The house you clean today is a lot different from the house your mother and father had to clean – or your grandparents. So, if you’re still doing household chores the way you were taught by older relatives, consider updating your methods.
Today, a typical home may have dozens of different building materials. Many new natural materials are used in residential construction now, as well as a wide range of fabricated materials. Your interior living space may have marble, granite, quartz, engineered oak and maple, porcelain veneers, stainless steel, and more – each needing to be considered separately.
The right cleaning product for most general household chores is still hot, soapy water. Yes. Simple, cheap, and available. From wood floors to furniture, you can safely clean off dirt and grime with hot water and a generous squirt of ordinary dish soap.
However, in the age of COVID, we are more concerned than ever about disinfecting and sanitizing as well. Especially our “high-touch” areas like faucet handles and light switches. Here’s where it gets tricky.
The array of new materials in today’s residential real estate demands caution. We have to be careful with chemical products. There are a lot of them on grocery store shelves, and they make a lot of claims. But choosing the right cleaning product for household chores comes down to pH – alkaline vs. acidic. Alkaline products like bleach can destroy a granite countertop – permanently etching away the finish.
I have no grudge against bleach. Truly. Our elders relied heavily on bleach to disinfect and sanitize.
When bleach became available in the U.S. around 1913, it was a godsend. It was sold as a “bleacher, germicide, cleanser, and disinfectant” that could stop bacteria and viruses in their tracks. It was first marketed for industrial and farm use. Then in 1917, it was introduced to the consumer market at the California State Fair. It was a breakthrough for germ-fighting, reliably eliminating household germs and bacteria — and the diseases they caused.
But bleach is about as alkaline as you can get! Luckily, the materials used in those homes were few – mostly woods and metals, ceramic tile, and glass. Bleach was not a major hazard to those materials. (And, anyway, killing germs and saving lives was more important!)
Yet, now we find ourselves enjoying many more beautiful materials in our homes. How do we safely clean all of them?
Take a look at what we use.
If your home was built in the 21st century, your household chores may including cleaning any or all of these materials:
Treating every surface in your home with the care it deserves requires, first and foremost, having the right supplies on hand.
For most household chores we use a mixture of 95% water, 5% rubbing alcohol (to disinfect), and a squirt of dish soap (to clean). By “most” we mean floors, kitchen cleaning, and high-touch surfaces like countertops, switch plates, and doorknobs. After cleaning, we add a spritz of 70% alcohol to sanitize and remove the final traces of bacteria and germs.
Plain dish soap and water is fine for cabinets and other softwood surfaces (Matte veneers are in style for cabinets these days, so a gentle cleaner works best.)
Vinyl-covered refrigerators and dishwashers are the same, unless they are heavily stained. In that case you might want to go for our recommended multi-purpose cleaner: simple hot water and dish soap.
Glass chandeliers and other beveled glass surfaces shouldn’t require more complicated chemicals than the same general-purpose spray.
We like Pine-Sol for floors and as a disinfectant. Diluted, it’s safe for tile, wood, wood laminate, and more. However, for most wood floors we just use dish soap and hot water. (It dries faster, and leaves no residue.)
Endust furniture polish (works magic on your stainless steel). Wipe with the grain of the steel to quickly get rid of fingerprints and grime. Use a microfiber cloth to shine and buff.
We use a streak-free glass cleaner with a microfiber rag on windows and sliding doors, shower doors, and flat glass surfaces. If the surface is heavily stained, try vinegar (high pH, very acidic) and a toothbrush. Baking soda is also helpful for removing stains from glass.
Use our suggested homemade cleaner (water, rubbing alcohol, and plain dish soap – see above) for natural stone like quartz or marble, which are commonplace in kitchens and bathrooms today. Avoid cleaners like bleach (alkaline) or vinegar (acidic), whose extreme pH which can irreparably damage natural stone. After cleaning, we like Weiman Quartz/Granite Marble Cleaner as a stone polisher.
Try straight 70% rubbing alcohol for the high-touch surfaces in the home, such as light switch plates, cabinet handles, door handles, and faucets. Spray it on full strength, then let it sit and dry to fully disinfect and sanitize the surface. (Don’t let full-strength alcohol sit on painted surfaces, as these could be sensitive to the alcohol’s pH. Test a small area first.)
More and more clients request non-chemical or light-chemical products when we come in to take care of their household chores. After working with allergy-sufferers and clients with compromised immune systems, we’ve settled on the all-purpose brand we prefer for all-natural cleaning.
Park Avenue crews are highly trained, and we all have many years in the business. We’ve been COVID-certified by American House Cleaners Association (ACHA), the International Sanitary Supply Association. We’ve been trained to clean everything from levered shutters to porcelain to chandeliers! You will notice the difference!
Now serving Columbia, Ellicott City, Catonsville, and Greater Baltimore, Maryland metro areas.