Caring for Your Tiles

Marty Hoffman of Hoffman Brothers Floors suggests cleaning bathroom and kitchen tiles with a cleaner that has “neutral pH” on the label. You can also mix baking soda and water for a homemade cleaner: Pour 1/2 cup baking soda into 2 gallons water and mix very well. Then apply the liquid with a string mop or sponge mop. For grout, use the same baking soda and water mixture, but for tough stains, call in the pros.

 

Removing Stains from Countertops

Getting rid of stains on granite can be tricky, but the key, according to kitchen designer Florence Perchuk, is to wipe up stains ASAP. Also have your countertop sealed a few times as soon as it’s installed. You’ll know it’s sealed properly when water beads and forms droplets on the surface. Then have it sealed again a year later. You can poultice away rust, and you remove soap scum or mildew with a solution of 1/2 cup ammonia in a gallon of water. For most coffee or juice stains, you can use a little hydrogen peroxide in water, plus a few drops of ammonia. For everyday wear-and-tear, buff away small scratches with superfine dry steel wool, called “grade 0000.” For all other stains, check out the Marble Institute of America’s Website or call in the professionals.

 

Reorganize Bookshelves

Sort books by size and subject. Remove and discard any ripped dust jackets (unless you think they might have value). Line books, some vertically, some horizontally, in a rhythmic pattern. This will relieve the monotony of rows.

 

Caring for Your Area Rugs

Philip Costikyan of Restoration by Costikyan says you should clean your area rugs every four or five years — or every 10 years if a rug is not walked on much. Overcleaning contributes to wear and tear. Really fine silk rugs need be cleaned only every 20 or 30 years. For treating stains at home, keep a bottle of club soda on hand. Stains caused by pets, coffee, orange soda, red wine, and anything with dye or an acid base are the hardest to remove, and the key is to act quickly. Pour club soda directly onto the area, let the soda absorb into the yarn, and the salt in the soda will neutralize the acid. Blot again and again, until the residue is gone. For bloodstains, you should use milk instead, and for soil and grease-based stains, mix 1 part Ivory soap detergent with 16 parts water. If you still see residue when it dries, call an expert.

 

Caring for Wood Floors

The keys to keeping your wood floors looking new are to avoid over-sanding, use trivets or saucers under plants to avoid water damage, use furniture protectors to avoid scratches, and damp-mop once a week with a mild soap like Murphy Oil Soap.

 

Polishing Silver

Metal restorer Paul Karner says to use a toothbrush and Hagerty Silver Foam on your silver because it’s not too abrasive and it’s water-soluble. For really bad black tarnish, Simichrome Polish is great. He also says to never put your silver in the dishwasher and store it in anti-tarnish cloth bags when you’re not using it.

 

Cleaning Done Right

Designer Joe Nye suggests you make the most out of the time you set aside clean. “Clean your house. And I mean really clean it,” he says. “Polish silver, wash windows, wipe down the lightbulbs in your lamps, wipe down the walls. Everything will gleam and glisten. The effect will be cathartic and make you feel like you have accomplished something.”