Photography: Living Media
Welcome to our deep dive on deep cleaning. Here’s what to do, how to do it, and what NOT to do to make your house shine this spring.
Cleaning Q & A
Q: Is it good to wash the floors with dish soap?
A: Depends on the floor
Tile: A few drops of dish soap diluted in water can work on tile floors, but if it’s too concentrated, it can leave marks and residue. Sweep the floor with a soft-bristle broom first so that grit doesn’t scratch the surface. For natural stone floors, reseal periodically with special sealers to keep them in great shape.
Wood: Never steam or soak a hardwood floor. Water will penetrate exposed wood and cause it to warp and swell. If you want to give a well- finished floor a thorough wash, use cold water and a barely damp mop; ensure you leave no water standing on the floor. If the finish is worn, dry it with an old towel. For regular cleaning, squirt the floor with a wood floor cleaner and wipe off with a microfibre mop.
Laminate/floating: A barely damp cloth or microfibre mop is usually safe, but always follow manufacturer’s directions.
Q: Is it okay to not wash the dishwasher or laundry machines?
A: It’s not too bad, unless...
If you aren’t currently washing these appliances, you aren’t alone. You can help keep them clean with proper usage: don’t put too much soap in the washer; don’t overload appliances; and inspect them twice a year. If there are odours, run the dishwasher or washer with a cup of eco-friendly bleach. Wipe out the stainless-steel drums of laundry machines. Front-loading washing machines are a different beast. You must dry the door gasket (all sections) after every use to prevent mildew. If you do get mildew, clean with a mildew cleaner and soft rag.
Q: Is it okay to replace all our cleaning products with vinegar?
Vinegar is acidic and should never be used on wood, stone (granite, slate, marble) or electronic devices, but it works wonders on glass. Mix one part distilled vinegar to 10 parts warm water in a spray bottle. Wipe windows with a soft, lint-free microfibre cloth, then spray on the solution and wipe with a cloth. Don’t get the vinegar solution on the frame, as it could damage it. Window manufacturers also warn against ammonia or alcohol-based products that can permanently scratch the glass surface.
Q: Should you use paper towels to do all the housework?
Soft cotton rags and microfibre cloths that can be washed and reused are a much better environmentally-friendly choice. Reusable paper towels, such as Kliin, are a good option.
Q: Can you clean ceramic glass cooking surfaces with dish soap or degreaser?
A: Yes, but...
When glass-ceramic cooktops hit the market, we were told repeatedly to only clean with specialized products. In fact, dish soap or a mild degreaser works just fine, as long as you religiously avoid abrasives that can damage the surface. If you have really dirty surfaces, for best results, apply a product designed for ceramic glass surfaces with a microfibre cloth.
Q: Is it okay to “forget” to wash the walls when spring cleaning?
Washing the walls and ceilings might have been on the must-do list of our mothers’ and grandmothers’ big yearly clean. But back in Granny’s day, wood fires were more common and ventilation systems were rudimentary, so it was really smart to get the residue off the walls. These days it’s less of a necessity, with the exception of the kitchen walls, cabinetry and ceiling, which should be cleaned annually. As well, always wash surfaces prior to painting.
Clean House, Clean Mind
Anyone who followed Marie Kondo’s rise to fame knows the power of tidying to clear the house and your mind of clutter. But can a clean house actually improve your health? According to a survey by Vileda (yes, the mop company!), 81 per cent of Canadians say that the cleanliness of their home is an indicator of their personal well-being, and a whopping 88 per cent say they feel more in control of their life when their home is clean.
But is that satisfied feeling you get after a day of cleaning due to the actual clean house? In Kelly Lambert’s book Lifting Depression, the neuro-scientist suggests that making a physical effort toward achieving a tangible task (like the act of housecleaning) activates regions of the brain that help us build resilience against negative thinking. She suggests that the physical activity of doing repetitive tasks with your hands gives you a sense of well-being. All the more reason to cue up your tidying playlist and go get those dust bunnies. It’s good for you!