Sunday, November 30, 2008

Clean Sweep

There are many more important things that I could (and should) be blogging about, but this amazed me so much I just had to write about it. My sister came to stay with us from out of state for the Thanksgiving holiday. While we were preparing our back room upstairs for her to stay in, Liz noticed that the walls had some "stuff" on them.

"What is that?", she said. Sweet Pea, ever the helpful one, said "Looks like poop!" "What is it?" Liz says again, a bit more stridently. "It's smeared all over the place."

Buddy Boy chimes in "That's from the fly paper."

My heart sinks a little. The fly paper.

A couple of weeks ago we had thousands of flies swarming outside of our house for a couple of days. We called an exterminator, who assured us that this was common this time of year, and that they would go away with the first frost. Needless to say, a couple dozen made their way into the house. Buddy Boy insists that any insect must be returned to it's environment if we won't let him keep it as a pet (Andrea would love this kid), and Sweet Pea seems to think that any insect has the power to kill her instantly, and is thus terrified of them.

Faced with the prospect of dealing with both of them, I looked for a way to eliminate the problem. I looked thru our pantry and found a couple of rolls of flypaper. Thinking this might work, I put one up in the back room. Liz had me take it down a couple of days later after it became apparent that the unique sticky surface attracted curious kids more than it did flies. I didn't notice at the time that they had managed to smear some of the sticky stuff on the cream colored walls (which we don't have matching paint for).

Now, with 24 hours before my sister shows up, I was tasked to "Take care of that!"

Realizing that I didn't want to make a bad situation worse, I resolved to get the icky brownish yellowish stuff off the wall without destroying the paint (I did not want to have to paint a wall before she arrived). So I proceeded carefully.

First, I started with a rag with dishsoap on it. I scrubbed carefully and increasingly harder for over 20 minutes. I got some of it off, but most of it stayed where it was.

Like a philosopher progressing steadily up thru Maslow's pyramid of human needs, I tried what I viewed as successively more potent materials on the wall. The next material I tried was a floor and tile cleaner. I tried it carefully on an out of the way spot to make sure it wouldn't ruin the paint, then had at it again for another 20 minutes. Again, it left most of it where it was, only it turned what remained a darker shade of gray. Getting exasperated, I retreated to the mud room and tried some pine based floor cleaner, again to no avail. This was starting to get to me. I finally decided to go for the big guns-a scouring pad and kitchen cleanser-realizing that I would have to be very careful and would still probably remove some paint.

Luckily Liz saw me at that point and asked what I was doing. Fortunately it had been long enough that she had lost most of the fire out of her eye, and recommended the Mr. Clean magic sponges kept under the kitchen sink.

With little hope for successful resolution of the problem at this point, I took the sponges to task. I moistened one and started scrubbing lightly. And after spending more than an hour trying to get the stuff off, it started lifting off immediately. What's more, the paint underneath seemed totally unharmed. In five minutes I was done with those spots, and gleefully going after other spots (finger prints, putty, crayon marks, etc.).

"There's some rockin' chemist out there that hit one out of the park with this!", I said. Life is full of small miracles, and I experienced one this week.


Do'C said...

"There's some rockin' chemist out there that hit one out of the park with this!"

A pair apparently.

Gary Ashe, Alan Scott Goldstein

Who knew flypaper gloo was cleanable.

kristina said...

A Science Guy to the rescue!

Casdok said...

Well done!!

CS said...

I've been skeptical of those sponges but your third party testimonial is just what I need to go out and try those. Lord knows I have all kinds of smears on the walls at my house.

DOC link is interesting. The sponge is made of melamine, the similar stuff to the stuff found in the baby formula.

Niksmom said...

ROFL! I LOOOOOVE those things! They can actually clean my laminate floors without scratching them. You know, all those odd stray colored marks from toys that get dragged or bounced? GONE.

They also work great on shower grout.

Hope your holiday was wonderful and fly-paper free!

Mrs. C said...

I wish they'd make 'em wayyy cheaper, though.

Anonymous said...

"I wish they'd make 'em wayyy cheaper, though."

I see them priced at $7 on the internet. That's not expensive. That's one trip to McDonald's, for one person.

Club 166 said...

Science is great when it turns out things like this.

They are expensive, when compared to plain sponges and bottles of cleaning products. So they wouldn't be my first line thing for everyday cleaning.

But for what they do, they're a bargain.

If I would have had to repaint the wall, it would have cost me a LOT, more than $7.


Club 166 said...

And CS brought up an inmportant point. As they are made of melamine, make sure no one likes the texture so much they are chewing on them.

Finally, it's back to self imposed semi-exile for me. I had a week off of school, but classes started back up last night.


Anonymous said...

Oh yes! We buy these all the time. I love them. Once you start cleaning with one you start seeing little things all around the house that can be magically cleaned. I love them.

Glad they worked for you as well.

We also had little fly like things all over our garage a few months ago. I was freaking out worried it was something terrible. So glad it was not.

Ange said...

When I am cheap, I use baking soda (the stuff ready to pitch from the freezer/fridge) on a damp paper towel and have similar luck. ;) Also, just don't use it in a a sunny room on flat paint ... you will see streaks (scrub marks) that don't go away.

storkdok said...

Hah, and I made fun of my husband for buying those! I'll have to drag them out and give them a try.

I still haven't tried to remove A's first pen writing, on our wallpaper, partly because I didn't want to remove the wallpaper, too, and partly because it is a memory that makes my eyes crinkle up at the edges and my heart sing...first time he did something like that!

rainbowmummy said...

Thanks, I have seen these sponges so many times but I just never thought they would, well you know, work!

codeman38 said...

Magic Erasers are also very good for cleaning the keyboard and palm rest of a MacBook.

I say this from personal experience... I have incredibly sweaty palms, apparently.

Daisy said...

Your own Science Guy and his squeamish sister have quite a future. I hope you'll keep blogging their stories!
In other thoughts, Buddy Boy would probably enjoy an environmental charter school like the one down the road from me.

Anonymous said...

These saved our big screen television once as well. Our child was by himself in the living room for several minutes and by the time we had returned, the entire screen was colored with red magic marker - the permanent kind. About 10 minutes of hard scrubbing with windex did absolutely nothing. In a frantic search for anything, I found these and without effort, it cleared the ink right off. As the name implies, they truly are magic.

isles said...

They are nearly magic, but as someone said above, do practice restraint because they'll take off paint if you're too enthusiastic.

judson said...

Better living through chemistry, dude.
Do you know about Goo Gone? It's another Miracle of Modern Living. It eliminates the sticky residue left from paper-backed stickers, Scotch tape residue and just about anything sticky or formerly sticky.