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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, December 28, 2002

Start off your new year with super clean house

Gannett News Service

Getting the house in shape for the new year? Here are a few sworn-to-be-successful remedies for cleaning problems by an unscientific but reliable sampling of home consumers.

• Removing adhesive labels: They are glued to almost every new product as price tags, instructions, warning labels and other notices. The trouble is, only some of them peel away without leaving a gummy residue.

If the adhesive is stuck to a solid, smooth surface such a porcelain tub floor, a new safety razor blade works well, if handled safely. Use a lubricant such as salad oil or baby oil to prevent the blade from becoming gummed in the adhesive. Or try another slightly oddball solution — bath gel.

A product by Avon called Skin-So-Soft is alleged to be one of the best goo-removers going. The product has been around since 1961, and apparently has countless applications, including use as a somewhat odd-smelling bug repellent.

• Cleaning oil off of driveways: This common problem also sparks varied solutions from consumers, all generally along the lines of blotting — using a dry material to soak up the oil.

One favorite is cat litter, a material similar to the oil-dry used on race courses after a car blows an engine and deposits crash-causing oil on the track.

Sweep the litter repeatedly over the stain until it discolors, then add a fresh supply and sweep repeatedly.

Because oil stains can be deep, it might not be possible to get all the last dregs. But the stain can be made less slippery and, by repeating the cleaning, less noticeable.

• Porcelain stains: It's difficult to remove long-term discoloration that has settled into the eroding surface of old porcelain fixtures.

Once the surface is streaked with red-orange or blue stains, resurfacing might be the only solution — a relatively expensive process of applying a new glaze over the old surface.

Before taking that step, try lightening porcelain stains by scouring with a household cleaner or a mixture of lemon juice and salt. For deep stains, add baking soda to the mixture to make a wet paste that can be applied on the stain overnight.

• Deposits on metal fixtures: When creating a lather that spills onto metal fixtures as well as the sink, soap residue can build into a scum and create cleaning problems.

A water supply with a high mineral content can leave white, scaly deposits that are difficult to remove. Layers of the stuff can build up even on smooth, shiny chrome, particularly if the fixtures don't quite close all the way creating a very slow but nearly constant dribble.

There are many specialized products to remove these deposits. Try a softening solution of one cup of white vinegar in a quart of water. The area may have to be washed several times and scrubbed with a nylon sponge to dislodge multilayered deposits.

• Tile grout: To lighten and disinfect discolored tile grout, add enough household bleach to a scouring powder to make a cleaning paste. Make sure to use a powder that does not contain ammonia, which produces a dangerous reaction with bleach.

Scrub the paste on dirty grout with a brush, then rinse.

To clean particularly stubborn stains, leave a small amount of the cleaning paste on the stain such as a poultice and cover with plastic wrap to keep in moisture.

Remove it the next day and continue the cleaning procedure. Using a poultice sometimes helps by drawing out stains and reducing scrubbing time.