Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spring Cleaning Your Clawfoot Tub


One of the miracles of spring is that cleaning transforms from a chore to a tradition. The tradition of spring cleaning originated in the Middle Ages when straw that covered the kitchen floor was swept outside as soon as warm weather permitted. Unless you live in a barn, and as a boy my father frequently reminded me that I did not, you probably aren't sweeping hay off your kitchen floor but the tradition of spring cleaning continues to be celebrated as an opportunity to clean and organize our homes.

This spring, make cleaning and organizing your cast iron clawfoot tub part of this seasonal ritual. You probably use common household cleaners (e.g. Formula 409, Windex, Dow Tub & Tile Cleaner) for routine cleaning. These products are adequate for normal maintenance but occasionally a more rigorous cleaning is required to remove tougher stains and built up soap film. Powder cleaners (e.g. Zud, Barkeepers Friend, Bon Ami) mix with water to form a soft paste that removes tough stains and polishes to restore shine. Never use an abrasive cleaner (e.g. Ajax, Comet) on the interior of a cast iron bathtub. The grit in abrasive cleaners can scratch the porcelain. Also avoid acidic cleaners (e.g. chlorine bleach, C.L.R.) that may remove the original stain but leave a permanent discoloration. Always test the surface in an inconspicuous area before applying to the entire surface and, most importantly, follow the instructions and read the warning label before you begin.

A clean cast iron tub will only sparkle if it is not overshadowed by clutter. Shampoos, conditioners, razors, soaps, sponges, loofahs, and more seem to gather around the bathtub. Clawfoot tubs aren't especially accommodating to storage but tub shelves, over-the-rim soap baskets, and riser mounted soap dishes are economical options for organizing bathing products. An overflow plate with stopper keeper provides a solution to neatly storing the clawfoot tub drain's rubber stopper that normally lies aimlessly at the end of a chain on the bottom of the tub.

Speaking of aimlessness and rites of spring, I spotted a possum ambling pointlessly in the backyard of my suburban Kansas City home this morning. While I was not raised in a barn or farm, I do recognize a possum and this shifty fellow appeared to be in need of some spring cleaning. Perhaps someone could lend him a loofah.

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