Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

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How to Clean and Maintain Your House Inside and Out


Find out how to clean and maintain all areas of your home from gutters and windows to kitchens and baths. Watch this video to find out more. ...More




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How to Clean and Maintain Your House Inside and Out

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Danny Lipford using a homemade vacuum cleaner attachment to clean under the fridge.

Using a homemade vacuum cleaner attachment to clean under the fridge.

To keep your home in good working order, it’s important to clean and maintain both the interior and outside of the house regularly.

Home cleaning and maintenance projects:

  • Gutters: Clean gutters and downspouts and repair any leaks with gutter repair caulk. Make sure gutters are attached firmly to the house without sagging.
  • Siding & Trim: Clean exterior siding, eaves, and trim with a diluted bleach solution or special cleaning product in a pump up sprayer to remove any dirt, mold, and mildew.
  • Windows & Doors: Use vinegar mixed with warm water to clean window glass. Squirt powered graphite in door locks to make them easier to open. Apply dry spray lubricant to door hinges to stop squeaks.
  • Laundry Room: Clean the lint filter and vent pipe on your clothes dryer regularly to prevent fire and make your dryer run more efficiently.
  • Living Room: Use a damp microfiber cloth to clean TV and computer screens. To clean paddle ceiling fan blades, attach dryer sheets to a paint roller with rubber bands.
  • Kitchen: Heat a damp sponge in the microwave for 20 seconds, and use it with citrus spray to clean grease off cabinets and appliances. Clean range hood or microwave fan grease filter with hot soapy water or run filter in the dishwasher. Clean the refrigerator gasket and vacuum the coils under it. Use lemon juice and baking soda to clean sinks and countertops. Clean garbage disposals with lemon juice and ice.
  • Bathroom: Remove bath vent fan cover, and vacuum out the dust that accumulates inside the fan. Use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar, or oxygen bleach, to clean tile grout.

Read episode article to find out more.

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Danny Lipford: Spring is almost upon us. So, this week on Today’s Homeowner we’re tackling those cleaning, maintenance and improvement chores on your to-do list in a whole new way.

Wow! Look at all that! Look at all that!

When the weather warms up during this time of the year, it might just motivate you to do a little work inside and outside of your home. Here at Today’s Homeowner, this time of the year makes us think of three different things– Cleaning, maintaining and improving your home. And when you talk about the exterior of your home that starts on the roof. Right, Allen?

Allen Lyle: That’s right. Always just makes sense to start up on the roof. Clean from the top, down. Hang on just a minute. And make sure to get all the debris off the roof. It’s amazing how it congregates right in the valley.

Now, a couple of things to think about is safety. Wear some thick rubber-soled boots for traction. And go slow, nice and steady, that wins the race. Now, this house does not have gutters, but if you did have gutters on your house, you’d want to inspect those right now. Particularly if you had ice and snow during the winter times, you’ve got that heavy weight, could have the potential to pull the gutters away from the house, giving an inroad to water damage.

Now, you do want to take some gutter screws, some good sealant and make sure it’s repaired, seal those gaps and cracks, you won’t have any problems on that fascia or soffit. But, speaking of, Danny looks like you’ve got a problem down there.

Danny Lipford: Well, I’ll tell you, I’ve got a lot of cleaning to do down here. And I’ll tell you, mold and mildew seems to be everywhere these days! We’re getting so many calls and e-mails from all over the country with people that really have some problems. Now, this has increased the sale and rental of pressure washers, and that can take care of a problem like this. But, the problem is it’s still a lot of work.

Now, I’ve got another way of eliminating this mold and mildew without having to do so much work, but it does require a little patience. Now, what we found is a product called Wet & Forget. And what you do is you add one part Wet & Forget to five parts water in a pump-up garden sprayer like this. And then you apply this to a dry surface like we have here.

But here’s where the patience comes in. You’re going to have to wait about six to twelve months for you to realize all of the cleaning effects of the Wet & Forget. And then, after that, all you have to do is spray it maybe once a year, in order to maintain that clean surface. And it’ll work on concrete drive-ways, asphalt driveways, sidewalks, even patio furniture.

Allen Lyle: It’s a good time to go ahead and examine those doors. I hate squeaky hinges and locks that get a little stuck, so you want to lubricate those. Now, for the hinges, I always use a dry lubricant. The reason why, it doesn’t leave that greasy residue on the hinges.

But, when you talk about the lock, you want to use powdered graphite. Now this stuff, I got to tell you, it’ll come out very easily, so you want to be careful. You want to just squirt it into the lock, and then you go and insert your key to work it into place, and that’s all you need. Now, think about this, other places for lubrication– Gate hardware, gate locks, garage doors, whether it’s the track, the worm drive, the chain drive. Any place around your house, if there’s movement, you want to think lubrication. That’s especially true with windows, right?

Danny Lipford: Absolutely. During this time of the year you’re going to want to raise and lower those windows. You’ll do it more often. It’s easy to do. All you need to do is get some silicone spray, spray all of the tracks and any working mechanism on the window, to make it work a little easier and you’ll definitely use it more.

Now, another thing you’ll want to do is clean windows. That really makes a lot of people cringe when you say that, but it’s really much easier than most people think. Especially, if you use some warm water and a little bit of white vinegar. And then grab the newspaper, because it’s perfect to clean the window without streaking it.

Then, the other way to go is to have someone else inside that’s doing the exact same thing, to make sure that you’re not leaving any spots inside or out. After you get all the windows cleaned and during the process of cleaning the windows, you’re going to want to clean your screens. And my friend Joe has a great tip for you on this week’s Simple Solution.

Joe Truini: You should remove the screens from your house at least once a year and clean them. What I used to do is wash them with a hose, rinse them down, leave them out to dry. But that was way too much work, especially because an average house has between 15 and 20 screens, so it takes quite a while.

Here’s a much faster, quicker trick. Just use a standard household vacuum, or you can use a wet-dry vacuum, and put on an upholstery brush. Almost all vacuums come with such an accessory. It has nice soft bristles. Just put it on and use the vacuum to clean the screens. Let me show you how.

There you go. In just a few seconds you’ve cleaned the screen, and because the bristles are nice and soft, there’s no chance of damaging it. Now, if you do this every year, the screens will stay nice and clean, but you still may have to wash them with a hose. But I would say maybe only every four or five years. It saves you a lot of time.

Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner we’re breaking down the best ways to attack your spring-cleaning and maintenance chores. And even though the weather is beautiful this time of the year, there’s work to be done inside.

Every appliance you have in your home will work a lot better and a lot more efficiently if it’s kept really clean. And when you’re talking about a dryer, cleaning is all about minimizing the amount of lint that you have, caught in the vent going to the outside.

So, that starts on the outside with removing the vent cap, and then using a dryer vent brush to clean all of the lint out of that vent. Now, to minimize the lint getting to that, I hope you are removing this each and every time you’re drying clothes, and removing all of the lint that gathers up on this.

And even that though, because of the fabric softener sheets that we use, this will even allow water to puddle up on it, just like it’s doing here. So, couple times a year, you want to immerse it in some detergent like this, use a nice brush to keep it clean and dry it before you put it back in your dryer.

Danny Lipford: Now, this is probably another screen around your home that needs to be cleaned. Whether it’s a television or a computer monitor, it’s not like the televisions of years ago that had a glass front that you could use glass cleaner. You never want to use any type of ammonia-based cleaner when you’re trying to get this nice and clean.

Here’s what you can use, LCD cleaning wipes. A little expensive, and from my experience, they tend to dry out a little bit. So, you may as well just keep it simple, use a microfiber cloth and just a little bit of water to dampen it. And then don’t press too hard, just lightly wipe down all of the smudges and the dust. While you’re at it, get all these other components. But you want to make sure you unplug it before you get started. That way, when you’re watching us each week we won’t look so fuzzy.

Danny Lipford: Everybody has a ceiling fan and most likely you rarely clean the ceiling fan. And it attracts so much dust because little bit hard to pull the ladder out and to do all of the cleaning necessary.

This will make it a lot easier. You can use an extension rod like this, a roller frame, a roller pad. And then I’ve attached a dryer sheet on the pad with a couple rubber bands. And this works so well to just rub all of the blades and get that dust off of there. You can get all the spider webs off of it.

It just does a good job, and you never have to worry about breaking out the ladder. And then you can just pull the dryer sheet off and throw it away.

Danny Lipford: Now, another area of the home that needs a lot of cleaning all year long is your kitchen. And in the kitchen, there’s a few areas in here that you may not even be aware that needs to be cleaned.

Allen Lyle: Of course, you do want to keep all the surfaces of your appliances clean. For the range, that means all those grease splatters. And I love a citrus-based cleaner for that—it cuts it and makes it smell great.

Don’t forget about your range hood. You do want to make sure to hit it on the outside as well as underneath, you get a lot of grease that gets up in there.

But, you may not think about this. The filter on the range hood. This does get clogged up with the grease and gunk, so this needs to be cleaned, too. The good news is it’s really easy to do. You can rinse this out in the sink. Or do what I like to do—you just drop it in the dishwasher. Here you go, Danny.

Danny Lipford: Now, when you’re looking at your refrigerator, there’s a few areas here that you may never think about cleaning. One is your gasket. If you don’t keep this nice and clean, it just won’t provide the adequate seal that you need to save energy and keep everything nice and cool.

Hey, while you’re at it, go ahead and clean the top of the refrigerator. You know it’s nice and dusty.

Now one other area, concerning the refrigerator that you may not think about is underneath the refrigerator. Because of the way the refrigerator works, it can pull a lot of dust under there that you never see, that can affect the efficiency and the longevity of your refrigerator.

So, using a cardboard tube, that may be left over from some gift-wrapping that you’ve done in the past, you can make your own little attachment to keep not only the refrigerator nice and clean, but while you’re at it, try the washer and dryer as well.

Allen Lyle: Danny, while you’re there, how about handing me a lemon?

Danny Lipford: Need a lemon. Here’s a lemon.

Allen Lyle: Thank you, sir.

Danny Lipford: All right.

Allen Lyle: I’ll show you a really cool trick. I love this. Take a lemon, just cut it in half, and then take some baking soda. Going to sprinkle that right on top of the lemon. The baking soda is just a very, very mild abrasive.

All right, now watch this. I’m going to take this. The lemon becomes my scrub brush to distribute all that baking soda. And I’m going to scrub and clean the sink and make it smell good, too.

Danny Lipford: And not only does that work great on a surface like a sink, but also on all of your countertops. Hey, while you got the lemon, squirt a little down in there if you will.

Allen Lyle: All right. How about this?

Danny Lipford: Right in that garbage disposal. Another thing that people just don’t think about cleaning is the garbage disposal. But, with a little lemon, a little crushed ice, will not only deodorize it, but it’ll make it nice and clean.

Jodi Marks: You know, having an extension pole in all your painting projects is nothing new, and it definitely helps you get those hard to reach places way up. But you know, most rollers come threaded, so it’s no big deal to just twist this right on and get to work. But what if you need to hold, say a paintbrush, or a tool for that matter, to get up in a high place?

Well, Mr. LongArm has come up with this brush and tool holder. And inside the package, you have this little arm that attaches nicely to an extension pole. Now, here’s the arm, and I’ve gone ahead and put the paintbrush on it.

And you see how there’s a little screw that threads right through the hole that locks it into place, and then this clamp locks right down on it. And all I have to do is simply twist this onto the extension pole, and I’m ready to go.

Now, another feature that I like about this is that I can adjust this little knob right here, and I can get up to 13 different angles for my paintbrush. I can also attach, say a duster or a cleaning brush on this as well, and get all of my projects done in no time.

Danny Lipford: This week, we’re checking out tips to tackle spring-cleaning and maintenance chores. And sooner or later, like it or not, you have to take on the bathroom.

You know, we’ve looked at several different things in your home that you may not even realize that need to be cleaned and maintained. Another one of those, your bath exhaust fan. It’s so important to get all of the moisture out of the bathroom, but you have to take care of them every now and then. And look how dusty this one is because when it’s moving the moisture out, it’s also gathering a lot of the dust that you may have.

So, it’s fairly simple to clean it. You take the little arms down, like I did here. Wow! Look at all that. Look at all that! Then, you just take this down and just wash it out. This is just a plastic housing here. Oh, man, there are all kinds of stuff in there. And just clean it completely.

Then you can attack the actual fan and the housing. Look at all that, Wow! Even though you never see this dust and dirt, it’s reducing the fan’s ability to move air out of the bathroom, slowing it down and blocking the passages the air moves through, that also means the fan has to work harder than it should, so it won’t last as long. And as that motor wears out, it becomes even noisier than before. That’s one of the biggest complaints that you hear about exhaust fans; they’re so loud. But it doesn’t have to be. And you actually can upgrade a fan just like this without even removing the housing.

The folks at Broan-NuTone make a bath fan upgrade kit that works for a variety of older models. The kit includes a new fan and motor as well as a selection of mounting plates for them. You select one of the mounting plates based on the size and model of the fan housing in your ceiling, and then attach the fan motor to it.

Then you unplug the old fan and remove it, with its mounting plate, from the housing and replace it with the new fan and mounting plate. The whole process takes less than 10 minutes. And you can have a more quiet and more efficient vent fan for your bathroom.

Allen Lyle: Everyone knows to keep your kitchen clean, but be honest with me, your focus tends to be on the floor and the counter-tops, the appliances. The cabinets need some cleaning too. Here’s why. As you clean or as you are cooking, you’re going to get a film on those cabinets. You may not see it right away, but here’s a great way to keep them clean.

You want to take just a regular, ordinary sponge, dampen it, squeeze it out; you just want it barely damp. And I’m going to put it in the microwave for 20 seconds. Now while that’s heating up, I’m going to put some rubber gloves on because it’s going to be hot coming out of that microwave. You can do one or two; I just like to put one on. And I’m going to get some orange cleaner, some citrus cleaner; this is for the cabinets.

All right. See the steam look at that! Whoo! That is hot! I’m going to clean my cabinets with steam and a little bit of citrus. And you will be amazed at how it’s just going to pop. It’s like the life comes back into the wood.

Be sure to clean very well around the hardware, because that’s where you’re going to get the most grease from our fingertips and smudges like that. The steam helps open up the pores of that wood. Just look at the difference between those two. Isn’t that nice?

Pay close attention to all the cabinets. But, particularly the ones below like the sink. Look here, you can see it’s got all kinds of splashes and splatters along the sink. Take your time. And within just maybe 20 to 30 minutes, it’s like you got a brand new kitchen.

Danny Lipford: If you like the idea of cleaning with steam, there are a variety of tools that’ll help you do that. Heating water in an enclosed container generates its own pressure. So, these tools simply direct the steam to a small area, where the heat and moisture can help dissolve grease and grime. They’re great for cleaning plumbing fixtures in both the kitchen and the bathroom, as well as some kinds of flooring, especially tile floors with grimy grout.

Steam-cleaning your ceramic is a great idea, but sometimes, even after you steam-clean, you’ll find that the grout needs a little more attention.

Danny Lipford: If you have dark grout, like this, in order to get it looking a little cleaner and more consistent in color, this is a great solution to clean it.

Get some baking soda, mix it just in a cup. Then, at the consistency of kind of a paste, add white vinegar—just a little bit or it’ll really foam up on you. Then, mix it up like this. That’s just about perfect. Of course to do a whole floor, you’ll need a lot more than this, but just as an example here. And then you can apply it right to the grout.

Put plenty on there, you can do the whole entire floor. Then, let it sit there a little while, soak in, and start working. Then get your little brush, like this. Just brush it out. And then come back and thoroughly clean the floor. Now, like I say, it’ll make it a lot cleaner and a lot more consistent look on the darker grout.

Now, if you have lighter colored grout or white grout, you’ll want to try oxygen bleach. A lot of people use oxygen bleach for a lot of different things, but you’ll approach it a little bit differently.

Basically, you’ll take some of the oxygen bleach, and just sprinkle it over the grout joints. Then take a water bottle and spray all of the joints down to kind of activate the bleach.

Then let it sit there a little while, again come back with your brush, brush it out. Let it sit a little longer, and then wipe everything out, and that will certainly brighten up that white or lighter colored grout. And that should really make a big difference in the cleanliness and the look of your grout.

Danny Lipford: Mary Beth wants to know, “Can I lower my energy bill this summer by keeping my ceiling fans running all the time?”

Yes, you can lower your energy bills by using your ceiling fans around your home, but maybe not quite in the way that you’re thinking about it, because you really don’t want to run it all the time, because every time that ceiling fan’s on, it’s using energy.

Now, the only way you’re going to save energy by using a ceiling fan is actually by saving on something else around your home, like your central air-conditioning system. And you can save there by raising the temperature up two or three degrees at the thermostat. Because you’re feeling cooler in the room because you’re using the ceiling fan, and your air-conditioner is just simply not working as hard.

Another thing you need to remember though, is during the summer months, look up at your ceiling fan and make sure it’s running in a counter-clockwise direction. But, when you get up to move to another room turn the ceiling fan off, because the ceiling fan is only cooling people, it’s not cooling the room.

Danny Lipford: Cleaning and maintenance chores are certainly not the most exciting part of home ownership, but they can be very gratifying because they are some of the easiest and least expensive ways to improve your home. So think of them that way, as improvement projects, not chores.

Well, we tackled a lot of small cleaning and maintenance projects. And every one that we did made an improvement on this home. You know, when you’re faced with a long list of things that you want to do at your house, one of the best things you can do is approach it with a good, positive attitude. And then knock a few things off the list, you’ll feel better about it and then you’ll want to tackle a few more.

And we’ve got a lot more information to make it easier for you to maintain and improve your home on our website at todayshomeowner.com. Hey, thanks for being with us. I’m Danny Lipford, we’ll see you next week here on Today’s Homeowner.

You pour enough in there to foam up. Foams up when you do that.