Keeping your house in top condition

How a property looks years after its construction depends on how you maintain its fixtures. Arming yourself with a few tips on how to maintain various parts of your house would increase its longevity, writes LYDIA LIMBE

While building our own homes, we often choose fixtures based on their prices, availability and because they are in vogue.

But we never stop to think about the maintenance — what it would take to keep it in top condition. How a property looks a few years later, depends on its maintenance.

Here are a few tips on how to maintain various parts of your house:

 Wooden floors and finishes

While wood is chosen for its warm, earthly feel and the fact that it is not as cold as floor tiles, it is important to maintain its look.

For everyday cleaning, dust in the direction of the grain with a soft cloth. Use wood polishes sparingly as it dulls the wood. If the wood is painted, clean with washing liquid and a sponge to remove stains.

For vanished wood, wipe with a damp cloth then spray-polish with a soft non-fluffy cloth. Be careful not to over-wet the vanished area as the water may have it bubble up.

Some wooden fixtures are left bare, and to clean them, wash with warm soapy water applied with a cloth or towel. Dry it out completely.

Ensure you take time on a regular basis to dust even in the areas that are not easily reachable like corners, or under the bed, the curtain boxes, to reduce dust in the air.

Use a step stool and a duster on a pole to dust the tops of wardrobes and other tall dust catchers.


Ceramics is the most common feature in the house interiors — from fixtures like the wash hand-basin, to floor and wall finishes. Despite its common use, many people are not aware of how best to maintain their pristine look — despite easy cleaning being the number one factor in choosing them.

During the day-to-day cleaning, sweep or vacuum the floor before mopping to remove any loose dirt and dust. This dirt, when allowed to sit in wet areas, can quickly become hard to remove.

Mop the floor with warm soapy water while making sure it is dried out completely. This will prevent new dirt from accumulating and staining the grout for a longer period of time.

For high use areas like the bathrooms, scrub the walls with a scouring pad or a pad of steel wool to remove the soap stains and grit on the floors. Use a soft brush along the crevices.

Use soapy water foam or rub solid sap on the scouring pad as you scrub the wall. Remember to add antiseptic in the water used to rinse after scrubbing. Mop up excess water from the walls and the floor with a dry non-fluffy cloth. Open all the windows and doors to aerate the bathroom and allow it to dry completely.

Clean out spills promptly, as the longer it sits, the more time it will have to soak into the grout (the white cement between the tiles), making the tile stained and sticky.

To remove stubborn stains on the floor, prepare a paste using a 50/50 mixture of scouring powder and warm water. Rub the paste on the stain using a clean cloth, and then allow it to sit for five to ten minutes.

Scrub the area with a soft brush, then wash with warm water and a cloth to remove all remains of the paste. Repeat the process if the stain is still visible. Tile floors in bathrooms tend to get mildew sometimes. The best prevention method is to air out the room after you have showered and keep the floors dry. If mildew accumulates, an ammonia solution should take care of it.

Put on gloves before mixing a 50/50 solution of water and ammonia. Scrub the area using a soft brush and the ammonia solution. Rinse the floor with clean water after the mildew is gone.

To remove stains from grout, mix a 75/25 solution of bleach and water if your grout is white. If the grout is coloured, you will have to use plain water. Do not use bleach on coloured grout.

Use a toothbrush or the edge of a sponge to clean the grout with the solution. Take care not to get the bleach solution on the tiles, as it may remove colour that is part of the tile decoration. Rinse the floor with warm water after you are done to remove all traces of bleach.

After the floor is completely dry, carefully apply a coat of grout sealer (or polyfiller, found in the supermarkets or local hardwares near you) to the grout between the tiles, to prevent it from absorbing dirt in future.

Stainless steel sink

Use a soft sponge or cloth with warm water and scouring powder or liquid soap, brushing the sponge in the direction of the drainage. On the tight areas around the drainage, and in the sieve of the drainage itself, an old toothbrush would do.

Do not forget to clean outside of the sink and down to the drainage pipes with the toothbrush. Rinse the whole sink and dry off excess water. Make sure it is completely dry so that you can easily polish the sink and that water spots do not form.

Baking soda, vinegar and cream of tartar mixed with lemon juice tackle tough stains like rust.

Toilet bowl

When cleaning toilets, make sure you wear gloves to protect your skin from possible infection from bacteria. Clear away items around the toilet bowl to prevent accidental drops in the toilet.

Moisten a sponge with warm soapy water and wipe around the tank, lid, seat, base, and the exterior of the bowl. Squirt the liquid (or as per manufacture’s instructions), starting at the rim and making sure you get the area under the lip of the bowl. Many cleaners work best if you allow them to soak on the bowl for a while.

Brush the entire bowl thoroughly with a toilet brush, paying special attention to mineral stains that may accumulate along the water level and at the back of the bowl.

Rinse by flushing the bowl with the brush still in it. Continue to scrub as the water drains from the toilet. Spray the rest of the toilet with a disinfectant cleaner as per manufacturer’s instructions. Thoroughly clean the handle, both the top and bottom of the seat, and spray the entire exterior of the toilet, including the floor mat. Use a cloth or paper towel to work in, and wipe away, the cleaner.

Clean and rinse off the gloves before taking them off with a paper towel, or air them out in the sun.