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Solutions to the Common Cleaning Problems

We've all been haunted by at least one stubborn, nasty blemish on our otherwise spotless homes. You've scrubbed, scoured, sprayed and scorned it, but to no avail. Here are some tips and tricks that will hopefully solve some of the more common problems.

First of all, carpets. Most of us have at least some of our floors covered by carpeting and, if you're in the majority, your carpet has that one spot that just doesn't move. No carpet is completely stain proof, but here are some suggestions for getting rid of the more common problems:

Ensure that you tackle spills as promptly as possible. Some spills, such as grape juice or red wines, must be tackled within minutes or they may become permanent. Spills that have been let to dry or set are much more difficult to remove. Never scrub a spill, as it may damage the pile of the carpet. Instead, take a clean, dry cloth - free from dyes which may run and further damage your carpet - and blot the area until the stain is removed, then continue blotting with clean, dry cloths until the area is totally dry. If the stain remains once you have blotted up the stain, continue to blot the area until it is dry.

For spills which have dried and formed a mass on the carpet, scrape as much of the spill off as possible using a fairly blunt-edged tool such as a spatula so as not to damage the pile of the carpet. Once the spill has been scraped off, vacuum up the loose scrapings. For softer spills, such as wax, run an ice cube over the area before scraping to harden the mass as much as possible.

For hard surfaced floors, different causes tend to require different cures. As for carpets, here are some solutions for the more common problems. Some stain removal may include a need to refinish the stained area, so proceed with caution.

For wax, chewing gum or tar, freeze the area with ice to cause it to become brittle, and then scrape it off with a wooden or plastic spatula. For tar, make a paste from laundry or dish detergent and cover the stain with the paste. Cover the paste with a damp cloth to keep the paste from drying, and let stand several hours.

For grease or oil, wipe up as much as possible with paper towels or newspaper. For less delicate tile, also rub the stain with an all-purpose cleaner or a warm, damp cloth with dishwashing liquid applied.

If cold, clear water doesn't work to remove blood stains, try mixing ammonia with cold water and applying it to the stain, rinsing it as quickly as possible to avoid discolouring the tile.

For cigarette burns, try a plastic scouring pad and water. For harder floors, try rubbing with a cloth dampened with water and lemon juice.

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