Purple PVC Primer Eater

A couple of weeks ago, we began major house-cleaning in preparation for selling our house. We made M’s siblings come over and do manual labor in exchange for pizza. I pulled an all-nighter to paint the office, only to have to hire a guy to come in and clean up the trim. I spent a day in the rain manually clipping weeds and grass from underneath my fence slats (don’t ever get a shadow-boxed fence if you want to keep it looking tidy without a lot of effort) and scrubbing vinyl siding slats one by one, and I pulled the master toilet up out of the floor to fix some wobbliness (broken flange) only to have to pay a plumber to actually fix the thing because the flange was cemented into the pipe. See to the left the picture I like to call “Stopper or Fuse?” that depicts my having shoved an old tee-shirt into the gaping hole of sewage to prevent us from dying overnight from raw sewage fumes (honestly, we never smelled a thing, and I even out of curiosity got my nose right down in the pipe and took a deep whiff, proving that, as we’ve been saying for years, our shit doesn’t stink).

So, the plumber came, puttered around and killed a bunch of time (luckily, he charged me by the job and not the hour), and eventually fixed my toilet with the help of a big power saw and some shims. He even caulked the toilet for me using some caulk I had on hand, saving me the effort. I was satisfied with the work, if not terribly happy that it cost me $300 (though the guy cut me a break by not charging me for parts, even though he wound up buying a new flange when the one I had gotten wasn’t one he was familiar with). Now flash back for a second to all the hubbub of siblings scrubbing and polishing the house, furniture and appliances and toilets strung out all over the place, a very rainy day (the rainiest I’ve seen since moving to Knoxville), and fatigue on my part. I failed to notice that the plumber had spilled some purple stuff on the floor behind the toilet and in the middle of the kitchen floor. When I did notice it a day or two later, I figured it was the sort of thing that’d come up and didn’t attend to it immediately. And when I did try to clean it up, it wouldn’t budge.

I called the plumber’s office, which informed me that it was PVC primer, which doesn’t come up (why in holy heck do they make it purple, then? the plumber’s office told me that there’s also a clear variety!). They’ve said they’ll fix me up, they’re supposed to have an area manager (it’s a big service company and not a three-guy shop or anything) come out this week, and have generally been pretty responsive. But I’ve been dreading having to get a new floor, even at somebody else’s expense, while trying to sell my house. My dad was in this weekend, and he cleans stuff for a living, so he knows lots of tricks, and even his fancy gadgets and chemicals wouldn’t get the stuff up.

But today, the day of an open house during which we sure hoped to provoke an offer on our house, I tried one last thing to clean the junk up. And I triumphed (partially). The trick was using SoftScrub with a Ceramabryte scrubbing pad and plenty of elbow grease. I’ve briefly and visually documented the cleaning experience here (uh, it’s not riveting or anything). This worked in the kitchen but not in the bathroom. The floors in the two rooms are different, and my guess is that the finish on the bathroom floor is either sturdier to begin with or just less worn-down, the area behind the toilet not being a terribly high-traffic area and the affected spot in the kitchen one of the highest-trafficked spots in the house. Before you try anything like this yourself, beware that it actually seems to remove the finish from the floor. So instead of purple spots, I’ve got slightly duller spots on my kitchen floor. They’re hard to notice unless you know what you’re looking for, and I imagine there’s a wax or substance of some sort that folk less savage than I am treat their vinyl floors with routinely anyway, and that’d probably take care of it.

Anyway, I can’t say enough about how pleased I am with SoftScrub and Ceramabryte, which have saved me a lot of hassle and possibly a bit of money.

These are second perhaps only to the Mr. Clean magic eraser, the existence and magnifigence of which makes me wish that I were some sort of celebrity so that I could do a gratis endorsement because this invention has saved me at least a grand in painting and generally just leaves me in awe.

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