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Household Hints (7/19/06)

Dear Zelda,

Our cleaning service isn't helping clean very much, and we never have very much time to clean ourselves. Do you have any tips on how to clean more quickly?

Dirty Girl

Dear Dirty Girl,

You know that even good girls get dirty some times, and so do our homes. But never fear, your domestic diva dog is here to help. Actually to be honest with you, my only domestic quality is that I live in a house. But I'm a good listener, and I've picked up several hints for quick cleaning over the years... like just turn down the lights. No, seriously, I do have some suggestions to help you clean up your act.

In order to save time and clean more quickly it helps to be organized, and it helps even more if you start with a "to do" list the night before. When morning comes you'll be armed and ready, and won't waste as much time trying to outline your plan of attack. You can also plan out the order of operations so you don't end up, say, sweeping the floor before you dust the furniture. When the time comes, just start with the first job on your list and do one thing at a time, crossing off each task as you complete it. Set a timer for each job, and when it goes off you should plan to be finished. This helps eliminate distractions like answering the telephone (let voicemail field your calls), spending a lot of extra time sweeping in front of the television while your favorite show is on, or turning your clothes-folding into a private fashion show. Focus on getting the job done.

For all this organization and efficiency, you shouldn't try to be a 'Supergirl.' You can, and should, delegate some of the tasks to others in the house and get rid of the "I can only do it myself" responsibility. You aren't the only one who knows how to fold laundry or do dishes. Sure vacuuming sucks, so share the job with someone.

Finally, if your home reaches disaster proportions and you are stressed by the mess, take time to clear the clutter.  No one can clean quickly when surrounded by clutter.  When in doubt, throw it out! Work ahead, not behind, and concentrate your time where it counts.

Being productive every day doesn't come from working harder, but working smarter. You won't end up dog-tired, and you'll still have time afterward for a cat nap.

Zelda

Dear Zelda,

I know you don't clean your house, but as a keen observer with a lot of wisdom, do you have some advice for getting "doggy" stains out of carpets?  Will you share your secrets with me?

Spot

Dear Spot,

Having a pee-free carpet doesn't require an arsenal of industrial-strength chemicals, and you CAN win the war on pet pee. But you have to be prepared, because simply put, accidents happen. As a former offender, let me be the first to apologize for my kind. But, as the old song says, "Que sera, sera, whatever will pee, will pee."

If you find a wet piddle spot on your carpet, you just need to be armed with two simple ingredients: distilled white vinegar and dishwashing liquid. You'll need to combine one quart of water, a squirt of dishwashing liquid, and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar. Then try to soak up the bulk of the offending urine with a towel. Next, slowly dribble the cleaning liquid onto the carpet stain and let it soak for a few minutes. Then place another towel over the stained area.  Walk over the towel-covered area to absorb excess moisture.  You may need to use several towels and repeat the process. Finally finish up with a good vacuuming. My favorite tip is to also follow up with a light spray of Febreze. It gets rid of the 'pee-eww,' and leaves your carpet smelling fresh.

If you don't want to spend time mixing ingredients, there is another good and very effective product that can be found in many health-food stores.  It has the tongue-twisting name Bi-O-Kleen Bac-Out, and it contains enzymes that break down the organic compounds found in urine, destroying the offending odorant molecules where they hide in the carpet. I have friends who swear by it, and it's just a spray away. Incidentally, my own pet 'pee-ve' is people who use ammonia or cleaners containing ammonia to remove stains.  Ammonia gives off urine-like scents, and can signal us to mark that spot again.

Dalmatians sure aren't the only dogs known for their 'spots.' Spots happen to all of us, and no one likes it. We feel bad, you feel bad, and the house smells bad. But with a few supplies and some quick thinking, you can keep those spots from turning into permanent polka dots.

Zelda

Dear Zelda,

What in the world can I do about my eight-year-old bulldog Annie's drooling on my floors? Copious doesn't begin to describe it. Whether I am preparing dinner in the kitchen or TRYING to eat a leisurely meal, the drool begins to pool. Not only is this unsanitary - it can be hazardous. Trying to walk on this viscous mess on my slick kitchen floor I resemble one of the Marx Brothers slipping on a banana peel. In her younger years I tried to stop this by occasionally giving her a little bite to eat to temporarily stop it. Big mistake - I know. Like Pavlov's dogs, it encouraged her expectations of further treats. I have stopped giving her these tidbits and the amount of drool-pool has decreased, but it still occurs. I can see where these spots have dried to a cloudy area on my kitchen floor which brings out my wet wipes, or the mop. Have I ruined her... and my home?

Drowning in a Pool of Drool.

Dear Drowning,

Just call me the Martha Stewart of dog drool - Dr. Pavlov could have used me. Bulldogs, as Annie knows, are natural droolers. We don't drool because we have bad table manners. We use our saliva to make our food wet, mushy and easier to swallow; it aids our digestion too. The skin around our lips is loose, and this lets the drool pool, and collect, and drip, until we look like regular drool fools. It's especially bad when we eat or exercise. Personally, I'm so good at producing that ooey-gooey slime that I can whip up a batch just thinking about eating or watching others eat. I dribble so often I think I'm eligible for the NBA draft.

But what's a girl to do?  Well here are some of my 'Drool Rules," and a few household hints for cleanup. One of the big causes of excessive drooling, as you realize, is when we are fed treats from the dinner table. Children love to slyly divert all those green vegetables, and even adults can't seem to resist the 'sad puppy eyes' look, and end up feeding us choice tidbits. WRONG! This will just fuel the drool!

Instead, you need to send Annie back to drool school. Assign her a particular place, away from the table, while you are eating. Be consistent; it's the key to training us to do anything. Get her used to the fact that YOUR eating is not associated with HER eating.  When you do feed her, put a placemat, tray, or towel underneath her bowl.  It's a lot easier to clean the placemat/tray/towel than the floor. Also you can make a fashion statement and take care of the drool dilemma at the same time by tying a bandana around her neck. Make sure the triangular side covers her chest, and most importantly, that the bandana pattern matches her dishes. You do bring out the designer-doggie diva in me!

As for cleaning, the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser works miracles on dried drool left on wood walls, floors, and furniture. Murphy's Oil soap is also effective on wood floors. For painted surfaces you can use Trisodium Phosphate to remove the dried drool. And, finally, for windows or mirrors straight vinegar works best, with a chaser of Windex.

So stay cool with your pool of drool, follow these rules, and someday soon you'll be able to clobber the slobber.

Zelda