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December 05, 2006

Cleaning Tips from Graham Haley

Haley While recovering in bed from a cold over Thanksgiving weekend, I saw Graham Haley on public television, KQED. He's a guru of household hints. 

Following are some of his methods for removing various types of common stains using inexpensive, ordinary household items like toothpaste, salt and vinegar.

  • Red wine on carpet or fabric. Immediately cover the stain liberally with club soda. For carpets, you can also rub with waterless hand cleaner. In either case, if the stain persists, dab it with hydrogen peroxide and rinse with cold water. If all else fails, try cream of tartar paste. Get red wine stains out of a white tablecloth by soaking it in 1 tablespoon of borax and 2 cups warm water.
  • Crayon/marker on tile and floors. To remove from tiled walls or vinyl surfaces, apply a little toothpaste and rub with a soft cloth. Persistent scuff-marks on linoleum can often be removed by rubbing them with toothpaste.
  • Tea and coffee. On fabric, spray with hairspray, then rub with a bar of soap and rinse in cold water.
  • Ketchup. On carpet, first dab away as much as possible, being careful not to work the stain deeper into the carpet. Cover the area with a liberal amount of regular (foamy) shaving cream and rub vigorously with a sponge. When you wipe away the excess, the stain should go too.
  • Ballpoint-pen ink. Douse the area with hairspray and rub hard with a bar of soap. Rinse in cold water. An alternative treatment is to use rubbing alcohol. Soak the garment in milk or lemon juice/salt.
  • Lipstick. Rub toothpaste into the area and wash as usual. Alternative solutions are to dab the stain with petroleum jelly and wash or cover it with hairspray then scrub it with a bar of soap and rinse it with cold water..
  • Wax (candles, crayons). Place two folded paper towels on both sides of
    the stain, then press with a warm iron. The towels will absorb the
    melted wax.
  • Mud. Cut a raw potato in half and rub over the area. Soak the item in cool water and wash as usual.
  • Scorching. Cut a raw onion in half and rub over the area, then soak in
    cold water. (An alternative is to dampen with a weak hydrogen peroxide

His solution for tarnished silverware is brilliant. Run about a quart of hot water into your kitchen or bathroom sink (cool enough not to burn you). Dissolve 1 tablespoon water softener and 1 tablespoon salt in the water. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom of the sink then place your tarnished silver on top of the foil. If badly tarnished, rub the item with a cloth after removing it from the water.

To make your own carpet cleaner, mix equal parts salt and baking soda. Add several drops of white vinegar and enough water to make a paste. Check the carpet for color-fastness, then apply paste to the stain and let it sit. When it's dry, brush away residue. The stain should disappear with the residue. (For particularly nasty stains, scrub when applying the paste.)

Make your own spot remover by adding one part rubbing alcohol to two parts water and apply to the stain.

For more tips, buy his book, Haley's Cleaning Hints.


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