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Everyday Cheapskate

Posted on Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 12:10 pm

Cleaning soap scum and more


mary hunt

When all three messages landed in my inbox on the same day, the problem of soap scum, moldy mildew and hard-water buildup grabbed my attention. If three people wrote, I’m pretty sure they represent thousands of others who share the same problems but didn’t send a letter. It’s a common problem!

“We recently remodeled our kitchen with stainless appliances. We have treated well water. Within the very first week, we had a long water stain from the water dispenser, and I can’t get it off. It looks terrible! Is there anyway to remove it? Help!” — Pat

everyday cheapskate - mary hunt“How do you remove hard-water spots from shower doors?” — Diane

“My shower mat has turned almost black. I have tried to clean it, but have been unsuccessful. Can you help me?” — Ronnie

Quite possibly one of the best tips I’ve ever received came from a guy who is a professional property manager. He manages apartment rentals, and lots of them. As an apartment is vacated, his job is to see that it is thoroughly cleaned and made ready for the next occupants.

He told me that the biggest challenge is always the bathroom, specifically the tub and shower. He kindly left specific details up to my imagination but let me know that “gross” is not strong enough to describe what he often finds. And that’s when he gave me his super magical potion — the only product he uses to return showers, tubs, tile, enclosures, faucets and doors to their original sparkling clean and sanitized condition.

I gave his unbelievably simple recipe a try. In the 20 years since I got that letter, I’ve used nothing else to clean tubs, showers, sinks, toilets, patio furniture — just about anything that will stand still long enough to get sprayed. The only other criterion is that it must be a surface that can easily be rinsed, because this product must be rinsed off.

To make your own tub, tile and shower cleaner you will need three things: An empty spray bottle, blue Dawn Liquid Dish Soap (any variation as long as it is Dawn and it is blue) and white vinegar.

TO MAKE: Pour one cup of blue Dawn into the 32-ounce spray bottle (1/2 cup Dawn if you are using a 16-ounce bottle).

Fill the bottle to the top with white vinegar. Screw on the sprayer top; shake gently to mix.

TO USE: Spray liberally on the area to be cleaned. Allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes and possibly even overnight, depending on the severity of the scum, mildew and hard-water buildup. All of the offensive gunk and grime will break down and become soft and gooey. Simple rinse it away. For especially challenging situations — or if this is the first time — use a sponge or brush to scrub the surfaces before rinsing.

TO TREAT MILDEW, MOLD. While the tub, tile and shower cleaner works to loosen and remove most mildew, if you see a lot of black growth you will want to pretreat with full strength liquid chlorine bleach before proceeding with the above steps. CAUTION: Never, ever allow chlorine bleach to come in contact with other products, especially vinegar. This could produce chlorine gas, which is deadly. Don’t panic. Simply make sure you rinse the chlorine bleach away completely before proceeding to clean with the homemade tub and tile cleaner.

TO MAINTAIN: Here’s the best thing about this cleaner — if you use it weekly you will never have to scrub again. Once a week as I shower, I spray down the walls, doors, tracks, faucets, mat and the entire shower with this magical cleaner. Before I step out, I use the handheld sprayer to rinse it all away. No scrubbing required. It dries sparkling clean without using a squeegee, or touching it with a towel. And not a water mark to be seen. Simply brilliant!

I use this stuff in the kitchen, too — on my appliances and stainless-steel sink and faucets (never on the granite countertops) — but only where it can be rinsed away. This means I don’t spray it on the floor or into the air. That would create a slippery, soapy mess!

I can’t wait to get your feedback once you give this super simple cleaning and maintenance method a try!