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Cleanliness isn't merely a virtue: It is essential to the health of your family and household. From your dustiest feather dusters to your scummiest sponges, here is how to clean your cleaning supplies after use, all from "Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook."
After each use, rinse brushes thoroughly to remove any particles of food or dirt. Do not soak brushes to clean them; doing so can weaken or dislodge bristles. To prevent them from becoming moldy or sour, allow brushes to air dry before storing them. Dry them bristle side up or hanging from a hook to prevent the bristles from warping.
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To maintain the shape of your broom, hang it on a wall or store it upside down. If the bristles become splayed, submerge them in warm water for 30 seconds. Then wrap a rubber band around the bottom, and hang the broom for a day or two. When you remove the band, the bristles' form will be restored. Clean the bristles by running them over a stiff edge, such as a deck stair or a front stoop.
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Whether you've chosen a feather duster or a lamb's-wool duster, the general use and care is the same. Release the dust by shaking the tool outside, or gently tap the duster on your ankle to release the dust onto the floor to then vacuum up.
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Use for blotted stains on carpets and soaking up big spills. Look for inexpensive bar mops, also known as the classic white towels used in restaurants. Machine-wash and dry after a couple of uses.
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Choose untreated 100-percent-cotton flannel, which is softer than plain cotton, for polishing silver or other metals. Machine-wash and dry. If you can't launder it right after use, let it dry on a rack before throwing in the laundry basket. Do not use fabric softener or dryer sheets, as these reduce absorbency and can leave behind a residue.
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Putting sponges in the microwave to disinfect them is a bad idea. Although it may kill bacteria, it can also cause a fire. After use, thoroughly rinse and wring them out, and keep them in an open dish where air can circulate so that they dry thoroughly. Replace them every two weeks.
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Keeping a mop impeccably clean is essential -- not only will this ensure cleaner floors, but even a little bit of leftover soil can result in a sour smell. After washing the floor, rinse the mophead thoroughly in a bucket of clean, hot (but not boiling) water. If the mophead is easily detachable, you can rinse it in a utility sink instead. To avoid spreading germs, never rinse mopheads or other tools used for cleaning in the kitchen sink.
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Make sure the vacuum is unplugged before cleaning it. Once a month, use a damp cloth and mild detergent to wipe off any dirty from the casing, hoses, and attachments. After each use, vacuum the rug/floor attachment with the crevice tool or hose before putting away the machine. Empty or change the bags once a week, or as often as needed.
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Once a week, wipe down the outside of the machine with a cloth dampened with mild dishwashing liquid and water; rinse with plain water and wipe dry. Wipe the inside of the machine with a damp cloth to remove lint, debris, or soapy residue.
If it seems that your clothes are not getting as clean as they should, it's time for a deep cleaning of the machine. Run a short hot wash cycle with detergent, then rinse with plain water. If the machine is exceptionally dirty or requires sanitizing, add ¾ cup bleach and 1 tablespoon powdered laundry detergent, fill the washer with warm water, and let it sit in the machine for a few minutes. Then drain and rinse a few times with plain water to eliminate any traces of dirt or bleach.
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Once a week, clean the dishwasher door panel with a soft, lightly dampened cloth and dry thoroughly. Stainless steel can be cleaned with a commercial stainless-steel spray. To clean the control panel, use a lightly dampened cloth (excessive moisture can damage the panel) and dry thoroughly. Dishwasher interiors are either stainless steel or plastic. Stainless is generally impervious to stains; plastic is more vulnerable.
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