The Arizona Republic
Gritty grout – Have you gotten so used to living with the dirty grout on the kitchen floor that you don’t see it anymore? In today’s world, tearing out the tile or all the grout and replacing it may seem too pricey. If you have porcelain or ceramic tile, there are other solutions. If you have natural stone floors – travertine, marble, flagstone – flooring companies can also repair the grout and clean and polish to remove stains and also apply sealers. Stone floors usually need resealing every couple years, but you can also do just one or two floors that really need help, like the kitchen or bath.
Grungy appliances – Give your refrigerator a break and remove dust and dirt that can make it work harder in hot weather. First unplug the refrigerator, then take the grill off the bottom and use a vacuum cleaner hose and nozzle to gently draw out all dust on coils underneath. You can also buy a condenser coil brush at the hardware store to use to knock off more dust. You won’t hurt the condenser drip pan by doing this; it’s sealed and attached to the machine. Then take all the food out and clean the inside walls and shelves. Before you put the food back, pull the refrigerator out from the wall, and vacuum the back of the unit. That way you get a chance to clean the floor under the fridge.
The smell in your laundry room – You’ve probably heard about cleaning the lint trap in your dryer, but your washing machine needs this kind of help, too. Otherwise, you may start to smell lint, dirt and mold. Sometimes it’s hard to find the lint trap; so consult your washing machine manual for location and cleaning tips. Then fill your machine with hot water and add a few cups of white vinegar and half a cup of baking soda. You can also run a little vinegar through the softener and bleach dispensers. Let the mixture sit in the tub for an hour and then complete the wash cycle. Use a damp, soapy cloth to wipe clean inside surfaces of the top of the wash basin to get rid of dirt and lint build-up as well.
Dust, dust everywhere – Desert dwellers are always at war with dust. One possible way to cut back dustiness and the resulting wear and tear on your air conditioner is to have a serious cleaning of your ductwork. Superficial duct cleaning done by many companies can be a waste. Select someone who will clean the supply and return air ducts, check them for leaks or disconnected joints, and clean your evaporative coils, air handler cabinet and supply registers. Workers should use an eight-inch diameter vacuum hose and a duct scrubbing device. A semi-rigid air hose that uses about 200 psi pressure and a multi-directional pressure tip is a good scrubber. The high-pressure air dislodges the dirt from the inside walls of your ductwork and is vacuumed to a large vacuum unit that is usually mounted on a truck. Handheld units are not adequate and should only be used in areas with limited access. Good companies will also clean out your dryer vent as well.
Dingy blinds and shutters – We asked Rod DiGiovanni of New West blinds and shades in Scottsdale for advice on cleaning wooden blinds and plantation shutters and he had two words for us, “Feather duster.” If they’re really grimy, use a damp cloth and mild soap and water to get them clean. The same process will work on vinyl vertical blinds. But for blinds covered with fabric or cellular shades, use a vacuum cleaner hose with a brush attachment and be gentle. If dirt or an insect gets caught inside one of the “cells,” set your hair dryer on low heat and blow it out.
TLC for countertops – Once a year, you may need to reseal marble or granite countertops. Granite is moisture-resistant, but is also porous. So resealing can help the stone resist spills that cause etching or staining. Start with granite cleaner and thoroughly wash surfaces. Make sure the granite is dry before applying the sealer. Sometimes sealers come in spray bottles, but use dry rags to apply the sealer thoroughly. According to instructions on the sealer, let the liquid penetrate and then apply more. Follow instructions for drying time before using the counter again.
Clean out cabinets – Throw away any caustic or dangerous chemicals in bathrooms and kitchen or move them to a safer place. Check under faucets for possible leaks. Cleaning up spilled food on pantry shelves is a great way to fight the invasion of insects this summer. If you have a houseful of kids and spills happen all the time, you might want to switch from solid wood shelving to wire mesh in your pantry. That way the crumbs will drop to the floor and be easy to sweep up.
For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert for 35 years, Rosie Romero is the host of the Rosie on the House radio program from 8-11 a.m. Saturdays on KTAR-FM (92.3) in Phoenix, KQNA-AM (1130) in Prescott and KAZM-AM (780) in Sedona, KAFF-AM (930) in Flagstaff and KNST-AM (790) in Tucson.