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How to Clean Tiles
To stay one step ahead of discolored tile grout, Morris recommends making a paste with plant-based liquid castile soap paired with baking soda. Then scrub the paste into the grout. Rinse with hot water. Findley relies on R-Teez tile grout cleaning sponge (available at thestaineraser.com).
"It gets hard-water deposits, mildew, and soap scum out of grout," she says.
To kill mold and mildew spores left behind, dip a thin sponge paintbrush into distilled white vinegar and apply it directly to the grout.
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How to Remove Toilet Stains
Tackle rust, lime, and hard-water stains by pouring table salt directly on the stain. Next, squeeze a fresh lemon onto a bowl brush or heavy-duty paper towel and scrub the affected area. The acids in the lemon, made more potent when combined with salt, will remove the stains.
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How to Clean Shower Curtains
Rid your plastic or fabric shower curtains and liners of mildew and soap scum by simply tossing them in the washing machine. Begin a regular cold cycle, adding a cup of detergent and a cup of vinegar. Once the machine is filled with water, shut it off and let soak for two hours. Then resume the cycle for stain-free results.
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How to Clean Faucets and Mirrors
Dab the offending water marks with a sponge soaked in hot vinegar every 5 minutes for about 15 minutes. The mild acid from the vinegar softens mineral stains and soap scum deposits so they can be wiped right off with a dry cloth.
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How to Clean Bathtubs
Soap residue combined with dirt causes unsightly rings. According to Findley, an easy way to prevent rings from forming is to switch to a glycerin soap. For extra-stubborn stains, try placing salt directly onto the ring, then scrub.
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How to Clean Walls and Ceilings
Banish mold from bathroom tile, walls, or the ceiling with this one-two cleaning punch: Wipe distilled white vinegar onto the mold with a sponge. Wait 15 minutes and repeat, letting the vinegar work its magic overnight. The following day, sponge hydrogen peroxide onto the affected area to eliminate any traces of the stain and to prevent the mold from returning.
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Best Cleaning Products
Curved Nylon Toilet Bowl Brush
Nylon won't leave scratch marks on your toilet, but it's strong enough to cut through buildup and stains.
It's the perfect size for tackling grout, and the stiff bristles bring added strength to this teeny cleaning powerhouse.
Morris likes loofah, a biodegradable option for scrubbing stubborn grime. The Twist loofah sponge (twistclean.com) has an unbleached sponge on one side and a natural loofah on the other. Another green pick is the Scotch-Brite Natural Fiber Scrub Sponge (shop3m.com).
Microfiber Cloths and Terry Towels
Hand-size terry towels are a bacteria-free alternative to sponges. Use wet or dry with a cleansing solution and throw into the wash when dirty. Microfiber cloths are terrific for dusting and polishing, no cleanser required. Method's Window + Glass cloth won't leave streaks behind (methodhome.com).
Keep one filled with equal parts water and white distilled vinegar—a natural disinfectant—to zap mold and mildew spots before they spread.
Combat soap scum by wiping down your shower, ideally after each use. The OXO Good Grips squeegee works on tile, glass, and mirror, and features a suction cup for easy shower-side storage (oxo.com).
Originally published in the March 1, 2010, issue of Family Circle magazine.