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Remember safety, when you do spring cleaning

By By Patty Swearingen / MSU extension service county directorSpring is here. The beautiful weather has put me in the mood to clean. If you are like me, you often wonder what cleaning product you need to purchase for a particular job.
The answer is not an easy one unless you know what ingredients the products contain. The most common ingredient in household cleaning products include alkalies, acids, detergents, abrasives, sanitizers and spirit solvents. Here is a closer look at them:
Alkalies
Alkalies are soluble salts that are effective in removing dirt without excessive rubbing. They are good grease removers. Alkaline substances vary in strength. Most are toxic, some are corrosive, others irritate the skin and eyes.
Mild: Baking soda is an example of a mild alkali.
Moderate: Household ammonia is a dilute mixture of 5 percent to 10 percent ammonia gas in water. It can be found in all-purpose cleaners, oven cleaners and window cleaners. Borax is a white crystalline powder, and trisodium phosphate is a crystalline powder found in some all-purpose cleaners.
Acids
Acids are beneficial in removing hard-water deposits, discoloration from aluminum, brass, bronze and copper and iron rust stains.
Very mild: Vinegar is about 5 percent acidic acid and counteracts oven cleaners. Vinegar removes hard-water deposits from glassware. Lemon juice is a citric acid and works in much the same way, as does vinegar.
Detergents
Some laundry detergents may be used for housecleaning jobs. Detergents loosen dirt, and if complex soluble phosphates (called "builders") are added to a detergent, they will remove oily dirt. If a builder is added, the cleaning product is marked "heavy duty" or "all-purpose."
Abrasives
Abrasives are materials that wear off dirt by rubbing. Rottenstone, whiting, pumice, volcanic ash, quartz, marble, feldspar and silica are prime examples of an abrasive. Sandpaper, plastic and nylon meshes, and steel wool are also abrasives.
Abrasive materials can be found in scouring powders and pads. In general, the larger the abrasive particles, the harsher the cleaner. Plastic or nylon mesh is the finest abrasive, and the finer the abrasive, the less damage to the surface being cleaned.
Bleaches
Chlorine generally is the most common bleach used in household cleaning products.
Sanitizers
Sanitizers are chemicals that reduce the number of bacteria and often are used in cleaning bathrooms and washing dishes. Use with caution, and follow the directions on the bottle.
Sanitizers help keep areas sanitary. The chemicals help deodorize surfaces because they kill the microorganisms creating a bad odor.
As with any product containing chemicals, examine the label and follow the instructions carefully. Keep all household cleaners away from children and pets.
Cleaning tips
If your kitchen sink drain is running a bit slow or has a sour smell you may need to try this easy cleaning technique.
You'll need one cup of baking soda, one cup white vinegar and boiling water. Pour the baking soda down the drain followed by the vinegar.
The chemical reaction will cause grease in the drain to turn to lanolin after a few minutes. Pour boiling water down the drain to wash the lanolin out making your drain run smoother and smell fresher.
Mineral deposits
You may not have to replace that faucet just because of minerals. Here's what you need: white vinegar and white paper towelings.
Soak the paper toweling with the vinegar. Place the toweling around the base of the faucet by the mineral deposit. Leave overnight. In the morning, just scrub with a bristled brush.
Refrigerators and freezers
These are the source of many problems in the kitchen. Start with checking dates of the foods in the refrigerator. Yes, salad dressings, jelly and other condiments can spoil. Remember those items you bought special at the holidays? You better make sure they are worth keeping.
How about those mystery foods in the freezer? You know the ones. They have no dates and are so full of ice crystals you can't even determine what if once was. Label and date all foods going into the freezer. Rotate foods. Always put the freshest food on the bottom when adding foods to the freezer to avoid mystery freezer foods.
What about smells? To remove odors, choose one of the following cleaning materials. (Never combine cleaning materials. It could result in a toxic fume, which could be deadly.)
Vinegar: 1 cup per gallon of water
Household ammonia: 1 cup per gallon
Chlorine bleach:1⁄2 cup per gallon of water
Wash the appliance with the solution. Rinse with clear water and dry.
Another way to remove an odor is to use one of the following to absorb moisture, which contains the odor: Activated charcoal (available at pet stores), silica gel, kitty litter or baking soda.
I hope some of these tips will help to get your house ready for the beautiful spring ahead of us.
If you have any questions, please call 482-9764 or your local County Extension Office.

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