QOur toilet bowls have rust stains. I have tried many cleaning products and scouring, but with little success. What do you recommend for keeping toilets clean?

AStains on porcelain bathroom fixtures are often caused by minerals in the local water supply. These minerals can make it a challenge to maintain a clean-looking toilet bowl. Because mineral content varies geographically, there is no single cleaning solution that will work in all cases. However, I can recommend a few cleaning methods that might do the trick.

Water stains can be treated with household bleach. Soak paper towels in bleach and "plaster" them over the stains on the sides of the bowl. Let this soak at least one hour. You'll be amazed at how white and clean this will make a porcelain toilet bowl or sink. If stains are below the water level in the bowl, remove the water by turning off the water supply and flushing the toilet. Sponge the toilet bowl dry before applying bleach-soaked paper towels.

Brownish scale and rust often require a stronger cleaner, such as a solution of oxalic acid or an even-stronger solution of hydrochloric acid. To be safe, mix acid solutions in equal parts, 50 percent acid and 50 percent water. Pour the acid slowly into the water while mixing. Never pour water into acid. Avoid splashing.

Whenever handling acid, it is best to wear protective clothing, rubber gloves and eye protection. Let the acid wash soak for several minutes before scrubbing with a stiff-bristle brush. Turn on the water and flush the toilet.

Another method to remove stubborn stains from porcelain is to use fine-grained pumice stones like the ones used on feet to remove calluses. When applied with a lot of elbow grease, you can scrub away hard-water stains and scale to make toilet bowls, bathtubs and sinks sparkle like new. This is an excellent method for porcelain that is in good condition, though it won't work on old and pitted porcelain.

There are some excellent commercial products marketed for cleaning stained toilet bowls. Look for one that is more than a general toilet bowl cleaner, one made to remove brownish scale and rust.

One such product is Whink Rust and Iron Stain Remover. Whink also markets a preventive product, RustGuard, an in-tank toilet bowl cleaner that prevents rust and scale. Whink RustGuard works by neutralizing rust in the water of the tank so rusty water is not flushed into the bowl.

Each time-released RustGuard tablet works for two weeks. Whink also protects against hard-water stains. These products are available in supermarkets, home centers and hardware stores. Or you can call Whink Products Co. at 800-247-5102 to find a local supplier.

I have a buildup of hair spray residue on my bathroom mirrors and counter tops. I have tried window and glass cleaners, but this residue remains. Do you have any suggestions?

Rubbing alcohol removes hair spray residue. You can also use ammonia on a clean rag to remove hair spray from mirrors, counter tops, painted areas and even wallpaper.

My problem concerns wallpaper removal. I was delighted that the wallpaper put up by the previous owners of my home peeled right off. My problem is removing the adhesive residue so I can paint the wall. Do you have any suggestions?

After the wallpaper has been removed, the glue residue usually can be removed by scrubbing with a sponge or nylon scrub pad dipped in a wallpaper-removal solution. There are many commercial products on the market, such as DIF Wallpaper Stripper, gel or liquid, made by William Zinsser & Co. Inc.; FAST Wallpaper Remover made by Savogran Co.; and Strip-A-Wall by Insl-Products.

However, wallcoverings attached with contact cement or other pressure-sensitive adhesives might require special solvents for removal, although I doubt that this is true in your case because you stripped the paper from the wall so easily. If you were not so fortunate, it would be necessary to take a sample of the adhesive residue to a paint supplier for analysis of the type of chemical required to dissolve the adhesive sufficiently for removal.

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