Actual best way to clean e.g. extensive tile floors, stone showers, etc?
October 19, 2017 5:28 PM   Subscribe

I do not have the time or spoons for cleaning, and as of a couple of weeks ago, I can't physically do certain things for a while due to a herniated disc. Google searches are stupid for this: a few months back I got pages of results insisting that baking soda and vinegar was the most effective way to clean an oven. It failed miserably, and I ended up going the chemical burns route for actual effectiveness. Please err on the side of chemical burns.* Even seconds saved counts for a lot right now.

Surfaces in our new-to-us home that are a particular challenge: travertine tile throughout (takes forever and a day to sweep with our standard broom and mop with our little wring mop, and it's still not clean afterwards); ceiling to floor natural stone tile showers; sliding glass shower doors; greasy gas stove. Suggestions for other typical home surfaces are also welcomed and greatly appreciated.

It makes me happy to have at least a basic level of cleanliness going on, so I'd rather not let things go altogether. We cannot afford to bring in professional cleaners.

*I've been using natural cleaners for years and vastly prefer to, but I Just Can't elbow grease right now.
posted by moira to Home & Garden (23 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Hello from my herniated and slipped discs to yours! I've been living with less-than-clean in our new-to-us home. Just had the travertine floors professionally redone. The Pro instructions? VERY HOT water. I don't waste time with a wring mop; I have a stick with a Very Big rectangle-ended thing with a washable terry cloth cover (got it at Home Labyrinth I think). Pull it off to rinse with Very Hot water in the sink (wearing gloves), wring out a bit, shove across floor. Size of the thing makes it go faster, and lifting it so my hands can do the work at the sink keeps me from needing to bend to wring a mop.

Glass shower doors are my bane. Our contractor just told me there's something like Rain-X for shower doors and tile. Hire someone to do this for you, or swap chores with a friend: you're basically waxing the door and walls. Initial outlay of work that minimizes care for several weeks. Haven't tried this yet myself, but it's on my to-do list for the weekend.

Good luck, and rapid healing to you! (Not your question, but pool walking has helped me the most. It's like an ice pack for the whole body.)
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 5:40 PM on October 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

For glass shower doors: dryer sheets. Just wet 'em and wipe. Totally gets rid of soap scum and leaves them shiny and clear with almost no effort.

Mop recommendation: Twist and Shout mop. Very annoying advertising. Awesome mop. "Cuts cleaning time in half" was not at all an exaggeration for me. I've gone from mopping once every few weeks* to several times per week with no aggravation.

*Don't judge me. Life is hard

Stove cleaning: If you want to stick to natural, use Washing Soda, a small amount of dish soap, and hot water. Rinse with vinegar. If you just want stuff done for now with less hassle, any of those super-citric cleaners should do wonderfully.
posted by slipthought at 5:58 PM on October 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: A robotic vacuum can eliminate a lot of the sweeping.

Having a welcome mat outdoors and a softer washable rug for the first couple steps indoors helps a lot with reducing tracked in dirt. Avoid the welcome mats made of jute looking stuff, they come apart and will be the opposite of helpful.
posted by yohko at 6:44 PM on October 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Any tiny spaces on non-porous surfaces (like between penny tiles) get pretty clean with a good pour of hydrogen peroxide - let it foam, then just wipe it up and you're done.
posted by snaw at 6:53 PM on October 19, 2017

Best answer: You need two devices!

- A roomba or anker robot vacuum. Holy hannah do they keep my floors 7000x's cleaner than anything else I do.

- A steam mop. A cheap one is fine. Extra pads for the steam mop.

That's it. The Anker gets amazing reviews last I checked. For real, don't hesitate.

At one point we had a Mint, but the roomba cleaned to tile and hardwood better. We have cats, and the Mint could not keep up like the vacuum robot does.
posted by jbenben at 6:58 PM on October 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I tried everything on glass shower doors for years (rainX, dryer sheets, the usual cleaning products). Nothing worked really well and easily unless you kept it up way more frequently than I can be arsed with. The only thing that I've finally found that works well is a spray foam product where the active ingredient is sodium hydroxide (3.3g per kg). There are two or three different brands in my supermarket that have this same ingredient and they all seem to work the same. I spray it on all over the glass, walk away, and then I come back and rinse it off. The first time I did it and my doors were horrible, I left it for a couple of hours. Now I follow the instructions, which say 15 minutes. You don't have to scrub (although they do get slightly sparklier if you do).
posted by lollusc at 7:09 PM on October 19, 2017

(Oh, and I use it about once every three weeks, which seems to be plenty for keeping them looking pretty good. If I wanted them to look like they came out of a catalogue, I'd probably want to do it every week.)
posted by lollusc at 7:10 PM on October 19, 2017

Response by poster: lollusc, we live in a different country from you, but do you have a brand name or cleaner type to give me a starting place to look? That sounds perfect.

(slipthought, no judgment here; we've pretty much given up on our floors for now.)
posted by moira at 7:25 PM on October 19, 2017

Best answer: I have travertine throughout my house. We use a Swiffer Sweeper Vac to ‘sweep’ and a Shark Steam Mop to clean. Takes VERY little effort and looks good.
Shower doors and ovens I leave for the housekeeper.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 7:35 PM on October 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you're in the U.S., here's a list of products with sodium hydroxide (with percentages).
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:57 PM on October 19, 2017

Best answer: here's a list of products with sodium hydroxide

I see Scrubbing Bubbles is on that list. Before I switched to more eco/less effective stuff, that was what I liked. It worked really well on shower soap scum.
posted by salvia at 9:21 PM on October 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yeah, I don't think the brand names from Australia are likely to help you. The one in my cupboard right now is called "Woolworths Select Bath & Shower Foam". But I'm guessing from that list above, Clorox Bleach Foamer for the Bathroom might be similar.
posted by lollusc at 10:45 PM on October 19, 2017

You need a Bissell Pet Vacuum or Dyson cordless and either a Rug Doctor FloorDoctor or a Hoover Floor Mate, both of which come in corded and cordless versions. They squirt hot water, scrub the floor then suck it back up. I've owned both, they are both good. The corded Floor Mate is more hardcore but heavier and corded and maybe a bit much for wood at times. It's bomber on tile though.

Bissell makes an all in one that vacuums and cleans and the Floormate also vacuums and cleans but it's worth having a separate vacuum as it'll be much better.

Once you see the gross water these machines suck up you will NEVER use a mop or steam cleaner again. Or scrub grout.
posted by fshgrl at 12:05 AM on October 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

cleaning shortcuts (feel your pain!) -

for the glass shower doors - use a squeegee like when cleaning a car windshield - with water and vinegar (see here for technique. ignore the supplies sales pitch ).

for the greasy stove top - cover the stove top with aluminum foil (let THAT get greasy) and change every 2-3 weeks (mute and see here).
posted by mirileh at 12:29 AM on October 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I was going to suggest Cif Power And Shine Bathroom Cleaner Spray (or whatever similar thing you can get to it if it's not sold wherever you live) for the shower doors, because that stuff is goddamn magic and it turned stubborn limescale and soap I couldn't get off without extensive elbow grease into "spray, wait 5 minutes, wipe and you're good". But then I noticed the warning on the product page I was looking at that says "WARNING: do not use on marble, natural stones, painted wood", so I don't think it would work for your shower door unless you put down something on the shower floors to keep it from dripping onto the tile.

Which is to say, more generically, look at warnings for cleaning products before you use them in a location with mixed surfaces. For example, my parents' cleaning lady was cleaning their bathroom sink with vinegar and accidentally dripped some on the nearby stone countertop (not sure which stone it is) and didn't notice immediately, and they had to get that re-polished because it ate a bit of the surface of it and left a very visible splatter.
posted by sailoreagle at 4:22 AM on October 20, 2017

Argh, and one thing I forgot re: the shower doors. One thing that helped me cut way down on the amount of time I spend cleaning mine is to keep a squeegee near the shower, and as soon as I'm done showering, squeegee the water off it. You can also do this to tile, especially if it's even. (I also do it to the mirror that for some reason my house's previous owners put right inside the shower.) Doesn't need to be perfect, but less water that dries on the shower door and tiles equal less limescale, soap scum etcetera you'll have to scrub off when you clean.
posted by sailoreagle at 4:25 AM on October 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Like sailoreagle, I use a squeegee on the shower door every time I shower. I also keep a dry washcloth near the shower specifically for wiping off the faucet and fixtures every time. This means I never have to scrub those things.

I have a steam mop for my tile floors, but the handle is ergonomically terrible and it really hurts my hands to use, so be careful with those. I would link to the one I have, but I can't find it on the Amazon site.

I have this electric scrubber for the bathtub. It's starting to lose power now and isn't perfect, but I wouldn't be able to scrub the tub at all without it.
posted by FencingGal at 7:13 AM on October 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

There was as rage some years ago for products to spray on shower walls and doors that promised to prevent soap scum buildup. There still products on the market. Google daily shower cleaner (or spray).

A hint for all cleaning with detergents. They take time to work. Let them do the work so you don't have to. Advice to chamber maids is to apply detergents to tubs, etc and then go do everything else. Finish up those areas last.
posted by SemiSalt at 11:20 AM on October 20, 2017

I've had great success with Oxalic acid, commercially found in Bar Keepers friend. It cuts through soap scum like nobody's business, and keeps all your stainless steel nice and shiny.

I've handled it often enough without any extreme physical precautions and I didn't notice any burning.
posted by tedious at 12:30 PM on October 20, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks so much. I'm going with a melt-it-off cleaner that won't damage the finish on our stone paired with an extension brush for the shower, and the sweep & vac plus steam mop for our floors for now. Will try out some other suggestions, as well.
posted by moira at 3:14 PM on October 20, 2017

Best answer: Ammonia kicks the ass of greasy stoves and surfaces that coated with airborne cooking grease. Also great for cleaning glass.

Get a bottle at the grocery store and cut it with about 80% water in a spray bottle. Ventilate the place well and go at it with a sponge.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:43 PM on October 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Use pumice stone inside your stove and on the stove top (if it's not glass).
posted by hala mass at 3:13 PM on October 22, 2017

Response by poster: Follow-up:

I purchased a stone-safe cleaner, which worked beautifully on the shower tiles and glass with almost no elbow grease. Using this and a telescopic scrubber brush meant I was able to clean the shower despite a herniated disc.

We're switching to glycerin soap to reduce soap scum, though that doesn't help with hard water buildup.

For floors, I changed my mind and went with this chenille dust mop. It is THE BOMB at sweeping large areas in no time.

We haven't broken out the steam mop yet because I keep forgetting to buy distilled water, but I think it is the perfect answer for us right now.

Thanks for the great suggestions. I'll be coming back to this thread for future buying decisions.
posted by moira at 2:29 PM on November 21, 2017

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