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Thaumas P. Ehr, Landscape Architect

Dealing with 10 Messes on Your Property

 Here are 10 don’t-miss messes that could be hiding in your home:

  1. Brave the back of the refrigerator. Ask a friend to help you push your refrigerator away from the wall so you can unplug it. Empty the refrigerator and freezer and give it a good cleaning—inside and out. Use a bottle brush or a long, narrow vacuum hose to clean the coils under the unit. Vacuum and scrub the floor and the wall that it hides before carefully moving it back into place.
  2. Climb onto your roof or trudge into the backyard and find your air conditioner condensing unit. Give it a good dusting, and remove any debris or plants from on or around it. If it’s cluttered, it won’t work efficiently. A caution: Do not hose down your condenser. Water and electricity don’t mix!
  3. Clear your gutters and downspouts. More Arizona homeowners are installing them to divert rare rainwater so it doesn’t get under the home’s foundation. If you have them, clear leaves and debris away. Inspect them for holes and corrosion. Unclog downspouts by forcing water through with your garden hose
  4. Clean your cleaning machines. Dishwashers and clothes washers are designed to clean things—but they don’t clean themselves. Mold and mildew can breed in any machine that uses water. Place a cup of white vinegar on the top dishwasher rack and run the otherwise empty unit on the hottest setting to wash away grime and odors. To sanitize your washing machine, fill it will hot water before adding a few cups of white vinegar and half a cup of baking soda. Let the mixture sit for an hour and then finishe the wash cycle. 
  5. Tend to your septic tank. Treat it with a product like RID-X Septic System Treatment, which contains active bacteria and enzymes that break down household waste. Pour it down only one drain or toilet in the house.
  6. Make your toilet sparkle. That means cleaning more than just the stains you can see. If your toilet is running or leaking, the culprit could be a filthy flapper inside the tank. Lift it and run your finger around the inside edge. If your finger turns black, it could ally harm the tiles. Use a soft-bristled nylon brush to scour the grout with a mild household solvent that won’t damage the tile. Then seal it with a professional grout sealer, which will help keep the dirt out.
  7. Clear the drains. Avoid harsh drain cleaners. Instead, flush half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of vinegar down drains, or ask your plumber for a safe drain cleaner. Clean the drain trap—the “S”-shaped portion of the pipe under your sink.
  8. Destroy the dust. Haul out your step ladder and search for dust in all the places you usually ignore: on top of ceiling-fan blades, plate racks, kitchen cabinets and hanging picture frames. Vacuum the dust from exhaust fans. Then make a mid-year resolution: Keep up with these tricky cleaning chores every month
  9. Cleanse your countertops. Unless your granite countertop has a permanent seal, you’ll need to reseal it once a year. After cleaning it, uniformly apply the sealer with a clean brush or cloth. Let the sealer penetrate for a few minutes and then apply some more. Let the countertop dry for at least two hours and apply a second coat.
  10. Get rid of dirty grout. It can detract from your beautiful tile floors and walls, but that’s not the only reason to clean it. Deteriorating grout can eventually harbor mold and bacteria.

Get rid of dirty grout. It can detract from your beautiful tile floors and walls, but that’s not the only reason to clean it. Deteriorating grout can eventually harbor mold and bacteria.