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Household Hints and Tips — Did You Know?

Grocery Shopping: When you go to buy bread in the grocery store, have you ever wondered which is the freshest, so you “squeeze” for freshness or softness? Did you know that bread is delivered fresh to the stores five days a week? Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Each day has a different color twist tie. They are: Monday = Blue, Tuesday = Green, Thursday = Red, Friday = White and Saturday = Yellow. So if today was Thursday, you would want a red twist tie; not white which is Fridays… almost a week old! The colors go alphabetically by color Blue – Green – Red – White – Yellow. Monday through Saturday. Very easy to remember. I thought this was interesting. I looked in the grocery store and the bread wrappers DO have different twist ties, and even the ones with the plastic clips have different colors. You learn something new everyday! Enjoy fresh bread when you buy bread with the right color on the day you are shopping.

Clothing: Blood stains on clothes? Not to worry! Just pour a little peroxide on a cloth and proceed to wipe off every drop of blood. Works every time!

Stains: Permanent marker on appliances/counter tops (like store receipt ink) use rubbing alcohol on a white paper towel.

Window Cleaning: Use vertical strokes when washing windows outside and horizontal for inside windows. This way you can tell which side has the streaks. Straight vinegar will get outside windows really clean. Don’t wash windows on a sunny day. They will dry too quickly and will probably streak.

Toilet Cleaning: Now look what you can do with Alka Seltzer. Clean a toilet. Drop in two Alka Seltzer tablets wait twenty minutes, brush and flush. The citric acid and effervescent action clean vitreous China.

More Alka Seltzer tips: * Clean a vase. To remove a stain from the bottom of a glass vase or cruet, fill with water and drop in two Alka Seltzer tablets. * Clean a thermos bottle. Fill the bottle with water, drop in four Alka Seltzer tablets, and let soak for an hour (or longer, if necessary). * Unclog a drain. Clear the sink drain by dropping three Alka Seltzer tablets down the drain followed by a cup of Heinz White Vinegar. Wait a few minutes, then run the hot water.

Carpets: Fleas in your carpet? 20 Mule Team Borax- sprinkle and let stand for 24 hours.

Cleaning Small Kitchen Appliances

The ARCSI Tech Corner: Green Cleaners

Q: I hear multiple terms used to describe ‘green’ cleaning agents. So I have to wonder, is organic better than natural? How about sustainable? I’m confused.

A: You have every right to be confused. Marketers use words that sound warm and fuzzy but often have no real meaning. Let’s take a look at just a few of the terms in use.

GREEN: Ideally, ‘green’ means that a product has less negative impact on the environment or on people’s health or hopefully both, than similar, traditional products in the marketplace. Some products are self-certified, i.e. a manufacturer says this product is greener than their regular line. Others are certified by a third party. The three most recognized third party certifiers are Green Seal, EPA’s Design for the Environment (DFE) and Canada’s EcoLogo. Each has slightly different criteria for certification.

NATURAL: This normally means that the chemicals used to make this product exist in nature in the form used. It can also refer to natural substances that are altered through what are considered natural processes. An example would be apple juice fermented into vinegar. It is very important not to confuse natural with safe. Remember that curare is a natural toxin used by certain indigenous peoples to create poison-tip arrows, giving the hunter using that substance a surer kill. Natural can be quite unsafe.

ORGANIC: The term organic has taken on a connotation of ‘healthful’ from the food industry. However, it has a different meaning in chemistry. Organic chemicals are simply chemicals containing carbon. These chemicals often originated in life forms but may have changed significantly since. Thus vinegar is an organic chemical, or more accurately, a combination of organic chemicals, but so is oil, gasoline, etc. To say our cleaning agents use organic ingredients sourced from nature may sound good, but is not particularly meaningful.

SUSTAINABLE: At its most basic, ‘sustainable’ means that the cleaning agents are from renewable sources such as plants that can be grown, harvested and re-grown. The term ‘sustainable’ is evolving in some cases to reflect more extensive environmental and social issues.

So if you’re confused, join the club. It truly can be a jungle out there. It’s up to you to check out the claims, sort through the verbiage and find the best resources for your operation.

Here’s to your success and prosperity!

Bruce Vance is a 20-year veteran of the industry and holds the IICRC Master Textile Cleaner certification. He also holds industry certifications in Stone and Tile care, Hard Floor care, and Applied Microbial Remediation. He is the current chairperson of a national cleaning industry’s Technical Advisory Committee. The opinions expressed above are those of Mr. Vance and not those of ARCSI.

Quick and Easy Decorating Ideas for Home Staging

We all wish we could give our homes an overhaul and completely stage our homes when selling, but most of us either can’t afford it or don’t want to deal with the hassles. Fortunately, there are small changes we can all do that make a big difference. Best of all, these decorating ideas for home staging can be done for very little money.

Hardware

Hardware is like jewelry. Whether it’s on cabinets, furniture or large doors, hardware can have a big impact. Changing an outdated knob to something more decorative can instantly change the look of the room. While you’re at it, install new light switch plates for a similar effect.

Lampshades

People tend to give a lot of thought to the lamps they put in their rooms, but not to the shades. Just because a particular shades comes with a lamp it doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the best one. To give your room a quick update, change the shape or color of your lampshades.

Paint

Nothing says “easy update” like paint. Paint an entire room, an accent wall, kitchen and bathroom cabinets or a piece of furniture. Paint has the power to instantly transform items. Best of all, it’s inexpensive and easy to do. Using white-painted furniture is a tried and true tactic for freshening a room, but don’t forget its opposite. A coat of satiny black paint can revive tired furnishings and lend a chic, dramatic flair to just about any space. Painting an old piece black immediately updates it.

Reupholster

Reupholstering a sofa or large chair can be costly, but recovering chair seats can be done on a budget. Try recovering your dining room chair seats. A bold pattern or color can make a great focal point. You can also purchase affordable slipcovers for the sofa and loveseat at surefit.com.

New Bedding in the Master Bedroom

If you feel like you’re not a designer and you’re not good at pulling together a room, just go to a great bedding store, buy bedding and from the bedding, pull out a paint color and get matching window treatments. It will instantly look like a high-end hotel suite, and it’s a no brainer.

Window Treatments

Lighten up heavy, dated curtains with simple curtain panels that reach the floor and new, sleek curtain rods. Choose curtain rods no bigger than one inch in diameter. The goal is to showcase the curtains, not the rod. The Allen + Roth Sienna rod ($45 at Lowe’s) has the right dimensions, an antiqued finish and cute brackets. If windows are narrow, extend curtain rods a foot or so on each side to suggest width. If your ceilings are low, hang rods at the ceiling line and consider window treatments with vertical stripes to create the illusion of height. Add texture to the space by adding woven wood blinds. Target carries faux wood blinds for under $30 and you can install them yourself (yes you can!). Big bang for your buck. What do you do when the windows look bare but you can’t stand blocking out that gorgeous light? Beautiful sheers do the trick every time. Sheer genius.

Rearrange Furniture

The easiest and cheapest way to update a room — any room — is to rearrange the furniture. Sometimes it’s all you need to give your space a completely updated look that buyers will love. When it comes to easy decorating ideas for home staging it can’t be beat. It’s easy, fun and completely free.

DIY home staging can be fun and rewarding, especially when you get your house sold faster than your competition, but be sure to consult with a professional home stager if you are not absolutely sure that your home looks ready to sell.

Feng Shui Staging Tips
Make Your Front Door Welcoming

Energy enters your home at the front door, so invite it in! Make your door stand out by painting it a color that contrasts with your home, adding a new welcome mat and flanking the door with yellow flowers. Choose plants with rounded leaves as sharp leaves can appear aggressive to buyers.

Create a “Room of First Impression”

Buyers generally decide whether they will buy a home in the first 15 seconds they spend there, so you want them to see the best room first. Create a clear path to this room with a runner rug or with eye-catching art and accessories.

Don’t Let Energy Go Down the Drain

If the first thing buyers see when they enter your home is a bathroom, keep the bathroom door closed. Toilets and drains take energy from a room, so keep the toilet lid down and cover drains while not in use.

Rearrange Furniture to Improve Chi

A furniture arrangement can make or break the flow of energy in the room. If the back of a sofa faces the room’s entrance, energy bounces right out. Facing a comfortable sofa toward the entrance of the room will improve energy flow and make buyers feel welcome.

Provide Support

Large furniture such as beds and sofas need a solid wall of support behind them, so don’t place these pieces in front of a window.

Invigorate the Senses

Stimulate your home’s energy with sound be adding wind chimes to the front right corner of your house. This is the buyer’s area of the home, so this accessory might call in your home’s future owner.

Ann Alderson is a Professional Home Stager and Home Selling Strategist in the Tampa Bay area. Join her on Facebook at http://facebook.com/stagingsouthtampa and follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/annalderson

Back-to-School Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Prevent waste and save money this school shopping season.

August 6, 2011

As some households gear up for back-to-school, they might be thinking of the three Rs as reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. For this August, I ask that we re-frame the back-to-school mindset with the three Rs of reduce, reuse and recycle.

For families with children going to school, or adults taking classes, getting prepared and buying supplies (sometimes WAY too many supplies) is part of the routine in August. Please take a moment to examine the following tips for a more earth-friendly approach.

Step 1: Take inventory of what you actually possess. Often, the supplies we have can be used again. Is there still life in that backpack, pencil case, or lunch bag? Did you only use 1/3 of that notebook last year? Do you have enough pens/pencils/crayons/glue or do you really need to buy more? If you do need more, is it necessary to get the package of 50 disposable pens or can you switch to three pens with re-fillable ink?

Step 2: Make a list of those items that you really need to get, i.e., the things you can’t start class without. You can always supplement later as you identify needs.

Step 3: Buy only what you need and be mindful about what you are putting in your cart. When possible, purchase items made from recycled materials—preferably post-consumer recycled. By buying recycled products, you are sending a message that you care about what the products are made of. The more people that buy recycled-product items, the greater the demand is and the more items companies will make from recycled materials! Even big-box stores sell paper, pencils, notebooks, binders and more made from recycled content if you look. Of course, remember to bring your re-usable shopping bag into the store!

The summer is a great time to get supplies for bringing your own lunch, whether to school or work. Don’t “brown bag” it! If you’re bringing your lunch, invest in a high-quality insulated lunch bag that you will want to bring with you. Insulated lunch bags come in many fun and interesting styles and designs these days.

If you’re using disposable plastic bags, now is the time to get reusable containers (metal, glass, or BPA-free plastic) or reusable bags. My family uses reusable sandwich and snack bags by brands such as Reuseit, LunchSkins, SnackTAXI, and Waste Not Saks. They are easy to wash and have proven to be incredibly durable after years of use.

Finally, if you do have any supplies that can’t be re-used, do your best to recycle them! By being mindful about your back-to-school shopping, you can do your little part to help the environment.

Submitted by Nadine Kadell Sapirman

How To Clean A Teenagers Room Without Calling a HAZMAT Crew

We all know that the easiest way to avoid cleaning your teenagers room is to simply keep the door shut, put a “caution do not enter” sign on their door, and walk away. I know that getting your teenager to do it themselves is a never ending battle of rants: “I LIKE MY ROOM LIKE THIS!” and our passed down from generations reply: “IF YOU DON’T DO IT, I’LL DO IT FOR YOU!” Well, from my own personal experience my Dad DID clean my room for me, but in a not so pleasantly accepted way…let’s just say the front of my house looked like someone got evicted by the local Sheriffs, and that someone was me! But my room was clean! In this day and age our only possible saving grace is to wait until that inevitable day when they move out! College, a great job offer, rooming with their friends, whatever the occasion for them to fly out of the nest and test their independence has arrived, and now you remove the caution sign from their door and prepare to enter a room that would make Oscar Madison look like Mr. Clean.

How to start the “Decon”:

First off, be prepared to wear thick rubber gloves, old shoes that you don’t care if they get ruined, old work clothes, plastic eye protection and an inexpensive dust mask. There is most probably going to be layers of thick dust, cobwebs, and science experiments growing a muck, so it does pay to be ready for anything. Be sure to bring PLENTY of 30 gallon trash bags, large plastic storage bins, and have your all natural cleaning solutions pre- mixed and ready for battle.

1) OPEN the windows and air out the room. It’s best if weather permits to leave the windows open during the cleaning process if you can, but you can leave them open for at least 15 minutes if it’s cold outside.

2) Take everything that’s not nailed down from the room and put it in one location, if weather permits outside on a back porch or your garage. Remove everything from drawers, the closet, under the bed, the desk, the floor and walls. The only thing that should remain in the room is the actual furniture, but if the room is becoming your new office or a “man cave” then remove that too.

3) Set up your storage containers by labeling as follows: “keep,” “donate” and “mystery.” Trash anything that’s broken, give away anything in fairly good condition that they don’t use or aren’t likely to use, keep things they may want to keep, and put anything that you’re unsure about in the “mystery” box. This should make the process go faster, and decisions should be the responsibility of your teenager when they come back home for their first visit. After that the “mystery” box becomes a “donate” box.

4) Clean the room while most everything is out of the way. Look under the bed, in the closet and dresser drawers for dirty dishes, empty food wrappers and rotting and dried food that may be causing unpleasant odors so you can throw them away. Dust, wash down the walls and the furniture, clean the fixtures, windows, baseboards, and always vacuum last. If the carpets are stained beyond recognition you might want to save that for the professionals and have it steam cleaned, but do that only after you have patched and repainted the walls.

What to do with the “new” space

The realization is that you most probably will not do anything to their room until you know for sure that your young adult will not be coming back home permanently. When you know this for certain, then you need to make the decision as to what you can do with this new space. A guest room? Media room? Home office? Ultimately the decision will be yours to make, so enjoy it!

Article credit: Teresa Ward, President of Teresa’s Family Cleaning and New York State’s Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year, is often considered Long Island’s foremost authority on cleaning homes and businesses to create a cleaner and healthier environment for all. Her highly sought after, award winning weekly newsletter provides timely cleaning tips and other important Long Island information and charitable events for homeowners, businesses and not-for-profits. Click here to sign up and receive your copy today!

The Truth about Phosphates in Household Cleansers

GoodHouskeeping discusses the benefits of phosphates–as well as the legislation to remove them from household cleansers