Monday, January 19, 2009

A Tale of Woe

This is no secret to anyone who knows me, but I'm a germophobe. I'm also a little bit obsessive/compulsive. Nice combination, eh? I can't stand dust, dirt or grime of any kind. I may, in fact, be keeping Mr. Clean, Windex, the Swiffer company and half a dozen others in business. I'm a sucker for a good cleaning product.

I live in a small town where we have municipal well water. What does that mean? Basically we have several giant wells that provide water to the whole town. It's not necessarily a bad thing. The water is treated so it doesn't have the iron smell that some well water has, but it still has an especially high mineral concentration. Put simply, we have really hard water.

This brings me to my lastest adventure in cleaning. Try as I might, I can't seem to keep the white tile and white grout in the shower looking, well...........white! So armed with determination, I went to the supermarket in seach of new cleaning products to add to my arsenal. I wasn't going to let the hard water and mildew get me, it was time to get serious!

As soon as I hit the cleaning aisle in the store, I fell in love! I found out that Libman makes a product that is a sponge mop on one side and a scrub brush on the other. Just the idea of a scrub brush at the end of a handle long enough to reach the corners and ceiling of the shower had me giddy! Add the ability to scrub floors without getting on my knees.......that baby practically jumped into my cart!

On to cleaners. I needed something that meant business. No wimpy little spring flower scented cleaner was going to bust through the hard water stains and the nasty mildew that was flourishing just out of my reach. I needed something powerful. Tilex gives me a major migraine every time I use it, so that was out. I considered Scrubbing Bubbles Mega Shower Foamer, but it said nothing about mildew or hard water on the can, so I put it back. Comet Bath Spray looked promising, so I grabbed a bottle and headed for the checkout.

Here's where things started to go down hill rapidly. I started my cleaning by taking down the white vinyl shower liner and putting it in the washing machine with some towels (the towels help "scrub" off any soap scum, they get washed separately afterward). No problems there, I've done that a hundred times without incident. After the wash, I put the liner and towels in the drier on the no-heat setting for about 20 minutes so I wouldn't have to carry a dripping shower curtain up the stairs (also SOP).

Next I doused the walls and ceiling of the shower with the Comet Bath Spray, waited five or ten minutes and scrubbed with my new Gator Mop. Not too bad, I could reach the ceiling and corners without a problem, but the stains were not budging. Hmmmm. Maybe another application of cleaner? Did that, scrubbed again, not much better.

Back to the laundry room. I opened the drier and pulled out the almost dry shower liner. All traces of soap scum are gone, it looks clean but I have a rusty spot in the drier (only several years old, by the way, and leaving spots on our clothes from time to time!) that has made a rust pattern all over the white curtain. Nice, it looks like an abstract orange fern pattern that you might have seen in the 70's. I don't have another liner so I'm stuck putting this monstrosity back up. It's an extra long liner that I can't get a replacement for at any store in town. I've had it! Enough for one day.

The next day I'm back at the supermarket to pick up a different cleaner. One of my online friends recommends the Scrubbing Bubbles Mega Shower Foamer, so I get that. I follow the instructions. Spray, wait, rinse. Better than the results with the Comet, but still not perfect.

Now I'm getting mad so I search through the bathroom cabinet looking for another cleaner. Have I overlooked something? It seems I have. I have a bottle of something called Zap. It refers to itself as a "Tile and Grout Restorer". This sounds promising! You can dilute it or use full strength on tough stains. Exactly what I'm looking for! I make sure the previous cleaner is completely rinsed off and then I attack those tiles with the Zap full strength.

I've read the bottle, but I don't see the active ingredients listed. However, I'm pretty sure number one on the list is muriatic acid. I've used it before so I know what it smells like and I know what it feels like to get it on your skin. Now I'm coughing and gagging, little spots on my arms are burning, but I'm finally getting rid of the stains. A little scrubbing, a lot of rinsing and my shower finally looks clean.

'What an incredible product', I think to myself. Sure, it may be create some nasty fumes, but if I use a light spray of it everyday after everyone is done showering, I may never have to fight stains again! So that's what I did. For the rest of the week, I lightly sprayed the tiles with the Zap and it kept everything looking white. I was so happy until I noticed that it disintegrated the arm that holds the hand-held showerhead. That sucker just crumbled away into little pieces and left the hand-held sprayer dangling. What remained of the fitting looked chalky and pitted, like an ancient artifact. Until I could get to the store and get a new shower head, we'd be stuck using a rubberband to hang this one off the "artifact".

My husband picked up a new showerhead that's even better than what we had. It's got the regular wall mounted head and a hand-held spray unit. They can be used simultaneously or separately. Both have multiple spray and massage settings and they produce a lot more water pressure than what we had.

So in the end it all worked out, but I have to say it. Woe is me!!


Lissaloo said...

lol, sometimes things just spiral out of our control don't they :) Our master bathroom has a tiny little corner shower with a fairly tall ceiling. When we moved in the there was a lot of mold & mildew spots all over the wall & ceiling above it. I used all kinds of cleaners & scrubbed till my hands were raw, still there. Our landlord sent someone over to repaint it because we thought that might be the only option. (sorry this is so long) He came took one look & said he could fix it, he put on one of the paper face masks things & sprayed the spots with a spray bottle full of STRAIGHT bleach. waited 5 minutes, wiped it off & it was BEAUTIFUL. Wow. I had to leave the windows open for the rest of the day though. :)

Willoughby said...

Maybe I should have done that!

Pamela said...

love that zap stuff...and your right. Man does it stink! I too get migraines w/ it. But w/ 5 nasty grimy children in the house...WORTH it!! ;)

Willoughby said...

Just don't spray it on your showerhead, Pam!