September 10, 2016 by quiqcleanpro
I’ve been reading your column for a while now and really, sincerely hoped that I would never need to ask for your help, but here we are: I woke up this morning to the sound of a bomb going off. Apparently, the shelf that holds all of my booze and glassware decided to stop holding all of my booze and glassware (you had ONE job!). A lot of the liquor bottles survived (!) but my apartment is currently covered in shattered glass, and what appears to be a mixture of grenadine, port, and gin (cocktail idea?). My fiancee is of course out of town so this is all on me to clean up.
My biggest concern is our beautiful wooden credenza, which now has all kinds of crazy marks on it from the liquid. I couldn’t get to it quickly because I had to spend an hour wading through broken glass on slippery floors before I could even make it there. Now it’s covered in all sorts of gross stuff. What do I do? I have wood furniture cleaner from Method, but that didn’t do a damn thing.
For the floor, I’ve done one round of mopping, will let dry, and then mop again then vacuum. But I’m at a complete loss to salvage the credenza. I KNOW you have an answer because you’re a certified domestic goddess.
Please help. I can’t even drink my sorrows away here.
Fun fact: I’m not actually certified. I recently found out that there’s an actual, literal certificate program for Clean People that I’m seriously thinking about applying for, but for the time being, I’m not actually certified. Certifiable, perhaps. But I can absolutely help with this problem and I’m so so so excited about this particular problem because the solution is so crazy weird and great, which helps to make up for how sad I feel about all that lost booze.
There are three separate cleaning problems to contend with here. Two of them, the glass and the floors, are simple jobs; one, the white marks on the wood credenza, is a little more involved. It’s also the crazy weird and great part, so let’s start with that.
To remove white water rings or streaks from wood, you’re going to make a DIY paste of—not joking—butter and cigar or cigarette ash. I told you with was crazy weird and great! It’s also a little gross, so if you want to wear gloves while performing this operation, go for it. To make the paste, you’ll want to dump the ashes, maybe about a tablespoon or so but really whatever you’ve got, into a small bowl. To that, you’ll add a tablespoon or two of softened butter and basically, make ashy compound butter by mixing the whole shebang together using your hands.
To use it, you’ll want to apply the paste to the stained wood using a soft cloth, like an old T-shirt. Rub the paste into the wood in a circular motion, then wipe it clean with a clean section of the cloth. There are variations on this method that involve using mayo instead of butter and if you’re not a smoker, fireplace ashes in place of cigar or cigarette ash. I’ve also seen mention of mixing ash with straight water, but I think the use of the fat is important enough to the process that you should use it instead of the water.
If you don’t have ready access to ashes, there are other ways to remove white water marks from wood. Car wax will work, as will vaseline. If you’re going to use car wax, apply a thin coating of it to the watermarks using your finger, allow it to dry, and then buff it off using a soft cloth. Vaseline should be smeared onto the water marks, left overnight, and then wiped away in the morning.
With the credenza salvaged, let’s talk for a minute about cleaning up all that glass and the sticky residue from the booze. When it comes to cleaning up the glass, start with a dustpan and broom—tempting as it is to use a vacuum, it can be bad for the machine, so skip that approach. (If you have a Shop Vac, however, that can be used to clean up broken glass.) After you’ve swept up as much glass as you can, use damp paper towels to pick up any remaining shards, being sure to use a thick enough layer of the paper towels to protect your hands.
Once you’ve got the glass picked up, there’s still going to be all that spilt booze, what with its sticky nature. I’m working under the assumption that the floors in need of cleaning are hardwood because the Letter Writer didn’t specify that the spill happened on the carpet. In that case, diluting a small amount of ammonia in water—a ratio of about a quarter cup to a gallon will do you—is going to be the best solution for cleaning the floors. A word on ammonia: It’s an excellent product for cleaning but it’s not without its drawbacks. For one, it has a strong smell, and the fumes aren’t super great for breathing in, so you’ll want to be sure you’re working in a well-ventilated area. You should also wear gloves when working with it, as can be harsh on our precious skin.
If that all sounds too intense for you, that’s fair. You can certainly use any number of products designed for cleaning floors—the Pine Sols or Fabulosos of the world—or you can make your own floor-cleaning solution by diluting dish soap with water. Plenty of options is what I’m trying to tell you here. With that said, if I were to recommend a product other than ammonia to use in this sticky situation, Simple Green is what I would tell you to use. It’s particularly good stuff! It also has the benefit of being far less harsh than ammonia, which makes it a nice choice for people with sensitive skin or respiratory systems, or those who are environmentally conscious types, or for those who have small children and want to keep dangerous cleaning products out of the home. To use Simple Green, dilute a small amount in water and then use that either as a mopping solution or get right down on your hands and knees with a rag or sponge and scrub the floors that way. It sounds terrible, I know, but I really promise that it’s not as bad as you might think—and it’s going to get the job done better than a mop will.