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Household cleaning tips: Four types of cleaning products you probably don't need and one that everyone needs.

Some cleaning products are great in special settings but just aren't that useful around the house. In fact, they are usually a waste of money unless you have a special need. Here they are.

1. Antibacterial sprays and soaps
These products belong in hospital operating rooms, not in your home. Save your money unless there is some sort of bacteria in your house. Stay with plain old soap and water.

2. Furniture cleaner, polish, wax or oil
If your wood furniture has a polyurethane finish, it only needs dusting. Wipe prints etc. with a damp but not wet cloth. If you're not sure what kind of finish is on your table or furniture, test with a bit of nail polish remover on a cotton ball in an inconspicuous place. If the cotton softens or sticks to the finish, you may need a cleaner, polish, wax or oil.

3. Drain cleaners
If your drain is stopped up first try the good old plunger. If that doesn't work pour a half cup of baking soda, followed by a half cup of white vinegar down the drain. Rinse with cold water. Do this once a month to prevent clogging.

4. Wax and no-wax floor products
You don't need these for tile or polyurethane floors. They don't make the floors nicer, they just make them more slippery. They also create a buildup that's a real pain to remove.

The cleaning product every household need and should keep on hand is a good all-purpose cleaner.
One that I have been recommending for over five years This is a cleaner that is truly versatile. It will clean clothes, furniture, carpets, shoes, pet stains and the list goes on and on. Make sure the cleaner you use is non-toxic and does not contain harsh chemicals. A quick smell will tell you if it has damaging chemicals.

One last thing. Never mix chlorine products (bleach, tile cleaner, mildew remover, powdered cleanser) with any product containing ammonia (which may even include some detergents) or any acid. The toxic gases that result can be fatal.

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