Your At-Home Cleaning Questions Answered
There are three types of people in this world: those who hate cleaning, those who pretend they enjoy the process, and those who have mastered enough house cleaning hacks so they can do the job efficiently and effortlessly.
Temina McCormack, owner of Ottawa-based Temina and the Cleanas, belongs to that third group. Luckily for everyone else, she loves sharing the knowledge she’s accumulated over the years. The expert is here to answer your questions and share her cleaning tips––from getting rid of pet hair off your furniture to removing tough stains from your kitchen walls. Check out Temina’s answers below, and remember to send your cleaning questions to firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured in an upcoming article.
My kitchen walls are covered in airborne grease, what’s the best way to clean them?
“You’re not alone!” says McCormack. “The easiest way to tackle this airborne grease (often in the form of orange and sticky drip-like stains) is with a store-bought kitchen degreaser. Spray enough product to cover the stains, let it sit for a few minutes then wipe away. I use the Method Heavy Duty Degreaser, which is a non-toxic cleaner that’s also safe for paint.”
If you’re looking to make your own solution, it’s a simple process.
“Combine a few drops of dish or castile soap (a Temina and the Cleanas must-have) with hot water then spray it on the wall,” she explains. “Give it a minute or two to break down the grease before you wipe.”
I inherited my parents’ house and they were heavy smokers. How can I clean nicotine stains off the walls?
But, with some patience and hard work, McCormack says there are ways to fix your problem.
“You’ll need a flat headed mop, a bucket filled with very hot water, vinegar, and dish or castile soap,” she explains. “Mix the liquids together, then use the dampened mop to wipe down the walls and ceiling. Be sure to get into the corners, around the light switches, and all the baseboards. The hot water combined with the soap will help lift the stains while the vinegar disinfects the walls, kills bacteria, and neutralizes odours.”
I have a water stain on my ceiling from a flooded toilet, is there a way to get rid of this?
“You can certainly improve the water stain on your ceiling if it’s fresh and covers a small area,” McCormack shares. “Put on some heavy-duty gloves, then mix one part bleach and three parts hot water. Soak a cloth or flat-head mop in the mixture, carefully squeeze the excess liquid and pat it onto the stain. You may need to alternate between holding the cloth or mop in place and wiping gently, being careful not to scrape the ceiling paint and worsen the damage.”
McCormack does caution even though visually the problem may be solved, that doesn’t mean it is structurally.
“Remember, reducing the stain’s visibility or getting rid of it entirely doesn’t fix the possible damage from the flooded toilet,” she stresses. “You should call a professional to assess the ceiling and make sure there are no wiring, mould, or structural damages.”
What’s the best way to wash my hardwood floors? I don’t want to use anything that will ruin them.
“Your hardwood floor’s cleaning needs depend on the type of finish (there are many different types),” McCormack explains. “If you know the finish on your wood floors, pick a product that’s safe for use on it. Personally, I use Murphy’s Oil for hardwood floors. Not only does it smell great, but it is also 98% natural. To get your floors as shiny as new, mop with hot water and a 1/4 cup of Murphy’s Oil. This treatment is best done no more than once a month to avoid build up on your floors. For the rest of the time, use a mixture of vinegar and hot water. You can add a splash of dish soap for good measure.”
My cats are always shedding and my couch is covered in fur! Is there an easy way to get the hair off without hauling out the vacuum?
“Although vacuuming is the quickest and easiest fix, I know it can be a hassle to haul a large item around the house,” admits McCormack.
She does offer some alternatives however, such as:
- using a fabric-based lint brush to gather the hair into one area then wipe it off;
- getting packing tape and cutting afew foot-long pieces you can place over the fluff to lift it off the couch; and
- wearing plastic gloves and using your hands to wipe the fur off.
I love my microfiber sofa but I’m always worried about cleaning it. What’s the best way to do so?
“The great thing about having microfiber upholstery (besides the comfort) is the easy clean up,” shares McCormack. “The fabric is stain-resistant! You don’t have to worry about cleaning your couch too often, and when you do you can try a few options. For a gentle clean, use the furniture attachment of your vacuum. If you need to wash anything off the couch, spray some rubbing alcohol and blot it carefully. Avoid water-based cleaners. Finally, use a soft-bristled or plastic brush to restore the softness of the fibres.”
My kids never cover food in the microwave and now it’s caked in gunk. Is there a quick way to clean it without having to scrape it down?
McCormack has a favourite tip to cleaning your microwave, and it came early in her cleaning career. A client shared it with her and now she uses it all the time.
“This hack not only eliminates the need for scrubbing, but it’ll also leave your microwave smelling fresh,” McCormack shares. “Put five to ten drops of lemon juice (lime juice or vinegar will also get the job done) in a bowl of water. Heat the liquid in the microwave on high for three minutes. Don’t open the door when the timer beeps. Let the bowl sit for three more minutes to steam. You can then remove it and wipe down the surface. The gunk will come right off. If you’re someone who is sensitive to certain scents or needs a quick cleaning fix, you can just heat up the water on its own and follow the same steps.”