Friday, June 15, 2012


After a very messy incident with our dog I got onto the internet looking for some cleaning solutions. What I found went beyond the ordinary into the unusual and then into the multi-purpose agents that could not only clean your toilet but also cure the grip. Here are some of the things I found.

When our pet, Buddy, gets sick he sometimes forgets the rule of doing his business on the laminated flooring in the kitchen where I can easily grab a roll of paper towels, wipe it up and give the spot a squirt of anti-bacterial cleaning spray. No, that would be too easy. His spot of choice for up-chucking after having over-excited himself on the arrival of dinner guests or developing uncontrollable diarrhea from eating a ten ounce steak he stole from the dining table is right in the middle of the living room's wool rug. It's an embarrassment I've encountered too many times to have not found a remedy. I've come upon this surefire method of organically cleaning up his mess and keeping my loss of dignity to a minimum.
Here's what you need in addition to a strong stomach.
Baking soda
1/4 cup of White Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of liquid dishwasher detergent
2 cups of lukewarm water
A scrub brush or a clean towel and a sponge

First, pick up as much of the mess as you can. This is where the strong stomach comes in handy. After you've gotten up as much as you can, generously sprinkle the baking soda over the offensive mess. Let that sit for 30 minutes. You can sit down and have perfectly civil pre-dinner conversation with your gathered guests as the baking soda does its business. After this, politely excuse yourself and go mix up the remaining ingredients. The detergent version is far more concentrated than regular dishwashing soap and will work much better but if all you have is the soap it'll work in a pinch. This is the disturbing part for your guests because you're going to have to vacuum up the baking soda before you can get into the cleaning phase. If you can find some distraction to get the guests out of the living room I'd do it now. Vacuuming is a definite conversation stopper. If you can get them to step out to admire the new wallpaper in the second floor bathroom or watch the finale of The Apprentice on your new 75" mega-screen then I'd suggest asking them to it now. Once you've finished the vacuuming you can kneel down and blot the spot with your soapy mixture. If you're in heels and cocktail attire remember to squat on your heels, knees raised over the floor and skirt tucked neatly between calves and thighs. Use your scrub brush for this. If you've got a deep pile carpet don't scrub too hard. You don't want little matted divots to dot your rug. Now it's time to rinse. Blot up as much of the residual mess as you can. Then comes the hard part. You want the rug to dry. Unfortunately, the best method is just a factor of time and propping up the rug to let air get underneath. If your guests have been drinking Mai-Tais you can ask for their glasses and use them to support the stained carpet up off the floor. Otherwise you'll have to resort to something less refined. It should dry out in less than 24 hours.

Our daughter likes to take those hour-long steamy scalding showers. The result is a very clean daughter but a bathroom mirror covered with a filmy look and those white water spots. The cure for this one is a light layer of shaving cream rubbed over the glass and then wiped off. It leaves the mirror with crystal clarity. As I age I question this one, not sure I want all of that clarity. I am becoming more and more grateful for a little fogginess in my morning mirror.

Growing up in Wisconsin I spread my peanut butter on one slice of white bread and then a slab of real cream butter on another before slapping them together for a real Wisconsin pb&b sandwich. Now as I've grown older and my taste for peanut butter has diminished I've found some new uses for that big jar of Skippy. Got an ink mark on the kitchen countertop, smear a little peanut butter on it, let it sit and then wipe the mark away. Your CD of Barry Manilow's greatest hits keeps skipping when you get to I Write the Songs. Smear a little peanut butter on the scratch, creamy only, and you'll be singing along with Barry in no time. Those gum labels that come attached to your new Crate & Barrel glasses won't come off, smear on some of that greasy peanut butter and those labels will fall off. Peanut butter isn't just kid's stuff anymore.

Toothpaste might just be the most useful multi-purpose product you'll find in your arsenal of handy dandy magical mystery potions. First, it's a terrific cleaning product. Dap a little on a soft cloth and clean up those chrome fins on your "56" Caddie or clean up Grandma's Sheffield silverplate service for twelve. It's also going to work great on polishing up your Kay Jewelers Open Your Heart silver necklace by Jane Seymour. And as if that wasn't enough it'll get rid of pimples and take the itch out of a mosquito bite. I'd carry a tube with me in my purse for emergencies if I carried a purse.

Windex. Need I say more
Toula Portokalos: I woke up with this huge zit this morning.
Ian Miller: Where?
Toula Portokalos: [points to spot on face] There.
Ian Miller: I had a huge zit this morning!
Toula Portokalos: Really? Where?
Ian Miller: [points to his face] Well, it was there, but it's gone now.
Toula Portokalos: Why?
Ian Miller: I put some Windex on it.

Parlourmaids, 1938
Bill Brandt, Photographer
Represented by Howard Greenberg Gallery, NYC

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