Spiff up wood floors: bring back the glow with these simple, speedy tips

Biggest Challenges

  • Scuff marks
  • Dingy traffic aisles
  • Sticky stains; paint spatters

Fastest Fixes

1 Rub out rubber scuffs.

Though comfy on your feet, shoes with rubber soles and heels can wreak havoc on polyurethaned wood flooring. Fortunately, scuff marks usually “sit” on top of a floor’s finish, so they are fairly simple to remove. If the mark is a light one, sometimes just rubbing it with a sock–like the one on your foot (bonus: no bending down required)–or a clean tennis ball is all it takes to get rid of the streaks (the latter trick also works on scuffed laminate floors). For more stubborn marks, apply a little baking soda to a damp cloth and gently rub the scuff until it disappears. Rinse by wiping with a clean section of the damp cloth, and buff dry.

2 Clear the pathway

If there’s a dull path right down the center (a.k.a. the traffic lane) of your floor, you’ve got a buildup of dirt that needs a wet cleaning to remove. Skip the mop and bucket (wood floors should never get too wet) and instead use a product–like those by Bona, Minwax, Armstrong, or Bruce–that’s formulated to safely and easily clean urethane-finished wood. Lightly spritz a 3′ by 3′ area of the floor with the cleaner. With a dampened microfiber cloth or mop, go over the area to pick up the dissolved dirt. Let dry. Repeat until the area is clean (in other words, if you don’t need to mop in some spots, don’t bother), rinsing the cloth or mop often.

3 Shoo away goo

Tacky messes, such as tar and gum, can really get a grip on a wood floor, and the solvents that are safe to use on other flooring types can damage wood’s finish. To safely remove these splotches, place a few ice cubes in a plastic bag and hold this on the clump to harden it. Then, with a credit card or plastic spatula, gently scrape off the brittle pieces. For dried paint splatters, moisten a cloth with a little rubbing alcohol, place this on the stain for a few seconds to loosen it, and use your scraper tool to dislodge the blob. Follow up by rubbing with the baking soda paste from step 1 to remove any remaining bits; rinse and buff dry.

Make It Easier Next Time

* Shed shoes at the door to keep tracked-in dirt and scuffs off floors.

* Ditch the broom and vacuum your floors once a week or so. You may think that sweeping is the way to cut down on grime, but vacuuming is more thorough, not to mention less effort than using a broom and dustpan.

* Consider the all-in-one Bona Hardwood Floor Mop and GHRI-tested Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner to quickly tackle spills when they happen.

Tools You’ll Use

  • Clean sock or tennis bail
  • Baking soda; soft cloths
  • Wood floor cleaner; microfiber cloth or mop
  • Plastic bag; ice; credit card or plastic spatula
  • Rubbing alcohol

Your healthy home

In the same way that eating right, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly helps your body fight off germs and illness, keeping your home clean and disinfected helps you fight illness before it spreads. Good health can begin athome if you follow a few common sense guidelines and understand which germs can cause illness and how to stop their spread.

Cold viruses and certain other illness-causing germs aren’t just found inside the body, they can he found outside the body as well. Studies show germs can actually survive on hard surfaces around the house — like the refrigerator, faucets, doorknobs, telephones and TV remotes — from several hours to several days. Most doctors believe illness can occur when you touch something contaminated then bring your hand to your mouth, nose or eyes.

One of the most effective precautions you can take is to teach family members to wash their hands frequently, especially when they first come home, before meals, or when one of them is sick. You can also promote good eating habits by keeping healthy snacks on hand. Good nutrition is the number one factor in building a strong immune system. And, of course, try to keep household surfaces free of the viruses and bacteria that cause illness.

Remember, wiping surfaces with just soap and water will not kill harmful germs. And most household products are designed to clean but do not necessarily disinfect. In fact, wiping without disinfecting may make matters worse — germs can be spread around and onto other surfaces. To supplement cleaning you need an EPA-registered disinfectant such as LYSOL[R] Disinfectant Spray. It is proven effective against a wide variety of viruses and bacteria, including Rhinovirus, the leading cause of the common cold, and Rotavirus, the leading cause of infectious diarrhea. For proof positive that a product disinfects hard surfaces, check the back label to make sure it has an EPA registration number.

Following, is a room-by-room guide to safe-guarding your family’s health and creating a clean, healthy home. The makers of LYSOL products have a full range of household cleaning products that both clean and kill germs.

Throughout the House

One of the most basic things you can do to keep your home healthy is make sure it’s well-ventilated and frequently aired out. Most germs live longer in warm, stale environments. Once or twice a week — even when it’s cold out — open the windows and let the air circulate. Also, be sure to lower the indoor temperature at night. This promotes a better night’s sleep which will help strengthen and recharge your immune system.

In every room of the house disinfect frequently touched surfaces with LYSOL Disinfectant Spray. These “hot spots” are prime places for germs to spread, particularly if someone is sick.

Don’t forget the bathroom, basement and laundry room. If there’s a sharp, musty smell, it may be due to mold and mildew which may cause allergies or other ailments. Clean and disinfect these rooms regularly using a product that controls mold and mildew, like LYSOL Basin Tub & Tile Cleaner.

Bathroom

Germs love the warm dampness of a bathroom, so clean and disinfect it regularly. Every time you flush the toilet you catapult germs and bacteria onto nearby surfaces. Rhinovirus, the germ, can also be transferred in the bathroom via faucets, toilet handles, doorknobs, etc. And a wet floor is the ideal breeding ground for fungi that can cause athlete’s foot.

Take these precautions:

  • Disinfect bathroom surfaces regularly with specially formulated LYSOL products like LYSOL Basin Tub A Tile Cleaner and LYSOL Toilet Bowl Cleaner. Both provide effective, targeted cleaning while killing a variety of illness-causing bacteria and viruses.
  • Close the toilet lid before you flush.
  • Change toothbrushes every three months.
  • Unfold and dry washcloths. If left damp, they can foster bacteria growth.

Kitchen

It’s the heart of the home, but according to studies, it’s also potentially the most contaminated. The USDA estimates that each year at least half of the up to 80 million cases of food-caused illnesses originate in family kitchens, not in restaurants. Salmonella and E. `, two common food-borne bacteria, can be found in raw meat and poultry. Proper cooking kills the harmful germs, but they can still be spread around the kitchen and to other foods from raw juices that aren’t properly cleaned up.

So, as you prepare foods, be conscious of how germs might be spreading. Keep raw meats and poultry separate from other foods and use separate cutting boards for meat and vegetables. Wash your hands frequently and run all cutting boards, sponges, utensils and plates through the dishwasher where the high temperature will kill germs. To disinfect kitchen surfaces such as faucets, countertops, cabinet handles and appliances use LYSOL Antibacterial Kitchen Cleaner, an EPA-registered disinfectant that cleans and kills bacteria commonly found on kitchen surfaces. Keep in mind that antibacterial dishwashing and hand soaps may kill germs on hands but they do not kill germs on dishes, glasses or other hard surfaces.

The kitchen floor also needs special attention. Use a solution of 1/4 cup LYSOL Deodorizing Cleaner or LYSOL PINE ACTION[R] Cleaner in one gallon of warm water. Both disinfect even when diluted.

Nursery

Babies are dependent on you for their hygiene. And their developing immune systems are particularly susceptible to colds and other illnesses which can spread to other family members. Plus, small children may not show symptoms but may be carriers of viruses that cause certain illnesses such as the Hepatitis A virus. That’s why regular disinfecting is important, even when your baby appears healthy.

In the first two years of life, most children have eight to ten colds, even more if there are older siblings or the child is in daycare. Very young children are also prone to bronchiolitis, a lower respiratory infection, and infectious diarrhea. Studies show the viruses that cause bronchiolitis and diarrhea can survive outside the body anywhere from several hours to a few days, so it’s especially important to clean and disinfect your child’s room and play areas frequently. The tub you wash your child in should be cleaned and disinfected with LYSOL Basin Tub & Tile Cleaner. Also disinfect “hot spots” regularly, such as the changing table, high chair, playpen and toys, with LYSOL Disinfectant Spray.

When They’re Away From Home

With more than 8.3 million children in day care centers, and family and group programs, the likelihood that colds and other infectious diseases will be passed from child to child is even greater.

The good news is a recent day care center study shows LYSOL disinfecting products play an important role in helping to stop the surface-to-human spread of many illness-causing germs. When an infection control program was put in place that included regular disinfection, the number of respiratory illnesses among children was reduced by more than one-third. So, if teachers and parents remember to wash hands regularly and disinfect frequently touched surfaces like toys, tabletops and handrails several times a week, we can help keep infectious illnesses at bay.

By using the full line of LYSOL household products, you’re taking an important step by disinfecting while you’recleaning. It’s an easy way to help create a healthier environment for you and the ones you love.

QUICK TIPS:

* Disinfect the telephone handle regularly with LYSOL Disinfectant Spray.

* Use paper towels instead of sponges or dishcloths. If you do use sponges, run them through the dishwasher along with your dishes. The heat will kill any germs.

* Each time you empty the kitchen garbage, spray the pail with LYSOL Disinfectant Spray to keep it fresh.

* To prevent mold and mildew, shake the shower curtain after use and leave it open, not drawn, so moisture can evaporate. Spray regularly with LYSOL Disinfectant Spray. Once a week, give the rubber shower mat a disinfectant bath. And in the laundry room, keep your washing machine open when not in use.

* When a family members is ill, keep dishes, glasses, utensils and towels separate to prevent the spread of germs.

* Defrost frozen food in the refrigerator, not on the kitchen counter. At room temperature, bacteria multiply quickly. Store leftovers as soon as possible.

* To help prevent cross contamination of food-borne bacteria, keep raw meats and poultry separate from other foods.

* If you have a humidifier, empty the reservoir daily and clean it with LYSOL Deodorizing Cleaner.

Make wood floors shine

Wood surfaces are high style, but they don’t have to be high maintenance. Most of the time, they just need a weekly once-over to lift away dust and dirt. This isn’t a down-on-your-hands-and-knees job; just grab your vacuum. But be careful: If you use an upright, turn off the rotating brushes first–bristles can scratch floors. (If you can’t disable the brushes, break out the broom or Swifter.) Have a canister vac? Put the hard-floor attachment to work.

QUICK TIP Dryer sheets are magnets for dust. Grab a used one to wipe the fuzz-ball-prone corners where floors and walls meet.

To vacuum or sweep less often, cut down the dirt your family tracks in by placing mats outside and inside the front door. Or make yours a socks-only household. One industry report suggests that if shoes stay at the door, you can reduce tracked-in dirt by up to 80 percent. To prevent scratching, put felt glides on furniture legs and keep Sparky’s nails trimmed (so he doesn’t leave a trail of nicks on his “welcome home” race to the door).

Twice a year, if your floor looks dingy, it’s time for a deep clean (think of it as your floor’s version of spa day). If your boards are finished with polyurethane or another type of coating, treat them with a specialty product that doesn’t contain wax, which will make the floors cloudy and slippery. In our test of seven brands, Orange GIo Hardwood FloorCleaner was best at cutting grime. Spray it on a reusable microfiber cloth and work the rag across a small section of the floor (or spare your knees by using a microfiber mop). Dry with a clean cloth, then move on to the next spot. You shouldn’t wet the entire area at once because even a moisture-resistant wood surface can be damaged by standing fluids.

You can also try Method’s Omop wood-cleaning kit, which comes with a long-handled pole, a microfiber cloth, a 14-ounce bottle of cleanser for wet mopping, and three dust pads for sweeping. Bonus: The pole is curved for getting under couches and tables.

If your floors are waxed, apply a solvent-based cleanser like mineral spirits with a microfiber mop. (Wax finish is ultra sensitive to water, so you should never use a water-based cleanser on it.) Dry, wait 30 minutes, then rub on a coat of wax using the same mop with a fresh cloth attached.

QUICK TIP Between waxings, rub dull spots with waxed paper.

How to get rid of …

* Candle wax Cover with a bag of ice; flake off brittle pieces with a putty knife.

* Dried paint Chip away with a putty knife; on a polyurethane floor, loosen the splatter marks with an alcohol-soaked rag.

* Shoe scuffs If you’re wearing socks, rub the streaks with your toe–this move almost always makes the lines disappear. If that doesn’t work, apply finish-friendly cleanser with a soft cloth, then buff.

Source Audio: Dimension Reverb and Hot Hand 3 Wireless Controller

Dimension Reverb 

Source Audio‘s Dimension Reverb ($189 street) stuffs 11 ‘verbs and a d into the small sturdy package as the company’s Soundblox 2 pedal. The preset sounds produced by the Dimension’s 56-bit DSP and 24-bit converters were clear, clean, and very usable out of the box. As a space freak, I love to tweak sounds, so I was pleased with the inclusion of controls for Decay Length, Blend, Pre-Delay, Diffusion, and Bass and Treble. According to reverb pedal reviews, any of these parameters can also be controlled in real time through an expression pedal or the Hot Hand Wireless Effects Controller.

The Dimension Reverb offers two programmable settings. Depending on the gig, I would set one footswitch for a great sounding slap-back delay and the other for a vintage-drenched spring reverb; or one for a bit of ambience, and the other on a fully wet, long decay Arena setting for sound design effects.

Modulation can be added to any reverb, with full rate and depth control. Plugging in the Hot Hand controller let me create flashback-inducing psychedelic effects simply by waving my hand to increase the modulation rate as the reverb decayed. Unfortunately these plush sounds are restricted to mono.

Source Audio teases that full MIDI implementation is around the corner. As someone who believes you can’t have enough avenues to ambience, I hope it’s soon, as that would provide access to many sonic possibilities at the touch of a footswitch. In the meantime, though, with its abundant atmospheres and unique features in a pedalboard-friendly package, the Dimension Reverb might be your best bet for spacing out.

KUDOS 12 tweakable reverb and echo presets cover the gamut from workhorse to wild.

CONCERNS Not stereo.

Hot Hand 3 Universal Wireless Effects Controller

Though Source Audio manufactures a full complement of great-sounding effects, the Hot Hand controller is what sets this company apart. Until now, however, you had to use a Source Audio pedal (or the Hot Hand MIDI-EXPController manipulating a MIDI controllable device) to get this striking stage effect. The new Hot Hand 3 ($150 street) lets you use the Hot Hand ring to control any effect that has an expression pedal input. When using SourceAudio devices, the tiny receiver is powered by the effect; with third party effects you must plug in the supplied power adaptor and use a TRS jack (or, for Line 6 effects, a standard guitar cable).

Dip switches allow you to adjust the receiver to match reverse-polarity expression inputs or Line 6 devices. In a process that’s too involved to fully detail here, controls on the top let you configure the interaction of the ring and receiver. The manual could also explain it better, but Source Audio’s customer support is happy to assist.

I started by plugging the receiver into the expression input of an Electro-Harmonix Ring Thing, where I was quickly able to gesture octave pitch sweeps in either direction, or mind-bending ring modulator frequency sweeps. Using the ring to control the wet/dry mix on a Source Audio Dimension Reverb let me play through a mildly wet reverbsetting, then add a huge decay simply by throwing my hand in the air.

With its X, Y, and Z-axis control, the Hot Hand 3 can be used to manipulate multiple devices with different gestures. More sensitive than an expression pedal, the Hot Hand is also more visually impressive. Just imagine being able to do pitch- or wah-type sounds from anywhere onstage–untethered from a pedal. Want an extra dose of performance pizazz? Absolutely check out the Hot Hand 3.

KUDOS Allows dramatic gesture control of any effect with an expression pedal input.

CONCERNS Manual could be improved.

CONTACT Source Audio, sourceaudio.net

Bench Tests: 5 Distortion Pedals

The evolution of top rated distortion pedals is much like that of the automobile. Both retain their fundamental design elements, and both have been tweaked to the nth degree in the quest for greater performance. Evidence of endless refinements are obvious in the five pedals tested here. These boxes span the colors of the ratty rainbow–fuzz, boost, and good old-fashioned distortion–and each has a unique way of dishing out the dirt.

We tested each pedal using a Fender Strat and a Tele, and a Gibson SG and Flying V. Amps included a Fender Deluxe Reverb, a Vox AC30, a 50-watt Marshall and 4×12 cab, and a Bad Cat Hot Cat combo.

DOD YJM308 Preamp Overdrive

The YJM308 Preamp Overdrive –an updated version of the classic DOD 250 Overdrive favored by Yngwie J. Malmsteen–is a basic distortion box with level and gain controls, and a heavy-duty anodized enclosure that houses a single PC board. The construction and layout are dean, but, as per original spec, there’s no status LED or true bypass.

Tonally, the YJM is a meat-and-potatoes affair. It packs a reasonably gutsy output (though not enough for a walloping clean boost), and the distortion is cranky and unrefined with a penetrating treble slice that sounds particularly cool through a Marshall 4×12. The YJM stings hard through open-back combos and–in spite of being tweaked for extra bass–it’s rather brittle at high-gain settings. Lower gain settings tame the edginess, and also make the pedal more dynamically responsive. Props to the YJM308 for not trying to be a Swiss Army pedal. It’s a stompbox that, for better or worse, says, “Love me for who I am!”

Frantone The Sweet

Entering the scene during the boutique Gold Rush of the ’90s, Frantone carved a niche with hand-made pedals that sported stellar construction. The Sweet, features a cast-aluminum enclosure, a fiberglass circuit board, and chassis-mounted volume, tone, and sustain controls. Other nice touches include true-bypass switching, genuine Bakelite knobs, germanium transistors, and an epoxy enamel finish.

The Sweet is an old-school-style fuzz that isn’t ashamed to hiss, sputter, and squawk. Pumped through a Marshall, it yields smooth, violin-type textures with a touch of roughness. The tone control has enough range to dial in full-on “Spirit in the Sky” rasp, and there’s enough output on tap to bludgeon an amp. You can get very cool tones by using this box as a booster with just a smidgen of fuzz. And with its tried-and-true style of cacophony, The Sweet could jump right in as a replacement for one of your rare vintage fuzzes.

Fulltone Distortion Pro

One of the first builders of boutique stompboxes, Michael Fuller set the standard for high-end pedals. His latest release, the Distortion Pro, is a unique design that features a rugged steel enclosure and a single PC board that bears an ultra-neat circuit. Two mini trim-pots are mounted inside the case for adjusting overall gain structure. What makes the Distortion Pro special, however, is that it packs not only volume and distortion knobs, but also the following exterior trim pots that let you really fine tune your tones:

* Resonance. Adjusts overall bass response.

* Voicing. A tone control that adds touches of distortion.

* Saturation. Alters the dynamic response to simulate the effect of playing through a spongy amp.

* Highs. Adjusts overall treble response.

Even before you start tweaking the trim pots, however, the Distortion Pro sounds killer. The distortion knob delivers dynamic tones that range from Robben Ford-like chirp to heavier grind, and the output control can unleash amp-clobbering levels. With some fine-tuning, however, the Distortion Pro really flexes its muscles. In particular, the Saturation control allowed me to do the previously unthinkable: Run a wide-open distortion pedal into an unforgiving Fender Twin Reverb loaded with JBL speakers. By turning up the Saturation, I was able to morph the fierce attack into a creamy tone reminiscent of a low-wattage combo. Then, by tweaking the Voicing control, I could restore some of the bark and detail that was lost in the process. Amazing!

Unlike most distortion units, the Distortion Pro lets the sound of your guitar and amp really come through. No matter how much gain you use, there’s no loss of tonal character and the sound cleans up startlingly well when you turn down your guitar. The Distortion Pro is an extremely versatile and musical distortion pedal.

Roger Mayer Voodoo-Boost

Having designed his first stompbox in 1964–and later creating the Octavia for Jimi Hendrix–Roger Mayer reigns as the elder statesman of guitar effects. The Voodoo-Boost is a simple pedal with a very welcome feature–dual low-impedance outputs that preserve detail and sparkle when driving other amps and/or effects, as well as safeguard signal strength through long cable runs.

The Voodoo-Boost sports super-clean construction, a steel enclosure that houses a single PC board, and three controls (output, fatness, and gain). Although the output is sufficient to kick an amp’s front end into grind territory, I could have used more of a volume boost when playing a Strat or Tele. The fatness control is nicely voiced, adding punch and portliness to open-back combos, but it can’t compensate for the sizzle that occurs when you run the pedal at high-gain settings. The best tones were elicited by combining low-gain settings with lots of output–a strategy that allows the character of your amp and guitar to shine through, as well as maintain clarity and string-to-string detail.

Menatone Top Boost in a Can

The Top Boost in a Can aims to deliver the overdrive characteristics of the venerable Vox AC30–a tall order for a stompbox, as the complex overtones of this classic amp are some of the hardest to imitate. The TBIC’s AC30-style controls are mounted to the aluminum chassis, and a single perforated board grips all of the circuit components. You get volume, gain, treble, bass knobs, and cut control that adds top-end when turned counter-clockwise. A killer feature for slicing through a band.

The TBIC produces more gain than you can shake a stick at, but it tends to sound splattery and unfocused at higher settings. There’s also an abundance of output, although audible hiss makes the TBIC less suitable as a clean boost–even at low gain settings. Where the TBIC thrives, however, is in front of a dark sounding, already clipping amplifier. Through a non-master Marshall, the TBIC’s powerful EQ let me coax a “second” channel out of the amp. I dialed up a thick, beefy tone on the Marshall, then used the TBIC to deliver a slicing, medium-grind tone. When I turned down my guitar’s volume–voila!–a Vox-like clean tone with chime, clarity, and dynamic punch appeared. The TBIC isn’t the easiest pedal to dial-in, but it’s capable of giving a one-sound amp a real personality overhaul.