How To Clean Your Tucson Home

Proper cleaning of your home enables you to sell for the highest price point possible. In our experience, many home buyers, as well as owners, are not sure how to clean certain items in their home. We decided to create this page to help Tucson home buyers and owners learn how to clean their home correctly.

Cleaning Granite

Granite countertops have been extremely popular in the Tucson area for the last 20 years. Granite is durable and provides a premium finish to a high-end kitchen. In our experience, most granite counters do not look as good as they should. Improper cleaning causes granite to look clouded -- like there is a film on it creating a dull appearance. Granite is not meant to look dull!

To clean granite, wipe off any debris on the counter as a starting point. Fill a bucket with warm water and add three parts dish detergent and one part standard rubbing alcohol. Alcohol works well because it has antiseptic and cleaning properties but contains a pH level of 7.0 -- the same pH level as water. Keep in mind that using too much alcohol can break down sealers, as it is a strong solvent. Wash your granite with a clean white cloth. Afterward, use a dry clean microfiber cloth to dry and buff the counter. This will allow any excess cleaner to be removed and provide a vibrant but clean finish to your granite counters.

Cleaning Porcelain Tile Floors

The popularity of porcelain flooring in Tucson has exploded in recent years. It seems like every home is converting to this type of flooring. Porcelain tile floors are some of the most durable and long lasting floors you can install in your home and here is how to keep them looking good for an extended time.

Vacuum your tile floors a couple of times a week. Sand and dirt can dull and scuff the surface. Once you've removed the grime, you're ready to mop. Blend a mild detergent with hot water and apply with a rag or chamois mop instead of a sponge mop. A sponge mop pushes dirty water into the grout. Switch out your bucket of cleaning solution often so you won't have a dirty mop that leaves a cloudy film on the floor. If you do end up with a hazy film on your tile floor, you can make your own cleaner by mixing lemon juice or vinegar with hot water. Apply it to the floor and then buff dry with a clean cloth. You can use a towel that you push over the floor with your foot.

One of the most vital things to know about cleaning tile floors is how to keep the grout clean. Dirty grout equals a dingy-looking surface. Grout is porous and easily absorbs dirt, grease, and other materials. Spray the grout with a commercially prepared grout cleaner. You can also use a mild bleach solution. It's a good idea to wear gloves when using these types of products. For deep stains, allow the cleaner to sit for 10 minutes. Use a toothbrush or other small scrub brush to scrub the grout.

Carpet Cleaning

Carpet cleaning requires more than just vacuuming a few times a week. For proper carpet maintenance, you should have a professional carpet cleaner come to the house every six months. Many people do not do this and it causes a lot of dirt to accrue at the base of the carpet pile as well as in the pad beneath it. Over time, this will damage the carpet and cause it to retain an odor. In extreme cases, it also allows for pests to take up residence.

Cleaning Your Cabinets

Many homeowners never think to clean their cabinets and rejuvenate their wood cabinetry. In Tucson's dry climate, here's a trick that can make older, dingy looking cabinets come back to life almost immediately. First, start by cleaning your cabinets inside and out with mild detergent dish soap and warm water. For cabinets that are greasy or need heavier cleaning, use Murphy's Oil Soap or a commercial cleaner.

After you have washed down your cabinets and dried them using a clean microfiber cloth, the real rejuvenation begins. Get a furniture polish (we personally use beeswax on our cabinetry) and then apply that to the cabinets using a circular motion making sure to work the polish into the wood. Essentially the process is like waxing a car. You apply the polish, allow it to dry a little, then take it off with a clean dry cloth. You will be amazed at how new and refurbished your wood cabinets look after you are done. Expect this process to take a while. In our experience, a few hours is standard from start to finish. Use this on kitchen and bath cabinetry.

Cleaning Your Fireplace

Cleaning your fireplace is no one's idea of a fun time, but from time to time it simply needs to be done. At least 12 hours after your last fire, make room around the fireplace and place drop cloths and plastic sheets everywhere you don't want ashes to go. Wear a dust mask as there will be a lot of dust and ash spread around during this process. Use a dust pan and small broom or bristle brush to remove all the loose ashes. Then clean the surround with a brush and a masonry cleaner. If the fireplace has glass doors, clean the inside and outside with glass cleaner.

Cleaning the fire box (the part you see with the fire in it) is not all that is required with a wood burning fireplace. About every 50 fires, you will want to have the chimney professionally swept to remove the creosote build-up that gradually settles within the chimney. Failure to do this will eventually result in a chimney fire in which the creosote ignites and the entire chimney shaft is set ablaze. Chimney fires due to creosote build-up and a lack of cleaning are the #1 reason for house fires across the US. A chimney sweep charges about $125-$200 for a professional job depending on your roof height and some other things. If you need a chimney sweep, contact us and we will provide you with a referral.

Cleaning Your Windows

Inside and outside, your windows should be cleaned at least two times per year. The best and fastest way to do this job is to use what the pros use, which is a squeegee and some other simple tools.

If you try to use paper towels or newspaper, all you are doing is moving the dirt around plus causing a static charge to form on the window which attracts more dust and dirt to it shortly after you are done "cleaning."

Using a squeegee to wash windows is simple. Soak the cloth head of the squeegee in a bucket of soapy water (a little dishwasher liquid -- the fewer suds the better). Apply the soapy water to the window, making sure to knock loose the dirt and grime. Then start clean again at top left. Pull the squeegee in a reverse "S" motion use across the window. Use cloths to soak up the excess water. Then use a dry cloth to wipe up any water not able to be removed by the squeegee (typically corners and along the edges of the windows). That's it. You are done.

Cleaning Your Appliances

Oven

Most ovens today have a self-cleaning mode that basically burns off anything left over in the oven by bringing the temperature to approximately 900 degrees. If your oven does not have this feature, you will need oven cleaner and a brush or sponge to physically scrub out the oven. Don't forget to clean the inside of the oven door (where the glass is).

Range

The cooktop of a gas stove needs to be taken apart and thoroughly scrubbed with a small brush in soapy water until clean, then dried and re-assembled. If you do not do this regularly, then small particles will block the gas from coming out of the burner. See our maintenance page for more information.

For glass electric cooktops, you will need a special glass cooktop cleaner that is usually sold at Home Depot or Lowe's This is a special cleaner designed to remove the hard water stains that build up on most Tucson glass cooktops.

Dishwasher

Remove and clean the filter. Soak the filter in hot, soapy water for 10 minutes, then replace. Then pour 1 cup of white vinegar into the bottom of the empty dishwasher. Run a heavy clean cycle. Next, shake 1 cup of baking soda in the base of the dishwasher and leave it overnight. In the morning, run an empty cycle. Lightly scrub any residual grime areas with a toothbrush.

Clothes Washer

Cleaning your washing machine would not seem like something a reasonable person would do, but believe it or not, washing machines also get dirty and full of grease, grit, and other filth from the loads of laundry it washes.

A standard top loading washer is easy to clean. Fill the drum with the hottest water temperature on your machine. Add one quart of chlorine bleach, no detergent. Let the washer operate through its longest wash and spin cycle. Immediately fill the washer with hot water again and add one quart of distilled white vinegar. Set to the longest wash and spin cycle again. You're done, and the washer is freshly clean. Do this a couple of times a year. (Do not add both the bleach and vinegar in the same cycle because toxic fumes could form.)

HE (high-efficiency washers) operate with much less water than standard machines and need to be cleaned more often -- usually monthly. It is also beneficial to leave the washer lid open between loads to allow all moisture to evaporate. Otherwise, mold and other things can start to grow, especially if you go days between washing a load of laundry.

Front load washers require a different cleaning technique. Front loaders can not only harbor soil but can cultivate bad odors. These odors can be passed to clothes during the wash. Add ½ cup of liquid bleach to the detergent compartment of the dispenser drawer and fill the bleach dispenser compartment to the highest level and run on the Normal Cycle setting. Most brand name washer manufacturers also sell their own branded washer cleaner solutions. Follow the directions on any package of solution designed for the washer for amount to use and the procedure. You can also use a full cup of hydrogen peroxide to run a cleaning cycle. DO NOT MIX WITH OTHER CLEANERS. When the cycle is finished, dry around the washer door opening, flexible gasket, and door glass (this is where mold can grow). These areas should always be clean to ensure a water-tight seal. It is a good practice to wipe these down after every load.

Clothes Dryer

Your clothes dryer should also be cleaned out at least yearly to keep it operating properly. Disconnect the power to the unit. Clean out the inside of the drum using a vacuum and wipe down the entire inside with a dry cloth and an all-purpose cleaner. Next, move the dryer away from the wall and disconnect the vent. Clean out the exhaust vent and remove all lint and debris collected there since the last cleaning. (You may be surprised by what you find.) Put the vent back together and push back towards the wall. Then remove the lint catcher and make sure you clean it out extremely well. Replace the lint screen catcher, reconnect to the power source, and your dryer is ready to go again. Cleaning out your clothes dryer about twice a year is a good idea.

If you are looking for a knowledgeable and experienced real estate agent in the Tucson area (including Oro Valley, Vail, Marana, the Catalina Foothills, and Dove Mountain), work with us today! We will guide you through the entire process of buying, selling, maintaining, or improving a home in the Tucson area! We look forward to working with you.

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