I don’t blindly squeeze into a narrow parking spot scraping adjacent vehicles or throw wild cocktail parties. Nevertheless, in the past year I’ve had red wine splashed across my beige carpet (twice), had someone “kiss” my car’s bumper with their vehicle (twice) and discovered the bottom of my nice sauté pans had turned a nasty shade of yellow, which wouldn’t come off, no matter how hard I scrubbed.
Did these messes get the better of me? Heck, no. I’m prepared for stains and auto paint transfer and even globs of black tar splattered across the side of my stucco house (more on that later). Here are four low-cost cleaning products that do the job.
Spot Shot. A plate of hors d’oeuvres, pouring red wine and a golden retriever’s wagging tail are a recipe for a scene out of a murder mystery creating a blood-red splatter-pattern worthy of a crime scene investigation. My guests were panicked, racing to see if we had some seltzer water (a common choice in the war on wine stains).
I calmly grabbed my can of Spot Shot carpet stain remover and soon the red trail of droplets vanished. It truly is a miracle product. The trick to successful usage: have plenty of small white washcloths. Spot Shot pulls out stains, but is so effective that it will transfer the color of your blotting cloth back onto your carpet. So only use white ones. I buy packages of 10 white washcloths at Target for about $2.
Here’s the drill: Spray the stain(s) with Spot Shot. Immediately blot with an absorbent, dry white cloth. Once the stain is gone, swab the area again with a damp (not sopping wet) cloth to pull out the excess Spot Shot. Let dry.
If the stain is truly horrible and Spot Shot can’t do the job alone, consider investing in a Bissell SpotClean portable carpet cleaner, a favorite for pet-owners whose pups have in-home accidents. That night of the dog-meets-wine incident, my neighbor ran home and brought over her portable cleaning machine. A few swipes and the formerly stained area looked better than the surrounding carpet. I was so impressed that I bought my own, along with some bottles of cleaning solution, at Walmart the next day.
So when two weeks later during a Christmas party, one of my guests ran into the kitchen to tell me she had spilled her entire glass of red wine on my carpet and Chinese wool rug, I calmly pulled out the Spot Shot, the white washcloths and told her to start blotting. Crisis averted. After everyone left, I pulled out the Bissell and voila! clean carpet and rug. No need to call in the professionals.
Bar Keepers Friend. Mother was right. This is the one product that will clean stainless steel pots and pans, copper and porcelain. I love my All-Clad sauté and fry pans, but they started to get a greasy, sticky yellow build-up on the bottom. Even a scrub brush (yep I know that’s a no-no) using liquid soap or the usual powdered cleansers like Ajax didn’t do the job.
Mom kept telling me to buy a can of Bar Keepers Friend, which does not contain bleach (that makes it ideal for stainless steel). I finally did and, though it took a few rounds, all the gunk came off and my pans now shine as if they were new.
Here’s the drill: Wet the surface to be cleaned. Sprinkle the cleanser onto the surface and slowly rub it into a paste. Then, rub gently with a wet cloth or sponge. Rinse thoroughly. Repeat if needed. Wipe surface dry.
Fels-Naptha Soap. While doing some spring cleaning, I found a bunch of old t-shirts I had kept for sentimental reasons. I love my Bloom County tee, but the arm pits were gross. Fels-Naptha is a great product to pre-treat greasy or tough stains, caused by sweat, make-up, chocolate, lotions or similar. I rubbed the bar of soap into the discolored areas, tossed the shirt into the laundry and now I can proudly don Opus and the rest of the Bloom County gang.
Here’s the drill: Wet the bar. Rub it into the stain. Let it sit for a few minutes. Then toss the item into the washing machine and wash as usual. Fels-Naptha is so popular it has a Facebook fan page, where you can find other tips. One suggests using it as a shower cleaner.
Goof Off. Last month, my neighborhood was hit by a hail storm. The bad news is I needed a new roof. The good news is I was insured. The bad news is the roofing crew accidentally splattered hot black tar on one side of my stucco home. There were so many bits of tar adhered to the wall that we were convinced it would need to be repainted. The good news is someone suggested Goof-Off. It took four guys 90-minutes of dabbing each tar ball, but the tar, not the paint came off.
I’ve been a fan of Goof Off for years after discovered that it is great for removing anything sticky — such as inspection stickers, stickers and decals, as well as glue, crayon, pen and marker, gum, scuff marks, asphalt and tar, dried latex paint, tree sap, candle wax and more. My poor car has been dinged and clipped in tight parking lots and garages more times than I can count. So each time my blue car suddenly has a streak of white or red paint, I use Goof Off and the offending color disappears.
Here’s the drill: Apply the product to the sticky spot. Rub until it is removed. (Some adhesives may need to sit a minute or two to dissolve before you wipe.) And this is important: after the offending glue or paint is gone, thoroughly wash down the area with a soapy mixture of water and a few drops of liquid dish soap such as Dawn or Palmolive. Goof Off does a great job, but let it sit undiluted on a surface and it may continue to work its dissolving magic. Also, note that Goof Off is stinky, so work in a well-ventilated space.
What are your go-to products for cleaning?