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Some things everyone ought to know.

Nestor_Kelebay's picture

Since this is a "talk about anything" forum, I thought I'd explain some things that everyone should know, but most people don't....

1. How to clean mildew off silicone caulk.:bliss:
Mix bleach (straight out of the jug) into either baking soda or talcum powder to make a thick paste that's thin enough to spread smoothly. Use a spoon to put that paste on your bathtub or sink, and use the spoon to spread the paste uniformly along the silicone caulk you want to clean. Cover with Saran Wrap (or any "clingy" food wrap for at least a day and preferably two or three. The clingy food wrap prevents the bleach from evaporating out of the paste. When you remove the Saran wrap and the now stiffer paste, your silicone caulk will be white as Manitoba snow. If you have a plastic or fiberglass tub, you should probably test in an inconspicuous area first. Also, if you mix bleach with baking soda, the baking soda is a lot denser and tends to gravitate to the bottom of the mixing container. So, you have to mix the slurry before taking each spoonful out to spread on the silicone.

2. How to locate the sources of pet urine odors.:confetti:
All mammal urine will fluoresce under ultraviolet light. Professional cleaning contractors will use ultraviolet lights made specifically for this purpose to locate the source or pet odors. And, of course, you can tell how effective your cleaning is by how rapidly the area you're cleaning loses it's fluorescence.
Take a look at this professional model of UV light:

3. How to make a better frozen pizza.:p
I spent the first summer after my 16th birthday working for minimum wage in a pizza joint. Of the two people working there, I was head cleaner, head dish washer, head delivery driver, assistant head waiter and assistant head pizza chef. We were supposed to ask customers whether they wanted a thin crisp crust on their pizza or a soft rising crust. The ONLY difference in cooking the pizza is if the customer wanted a soft rising crust, we would smear olive oil on the underside of the pizza dough before putting the sauce and toppings on. The oil would prevent moisture from evaporating out of the dough during baking, and the result was a thicker, softer crust. That same trick works on frozen pizza. Just turn the pizza over when it's still frozen (so the toppings stay in place), smear plenty of oil on the bottom (I just pour some on and use my fingers to spread it), turn it right side up again, put it on a baking sheet for baking, and, of course, put more toppings on it before baking it. (It's important to oil the dough and not the baking pan to ensure the oil gets absorbed into the dough and prevents moisture from evaporating out of the dough.

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Nestor_Kelebay's picture

I should also mention that DuPont requires special procedures to remove some stains from it's nylon StainMaster carpets to prevent voiding the warrenty. Also, the correct chemical and procedure to use to clean particular stains may depend on the kind of fiber or fabric you're cleaning it off of.

Here's a web page from the Carpet & Rug Institute that allows you to determine what kind of fiber you're dealing with.


Nestor_Kelebay's picture

Here's one that everyone should know as well.

Open your yellow pages to "Janitorial Equipment & Supplies" and you'll find places that sell cleaning supplies to professional cleaning contractors, like carpet shampooing companies, office cleaning companies, apartment cleaning companies, etc.

Any of those places that cater to carpet cleaning companies will sell "spotting kits" like this:


These are what professional cleaning contractors use to clean stains out of carpeting, draperies and upholstery. There will be a "spotting solution" or "Spotter" for each different kind of stain. For example blood would require one kind of spotter, whereas tea or red wine would require a different kind of spotter.

Now, no carpet cleaning contractor is going to use all of these "spotting solutions" at the same rate because some kinds of stains are more common than others. So, every Janitorial Supply place that sells the kits will also sell each of those spotting solutions individually as well so the contractor can buy only what he needs to keep his spotting kit properly stocked.

Now, cleaning contractors will typically apply the spotting chemical and use a carpet "extractor" to remove the soiled cleaner from the carpet, upholstery or drapery, but you don't need a $2000 machine like a carpet extractor to do a good job. An ordinary wet/dry vaccuum cleaner like this one will also work:


So, for example, let's say your husband brings home his boss and the boss gets really plastered on your home made wine and vomits all over your brand new carpet.

You could hire a carpet cleaning contractor thinking that he'd do a better job than you. But, if it wuz me, I would:

Phone up any carpet cleaning company and tell them you just bought a Bissel mini-carpet shampoo'er and feel that the Bissel carpet shampoo is too expensive and want to use the same carpet soaps that professionals use in their equipment. Ask which janitorial supply houses in town tend to cater most to the carpet cleaning contractors.

Go to any of those Janitorial Supply places and ask to buy a "spotter" or "spotting solution" for vomit. The guy will think you're smart to be using it with a wet/dry vaccuum cuz most people probably wouldn't think of that. Also, before leaving, ask if anyone in the store has experience in the cleaning business and whether or not they would follow the instructions on the cleaning solution to the letter, or if they'd do anything differently (cuz experience generally counts more than instructions).

Then, when you get home, put the spotting solution in a spray bottle (or dilute it according to the instructions) and apply it to the area of the carpet you want to clean. Then, use the wet/dry vaccuum cleaner to lift the soiled cleaner out of the carpet. Then spray on clean rinse water, and press the suction hose of the vaccuum cleaner directly to the carpet pile to lift that soiled rinse water out of the carpet. Keep applying clean rinse water (and cleaner if necessary) as long as a white tissue turns the colour of the stain when applied to the damp surface of the carpet.

So, as long as you can read and follow directions as competently as a carpet cleaning contractor, you should do as good a job cleaning the stain out of your carpet as well as a carpet cleaning contractor.

PS: (you don't need to know the rest):

And, the bottom line is that it's just simply a good idea to establish a relationship with a Janitorial Supply store. The reason why is that most people buy their cleaning supplies in a grocery store or home center, and the only person they can turn to for advice on what to use when it comes to cleaning is the 19 year old kid that stocks the shelves. Let's face it, that kid won't know squat.

On the other hand, the people that work in Janitorial Supply stores are really the modern day troubadors of the cleaning industry. In the middle ages, it was the troubadors that sang songs and recited poetry that informed the population that a king had died, or been taken ransom or had been replaced, or of changes to tax laws they must observe. The same thing happens (kinda) in the cleaning industry. If a cleaning contractor has difficulty removing some kind of stain from some kind of surface, about the only one he has to turn to for help is the guy he buys his cleaning chemicals from. So, the people working in these stores hear about particular cleaning problems and learn what worked best. So, it's the people working in Janitorial Supply stores cleaning contractors turn to for help, and if those sales people don't know, they have their own contacts (like the sales reps of the companies who's products they sell) who also hear about cleaning problems and find out through the grapevine what worked best.

So, by simply buying your cleaning products from a Janitorial Supply store instead of a supermarket, you get similar products (but generally without the colourful dyes and purfumes added) to what you're using now, but most importantly, you get all the free technical support you want from someone who's spent a career in the cleaning industry thrown in free of charge.

And, Janitorial Supply stores are just like any other kind of business; some are more competant than others. Some Janitorial Supply stores eek out a living supplying community centers (where the custodian knows nothing about cleaning) with light bulbs and toilet paper. Other Janitorial Supply stores cater to the fire and flood restoration people, others cater primarily to the carpet cleaning guys, and still others to the office and apartment cleaning businesses. Generally, what you'll find is that any of the family owned businesses will have the most knowledgeable people because father passes his knowledge on to son. In the non-family owned businesses, the counter help may have been selling used cars the month before and won't know anything about cleaning.

Just thought I'd make people aware that this resource is available free of charge and available to the general public.

Jennabutala's picture

Hello Nestor

Nice tips, thanks for sharing them on the board, keep posting

sarina's picture

I love pizzas and now I know how to make a soft rising crust. Thanks for this. My family might see more pizza on the table now. :bliss:

Nestor_Kelebay's picture

Sweetpea - You don't need to use olive oil. Any cooking oil will do. Wal-Mart sells McCain "Delicio" pizza, so that's where you can get a pretty good frozen pizza cheap.

Isey - I own a small apartment block in Winnipeg, so I do this all the time and can assure you that it works and works well. I actually use painting spatulas I purchased from an art supply store to apply the bleach paste to the silicone caulk, but I think that a TEASPOON (not a table spoon) (and even a plastic tea spoon) is all you need to do the job if you're only doing it once every few years. Also, the longer you leave the paste on, the better it will work, but it's better to apply it twice for two days each than to leave it on for 4 days.

If you need to use the shower while cleaning the silicone caulk, just use painter's masking tap to tape some wax paper over the Saran Wrap, and apply Scotch tape over the masking tape. That way you have a water-proof tape that pulls off the wall easily.

Nestor_Kelebay's picture

It's important to know how a toilet actually flushes to diagnose toilet flushing problems.

Basically, a toilet is nothing more than a glorified siphon.

Everyone knows how a siphon works. To siphon water out of a bucket, you just put a hose in the bucket and suck on the end of the hose until it's full of water. Then, as long as the hose is full of water and the exit end of the hose is below the water level in the bucket, the laws of physics take over and water flows through the siphon tube.

A toilet works exactly the same way, except that we don't suck on the discharge end of the toilet to fill the siphon channel in the toilet bowl with water. Instead, it's the toilet TANK's job to pour enough water into the toilet bowl fast enough that the siphon channel in the toilet bowl fills up with water. Once that siphon channel in the toilet bowl is full of water, then exactly the same laws of physics take over, and the siphon channel then siphons the water out of the toilet bowl (and everything in that water).

That is, it doesn't matter HOW the siphon tube or siphon channel came to be full of water. It only matters whether or not it's full of water, cuz if it is, the laws of physics take over and you have a siphon. And, with it's large diameter, the siphon channel in a toilet bowl will empty the bowl of it's contents within a second or two.

On some toilet bowls, you can actually see the shape of the siphon channel in the toilet bowl. People often presume that it's curved shape somehow serves the same function as the "P-trap" under a sink, but that's not true. The curvy shape of the siphon channel in a toilet bowl is to SLOW DOWN the rate at which water can flow through it. That increases the liklihood that the siphon channel will fill completely with water, and that increases the liklihood of a successful flush.

"So what?" you ask.

Well, you can diagnose a poorly flushing toilet by testing the siphon channel in your toilet bowl. Just pour a 5 gallon pail full of water into the bowl as quickly as you can without spilling water all over the floor. Five gallons of water poured in quickly is WAY MORE THAN ENOUGH to fill the siphon channel completely, so the toilet bowl SHOULD flush properly.

If pouring 5 gallons in causes the toilet to flush properly, then any flushing problem you typically have with the toilet HAS to be because there isn't enough water being poured into the bowl fast enough to fill that siphon channel in the bowl completely, and that's what's causing the poor flushing. Maybe the toilet bowl flapper isn't opening wide open, or maybe the holes under the rim of the toilet bowl or at the bottom of the bowl are clogged up. Maybe the water level in the tank isn't high enough. Remember, it's not just a matter of how much water gets into the bowl, it's also a matter of how quickly that water gets into the bowl. There has to be enough water poured in fast enough to fill the siphon channel in the bowl to get a proper flush.

If you pour the 5 gallon pail of water into the toilet bowl, and the toilet still doesn't flush properly, then you know the problem has to be downstream of the toilet bowl. Either something is stuck in the toilet bowl siphon channel, or your toilet bowl's drain pipe is clogged, or perhaps there isn't enough room for the toilet water in your drain pipe because the drain piping in your house is partially clogged.

So, if you understand that a toilet works just like a siphon, you can use a 5 gallon pail of water (or smaller) to tell if a toilet flushing problem is caused by something upstream or downstream of the bottom of your toilet bowl.

isey's picture

Thanks so much for the mildew trick. I can't wait to try it! My husband will be so happy as now I can stop rubbing the caulk so hard in order to get it clean that it needs to be replaced every so often. this post it sound a little PG, I tried to rephrase it but......oh well

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