WHO wouldn't like a home that smells nice, is squeaky clean and is devoid of unnecessary clutter?
I often wish I could just snap my fingers and get rid of that dust on the ceiling fans, have a sparkling bathroom and floors that shine.
But unfortunately keeping your home clean takes effort and all those rows and rows of products on supermarket shelves are only as effective as the person pressing the nozzle.
In this first of a two-part series on choosing the best available cleaning products, we look at getting started in the kitchen and bathroom.
There are a number of products on the market with chemicals and without that claim to keep your kitchen germ and dirt-free.
While the packaging appears different, most of them feature the same ingredients, with all spray cleaners usually containing surfactants, solvents and a buffering system.
Surfactants change the surface tension of liquids so the solvents or cleaning ingredients can penetrate and dissolve the dirt.
Buffering agents help by balancing the acidity so the product can bond with and eliminate stains or dirt.
For surfaces and cupboards look out for an all-purpose cleaner like Ajax Spray 'n' Wipe Lemon Citrus 5 in 1 spray, $4.25 which is designed to clean different types of washable surfaces.
Make sure to read the directions though to make sure what it can be used on because some sprays can damage surfaces like stone bench tops. They can often also be used for floors and stove tops.
The main advantage is having one cleaner that you can use around the home.
Choosing a multi-surface cleaner is a second option. They are a little bit like an all-purpose cleaner, but can be used on fewer surfaces.
You can often find multi-surface cleaners designed for use on glass that can be used on tiles, bench tops and in bathrooms (Windex Multi-Surface cleaner, $3.95).
Cleaning wipes are now all the rage. They offer a cleaning product in a wet- wipe which can be used to easily wipe down surfaces and then be disposed of (Viva Kitchen Scrub Surface Wipes, $3.85).
While they can save time you have to remember to shut the container tightly or they will quickly dry out.
One of the most challenging jobs in the kitchen is to clean a dirty oven. Most cleaning brands have an oven cleaner that can either be left on for an hour or overnight (Mr Muscle Heavy Duty Oven Cleaner, $4.95).
They are highly toxic, however, and some emit fumes that can make the eyes burn and water so make sure doors and windows are open when spraying and that you use gloves.
Bathrooms and toilets require regular cleaning as they are used every day and it doesn't take long for dirt, grime and germs to collect.
A good place to start is with a disinfectant spray that doesn't streak or leave residue to wipe down surfaces (Dettol Anti-Bacterial Bathroom Cleaner, $4.95). If you have a shower, finding a cleaner that can get rid or prevent soap scum on the doors is a priority (Easy Off BAM Active Foam Soap and Scum Shower, $6.44).
Try to clean screens often to prevent build-up and opt for a cleaner without a large percentage of bleach as harsh chemicals can actually pit, making the screens more porous and susceptible to dirt.
Showers and baths are moist and warm and offer a great environment for mould and mildew.
You can try getting in there with an old toothbrush and a homemade cleaner, but most experts recommend a commercially sold product like Exit Mould, $6.75.
I don't know about you but cleaning toilets is my least favourite thing to do. Most people opt for plain bleach (Domestos Extend Germ Kill, $4.95) or a bleach-based cleaner that is formulated to kill germs and smells good too (Duck Fresh Pine toiler cleaner, $3.49).
In-bowl fresheners like Duck Under the Rim Block, $4.75 can be used to keep things in order between cleans.
Storage and disposal of cleaning products
- Store cleaning products in an area that is clean and dry and not prone to temperature extremes.
- The area or cupboard you chose should be out of reach of children or curious pets. If there is no high storage available consider childproof locks.
- Keep them in the container in which they came and if you mix up your own products make sure you use clean bottles and label them correctly.
- Cleaning products lose their effectiveness the longer they are stored and should be disposed of within 3-6 months.
- When storing ensure you have tightened lids to prevent spills and evaporation.
- Throw away cleaners if they become clumpy, develop a strange smell or have changed colour.
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