Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Let Us Spray

Photo courtesy Flickr

Adapting shower technology to an 1890 claw foot tub has been a long journey of improvisation. A local outfit bent ceiling-mounted hospital curtain track into an elegant oval, and over the decades I’ve experimented with custom-size curtains that screen the window as well as blocking water spray.

The latest set are very cheap polyester sheets, awful as sheets but just right for the soggy application over the tub. The bottom hem accumulates a slowly rising stain, and trimming the folded fabric to a raw, self-fringing edge delays the need to demount the curtains and give them a good wash.

I’ve been fiddling with spraying the lower part of the curtains with neutral pH janitorial cleaner or grocery store window spray to delay machine washing, and there’s been an unanticipated benefit. The curtains are fouling a little more slowly, and the tub is brilliantly clean.

A hundred twenty-three years of service and best-guess maintenance have left the tub and its thick white coat of leaded glaze in decent shape. Twentieth century abrasive cleaners scoured the bottom into a field of shallow pits, though, and keeping them looking respectable has been a challenge. The porous surface is a naturally non-skid safety asset, and for that reason I have been reluctant to have the tub resurfaced.

Previous cleaning efforts involved filling the tub with hot water and detergent and letting it soak until the water was cool. That worked well, especially with a little bleach added to the mix and vigorous brushing with the ferocious nylon cleaning attachment for the vacuum. Now I find that the daily spritz of the curtains drives grunge off the bottom of the tub, and it’s never looked better.

Warm-up water for the shower rinses slippery residue away before the next use.


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