Keeping Clean

"Cleanliness is next to Godliness"

The New Way -- In general, cleaning should be a two stage process. For example, scrape or wipe as much grease or paint spilled on the floor before getting out the cleaning fluid, rinse off as much food from the plates before putting them in the dishwasher, soak and squeeze out as much ink as you can before putting the clothes in the washing machine.

The New Way -- Plastic optical surfaces such as compact disks, eyeglasses, and some mirrors, should not be rubbed or scrubbed.

Updated 1/26/01

More helpful hints on keeping things clean.

Clean Eyebrows and Eyeglass Nosepiece  (3/00)

Run the "Vac" Outside Before Using  (3/00)

Take apart kitchenware for cleaning  (3/00)
Infants killed by dirty fingernails  (3/00)
Care and cleaning of DVD, laser disk CD  (2/99)
Don't knot clothes or stockings  (1/99)
Put salt in baby bottle nipples  (9/98)
Don't rub and scrub eyeglasses, CD's ,RPTV mirrors  (9/98)
Getting spots out of the carpet or the sports jacket
Never twist clothing tightly to wring it out
Scrape off as much grease before washing
Turn socks inside out sometimes when washing
Washing machines
Vacuum cleaners

Go to other topics.

Cleaning Toothbrushes

Every so often, put toothbrushes in the dishwasher with a load of dishes.

(Contributed by Megan C. from Wisconsin and reported on Paul Harvey News)

Take Apart Kitchenware For Cleaning

I first noticed this with a stirrer attached to the lid of a pitcher. (You pump the stirrer up and down to mix the Kool-Aid (R) or orange juice.)

When I pulled the paddle off the bottom of the stirrer, there was crud and filth where these parts fitted together. Therefore these parts should be disassembled for washing. You don't have to do it every time, maybe once every ten washings provided you rinsed it off well after every usage.

Be careful. You don't know whether the parts screw together or snap together. A wrong move will break the parts irreparably. Don't use lots of force.

Another example is the glass cap in the middle of a metal lid of a coffee percolator. Remove this, also, for washing. Usually it unscrews.

If you have difficulty taking apart the item, drop in or spoon in a small amount of alcohol as if you were "oiling" the parts. This will kill most of the germs without disassembly.

Keep Fingernails Short

False Fingernails Are Bad For You

An incredible amount of dirt, filth, crud, and bacteria get caught up under fingernails. By keeping fingernails short there is less of a groove to catch stuff and also it is easier to keep fingers clean. If you poke your finger (accidentally or deliberately) into your eye, nose, or mouth, germs under the fingernail can give you a cold or other illness.

Long fingernails also break easily, leaving a painful, bloody and messy wound. You remember those horror movies where people are tortured by having splinters poked under their fingernails. Broken nails also leave ragged edges that are so annoying that you bite at them. Then the crud under the cracked fingernail gets into your mouth and gives you a cold.

False fingernails are worse. They leave even more space underneath to catch dirt and crud. They also catch on things and not so much break themselves but break the real fingernail underneath.

Infants Killed By Dirty Fingernails

Paul Harvey (radio news commentator) reported ca. 3/23/00 that several infants in an Oklahoma hospital neonatal department died of infection traced from bacteria under the fingernails of a few nurses!. When this was found out, the hospital banned long fingernails and artificial fingernails worn by employees. Paul referred listeners to the Hospital Epidemiology Journal.

Don't Tie Socks or Clothes In Knots  (1/99)

It may make it easier to keep matching stockings together but don't tie them together in knots when washing. Otherwise soap residue will stay behind in the knotted part of the fabric.

Cleaning Baby Bottle Nipples

Sprinkle some salt inside, add a little water, and rub the nipple sides together gently. This will reduce milk scum.

Remember to rinse it out well.

Hints by Jane Tucker, (c) 1947, Fielder, Sorenson, & Dowd, seen on a reproduced advertisement inside a streetcar at the Seashore Trolley Museum, Kennebunkport, ME.

Clean Eyeglassses' Nosepiece

If you wear glasses, clean the nosepiece often. It is amazing how much grease and crud accumulates there, and it causes smearing on the lenses. Don't use the same handkerchief you use to clean the lenses. We suggest a small piece of toilet tissue which you discard instantly.

Also wash your eyebrows every day if possible. Dirty or overlength eyebrows also cause smearing of eyeglass lenses.

A few years ago Andy Rooney, in his CBS 60 Minutes' commentary, made reference to eyebrows (including his own) that are so bushy they interfere with eyesight. Some of the hairs grow longer than others, just trim the few overlength hairs every few weeks to reduce eyeglass smearing as well.

If you can cut down on the grease smears, you won't have to clean the lenses themselves so often and therefore reduce scratching. See the next article below.

Care of DVD, Laser Disk, CD, Eyeglasses

The best rule to follow is, don't touch the playing surface of records, CD's, laser disks, DVD's and the like. CD's and DVD's should be kept in plastic boxes or cases that grab the center hole of the disk and don't let the playing surface touch anything. Extra boxes can be bought separately, they are called jewel boxes. This type of box is not available for laser disks or records so use the sleeves that came with the disks but billow the sleeve out so there is minimal contact with the disk as you slide the disk in.

Don't leave the disks out in the open because they will gather dust and you then have to wash them.

Washing records, DVD's, etc.

Gently rub soapy water over the disk or lens surface with your fingers, don't press hard. For disks with paper labels, try to keep the label dry. Rinse until all rainbowiness (indicates soap residue) is gone from the surface. Stand the disk on its edge and let it dry by itself.

You can use cloth or paper towels to soak up water droplets but don't rub it dry. Even cotton fibers will leave scratches too small to see but after thousands of scratches have accumulated you will see a dulling of the disk surface.

Most eyeglass lenses are plastic and easily scratched. If yours are "antireflective" or "scratch resistant", don't use alcohol.

For grooved records, rubbing with cloth or paper towels leave tiny fibers in the grooves that will be ground into the grooves the next time the record is played. After enough fibers are ground into the grooves there will be a hissiness to the sound.

Cleaning  Plastic Panels and Mirrors, Projection TV

The same rule (see preceding) applies as for eyeglasses or compact disks. Don't use elbow grease (rubbing and scrubbing) on these. Don't use a damp sponge or cloth to wipe off dust. You will cause damage by scratching. Projection TV mirrors are often silvered on the outside and easily scratched.

If possible, take the object to a sink or bathtub. Use mild soap such as Ivory (R) and lots of water. You may rub gently through a good layer of soapy water.

For large or non-portable objects, contact the manufacturer for cleaning suggestions. Don't skimp on the cleaning liquid, you should have enough to make a cushioning layer so cloth or cotton or fingers don't grind into the surface.

Don't use alcohol or chemicals unless the manufacturer of the object recommends it.

Years ago I had a record player with a transparent cover. Every week I would take a damp sponge to wipe off dust. After a few months the cover lost its shine and looked hazy. The dust was ground into the surface by the pressure of the sponge and made thousands of tiny scratches.

Cleaning the Carpet or Sports Jacket  (April '98)

In a nutshell:

1.  Using toilet paper or very absorbent paper, soak up or wipe off as much of the spill as you can as soon as you can.

2.  After putting on water or cleaning fluid, us toilet paper to soak up as much as you can.

Do you clean spots off a carpet (or clothing) this way?

1. Spray plain water, soapy water*, or cleaning fluid* on the carpet over the dirty spot.

2. Rub or scrub the spot until it disappears.

3. Let it dry.

4. That is all.


The dirt is still in the carpet. Why? Because you did not see it go anyplace else.

* For fruit juice or washable ink, try plain water first. For kitchen grease or butter try soapy water first. If you use soapy water you must rinse at least twice.

Here is a better procedure.

1. If coffee, juice, or other liquid was freshly spilled, sop up as much as you can first. Toilet paper works best.

2. Spray plain water, soapy water*, or cleaning fluid on the carpet over the dirty spot.

3. Rub or scrub the spot GENTLY for a little while.

4. Soak up as much of the cleaning fluid as you can using toilet paper.

5. Repeat steps 1, 2, 3, at least once more, repeat additional times if the spot hasn't gone away yet.

6. Rinse (repeat steps 2, 3, 4 with plain water) twice.

7. Let it dry.

* If you use soapy water, you must rinse at least twice.

Each time you soak up cleaning fluid, some of the dirt is taken away from the carpet and put onto the toilet paper. Now that is progress in getting the carpet clean.

Think about this puzzle. To give you an idea of what we are talking about, we have made a cleaning analogy using a box with marbles in it.

Pretend you have a covered box with a grill suspended in the middle horizontally, dividing the box into a top half and a bottom half. Some colored marbles are at the bottom of the box. You also have an unlimited supply of small transparent ice cubes. The marbles and ice cubes will fit through the grill but you cannot reach through with your fingers. The object is to get most of the marbles out of the box.

Two rules:

You may shake and upend the box but the lid must be on so nothing spills out.

Before you take the lid off you must put the box back on the table or floor upright.


If there are so many colored marbles that some are above the grid, take out as many as you can reach.

If this is a fresh spill of liquid, sop up as much as you can.

Fill the box almost to the top with ice cubes.

Spray cleaning fluid on the carpet over the dirty spot.

Put the lid on the box and shake it. The marbles are now scattered amongst the ice cubes so you don’t see a mass of color at the bottom of the box.

Rub the spot on the carpet lightly with a brush or your fingers. The spot seems to disappear. Never scrub hard, that damages the carpet.

Pause for a moment. The job is done. Or is it?

If you stop now, eventually the ice cubes will melt and evaporate and all of the marbles will fall back to the bottom of the box.

If you stop now, eventually the cleaning fluid will evaporate but the dirt is left behind since you did not see the dirt go anyplace else nor did you physically take it someplace else.

Continuing on:

Before the ice cubes melt, put the box down, take off the lid, and scoop out everything you can. Since the marbles were evenly mixed with the ice cubes, some will be scooped out with the ice cubes.

Take a clean cloth (dry toilet paper works even better) and soak up the cleaning fluid before it evaporates. Some of the dirt should now be removed from the carpet and you will see it on the cloth.

Repeat the process once or twice more, add more ice cubes, shake the box, put the box down, and scoop out everything you can. Each time you will take out more marbles.

Repeat the process once or twice more, spray on more cleaning fluid, rub gently a bit, soak up the cleaning fluid. Each time you will get rid of more dirt.

By now most of the marbles will be out of the box.

By now most of the dirt will be removed from the carpet.

Let the remaining ice cubes melt and evaporate

Let the carpet dry.

To demonstrate washing with soap and then rinsing, pretend you have a lot of small Styrofoam balls (representing the soap) and water but no ice cubes. The object of the puzzle is to get both the marbles (representing the dirt) and all the Styrofoam balls that you used out of the box. Because the marbles do not float, you cannot get them out using water alone. But by pouring in balls and shaking as described above, you can still get the marbles to mix with the balls and scoop them out with several tries. Then pour in water (rinsing) to get the last few Styrofoam balls to float above the grill so you can remove them. Water remaining in the box will eventually leak out or evaporate.

Mopping the Linoleum Floor  (April '98)

How many times did you mop the floor and then feel very satisfied when you poured the extremely dirty wash water out of the bucket and down the drain?

Yes you should feel satisfied because you picked up all that dirt that you see pouring down the drain.

No, the floor is not completely clean unless the last bucketful of water, wash or rinse, is clean looking when it is poured down the drain.

Why? To answer that let me ask, would you save that bucketful of water and begin next week's mopping with it? If you answered "no", recall for a moment that you "began" mopping the last square yard of floor in this week's mopping using it. Some of the dirt in that bucket was smeared back on the floor.

The secret: Do a second mopping with plain water, for rinsing. This time change the water in the bucket more often.

But don't replace the (soapy) water in the bucket too often during the first round of mopping because you waste too much soap. When noticeable gray streaks appear as you slosh the mop around on the floor, then replace the soapy water.

Nobody says you have to do it twice quickly (except if that is your job and your boss says so). If you want to wait until next week, feel free to do so

The inescapable fact: The more often you mop, the cleaner the floor will be immediately after a mopping. Rinsing takes just as long as mopping. Whether you choose to mop and rinse every Sunday or just mop on Sunday and rinse on Wednesday, or mop this Sunday and rinse next Sunday, you will still get a cleaner floor with more moppings.

The reason Navy ship decks are so clean is that they mop the decks so often that there isn't that much dirt picked up each time and therefore the water in the mop buckets doesn't get all that dirty.

Have you ever had to mop up ink spilled all over the linoleum floor and you had to rinse more times compared with normal mopping?

The reason it seems to take longer to mop ink off the floor is because you can more easily see the ink mixed with the dirty soapy water sloshed back onto the floor further on down the hall.

But even without ink, you are sloshing dirty water back onto the floor after you have been mopping for a several minutes with the same bucketful of water. Therefore you still get a cleaner floor by rinsing more times.

Incidentally, if you really spill ink, clean up as much as you can with paper towels and perhaps a sponge before bringing out the mop. You don't want to get too much ink on the mop and end up tracking small amounts of ink all over the house for months until all of the blue color disappears from the white mop strings.

Use bleach when mopping up in kitchen and bathroom. After about an hour of sitting , tiny almost invisible food splashings in the kitchen and tiny almost invisible urine splashes in the bathroom harbor bacteria and bleach does a good job of killing the bacteria. Better yet, have a separate mop used only for the bathroom. Follow the instructions on the bleach container for getting the proper mixture.

Cleaning Fresh Grease From Hard Surfaces  (April '98)

In a Nutshell:

1. Using a Popsicle stick or similar object, gently scrape off as much grease as you can.

2. Using dry cloth or paper towels, preferable light colored, wipe off as much grease as you can. Discard the cloth or towels so someone else won't use them later and smear your grease all over his cleaning job.

3. Using more cloth or paper towels together with soap and water or cleaning fluid, mop over the area to remove the last traces of grease.

Cleaning Fresh Grease From Carpet Or Fabric  (April '98)
1. Using a Popsicle (R) stick or similar object, gently scrape off as much grease as you can.

2. Using toilet paper, try to soak up as much grease as you can.

3. After that, do the complete carpet cleaning procedure above.

Laundry Hints (April '98)

Turn socks inside out for alternate washings. Otherwise foot dandruff inside the socks will never come out. It is also a good idea to turn pockets inside out if possible.

If you hold the sock over a paper grocery bag while turning it inside out you may hear the bits of dandruff falling into the bag. (A plastic trash can liner or a wicker basket probably won't resonate enough for you to hear the sound.)

Washing wears out clothing. Underwear can be worn more times between washings if you wipe your backside every morning.

We suggest rinsing clothes twice if you can. Unfortunately coin operated machines won't let you do it without running a complete second cycle.

The typical wash cycle consists of:

1. Fill with water
2. Agitate for washing
3. Drain and spin
4. Spin and spray rinse water inside
5. Spin some more
6. Stop and fill
7. Agitate for rinsing
8. Drain and spin
9. Spin dry

After the machine finishes the complete cycle, turn the dial around to step 4 so as to repeat just the rinsing. On most washing machines, step 4 is marked on the dial and usually lasts for one minute during the cycle.

Most washing machines as well as dryers have lint filters. Clean these after every wash load. Better yet, also stop the washer and clean the lint filter just as the rinse begins.

After you are done washing clothes, turn off the faucets to the hoses that feed the machine.

Never twist clothing tightly to wring it out. This is an old fashioned obsolete no good thing to do. You will damage the fabric. You will break one thread here and one thread there. Knitted shirts and the like will get runs like stockings get. Seams will start to look like they are starting to tear apart.

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