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Getting’ Down and Dirty for Dad

Five Great Ways to Show Dad you Care

Does Dad really need another tie for Father’s Day? Is a bottle of after-shave going to ring his chimes? Probably not! So this year, how about something really different? What busy dads are short on is time to care for the “stuff” that fills their lives. Here are some ideas for gifting him with a surprise cleanup.

1. His Grill: A warm grill is easier to clean than a cold one. So fire it up, and then let it cool until slightly warm. Using a small wire brush, scrape off any food particles that remain on the cooking grates. If the grates are removable, take them out and soak in the sink or a tub filled with warm water and dish detergent. Remove them from the water and brush clean with a wire brush. If other parts of the grill require cleaning (for example, around the burner or on the inside surfaces), check the manual that came with the grill. When you’ve finished cleaning, re-assemble the grill and let it air-dry. Before using it again, preheat it for an extra five minutes to burn off any cleaning residue.

2. His Garden Tools: The first step is to remove caked-on soil from hoes, shovels and spades. Wet the tool with a forceful spray of water, and then scrub with a stiff brush dunked in a bucked of warm water and a squirt or two of dish detergent. When most of the residue is gone, rub the metal surfaces with steel wool to create a clean, smooth and shiny surface. If some rust spots remain, carefully wipe a rust remover product on the metal surfaces to remove them. Then lightly coat the blade areas with a bit of oil – household oil, motor oil or vegetable oil should do the trick. This will help keep rust away and make it easier to clean the tools the next time they are used.

3. His Car: Although auto repair stores are full of products to clean a car’s interior, you can find most of what you need in your everyday cleaning supplies. Start by removing the trash, all the nonessential items and the floor mats from the interior. Discard what needs to be thrown away and put the other stuff in a pile to return once the interior is clean. Vacuum or wash the floor mats. Use a whisk broom to collect the loose debris, and then vacuum thoroughly, including the floor, the seats and any upholstered panels. Use the vacuum’s crevice tool and other attachments to get to all the hard-to-reach areas. Next, fill a bucket with hot water and add a few squirts of dish detergent. Swish it around to get some suds going. Then, dip a clean washcloth into the solution, wring it out and start wiping the inside. As the cloth gets dirty, rinse it out, dip it back in the soap solution, and wring it out again. Be sure to clean everything – the dashboard, steering wheel, console and interior trim. Finally, clean the windows, using paper towels and a household window cleaner.

To avoid drips, spray the cleaner onto the paper towel, and then start wiping from the top of the window down.

4. His Ties: While he may not need any new ones, those he owns could probably use a bit of freshening up. In-dryer cleaning kits may be used to remove odors and light spots and soil. For stains and heavy soil, send his ties to a professional drycleaner.

5. His Computer: Before you begin, make sure the computer is turned off. Turn the keyboard over and gently shake it to remove crumbs and debris. Clean the keyboard, the mouse, the computer housings and the desktop with cleaning wipes or a cloth sprayed with an all-purpose cleaner. Never spray cleaner directly onto any part of the computer. To clean the monitor, use a microfiber cloth, either dry or dampened with clean water, or a product specially formulated for computer screens. If you use anything else, you run the risk of damaging the screen.

Originally published in the May-June 2010 issue of Cleaning Matters.