• Homeowner Basic Course – Section 2: Common Cleaning Myths


    Section 2: Common Cleaning Myths

    Causes of Odors

    The things that cause odors in a home are bacteria such as mold, rotting food that’s been left behind, and oils from pets or cooking.

    Fragrances that only mask the smells don’t truly get rid of the odors.  Removing these substances from the surfaces of a home is the only way to remove the odors.

    For example, oils from food and hands get trapped in the pores of natural stone, grout and any textured surface and over time oils turn rancid and put off a very unpleasant odor.  If you have ever smelled cooking oil once it’s turned rancid you know that smell.  This brings us to our first cleaning myth.

    Why Using Only Water is actually bad.

    It is believed that using only water on natural stone such as on granite countertops or marble flooring is safe.  There are three reasons why this is actually very bad for the occupants of the home as well as the stone itself.  But first let’s ask a question.  Would you wash your dishes with only water or take a shower using only water?  Of course your answer is no.  So why do this to your countertops?  Let’s look at why.

    First, water does not clean or remove oil or grease.  These are most commonly what get trapped in the pores of the natural stone and grout.  These over time will become rancid, emitting an odor and can even stain and darken the stone over time.  This can be seen in older marble or granite that has not been cleaned properly that is dark and dingy looking.

    Secondly, water does not kill or remove anything.  Bacteria and viruses that are not removed continue to live in and among the oils trapped in the pores of the stone or grout.  This can become a health hazard for the occupants.

    Thirdly, water does not remove the residue left on the surface which makes the surface look dull causing people to try polishes and other products that don’t deliver the desired results and typically contribute to the residue on the surface and in the pores.  This eventually leads to using products that may damage the surface itself.

    Why Using Vinegar Can Be Bad.

    Vinigar consists of citric acid, a natural and inexpensive acid which is why it has become so popular as a cleaning product.  The issue with vinegar is the acid.  Though some surfaces are not damaged by acid many are.  A little vinegar in the mop water is a one, two punch to some of your surfaces.

    The reason that vinegar is not seen as damaging is that some surfaces don’t show the damage immediately, it appears over time.  This is often why the finish of a surface is determined to have “warn out”, when it really has been etched away over time.  Marble and some metals will show the damage immediately if pure vinegar is used.

    Why Using Store Bleach Is Not Good.

    Bleach, though a very popular choice, does not actually clean and is only a so so disinfectant.  The version of bleach commonly sold for cleaning is a much diluted form of Sodium Hypochlorite and as such is not the best disinfectant.  This is the cause of many of today’s super bugs.  Week or insufficient contact with disinfectants results in bacteria and viruses that develop immunity to the disinfectant.  Not safe for the occupants.

    Myths About Alcohol.

    Alcohol much like water does not itself clean, nor kill bacteria and viruses.  Alcohol helps to wet an loosen some stuff to release it and evaporate way without residue, which is why it’s so become popular.  When it comes to cleaning oils from the pores of natural stone or grout, or killing germs, alcohol is of no real benefit.

    How Dish Soap Can Lead To Trouble.

    Dish soap is good for cleaning dishes which are not porous and can be rinsed thoroughly.  Granite, Marble and Grout are all porous which means oils get trapped in the pores and must be lifted out.

    The problem is that dish soap when used on countertops will leave a residue.  Even after rinsing with a rag or sponge several times has been found to still leave a residue.  Even if not noticeable with each application, over time it builds up like soap scum in a shower to the point that the countertop begins to look dull and may even become stained from the residue build up.


    Problems Using Muriatic & Other Acids

    Often acid is used to clean grout because it’s believed to be a seriously difficult surface to clean.  The problem with this is that grout is not to be cleaned with acids according to the labels form the grout manufactures.  Acid will likely fade the color of the grout and eventually will cause the grout to crumble and erode from the grout.

    Why most Common Cleaning Products Are Not Good.

    Most of today’s cleaning products will fall into one of two categories if not both.  One category is of those that leave a residue.  These contribute to a buildup that causes surfaces to be sticky, or look dull over time.  They do not result in a true clean.  The second category is of those that are harsh, using harsh chemicals or even acids to dissolve oils.  Either way the vast majority of cleaning products available today fall into one if not both of these categories which are bad for natural stone and many other surfaces.

    Why Multi-Function Products Don't Work

    It is popular today to have two or more different functions in one product such as Cleans & Disinfects or Cleans & Shines or Cleans & Protects and alike.  The problem is that in most cases this does not work.

    Take for instance in cleaning granite countertops you wish to remove the oils from the surface to have a clean surface.  While polishing or conditioning granite countertops you wish to leave a safe oil behind that will bring out the granites shine.  The problem comes when you put both in the same bottle.

    The cleaner is trying to remove the oils and the oils in the cleaner are trying to stay.  How could the mindless product in the bottle know which oils to take and which oils to leave behind?  The truth is that it can’t.  The result will be a residue and not a clean surface. The same thing happens with cleaner and sealer.  And on and on.  The truth is that a quality cleaner should do its best to clean and a polish should do its best to polish.  These are not the same process and not the same product.

    Cleaning vs. Disinfecting

    These are two very different processed which are too often mistakenly used synonymous.  Disinfecting is KILLING the bacteria and viruses on a surface while cleaning is the REMOVING of foreign mater from a surface.

    If you were to clean up after working with raw chicken on a countertop, you may use a disinfectant or a bleach wipe thinking that you have protected yourself from the potentially harmful bacteria common with raw chicken.

    When all that you did was to hopefully kill the bacteria and that’s it.  Still left on your countertop is dried disinfectant and dead bacteria.  Disinfected, yes.  Clean no.

    After Disinfecting a surface you still need to clean the surface if you want a clean surface.

    Furniture Polish & Oil Soaps

    Since nearly all wood floors and most wood furniture have a urethane, enamel or acrylic finish, furniture polish, and oil soaps never touch the wood.  They set on top of the synthetic finish making the surface shinny and leaving a slimy oily residue that attracts dust and dirt.  The best care of finished wood surfaces is to clean the surface.  If after cleaning you don’t care about leaving an oily residue apply a polish but remember you are not providing any conditioning benefit to the wood as the synthetic finish is protecting the wood.

    Conditioning vs. Polishing

    Polishing when it comes to natural stone is the process of smoothing out the ruff surface of stone, while conditioning is the application of a same product that helps in richen the appearance of the stone with a shiner and perhaps more wet look.

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