The toolbox

Concentrated cleaners

S.C. Johnson is now offering some of its most popular cleaning products in concentrated form.

The company recently introduced 2.9-ounce bottles of Windex, Fantastik, Pledge, Scrubbing Bubbles and Shout Carpet concentrates. A bottle of concentrate is mixed with water to fill a trigger spray bottle.

The bottles use 79 percent less plastic than a standard bottle, the company says.

The concentrates are available only at You can buy a single bottle of concentrate for $2.50, a trigger bottle for 50 cents or a starter kit for $5, containing two bottles of one type of concentrate and a trigger bottle. Shipping is $3.

Cleaning microwaves, disposals

Q: What’s the best way to clean the interiors of microwave ovens and garbage disposals?

A: The best way I’ve found to clean a microwave oven is to steam it. Microwave a cup or bowl of water on high till it boils, and then let the water boil for a few more minutes. The steam will soften the food spatters so you can wipe them right off.

As for the disposal, grinding ice will help clean the blades, and grinding lemon peels will help eliminate odors. Freezing equal parts water and vinegar in ice cube trays and then grinding them will accomplish both goals. Or try “Queen of Clean” Linda Cobb’s tip: Plug the drain, fill the sink with 3 inches of warm water and mix in 1 cup of baking soda. Then drain the sink with the disposal running.

Cleaning limestone

Q: My limestone house was built in the 1920s. Streaks have developed over time on the limestone in the area where a porch is attached. What caused them, and how can I remove them?

A: Mariangela Pfister of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office determined the streaks are probably either efflorescence — salts that have migrated out from the stone — or leachate from the mortar or limestone. They were probably caused by a roof leak, which you addressed long ago.

She recommended gently brushing the streaks with a natural bristle brush and hot water. If staining remains, try cleaning it with the same kind of brush and some water mixed with a very gentle dishwashing liquid, such as a natural product. If suds are left behind, rinse them gently with a garden hose.

Pfister said she wouldn’t recommend cleaning stone on a house where water damage is recent. She also cautioned against using commercial cleaners.

Akron Beacon Journal