Scrubber Smarts

Nylon pads used in cleaning tasks are sold as stand-alone products and attached to other cleaning tools, such as sponges and long handles for cleaning floors. Manufacturers use a color code to indicate the abrasive cleaning power of particular pads. In general, the darker the color, the more aggressive the pad.

Use the lightest pad needed to perform the cleaning task at hand “whenever possible to avoid the risk of abrading a surface,” advise the editors of Consumer Reports in How to Clean and Care for Practically Anything.

Following is a brief guide to the most common pad colors and their uses:

White: The gentlest pad is suitable for nearly all household surfaces. White scrubbing pads are safe for “dishes, windows, floors, showers and tubs, sinks and faucets, appliances, countertops, walls and woodwork,” says Don Aslett, author of The Cleaning Encyclopedia: Your A to Z Illustrated Guide to CLeaning Like the Pros.

Blue: An all-purpose pad that helps cut through dirt and grime on floors.

Green: These pads can scratch many surfaces quickly. “Only use green pads to remove black marks on waxed floors, and use them gently,” Aslett advises his cleaning crews. “It doesn’t take much to cut through the wax and start digging into the floor itself.”

Brown, Gray, Black: A brown pad may be used to strip old finish off floors, but just about every other use for these coarse pads is located in basements, garages or outdoors, such as concrete surfaces and barbecue grills.

© 2006

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