Cleaning Tips & Tricks

Best Resources and Tips for Being Green – Maid to Order FL

Best Tips for a Greener You!

  • Use “Over the Counter” ready to use eco-friendly cleaners – such as, Bon Ami, Bar keeper’s friend, Murphy’s Oil soap or Mrs. Stewards Liquid Bluing
  • Utilize your bike – Riding a bike vs. driving is more than just better for your health; the transportation industry is the second largest contributor to greenhouse gas production.
  • Grab a mug, cup or bottle and take it out with you – Rather than buying a coffee with a cup, bring a mug. It saves a “one time use” cup from being thrown out.
  • Use reusable bags – FYI California alone distributes over 180 million plastic grocery bags annually.
  • Look towards buying less packaging – Most foods come in a box, in plastic, then in a wrapper, and so on. Look for foods without all the packaging that normally gets tossed away
  • Buy in bulk – Buying in bulk obviously means more food and less packaging. This also tends to save you quite a bit on your grocery bill.
  • Donate all your old clothes – think about how much space all of you old clothes would take up in landfills, not to mention how long it would take for most of it to decompose. By donating your old clothes, you not only are you reducing your waste and impact on the earth, but you are also helping out someone in need.
  • Read labels – Look for clothes made out of organic materials. Organic fibers break down and decompose easier than other fibers that most clothes are typically made out of. Look for clothes that are local, buying locally reduces how much energy it takes to transport the clothes from where they are produced.
  • Dress up or down for the season – If its winter and your house is cold dress warmer so you can keep the thermostat down. By not raising the thermostat you are using a lot less heat.
  • Reduce laundry – Only do laundry when you have to and be sure that you wait until you have a full load of clothes. Rather than wasting a whole load of water and electricity on a few pieces of clothes, try and save by waiting until you have more washing to do. Also re-wear (some of) your clothes, wearing a t-shirt out and back doesn’t mean it’s dirty. Try to wear your clothes a few times before you throw them in the laundry if they aren’t really in need of a wash.
  • Wash your clothes with cold water – It takes a lot of energy to heat water for the washing machine. Try and conserve a little by using the cold water setting on your washer.
  • Grow a garden – How much more local can you get than your own yard? You can’t imagine the pleasure you get from putting work into your own food, gardens are a perfect for living sustainably.
  • Fix all your leaks – A faucet leaking a slow steady drip – 100 drops per minute – wastes 350 gallons per month. A faucet leaking a small stream wastes 2,000 to 2,700 gallons of water per month

Tips at home and work:

  • Print less – use your laptop instead of printing off unnecessary paper. if you have to print ,print papers double-sided. Also do revisions on your computer if you can rather than printing it out on paper.
  • Turn off your computer – Just because you aren’t using your computer doesn’t mean it isn’t using energy. Don’t stop at the computer either. There are probably a few more appliances around that are quietly sucking up energy, for instance cell phone chargers require quite a bit of energy. If you aren’t using it just unplug it or turn it off.
  • Use energy efficient light bulbs – CFL’s (compact fluorescent light bulbs) use 75% less energy than standard incandescent light bulbs. They save you around $30 dollars in electricity over their life time and pay for themselves in just 6 months of using them. Imagine your savings if you replaced all of your bulbs with CFLs. Make it happen check out: EnergyStar
  • Already have CFL’s? Try using natural day light more. Open your blinds and windows. Daylight is a great way to reduce your energy bill, and it’s also a great way to get the vitamin D that you’re supposed to be taking in each day.

Tips for your bathroom:

  • FYI: The bathroom is one place you can dramatically reduce your impact on the earth.
  • Turn off the water when you are brushing your teeth -It is recommended that you brush your teeth for at least two minutes. By doing this, each day you could save up to 14 gallons of water which adds up.
  • Turn off the water when soaping up your hands -Rather than running the water while you get your hands ready turn it on when you need to rinse them off.
  • Avoid Paper Towels -If possible try and use a hand towel or electronic hand dryers rather than paper towels that are produced by cutting down trees. If paper towels are the only option try using less.
  • Take shorter showers -An average shower wastes 5-10 gallons of water every minute, Rather than spending half of your morning in the shower see how short you can make them. Try making it a game. If you took a 7 minute shower Monday, look for ways to cut it down to 6 on Tuesday. A good goal for length of a shower is around 4 minutes. I know that seems fast, but I bet you could do it. For an added incentive, think how much extra time you could be sleeping rather than wasting water in the shower.
  • Already take a short shower? -It takes very little water to put shampoo in your hair or scrub yourself with soap. Try turning off the water in between lathering up, also Low flow shower heads still produce water power like a normal shower head, but can save up to 9,500 gallons of water a year!
  • Look Out AND Avoid Damaging Products – Some companies do not have policies on using recycled materials or packaging.

Green Resources for More Information:

“Take-You-By-The-Hand” manual for creating and managing your own organic food garden Organic Food Gardening Beginners manual

Resources for climate change, global warming, and endangered species Environmental Education

A consumer guide to the green revolution The Daily Green

Make Every day Earth Day; How to Reduce, Recycle & Reuse Earth 911

Carbon Footprint Calculator we challenge you to measure your footprint Carbon Footprint Calculator

The latest global warming news, solutions for the environment and expert advice on climate change at Yahoo! Green. Yahoo! Green

Tree-Hugger is a media outlet dedicated to driving sustainability mainstream; it strives to be a one-stop shop for green news, solutions, and product information. TreeHugger.com

A directory of news and blogs from all over the place, focusing on the environment and green tech Green News around the Web

New Year’s Tip – Get organized!

Organizational Facts to Consider

  • For every minute you spend organizing, you gain 5 minutes later on.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports that the average worker wastes six weeks per year searching for missing information in messy desks or files.
  • Children with organized parents tend to perform a lot better not only in school but in life.
  • Research shows 80% of the paper we keep we never use. The more we keep, the less we use.
  • Most wasted time results from becoming sidetracked.
  • Cleaning is easier if you organize a detailed cleaning plan and use effective techniques. Assigning household chores to family members helps get the work done faster and teaches responsibility.
  • Involve your family members. Don’t delay it . . . get started somehow little by little.
  • Make a convenient place for everything that you don’t need immediately accessible.
  • Utilize a junk drawer for miscellaneous items.
  • Do the hardest chores first.
  • Play upbeat music while you clean.
  • Don’t be distracted by the phone. Clean while talking – use the cordless.
  • Clean everything from top to bottom.
  • Clean one room at a time.
  • Clean as you go – wipe out sinks last; and squeegee shower stalls after each use.
  • Do the same for each room in same order – windows, dusting, floors.
  • Eliminate running back and forth by putting the cleaning supplies in a bucket or carry all.
  • Work on a particular area at a time.
  • Create convenient areas to store kitchen equipment (i.e. pie plates, cake pans, etc.).
  • Serve dinner buffet style to eliminate cleaning serving dishes.
  • Use paper plates more often.
  • Use odd moments to do odd jobs.
  • Put things in order before going to bed. Less clutter gives you more time, money and energy

A Few “Common Knowledge” Cleaning Tips

  • You can get dishes spot-free in your automatic dishwasher without using chemical rinsing agents. • 1 to 1 ½ cups white vinegar Add the vinegar to the rinse compartment of your automatic dishwasher, being careful not to overfull.
  • Whiter Sinks – To get it to sparkle, place paper towels across the bottom of the sink and saturate it with bleach or hydrogen peroxide. Let it stand for 1/2 hour then rinse.
  • A Naturally Clean Oven: Use a mixture of Sea Salt and Baking Soda to get a true Natural Clean inside your oven
  • Burnt Food in Pots and Pans – Sprinkle pans with baking soda, adding just enough water to moisten and make a paste. Let stand for several hours.
  • Garbage Disposal Cleaning – You don’t want to overlook your garbage disposal. Especially if food is scraped regularly into the disposal when washing the dishes. To clean grease and leftover food from your disposal and sharpen the blades at the same time, sprinkle liberally with baking soda and pour white vinegar over until it bubbles. Let set for about ten minutes. Rinse with really hot water. Put a few ice cubes in the disposal and grind. Rinse again with hot water. Voila!
  • Kitchen cleaning also means having to remove unpleasant odors in your home, try: Simmering a pot full of stick cinnamon, orange peel, whole cloves and water on your stove.
  • Place small bowls of vinegar around the room (if you don’t have animals), Vinegar absorbs lingering odors.
  • Be sure to remove even the Lightest Water spots from glass immediately – Water spots are very tricky and stubborn. Once water spots are allowed to set on any surface the sediment literally etches into the surface
  • Before hanging shower curtains soak them in salt water solutions to prevent mildew.
  • Make your very own polish cloths: You can make your own polish cloths to dust furniture. Use some furniture polish (or your favorite oil) and pour a little into a jar or Tupperware and shake it up until thoroughly coated. Pour the remainder of the polish back into the original container. Keep the polish soaked cloths in the jar and cover tightly, and Keep oil soaked cloth in a jar but left open. Leave overnight and before using be sure the cloths have absorbed all the polish. Be sure to Store the cloths in the original jar.
  • Simple Silver Polish – Clean your silver with good old toothpaste!
  • All-Purpose Cleansing Paste:
  • This paste is effective for most household cleaning duties and contains no harsh abrasives to harm surfaces
    ½ cup pure soap flakes
    1 cup chalk or diatomaceous earth
    ½ cup baking soda ,
    3 tablespoons glycerin

    1. In a small bowl, crush up the soap flakes into a powder with the back of a spoon.
    2. Thoroughly mix in the chalk or diatomaceous earth and the baking soda.
    3. Stir in enough of the glycerin to form a thick paste.
    4. Spoon the mixture into a wide mouthed screw-top jar or other container.
    5. Keep the paste covered when not in use, to prevent it from drying out.
  • Nontoxic Toilet Bowl Cleaner
  • For no-scrub convenience, simply pour in and leave overnight. • 1 cup borax • ½ cup white vinegar

    1. Flush the toilet to wet the sides of the bowl.
    2. Sprinkle the borax around the toilet bowl, then drizzle with the vinegar. Leave for several hours before scrubbing with a toilet brush.
  • Keep you toilet bowl ring free:
  • Use a half-gallon of white vinegar and pour it in once monthly, be sure to let it soak overnight in the bowl before flushing.

  • Do you have odors on the floor from around the toilet even after a very thorough cleaning?
  • Check your toilets seal – then use an enzyme cleaner, also cover the area with baking soda and let the baking soda sit overnight to absorb any remaining moisture. In the Morning, vacuum or sweep up the baking soda. (If it is a Broken seals should be replaced immediately)

  • An old upholstery cleaner remedy:
  • Use this shampoo on a regular basis to freshen up furniture fabric
    Combine 6 tablespoons of pure soap flakes, 2 tablespoons borax and 1 pint boiling water

    1. In a large bowl, mix the soap flakes and borax together. Slowly add the boiling water, stir well, to thoroughly dissolve all of the dry ingredients.
    2. Let mixture cool, and then whip into a foamy consistency.
    3. Brush suds onto the furniture, concentrating on the soiled areas. Quickly wipe clean with a damp sponge.
    4. Use a “shop vac” style vacuum to remove excess moisture.
  • Cleaning Exterior Windows:
  • If necessary, dust off the window and sill with a clean brush. Excess dirt and water causes mud.
    Use a squeegee available at any supply store. Forget the cheap brands you find at the grocery store. They are not effective.
    Don’t clean windows while they are in direct sunlight. Your cleaning solution will dry almost immediately.
    Dip a 100% cotton cleaning cloth in your solution. Wring out the excess and then wipe the window to loosen dirt.
    Grab your squeegee. Start each squeegee stroke in a dry spot. Wipe the squeegee strip with a cleaning cloth to get started.
    Squeegee in a pattern from top to bottom, or side to side. Keep the squeegee blade dry by wiping it with a cleaning cloth after each stroke.
    Don’t have a squeegee? Use newspaper for drying freshly washed windows. It’s cheaper and leaves no lint behind.

  • Do’s and Don’ts For your Hardwood Floors:
  • Do your research and use cleaners that won’t leave a film or residue
    Do use a professional hardwood floor cleaner to remove occasional scuffs and heel marks (just spray some cleaner on a cloth and rub the stained area lightly)
    Do clean sticky spots with a damp towel or sponge
    Do minimize water exposure and clean spills immediately

  • Don’t wax a wood floor with a urethane finish
  • Don’t use ammonia cleaners or oil soaps on a wood floor — they’ll dull the finish and make it slippery and ability to recoat later.

  • Don’t wet mop or use excessive water to clean your floor (wood naturally expands when it’s wet and can cause your floor to crack or splinter).

Help Yourself and the Earth:

Are you one of the millions of consumers who tend to think anything and everything that is sold must be safe? Since the 1950s more than 80,000 synthetic chemicals have been invented. The sad part is that hardly any of these substances have been tested for safety, but have been added to our food, water and cleaning products without our consent and most often without informing us of any dangers. According to the NRC (National Research Council) the state, “no toxic information is available for more than 80% of the chemicals in every day-use products” What can you do to protect you and your loved ones?

  • Educate yourself, and find safer alternatives in every aspect of your life.
  • Minimize use of harsh chemicals. Clean Often and immediately, remove food waste promptly, keep home moisture/humidity down to 30-50%, and use entry way mats at all entrance’s.
  • Store all cleaners in their original containers and most importantly out of the reach of children. Follow all of the directions on the label and use only the amount of product recommended.
  • Read labels, follow safety precautions and contact the right people if you have questions.

Avoid Some of These Commonly Overlooked Hazards:

Here is a list of some of the most hazardous cleansers found around the house:

  1. Unnatural Air Fresheners can interfere with your ability to smell by releasing nerve-deadening agents or coating nasal passages with an oil film that accumulates in fat cells. Known toxic chemicals found in an air freshener can include formaldehyde
  2. Toilet Bowl Cleaners can contain hydrochloric acid and hypochlorite bleach, a corrosive irritant that can burn eyes, skin and respiratory tract.
  3. Furniture Polish contains petroleum distillates, which are highly flammable and can cause skin and lung cancer.
  4. Ammonia is a very volatile chemical and is very damaging to your eyes, skin and respiratory tract.
  5. Dishwasher Detergents contain chlorine in a dry form that is highly concentrated. A huge cause of household poisoning is dish detergent. Dishwashing liquids are labeled “harmful if swallowed.” Each time you wash your dishes, some residue is left on them, which accumulates with each washing.
  6. Laundry Detergents contain enzymes, ammonia, naphthalene, phenol and countless other chemicals. These substances can cause rashes, itches, allergies, sinus problems and more. Residue left on your clothes, bed sheets, etc. is absorbed through your skin.
  7. Oven Cleaner is one of the most toxic products people use. They contain lye and ammonia, which eat the skin, and not to mention the fumes linger and affect the respiratory system. Use sea salt and baking soda instead.
  8. Bleach is a strong corrosive. It will irritate or burn the skin, eyes and respiratory tract. It may cause edema or vomiting and coma if ingested. CAUTION: Never mix bleach with acid toilet bowl cleaners or ammonia. These mixtures may produce fumes which can be DEADLY.
  9. Carpet Shampoo is designed to overpower the stain itself; they accomplish the task but not without using highly toxic substances.
  10. Chlorine was the first agent of chemical warfare. Chlorine is also considered by some to be a number one cause of breast cancer and can be lethal. Scientists won`t handle chlorine without protective gloves, facemasks, and ventilation, yet it is in most store-brand cleaners, including dishwasher detergents.
  • Some products around your home may be volatile if mixed, beware that these should never be combined:
  • These facts will quickly describe some overlooked hazards of mixing products and a few of the possible health effects.
    Mixing common household cleaning products can be serious, Be sure to read the product labels before using any products.
    Don’t mix different cleaners together such as Lye, Rust removers or oven cleaners. They may react violently, produce toxins, or become ineffective. Bleach and Ammonia Is Toxic, and potentially lethal vapors can be produced.
    When bleach is mixed with ammonia, toxic gases called chloramines are produced. Exposure to chloramine gases can cause:

    • Shortness of breath • Coughing • Chest pain • Nausea • Watery eyes • Irritation to the throat, nose and eyes • Pneumonia and fluid in the lungs

  • Bleach and Acid Toilet Bowl Cleaner
  • This mixture is toxic, and can produce potentially deadly fumes. Bleach and Vinegar -Vinegar is an acid. Toxic chlorine vapor can be produced. Chlorine bleach can sometimes called hypochlorite or sodium hypochlorite. You can encounter it in bleach, dishwashing detergents, disinfectants and cleaners, scouring powder, mildew removers, and toilet bowl cleaners.

  • Where can Ammonia and Acids found in my home?
  • Ammonia can be found in the following:
    • Glass and window cleaners • Urine • Some interior and exterior paints.

  • Products that can contain acids may include:
  • • Vinegar
    • Glass and window cleaners
    • Auto dishwasher detergents and rinses
    • Toilet bowl cleaners
    • Drain cleaners
    • Lime, calcium and rust removal Products
    • Brick and concrete cleaners

  • Do not use two drain cleaners together or one right after the other.
  • Pool chemicals frequently contain calcium or sodium hypochlorite, and should not be mixed with any household cleaners.

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