• Carmen Marie Fabio

All the dirt


There was an undeniable smell of vinegar when I started my car the other day. Figuring my husband had been fiddling with the engine or something, I ignored it. Only when I asked him about it later did I discover he had no idea what I was talking about.

A quick search on The Google indicated I likely had mould build-up in my car’s ducts due to having the air-conditioning continually on full blast to combat the cloying sticky mass of ooze that’s been our summer thus far leading to condensation on the coils. Or something. The Google also suggested it could be remedied with a can of vent and duct cleaner leading to the awareness that there’s one more thing in my life I never realized needed cleaning.

I’m pretty good at most household cleaning things. I can get virtually any laundry stain out and have found multiple household items that can be tossed either into the washing machine or the dishwasher. I even regularly clean the home air conditioner vents.

But ignorance is bliss so it’s only when something stops working, or worse starts to smell, before the thought of cleaning it arises.

Our fridge, which is still relatively new, flat-out stopped working one day and it was only after pulling it out of its space nestled in a corner in the kitchen that we were witness to the amount of dust, hair, and cobwebs that a family of five with two dogs, a cat, and a tolerance for spiders can produce. This wasn’t just a job for the vacuum cleaner – it also required the use of the five horsepower compressor to remove the compacted material that was wrapped around the coils. It was a gross, disgusting job but on the upside, the cleaning got the fridge working again and now hauling out both the compressor and the vacuum cleaner is part of the (semi) regular cleaning routine.

Every summer, I’m reminded that my beautiful Ikea bathroom light fixture has a design flaw… the bright halogen bulb not only attracts the small flying critters that somehow make it into the house, it’s hot enough to burn them to a crisp. On more than one occasion, a family member or house-guest has expressed concern that they can smell something burning when they go to the bathroom.

Our front-loading clothes washer began to smell funky, particularly when running a darks load which is an issue with three adolescents whose primary wardrobe choice is black cotton band T-shirts. The apparent culprit – depending on your source of information – is liquid laundry detergent that somehow makes it easier for some sort of mildew to accumulate around the door’s gasket. Powdered laundry detergent is still available but getting harder to find. The whole idea that you need to regularly clean something whose only function includes water and soap is a mystery to me. You can buy stuff to run in the cycle once a week (without clothes) or apparently (and illogically) you can just toss in a bit of vinegar which, as previously mentioned, seems to be a by-product of mouldy air-conditioning vents.

Thanks to the World Wide Web, I’ve been made aware of cleaning products and tools for things I don’t even own like garbage disposal foaming tablets, jet cleaner for hot tubs, and a descaling kit for your coffee maker.

Too bad there’s not one cleaning product specifically designed for a home that has somehow accumulated three young men, parents who don’t vacuum up spiders, two dogs and an unpleasant cat. ‘Cause I’d totally buy that.

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