Insect infestations, mould in the bathroom, swollen doors, blocked drains and stained countertops are problems that crop up regularly on the home maintenance schedule. Here’s how to take care of them.
No matter how clean we keep our homes, we are all plagued by insects from time to time. Ants are the most notorious little menaces, but there are a few methods to get rid of them without resorting to pesticides.
Ants can’t abide a whiff of white vinegar, so mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and use to clean floors, windowsills and countertops.
Alternatively, mix borax, sugar or jelly powder and water to make a syrup. The borax is toxic to ants, but it is also dangerous around pets and small children, so use this remedy with caution.
Apply bleach, borax, vinegar or ammonia with a sponge, cloth or scrubbing brush to clean mould off most bathroom surfaces, and an old toothbrush to get into hard-to-reach places where mould has begun to grow. Again, a little care is needed when working with these substances as they are toxic.
Another perennial problem. In many cases just pouring a pot of boiling water down the drain is enough to dissolve a food or grease build up. This method should only be used on metal or ceramic pipes, as it the heat can loosen joints on PVC pipes. For PVC pipes, use hot, not boiling, tap water instead.
Try pouring bicarb into the drain, followed by white vinegar. Cover the drain to prevent the mixture from bubbling out of the pipe. You may need to repeat the process a few times. Once the mixture has worked its way through the blockage, flush your pipes with hot water to remove any remaining residue.
Caustic chemical drain cleaners will dissolve grease, hair, food and other common blockages. However, they are harmful to the environment and should be used sparingly.
With the wet weather comes the problems of doors sticking in their frames, or that scrape on the floor. There is no quick fix here, although using a good sealer on the door, and re-applying every 12 to 18 months, will help.
A hairdryer or heat gun held about 30cm away will evaporate the moisture in the wood.
If the door is painted, place a circulating fan close to the door to help dry out the moisture. If the paint starts to peel or flake, remove the door, strip off the paint and re-apply primer and paint.
Marble – Blot the liquid (don’t wipe). Then flush the area with water and mild soap, followed by a gentle, dry wipe.
Granite – Try a warm soapy water rinse. If oil caused the stain, apply a bicarb-water paste, cover with plastic wrap, and leave overnight. In the morning, wipe with warm water and a soft cloth.
Concrete – soak a cotton ball in household bleach and hold it down on the stain with a heavy object for five to 10 minutes.
Laminate – a quick wipe or a bicarb paste treatment (for persistent marks) should do the trick. Hot items that ‘burn’ the laminate cause the most damage. Unfortunately, these marks cannot be repaired, so the laminate would have to be replaced.