylon scrubbing sponge, drain vinegar and rinse.

    To remove scum and mineral buildup from shower heads and keep them free-flowing, put undiluted white vinegar in a plastic bag. Tie around the shower head overnight. Scrub head and poke any loosened mineral deposits with a toothpick, rinse and enjoy your next shower.

    To remove soap scum and mildew from plastic shower curtains and liners, fill the washing machine with warm water, 1 cup of white vinegar and your regular laundry detergent. Add the curtains, along with several old, light-colored towels. Run through complete cycle and rehang curtain immediately.

    Add 2-3 tablespoons white vinegar to hot water along with your regular dishwashing liquid to cut grease on dishes and crystal.

    Add 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the washing machine during the final rinse to soften clothes and remove lint from dark clothes.

    Apply, undiluted, to the skin with a cotton ball to deter bugs — they hate the way you taste, but the odor disappears immediately from your skin.

    Neutralize pet urine odor with diluted white vinegar (25 percent vinegar to 75 percent water) sprayed on carpets. Always test in an inconspicuous spot before treating a large area.

    Clean stainless steel sinks with a paste of baking soda and vinegar. Don't let the foaming scare you — it works great!

    Make a window cleaner in a spray bottle with 1/4 cup white vinegar added to 1 quart of water.

    Make air freshener in a spray bottle with 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 2 cups of water. After the foaming stops, put on lid. Shake before using.

    Clean vinyl floors with 1/2 cup white vinegar to 1 gallon of warm water.

    Keep drains free-flowing with 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup white vinegar poured down the drain on a monthly basis. After pouring in baking soda and vinegar, cover the drain for 15 minutes (it will foam). Then flush with cold water.

    Clean mirrors with a solution of half vinegar and half water. Wet a sponge, soft cloth or paper towel, wash and then buff dry. Never spray water onto a mirror. Moisture that gets into the edges and behind mirrors ruins the silvering on the mirror, resulting in dark spots.

    Spray vinegar on the underarms of clothes and let soak 15-30 minutes to deodorize and minimize underarm stains.

    Make an excellent toilet cleaner with 1 cup borax and 1 cup vinegar. Pour the vinegar over the stained area of the toilet, then sprinkle the borax over the vinegar. Soak for 2 hours and then brush and flush.

    Baking Soda

    Baking soda is a great deodorizer, cleaner and mild abrasive. Use as you would a soft-scrubbing product or cleanser in tubs and sinks.

    Keep food disposals fresh and free-flowing by putting the stopper in the disposal and adding 3 inches of warm water and a handful of baking soda. Turn on the disposal and let water run out.

    Remove perspiration stains and odor from clothing by applying a paste of baking soda and water and letting it soak 30 minutes prior to laundering.

    Mix 1 gallon of warm water and 1/4 cup of baking soda. Soak freshly washed socks in this for 30 minutes. Spin out in the washer (do not rinse out the solution), dry and you will have odor-eater socks.

    Clean smudges on wallpaper with baking soda and water.

    Remove crayon from hard surfaces with baking soda on a damp rag.

    Use on any hard surface as a mild abrasive to remove stains.

    Use as a bug killer for aphids. Use 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda per pint of water and apply every 7 days.

    To clean grout (any color), mix 3 cups of baking soda with 1 cup of warm water. Scrub grout with a brush and rinse.

    Use baking soda on a damp cloth to polish silver.

    To remove burnt food in casseroles, fill dish with hot water and add 1 tablespoon of baking soda and allow to soak.

    To clean up pet vomit, sprinkle on a heavy coating of baking soda. Let it absorb moisture and dry, then scoop or vacuum up. The baking soda will neutralize acids and help prevent stains. Follow with Spot Shot Instant Carpet Stain Remover®.

    Remove heel marks from hard floors with a damp cloth and baking soda.

    Clean screen stain and mineral deposits off of windows by dipping a soft wet cloth in baking soda and rubbing gently. Follow by washing windows as usual.

    Remove streaks and greasy film from car windshields with a thin paste of baking soda and water. Rinse well.

    Put in the bottom of cat litter boxes to help eliminate odor. Put in a thin layer of baking soda and then add the litter as usual. This works with clay or clumping varieties.

    Lemon Juice

    Lemon juice is nature's bleach and disinfectant.

    Apply to clothes, undiluted, to remove fruit-based stains. Let soak 30 minutes and then launder.

    Remove rust from clothes by applying undiluted lemon juice and laying the garment in the sun. It disappears like magic.

    Bleach spots off Formica™ counters by using straight or mixing in a paste with baking soda.

    Clean brass and copper with lemon juice and salt. Sprinkle salt on a half-lemon and rub metal, then rinse thoroughly. If you don't have fresh lemons, you can also mix bottled lemon juice and salt.

    Make a cleaner in a spray bottle with 2 cups of water,

    2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon of liquid dish soap, 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of borax. Shake before using to clean any hard surface.

    Apply lemon juice to chrome and buff to a shine.

    As a bleach alternative, use 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 1/4 cup of white vinegar mixed in 1 gallon of warm water and soak clothes for 15 minutes prior to washing.

    Remove stains from hands with lemon juice.

    Bleach wooden breadboards by applying lemon juice and letting it sit overnight. Wash and rinse in the morning.

    Club Soda

    Club soda is the best emergency spotter there is. Keep club soda on hand to clean up spills on carpet and clothing. Remember to react as soon as possible to a spill. If you act fast, a spot shouldn't become a stain. Club soda will remove red wine, coffee, tea, pop (yes, even red pop!), Kool-Aid™ and any other spills you can think of. Lift any solids carefully off of carpet or clothes and then pour on the club soda, blotting with an old rag until all the color from the spill is removed. Don't be afraid to really wet the carpet, it won't hurt it — carpet goes through countless dippings in water as it is made. Blot carpet easily by folding a rag and standing on it, turning the rag as it absorbs moisture and discoloration from the spill. The carbonation in the club soda brings the offending spill to the surface so that you can blot it up, and the salts in it will help prevent staining.

    If you spill on your clothes in a restaurant, ask for a little club soda or seltzer and use your napkin to blot the stain until it is removed. At home you can pour the club soda directly onto the spot, flushing it out.

    I have found that club soda will even work on many old stains, too. Always keep several bottles on hand.

    Spot Shot Instant Carpet Stain Remover®

    Every home needs a good all-purpose carpet stain remover. Skip the kinds that foam, dry and you vacuum up; they leave residue in the carpet that attracts dirt. Spot Shot Instant Carpet Stain Remover® has never failed me in years of cleaning. It effectively removes water- and oil-based stains. Use it on pet stains, lipstick, makeup, hair dye, food spills, mystery spots — even old spots. Follow the label directions and you will be amazed at how well it works. It's inexpensive and available at grocery stores, Target, Wal-Mart™ and hardware stores. Make sure you have a can on hand for emergencies. It works great in conjunction with the club soda method discussed above.


    Talking Dirty With the Queen of Clean: Second Edition
    Stand back, Heloise, here comes the Queen of Clean. Armed with both common sense and ingenuity, Linda Cobb made a name for herself on Morning, Arizona. For those of you who don't happen to live in Arizona, she has written this helpful little book. Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean tackles just about any household stain, stink, or accident you can think of.
    "There are five cleaning products you should never be without," says the Queen, "and most of them are things you already have in your home." What are they? White vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, club soda, and Spot Shot Instant Carpet Stain Remover (her favorite brand). With these simple items, you can clean and deodorize nearly every room in your home, thereby saving money on expensive store-bought cleaners and reducing the amounts of chemicals in your home. Did you burn a casserole? Fill the dish with hot water, one tablespoon of baking soda, and soak. Try cleaning brass and copper with half a lemon sprinkled with salt. It should shine right up (and smell good, too).

    The chapters are short and sweet, and besides the usual home/pet/kid/upholstery cleaning techniques, the Queen also tackles patio furniture, the grill, electronic equipment, plants, and smoke and water damage. Did you know you can distract grasshoppers by planting basil around your flowerbeds? They'll eat that and leave your flowers alone. Here's our favorite tip: when painting or washing walls, wrap washcloths or old rags around your wrists and secure them with rubber bands. When you lift your arms, the paint or water drips will be absorbed instead of running all the way down your arms. Keep this book handy. --Dana Van Nest

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