STAINLESS LIVING FROM MARTHA STEWART Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Tour Home by Martha Stewart 752 pages Clarkson Potter, $45.00
Are your bed springs squeaky? Does a moldy odor emanate from your automatic washer? Is discoloration creeping into your bone- and ivory-handled cutlery? Not to worry. The solution to these and virtually any other problem in and about your house can be found in Martha Stewart's latest book, Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home.
In 752 illustrated pages, Stewart shows and tells how to tackle everything from polishing emeralds and rubies to banishing toilet bowl ring to organizing the kids' toy box.
Rather than drudgery, Stewart sees housework as an aspirational adventure in which every room from laundry to closet is an empty canvas for the displaying of homekeeping skills. With her practical manual at hand, homeowners should not only be able to keep up with the Joneses, they'll pass them up and leave them in their own dust.
Dirt, dust, stains, and grime seem to find us no matter where we live, and keeping ahead of them is the homeowner's primary chore. Stewart's tactic is a simple one: do periodic maintenance and save on the elbow grease in the long run. Also, having a genius for organizing doesn't hurt.
Stewart recommends cleaning shower floors weekly and shower walls once a month; flipping and rotating mattresses four times a year; degreasing the kitchen ceiling several times annually, removing closet contents twice yearly and doing a thorough cleaning; vacuuming upholstered dining room chairs weekly using an upholstery attachment; washing china as soon as possible after eating to reduce glaze and color damage from acidic foods; and rotating dinnerware so that each piece receives equal use.
If you're not ready to move into a hotel yet, read on.
Kitchen products such as vinegar, lemon, baking soda, and water mixed with a little dishwashing detergent should be the first choice for common cleaning jobs. Don't fall for those colorful toilet tank cleaners that may erode working parts, Stewart says. An hour's soaking in common white vinegar will dispatch a tough toilet bowl stain.
For more advanced cleaning tasks, Stewart calls for heavier artillery: mildly abrasive cleaners such as Bar Keepers Friend and Bon Ami that are kind to surfaces and friendly to the environment.
The good news is that scrubbing, once considered synonymous with housework, actually has little place in the home outside of pots and pans in the kitchen, according to Stewart. Still, having a phalanx of brushes on hand, all carefully shelved in their own niches, can be an impressive sight. And when they are put to the task, brushes need proper care as well.
"Do not soak brushes to clean them," Stewart advises. "Doing so can weaken or dislodge bristles. To prevent them from becoming moldy or sour, allow brushes to air dry before storing them. Dry them bristle side up or hanging from a hook to prevent the bristles from warping."
A little time spent organizing can make every task easier. If you typically lose precious hours trying to find tools when you need them, Stewart has this …