Good basic house cleaning equipment is not expensive and no one can do a really good job without the proper tools. If you have been struggling along with beaten-up brooms and brushes and old-fashioned mops and pails, take inventory. Then investigate the prospects of new streamlined models.
STORAGE. Good equipment deserves proper care and storage. On the shelf store your mothproofing materials, insecticides, cleaning and polishing waxes, metal cleaners, and (in a special box) stain-removing supplies as you accumulate them. You will never have to hunt for the things you need if you have a well organized cleaning closet or special corner for your equipment. And if you duplicate essential equipment upstairs you won't wear yourself out dashing up and down to get something you need and have forgotten.
READ AND FILE YOUR INSTRUCTION BOOKLETS as you purchase equipment. The average woman cannot be expected to know exactly how her electrical gadgets work, but she must know a few basic rules for their care. No housekeeper needs to know the composition of the soaps and synthetic detergents she uses, but to make the best use of them she should know how they differ and which job each one does best.
CARE OF EQUIPMENT. Cleaning equipment includes those elusive hand tools that are always disappearing; also dust mops and wet mops, brooms, and a score of accessories. When you have finished using them put them away properly. Vaccuum cleaners and carpet sweepers should be emptied and their brushes freed of hair and tangled bits of string. Dust mops, vacuumed clean, and wet mops, rinsed and dried, should be suspended from hooks. Brooms will do a better job and last longer if they are given a thorough wetting now and then, or washed in suds and rinsed.
If you use oiled mops on your floors, store the heads in a tin can with a tight cover (oiled dusters, too) as a precaution against fire. Cleaning pails should be washed before they are put away, upside down on the floor. (Have you seen the gaily colored ones with pouring spouts, or the two-compartment type for cleaning solutions and rinse water?) Dust brushes and dust pans should be hung up too, the edge of the dust pan facing the wall as a precaution against denting. Scrubbing brushes should be washed, dried, and aired before being stored.
SOLVENTS are agents which dissolve the materials that cause soil and stains. Foremost of these and the most generally useful is water, which dissolves a little of almost any material it contacts long enough - even metals and minerals. When water is pure, like rain water, it is called soft. When its mineral content is high it is known as hard water, and more soap is needed to make it work well. Very hard water, used with soap, forms small curds or soap scum; its cleaning ability is low unless a softener is added.
SOFTENERS are of two types. One precipitates, or settles, the minerals that make water hard; the other keeps the minerals in solution but in a form that cannot form soap scum. In the first category are washing soda (sal soda), trisodium phosphate, borax, ammonia, and commercial products such as Raindrops and Climelene. Type two softeners are often long, unpronounceable soda-and-phosphate compounds, which are available under such trade names as Calgon, Hexaphos, NoctQ, New Oalrite, Phosphotex, Quadrafos, and Tex. These are more expensive than type one softeners, but are very effective and better in the laundry.
PLAIN COOL WATER will clean windows and many other surfaces. It will also remove many stains on washable materials if the stains are fresh. Warm and hot water extend the cleaning range; boiling water and steam also have their uses in removing certain stains from cloth. Water plus a softener will accomplish efficiently many cleaning tasks around the house, without the use of either soap or detergent, and you won't have to rinse if you keep changing the water as it gets dirty.
With this equipment the householder is in a good position to begin to organize and clean her house.
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