Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Cleaning the Stairs

Your stairs could be as grand as those in the film Gone with the Wind or they could be very plain and functional. No matter how big they are or what their finish is ,every corner of every tread must be vacuumed once a week because it's a dust haven. Before vacuuming, run up and down the stairs several times to dislodge as much dust as possible. It's great exercise. Get the kids to do it! Then, if you have pictures in the stairwells, wipe over the frames with a damp cloth. Start cleaning from the top of the stairs and work your way down because dust lifts and drops down. Then vacuum by facing up the stairs, keeping your vacuum cleaner in front of you, and walking backwards down the stairs one step at a time, cleaning each step as you go. That way, your body will stop the vacuum cleaner from tumbling down the stairs and will put less stress on your back. As you vacuum each step, also vacuum between the banister posts with the nozzle or brush attachment. The brass rods, which hold runners in place, need to be polished with bicarb and vinegar on a cloth or just vinegar if you clean them regular. 

Banisters need to be dusted and polished according to what they're made of. Clean brass with vinegar and water applied with a cloth. Aluminium is cleaned with cold tea applied with a cloth. Clean steel with vinegar and water applied with a cloth. Painted metal or plastic can be wiped with a little detergent and water or vinegar on a cloth. For French polished timber, use beeswax, lavender oil and lemon oil applied with a cloth or you can also use a good non-silicone furniture polish.

Quick tip: to create the lavender oil, lemon oil and beeswax cleaning cloth, get a microwave-safe bowl. Place a cleaning cloth in the bowl, then add 1 drop of lavender oil, 1 drop of lemon oil and 1 tablespoon of beeswax to the top of the cloth. Warm in the microwave in 10-second bursts until the beeswax melts. The cloth will be impregnated with the mixture and is ready to use. Store it in a zip-lock plastic bag.

Special attention should be paid to the end of banisters because lots of people grab them with their hands and leave messy finger marks. Make sure you remove all the marks. Wipe between the banister posts with a cloth that's been wrung out in water.
Then vacuum underneath the stairs. 

If the stairs are wooden, vacuum and then wipe with a mop. I prefer to use a broom, which has its broom head wrapped in an old T-shirt dampened with vinegar and secured with an elastic band.

To Make Cleaning Faster

Speed up your cleaning by making sure extension cords are long enough before you start vacuuming. How many times have you nudged into a corner thinking the cords would just make it and then lost power? You then have to walk all the way back to the power point, add an extension cord and resume your cleaning. It's a time waster! So sort that out before starting the job. I also use a protector to cover the joins of extension cords so they don't scratch the surface of things. 

If your stairs are carpeted, make sure the carpet is tight and well fitted so that dust havens aren't created. 

Get free carpet cleaning quotes from accredited Auckland carpet cleaners today. 

Related links:

Auckland Commercial Cleaners 

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Cleaning Lights and Lamps

Dust lights and lamps with an old T-shirt for a quick clean.

Light shades made of fabric should be dry cleaned or cleaned with carpet cleaner or brushed with bran and vinegar. Once the carpet cleaner or bran and vinegar is dry, use the brush head on your vacuum cleaner to remove it. Make sure the brush is clean first or you'll create more mess. Glass light-shades should be cleaned in warm water. Clean brass and metal arms with a good quality brass polish - and make sure you don't get cleaning product in the electrical fittings. To cut down on bugs, spray the tops of the light shades wit surface insecticide. 

Cleaning Paintings

Acrylic paintings can be cleaned with a damp cloth. Water colours should be cleaned by a professional. To remove residue and dust from oil paintings, clean with stale urine, salt and potato. This technique is a guaranteed barbecue stopper! Collect 1 litre of female urine and leave it in the sun for a week to reduce it to 500 millilitres. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of grated raw potato. Stir and allow the mixture to sit for 30 minutes. Dampen a cloth in the mixture, wring it out and then wipe gently over the painting. Dampen a clean cloth in water and wipe the painting gently and pat it dry. You can also rub brown bread over the painting to clean it but it can induce mould if the atmosphere is damp, so don't use this technique if you're in a damp, dark spot. For any serious cleaning problems, see a restorer. Never use alcohol-based cleaners such as methylated spirits or turpentine on gilded frames. Most gilding is covered with a layer of shellac and alcohol-based cleaners will affect it. Instead, dust the frame with a hairdryer on the cool setting. This should be enough to clean it but if dirt remains, wipe a damp cloth over the frame and then dry it with a soft cloth. Protect paintings by spraying a cloth with a surface insecticide and wipe it over the back of the picture frames. Don't touch the painting, just the frames. 

Strategies to Make Cleaning Faster

Light switches are often forgotten about when cleaning. Given the amount of contact they have with dirty fingers, it's a good idea to get into the habit of wiping over them. Whatever you do, never spray cleaning product directly onto them or you could short-circuit the electricity. I dampen a cloth with white vinegar and wipe it over the light switch. Add bicarb to the vinegar cloth it it's particularly dirty.


I like to have a rug or mat inside the front door. If you have carpet, you may have it made from a matching carpet square; just make sure it doesn't have a thick edge that people can trip over. I'd also suggest attaching rubber mesh underneath so it doesn't slip or curl.

You may want to create a space for damp shoes either outside the front door or on the hall stand, if you have one. Use a wooden box or basket and line it with a plastic bag so that water doesn't soak through to the floor and leave puddle marks. Some hall stands have a metal drip tray built into them which is perfect for muddy shoes and umbrellas. Clean them with bicarb and vinegar on a cloth, but if they container lead, be very careful and always wear rubber gloves when cleaning. Lead, a cumulative poison absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin's pores, can kill.

It's also a good idea to have some storage at the back of the house for dirty shoes and sports gear. A large basket or small cupboard or even a bucket with a lid should do the trick. It depends on how much sports gear you have. If you can, use cupboards with good ventilation. And store some bicarb here so that you sports stars can dust inside their shoes before putting them away. Bicarb will absorb those sweaty smells. Just remember to remove the bicarb before wearing the shoes again. Shake it out the same way you would if you had sand in your shoes. If the smell from trainers is really overpowering, you may have to do what I did in share house one time and insist the offending shoes were stored in a plastic garbage bin at the back of the garage!

Some people like to keep their sunglasses, scarves, bags and coats on the table or hall stand so they're quickly accessible. But be careful leaving bags and keys here, particularly if you live in the city. Rather than just dumping things on the hall stand or table, have a wooden storage box with a lid or small cupboard. It's just as easy to use, it prevents clutter and everything is hidden away and tidy. Make dividers in the box for each family member and clean out the compartments each week as part of the quick clean.

You could also install some hooks in the box or on the inside of the cupboard for keys. Colour code the keys so you don't confuse them.

If you tend to dump your post and other stuff near the door, keep a wastepaper basket here as well. That way, unwanted bits and pieces can be thrown out immediately. Because it's at the entrance to your house, make sure it's a stylish bin. Having one here will increase your speed when cleaning.

The entrance to each house will be different and the lifestyle of the people using the house will vary. Shape it to suit your needs, being careful not to over-clutter this area. Consider shifting rarely used items to the study or to the back of the house.

Flowers and Ornaments

I know many people like to keep flowers at the entrance to heir home, but did you know they die more quickly here because of the draft coming through the door? Potted plants are a much better idea, particularly daisies, because they contain pyrethrum, which deters insects. Select plants with low water needs, such as succulents, although I avoid spiky ones after snagging my stockings several times! Scented herbs are also good because they keep the house smelling fresh when you brush past them, and they come in handy when cooking. Have deep saucers under your pots so water doesn't spill and create more cleaning!

Quick tip: What to do if you get lily stamens or pollen on the carpet
If the stain has set, damp it with kerosene applied with a cotton ball. Then damp the stain the methylated spirits applied with a cotton ball.Dry with a paper towel before repeating. Do this until the colour is removed. Some pollen's will be easy to remove, others will need several attempts. To avoid the problem, remove the stamens before putting the flowers on display. Put a plastic bag over your hand and pull the stamens out into your palm, then wrap the bag over itself and the stamens and throw it in the bin. This way, your hands won't come in contact with the stamens. 

Quick tip: instead of flowers, create an impression at the entrance to your home with a covered potpouri bowl, rock art,water art, paintings behind glass (to protect them from dust and allow easy cleaning, washable hangings, wind chimes, beautiful shells or pot plants.

The entrance is also a popular area to display ornaments but I don't recommend it because there are higher dust volumes in this part of the house. There's also the danger they could be knocked over in the wind. If you do keep ornaments here, clean them with a hairdryer on the lowest setting and secure them by putting some Blu-tak on the bottom. But only use Blu-tak on non-absorbent surfaces as it will an oil stain. 

Quick tip: This is an area where dog poo can hit.
Remove as much of the solids as possible then blot with a paper towel until the carpet is touch dry. Sprinkle bicarb over the area. Then wring out a cloth in vinegar and sponge off the bicarb. If your dog eats commercial food, it will have a high caramel content to colour the food so you'll need to wipe the area with glycerine first. Just apply a small amount of glycerine to a cloth and wipe over the area. Fill a bucket with cold water and enough detergent to create a sudsy mix. Use just the detergent suds, not the water, from the bucket and work them into a the stain with a soft nylon brush. Dry it with a Surplex or use a paper towel to absorb the moisture. When dry, vacuum. If there's any unpleasant odour, repeat this process. An alternative method is to apply cold water and detergent suds with an old toothbrush, using a little water as possible. Then fill the bucket with warm water and detergent and again apply  the suds to the stain with an old toothbrush. The reason you use both cold and warm water is because faeces container proteins and fats. Cold water removes proteins and warm water removes fats. You must clean in this order or the warm water will set the protein stain! Dry with a paper towel or Surplex by standing on it. 

You could always get free quotes form our local Auckland office cleaners to assist with your cleaning requirements. 

Cleaning the Entrance

There's no escaping the fact that the entrance to your house creates that all-important first impression. Make it as open, clean and airy as possible. Nobody wants to walk into a dark, dank cave. It's worthwhile standing at the front of your house, taking a good look around, and working out what your entrance says about you. If you don't like the message, then it's time or a revamp! Always make a point of including this area immediately outside and inside your font door in your quick clean; that way you will impress your guests, as well as giving yourself that warm feeling when you come home at this threshold between the outside world and your domestic sanctuary.

Assembling Your Cleaning Kit

Clutter bucket - to transport displaced items; bicarb - cleaning agent; vinegar - cleaning agent; water - cleaning agent; methylated spirits - to clean mirrors; cloth - (such as an old T-shirt) to wipe and dust surfaces; straw broom - to sweep floors and clear cobwebs; dustpan and brush - to clear accumulated dirt; vacuum cleaner - to vacuum floors; mop - to wipe over floors; bucket - to hold water or to hold cleaning items; rubber gloves - to protect hands and provide grip; Scotchgard - to spray over carpet and rugs to protect them from dirt; hairdryer - to clean ornaments; spray bottle - to fill with vinegar or fragrance.

Quick Cleaning Outside Your Front Door

Remove anything that doesn't belong in this area with a clutter bucket. Then begin clearing any spider webs outside the front door, including around light fittings, with a broom. To deter spiders, wipe the broom head with a little lemon oil before sweeping and it will transfer to surfaces as you clean. Wipe along the door jambs, lock plate and doorknob with the appropriate cleaner. For brass, use a little vinegar on a cloth. For timber, use a little vinegar on a cloth or detergent or water. Dust the door with a dry cloth. If you have furniture on the front verandah, clean according to its surface. Shake your entrance mat and sweep the verandah or entranceway wit ha good straw yard broom. If there's a lot of refuse, collect it in a dustpan and place it straight into the green bin. Water any pot plans and remove any dead heads or portions of the plant that have died. 

How to Make Cleaning Speedier

One of the best ways to speed up your cleaning is to prevent dirt from getting into the house in the first place. That's why a mat placed at the front and back doors of the house is so important. A mat is a bit like a security guard for dirt. I think the best kind of mat is a copra one. If the drainage around your mat is poor, put a rubber-tyre strip mat underneath the copra mat, which will help with ventilation and keep it dry.


The best way to clean a copra mat is to give it a good bash against a wall, then hose the top and bottom. Dry it in the sunshine standing on its edge. Stop your cat or dog from sleeping on the welcome mat by spraying the mat with insecticide. 

Quick Clean Inside Your Front Door

Using the same clean kit, remove extraneous items with a clutter bucket and empty any bins. Dust the ceiling and light fittings with a soft nylon broom which has a little lemon oil on it (the oil will transfer to the ceiling and light fittings and deter spiders). Sweep along the walls and tops of cupboards or hall stands.

It's inevitable that you'll get marks on the wall, especially in high traffic areas. Be careful when using proprietary products to clean these marks because most have an alcohol base which can break down the paint surface and leave a bleached shiny spot. Clean your walls every week either with a broom or vacuum cleaner. Put an old T-Shirt over the broom head or brush to prevent bristle marks. Some dirty marks will come off using a good pencil eraser. You could also try rolling brown bread into a ball and rubbing it against the wall. If these don't work, try a very diluted solution of sugar soap applied with a cloth. Wring out the cloth tightly before applying. For build-up around light switches, apply vinegar and water sparingly with a sponge. To avoid drip lines, start cleaning from the bottom and work your way up, drying as you go.

Quick tip: Every time you change a light bulb, clean the other light bulbs wit ha cloth and they'll shine brighter. To prevent halogen lights corroding, wipe the connection of the bulb with a cloth once a week.  

Remove dust and grime from any paintings, wall hangings or wall art. Clean light switches, door jambs and any window sills. Clean any furniture with the appropriate cleaner.

If it's been raining, clear the water in umbrella stands or you'll create a mould farm or a home for frogs!

Quick tip: Create your own umbrella stand with a spaghetti jar. The bulb at the bottom of the jar is a perfect water collector.

What to do if you get a water stain on the carpet from umbrellas
If you get to the stain immediately, blot as much as possible with a paper towel. A Slurpex is ideal in this situation. If the stain has been there for a while, wipe it with a little glycerine ten apply a quality spot remover and use a paper towel to absorb as much moisture as possible.

Wipe the top of the table or hall stand according to its surface. Hall stands often have mirrors which should be cleaned with methylated spirits wrung out on a lint-free cloth, such as an old T-shirt.

Quick tip: if you don't have room for a hall stand, install some hooks either behind the front door or along the wall to store coats. If you're in a rental property, use removable hooks which wrap over the top of the door. You can also now buy reusable 3M adhesive hooks. 

When cleaning picture frames, clean glass with methylated spirits and a cloth but be careful not to get methylated spirits around edges or it could seep into the print. Polycarbonate should only be cleaned with a damp cloth. Clean metal and timber as you would furniture. Clean plastic with glycerine. 

Clean floors by either vacuuming and/or mopping. Top mop, I wrap and old T-shirt that has been dampened with water and vinegar over a broom head, fix it with elastic bands and wipe over the floor. If you have rugs in this space, shake them outside. And remember, rugs and carpet are less likely to absorb stains if sprayed with Scotchgard. You can spray just at the entrance or the whole hallway - wherever there is a high dirt rate - which is particularly useful when it's raining and there's mud around.

Did you know? Black mud can be cleaned with detergent and cold water, but if you have red mud, use soap and cold water. Detergent reacts with the iron and manganese oxide in red mud and leaves a rusty or black mark. Soap won't do this because it's saponin-based. Never allow moisture to penetrate the carpet or you'll create further staining from the back of the carpet.

Quick tip: To freshen dingy carpets, make up a spray bottle containing 1 part bicarb and 3 parts vinegar and 5 parts water. If you like fragrance, add a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil, but avoid fruit oils because the brain associates them with the kitchen. Lightly spray the carpet, don't go overboard and soak it, then sweep it with a T-shirt-covered broom. Sprinkling bicarb on the carpet before vacuuming is a good general carpet freshener, but won't necessarily clean stains. These will have to be spot cleaned.

Water any pot plans, arrange flowers, spray fragrance, if you like using it, or add any froufrou, such as doilies. Empty the clutter bucket, put away the clean kit and update the master list.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

What To Do About Unexpected Visitors

These days, thanks to mobile phones, it's more likely that people will ring before popping over, so you may have 10 minutes to get the place in order. But what can you do if visitors arrive unannounced at the front door and your house has got that lived-in homely look? Here are a few suggestions:

No Warning

Keep a cloth impregnated with lavender oil near the front door so that when there are unexpected visitors, I can wipe over the back edges of the door before opening it. The smell is fresh and creates an impression of cleanliness. You could also keep a spray bottle filled with lavender oil and water and give it a squirt before opening the door. It has the same effects. Guide your visitors to the cleanest room and excuse yourself as you make them a cup of tea. In the kitchen, if you don't have a dishwasher, stack any unwashed dishes in a pile because it appears neater, and wipe down any surfaces. You could even place a pair of washing up gloves over the top of the dishes to suggest you were just about to wash them if you hadn't been interrupted by your visitors!

If You Have 10 Minutes

Just focus on the areas that your guests will see. First grab your clutter bucket and gather extraneous items, then put it into a room you can close of. Stack dishes in the kitchen into a neat pile of you don't have a dishwasher. Put papers into a neat pile. You'll be amazed at how much cleaner an area appears if things are neatly ordered rather than strewn around. Grab a damp cloth and wipe over surfaces. Throw a tablecloth over the table. Throw a sheet over the washing basket. Wipe door jambs with a lavender-oil impregnated cloth to give a fresh smell. Check the toilet is clean. If it's not, give it a quick scrub with the toilet brush and spray some lavender oil in the air. Quickly sweep outside the front door - a tidy entrance always makes a great first impression - and your 10-minute quick clean is done. 

Know the Surfaces You're Cleaning

When choosing a cleaning product, you have to know what the stain is and what surface you're working with. For instance, is your wooden table bar timber or does it have a polyurethane, shellac, varnish or acrylic finish? If you don't know, you need to find out. The same goes for any surface you're working with: be it fabric, vinyl, leather or even carpet. They all react in different ways to different cleaning utensils.

What Cleaning Agents Are

Acetone is a volatile, flammable ketone. It's used a solvent for resins, primers, nail polish and heavy plastics. It can also be used to strip polyurethane, but be careful because it is very strong. It's available from the supermarket or hardware store.

Algene is a pool cleaning chemical and an alternative to chlorine. It kills algae, including mildew, and its great for cleaning paths.

Aquadhere is a PVA wood glue and sealant.

Beeswax is the wax produced by bees when making honeycomb. It's a great polishing agent for sealed (except polyurethane) or unsealed timber finishes.

Bicarb is bicarbonate of soda, sodium bicarbonate or bicarb soda. It's a salt and an alkaline that neutralizes acid. It penetrates stains and dissolves grease on many different surfaces. It's available at the supermarket, generally in the cake-baking rather than the cleaning aisle.

Bleach is a whitening agent that weakens fibres. It makes stiff linen become fine linen.

Blu-tak is a putty-like proprietary product used to temporarily adhere one surface to another. It can also be used to clean dirt from hard-to-reach areas.

Borax is a crystalline sodium borate that can be used as a fungicide, insecticide and detergent booster. It is mildly toxic: avoid contact with skin and do not ingest it. It is available from the supermarket.

Bran is the ground husk of wheat or other grains. It's absorbent and can be used as a scourer. It is good for cleaning fabric, fur, silver or silver-plated items.

Brasso is a proprietary product. It's an abrasive and a metal polish polyurethane and polyethylene surfaces. 

Camphor is a ketone from the camphor laurel tree. It has a strong vapour which moths and cats don't like. It's very flammable so never heat it.

Carpet cleaners come in many varieties. They can be soap-based, bicarb-based, detergent-based or alcohol-based. Be careful cleaning your carpets after they'e been steam cleaned because there can be adverse chemical reactions.

Cloves are a a spice that come from the dried flower buds of the clove tree. Cloves deter silverfish and moths are great for cupboards and bookshelves.

CLR stands for Calcium, Lime, Rust. It removes calcium deposits from glasses and kettles, lime scales from coffee machines, toilets and sinks and rust from cement, porcelain, chrome and fabric. It's available from the supermarket or hardware store. You can also use Ranex in the same way. 

Cornflour is a starch from maize, rice and other grains. It's absorbent and a very fine abrasive.

Denture soaker can be used to clean and remove stubborn grey marks on porcelain. It can also clean craze marks on china and remove fruit and plant stains from terracotta.

Detergent is dish-washing liquid used when washing kitchen paraphernalia by hand. It emulsifies grease and oils making them easier to remove.

Dry cleaning fluid is also known as white spirits. It's a solvent and is available from hardware stores.

Epsom salts are hydrated magnesium sulphate and are so named because they were found at Epsom in the UK. They are good for soaking aching limbs in the bath, for un-shrinking woolens and for magnesium-deficient plants.

Eucalyptus oil is an essential oil distilled from the leaves of certain eucalyptus trees. It's a pain stripper, adhesive solvent and releases vapors. It's available from the supermarket or chemist.

Fuller's Earth is a high-calcium clay with a bleaching action. It's very absorbent and acts as a wool relaxant, so it can be used to shrink or unshrink woollens or remove sweat from felt or to block hats. It's available at the chemist.

Goanna oil is rendered goanna fat used to restore glass that has glass cancer. It's very difficult to find but may be available at the chemist.

Glycerine is an odourless, clear liquid. It's used as as agent in cosmetics, toothpaste and shampoos and helps to loosen stains. It's available at the supermarket or chemist.

Graphite puffer is used to unstick locks and hinges. Graphite is a dry lubricant similar to a finely shaved lead pencil minus the clay. The puffer bulb allows access to tight areas.

Gumption is a whitish-grey cleaning paste which has many uses. It's great for cleaning baths and sinks. It contains a mild bleaching agent and abrasive. It's available at the supermarket.

Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidising liquid used as an antiseptic and bleaching agent. It's available at the supermarket or chemist.

Lavender oil is derived from lavender flowers and has many uses, including insect repellent, dog inhibitor, air freshener and toilet cleaner. It's available at the supermarket or chemist.

Lemon oil comes from the oil in lemon peel and is used a furniture polisher, spider and insect prohibitor and stain remover, as well as for its fragrance and flavour.

Methylated spirits is a raw alcohol with menthol. It's a solvent for some paints and can also be used to disinfect surfaces. The alcohol kills most bacteria but should never be applied to a timber surface. It's available at the supermarket or hardware store.

Napisan is a soaking agent, originally used to soak nappies, that comes in several varieties. Napisan Complete Nappy Treatment removes some proteins, oils, organic or petrochemical stains, but can only be used if the item being cleaned is white. Napisan OxyAction Max can be used on colours and is good tannin stains, protein, fats and oil stains. Napisan Plus Advance Soaker is great for mystery stains and for underarm deodorant stains. Use Napisan as a soaker, powder or create a paste by adding water.

Oil of cloves is a cold-pressed oil from the dried flower buds of the close tree. It's a mould inhibitor, insecticide - particularly for silverfish - toothache soother and cooking ingredient. It's available from the chemist.

Oil of pennyroyal is a oil from a small-leafed mint. It deters moths, fleas and hard-shell insects, such as beetles and millipedes, but is harmful to pregnant women and animals and shouldn't be used by them or near them. Pennyroyal can be difficult to obtain but you can always get living plants from your nursery.

Potter's plaster / plaster of paris is a white powder made of calcium sulphate. It forms a paste when mixed with water and can be shaped before setting. It's also absorbent and is good for removing stains from granite and pavers when applied in thin layers. It's available from art supply stores and hardware stores.

Ranex is like CLR and is used to remove calcium deposits, lime scale and rust.

Salt is an abrasive, a disinfectant and kills mould. When cleaning, use non-iodised table salt, which are cheaper.

Scotchgard is an abrasive, a disinfectant and kills mould. When cleaning, use non-iodised table salt, coarse cooking salt or swimming pool salt, which are cheaper.

Shellac is a varnish made from the resin of the Coccus lacca scale insect. The resin is dissolved in alcohol or a similar solvent and used for making varnish, polish and sealing wax.

Slurpex is a fine-grade, chamois-like block that is a very absorbent sponge. It removes moisture from carpet and other surfaces. It is only available directly from the company, Slurpex

Soap (cake of soap) used for general cleaning. The only difference between the cheap and expensive ones is the perfumes, oils and moisturisers used in them. Cheap ones are fine for cleaning and are often better.

Soap flakes are very thin pure flakes of soap. You can buy them as flakes or grate a cake of soap. You could also use a soap shaker for the same result. A soap shaker is a wire box with a handle. Place a cake of soap inside, clip it shut and run water through it or shake it in water to generate suds.

Soap powder is washing powder used for washing clothes in the washing machine.

Sweet almond oil is the oil extracted from almond nuts. It's used to clean bone and ivory and lubricate glass. It can be used to remove glass stoppers in decanters. It's available at supermarkets and chemists.

Talcum powder is an absorbent, a lubricant and a fine-grade abrasive. It can be used for polishing, absorbing stains or soothing babies' bottoms. It also helps prevent rubber from perishing. It is also useful for determining the tracks of ants and fleas.

Tea unless-specified, use black, Indian tea. Tea contains tannin's, which are good for cleaning aluminium, killing dust mites and inhibiting insects. It's also a great pick-me-up when sipped!

Tea tree oil is an oil extracted from tea tree bushes. It's used as an antibacterial and solvent for oil-based paints. It removes resin stains, such as sticky tape residue and wax.

Vanilla essence is the product of extract from vanilla beans combined with alcohol. It is used to provide fragrance and flavour to food and as a deodoriser. If you run out of perfume, dab behind your ears and you might get your neck nibbled. It is available from the supermarket.

Vaseline is a petroleum jelly that is used as lubricant, a water barrier and to stop snails getting into your letterbox.

Vinegar is an acid. It's a preservative, condiment, beverage, cleaner and sanitiser. Cider vinegar is a best on hard surfaces which are not colour sensitive. Don't use it on white tiles, white laminex or anything that is lighter than the colour of the cider vinegar. White vinegar is better for cleaning light-coloured surfaces, such as white marble, and fabric. Both are available from the supermarket.

White spirits is also known as dry cleaning fluid or Murlex. It's a solvent and is available from hardware stores.

Whiting is a fine-grade abrasive powder used in cleaning and polishing glass, furniture and polychromate sinks. When mixed with glycerine it can clean most plastics. It's available from leadlight stores.

WD-40 stands for Water Displacement, 40th Attempt. It's a high-grade penetrating oil and stops corrosion. It lubricates small areas and can inhibit some insects.

Woolwash is a mild soap or detergent mixed with eacalyptus oil and bicarb. It's available at the supermarket.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

How to Clean Outside Your Front Door

Remove anything that doesn't belong in this area with a clutter bucket. Then begin clearing any spider webs outside the front door, including around light fittings, with a broom. To deter spiders, wipe the broom head with a little lemon oil before sweeping and it will transfer to surfaces as you clean. Wipe along the door jambs, lock place and doorknob with the appropriate cleaner. For brass, use a little vinegar on a cloth. For timber, use a little vinegar on a cloth or detergent and water. Dust the door with a dry cloth. If you have furniture on the front veranda, clean according to its surface. Shake your entrance mat and sweep the veranda or entrance-way with a good straw yard broom. If there’s a lot of refuse, collect it in a dustpan and place is straight into the green bin. Water any pot plants and remove any dead heads or portions of the plant that have died.

Quick tip: one of the best ways to speed up your cleaning is to prevent dirt from getting into the house in the first place. That’s why a mat placed at the front and back doors of the house is also important. A mat is a bit like a security guard for dirt. I think the best kind of mat is a copra one. If the drainage around your mat is poor, put a rubber-tire strip mat underneath the copra mat, which will help you with ventilation and keep it dry.

Mats: the best way to clean a copro mat is to give it a good bash against a wall, then hose the top and bottom. Dry it in the sunshine standing on its edge. Dry it in the sunshine standing on its edge. Stop your cat or dog from sleeping on the welcome mat by spraying the mat with insecticide. 

Cleaning Inside Your Front Door

Using the same clean kit, remove extraneous items with a clutter bucket and empty any bins. Dust the ceiling and light fittings with a soft nylon broom which has a little lemon oil on it (the oil will transfer to the ceiling and light fittings and deter spiders). Sweep along the walls and tops of cupboards or hall-stands.

It’s inevitable that’s you’ll get marks on the wall, especially in high traffic areas. Be careful when using proprietary products to clean these marks because most have an alcohol base which can break down the paint surface and leave a bleached shiny spot. Clean your walls every week either with a broom of vacuum cleaner. Put an old T-shirt over the broom head or brush or prevent bristle marks. Some dirty marks will come off using a good pencil eraser. You could also try rolling brown bread into a ball and rubbing it against the wall. If these don’t work, try a very diluted solution or sugar soap applied with a cloth. Wring out the cloth tightly before applying. For build-up around light switches, apply vinegar and water sparingly with a sponge. To avoid drip lines, start cleaning from the bottom and work your way up, drying as you go.

Quick tip: every time you change a light bulb, clean the other light bulbs with a cloth and they’ll shine brighter. To prevent halogen lights corroding, wipe the connection on the bulb with a cloth once a week. 

Monday, 8 December 2014

Choosing the Right Cleaning Equipment

I can't emphasis enough just how important it is to have the right cleaning tools for the job. Storing the tools in the nearest location will keep cleaning time to a minimum. All our our commercial cleaning companies in Auckland are equipped for the job. There are several ways to organize your clean kit. You could have everything stored at a centralized spot of divided up and kept in different parts of the house. You could have different kits for different rooms, You might like to carry items in buckets or plastic toolboxes or you may even use a tray-mobile like they do in hotels. It depends on your storage situation and preferences. I like to be able to pick up my clean kit with one hand - and have found that a nappy bucket is the perfect size for me 

I attach a butcher's hook (available from hardware stores) to the edge of the bucket so I can hang a rag from it. Whatever you decide to use, just make sure the kit isn't too heavy.

Another suggestion is to store a cloth for cleaning timber in a zip-lock bag in the lounge room, for example. That way, when you've got a spare couple of minutes or when you're talking on the phone, you could quickly clean some furniture. The main thing is to have your kit ready to go for the quick clean.

If you don't have a broom cupboard, create a storage area by fixing hooks from the hardware store on the back of doors or in cupboards.

Brooms come in many varieties, including nylon, straw, copra, bristle and poly-carbonate. Select the broom according to the surface and amount of soil to remove. As a general rule, the heavier the soiling, the tougher the broom. They can be long-handles or short-handled. Nylon brooms have soft bristles and best used inside the house. If you wrap an old T-shirt around the head of a long-handled nylon broom, it can also be used as a mop. Straw broom are good for outside the house to sweep bulky dust and to collect cobwebs. Yard brooms have a wider head and are good for large areas such as driveways, paths, verandas, garage floors and patios. If you can, clean the broom every time you use it. Do this by wetting a cake of soap with water and then rub it over the broom bristles. Rinse the broom under warm water, shake the excess water off then stand the broom upwards to dry. Brooms and quite cheap these days so have several. You could even color code them!

Buckets come in many shapes and colors. Square, oblong and round are the most common shapes. Round buckets are either standard or nappy size Choose ones with a pouring spout and lid. Use buckets to soak clothes, store washing water and transport items.
Clothes' baskets aid the transport of clothes. They can be plastic, cane or wicker. Never have on bigger than you can lift when full. Plastic ones are light, come in a variety of colors and are easily cleaned with a little dish-washing liquid on a damp cloth. Cane baskets are popular but wear more quickly, take less weight and, because they're unsealed, collect mold. Wicker baskets are unfortunately not made any more. Wash them with salt water applied with a cloth every two months. When not in use, store all baskets upside down, so they don't collect dust!

Cloths come in many varieties, but the best cloth is an old cotton T-shirt or old cotton knickers with a gusset cut out. Both are lint-free and can be rewashed in a washing machine on a hot setting. You can use proprietary cloths but there's no need to be. 

Clutter bucket is any kind of handled bucket used to transport items from one room to another. Select whichever size suits you best. I find allocating a particular color for each family member is a good organisational approach. 

Dusters I think the best duster is an old cotton T-shirt because it picks up dirt really well, is easy to wash out and won't scratch surfaces. Fluffy dusters tend to spread the dirt around the house so it just settles elsewhere. The best way to dust is to wipe a damp cloth over a surface. When we say damp, this means the cloth has been wrung out so tightly that it feels cool against your skin. If it's wet, you can feel the moisture and the water will end up creating mud trails when you clean. When sorting a dusting cloth, wring it out in methylated spirits to make it antiseptic and sterile. Once it's dry, put it away with your clean kit ready to use next time. Never wipe surfaces with methylated spirits directly. 

Dustpan and brush collect dust, dirt, leaves and other items. 
Elastic bands are used to temporarily secure items. They need to be strong enough for the job. Here they are mainly used to secure T-Shirts over a broom head of vacuum cleaner.

Garbage bags come in a variety of sizes, strengths and thicknesses, Whether you have tie tops or drawstring bags is your choice. 

Gloves can be disposable, rubber, cotton, gardening, polyurethane or acid-resistant. They protect the skin from chemicals, abrasion and heat and can also help with grip.

Hairdryer is very useful for dusting, particularly delicate fine china. A hairdryer also helps to remove wax and can be used to apply heat to an area to speed up the drying process.

Mop can be made of rag or sponge, although newer ones combine the two and have spongy rags. I prefer to put an old T-shirt over a broom head and use that as a mop because it's easier to clean and clean with. 

Old stockings are great cleaners and great non-scratch scourers, especially when cutting through soap scum. They're also handy to wrap around the back of taps to clean. And they're cheap to buy if you don't have any old ones around the house.

Old toothbrushes - don't throw them away! Keep them to clean difficult-to-access areas, such as around taps and tight corners. 

Old T-shirts are great to use for mopping, dusting, polishing and wrapping over the vacuum cleaner had to protect surfaces. They're also very absorbent. If you don't have any old T-shirts, buy them cheaply at second-hand stores, which is cheaper than buying new sponges at the supermarket. 

Paper towels are great for mopping up spills and cleaning grease. 

Rag bags care used for storing old T-shirts, clothes, tea towels and towels to use as rags for cleaning. Old woolen jumpers are great furniture polishers. Just make sure you remove all buttons and recycle then in your button box. Make your own rag bag using an old pillowcase and simply attach it with hooks, tacks or screws to the inside of a cupboard or the back of a door.

Scrubbing brush has a wooden or plastic top, and tough bristles. A dish-washing brush, made of nylon or bristles, can be used as a scrubbing brush. Use a on stubborn stains and tight corners.

Sponges use different colored sponges so you don't contaminate your areas. I use green sponges on bench-tops, pink sponges on the floor and yellow and blue sponges in the bathroom. Wash sponges in a small bowl or white vinegar, leave overnight then rinse in the hot water.

Spray bottle either buy a the supermarket or reuse an old spray bottle - buy the cheapest product that comes in a refillable spray bottle, use the product, clean the bottle in a warm water then reuse. Check the bottle has a spray or mist option on the nozzle. Use removable labels and mark the bottle clearly. Spray bottles have many users, for example, fill with lavender oil and water to use an air-freshener in the toilet.

Squeegee is a short-handled rubber-bladed implement used to wipe water from a surface. It operates like a windscreen wiper on a car. Use it to clean windows, the shower screen in the bathroom or to pick up dropped eggs from the kitchen floor. A squeegee can be bought at the supermarket, petrol station or discount shop.

Storage box could be an old cardboard box, plastic box or timber box in a variety of shapes and sizes. Select one according to its use.

Vacuum cleaner - what a great invention! It sucks up dust and dirt from all manner of things using a variety of attachments. The main elements of the vacuum cleaner are:

  • Barrel: this is the body of the cleaner. It has an inlet and outlet connection. The inlet is where the hose goes and it sucks dirt into the barrel. The outlet is where the air blows out of the machine and it's generally covered. You can attach the house to the outlet to back-flush and clean the vacuum cleaner.
  • Bag: located inside the barrel. Modern vacuum cleaners have a window which shows when the bag is full. If you don't have this, check the bag each time you use the cleaner. It's a good idea to change the bag regularly. The vacuum cleaner won't work efficiently if the bag is more than half full.
  • Tube: hard part - the length may be varied to suit your height or according to what you're vacuuming. Make it shorter when vacuuming furnishings and longer when vacuuming floors. If you are tall, extra lengths are available from the vacuum cleaner shop and will save your back.
  • Soft part - the flexible hose connection.
  • Main head: this can be set to have bristles up or down. Vacuum with the bristles down for shiny and hard floors; put the bristles up for carpets and soft floors, unless you have pets. Clean any fur or dust our of the bristles with an old comb.
  • Brush head: a small round attachment with long bristles designed to clean cobwebs, cornices, window stills, etc.
  • Upholstery nozzle: a small flat attachment to be used to vacuum the surface of furnishings, curtains and pelmets.
  • Corner nozzle: use it to access tight spaces, such as the sides of chairs, or to clean around the buttons on padded furniture. 

Sunday, 7 December 2014

 10 Most Common Mistakes When Washing Clothes

 You are in a hurry to use the one outfit that you love, you quickly throw it in the machine with some other dirty clothes too. This is one of the most common mistakes people make when washing clothes. If you want to look after your clothes and keep them for longer you should avoid this habit. Here are the top ten mistakes when washing clothes and how to avoid them with tips from the experts.  

Not reading clothing labels
It seems silly, but the washing symbols exist just so that you understand what is the best way to save and preserve that item of clothing. Ignoring these instructions may lead  to do something that can cause irreparable damage to the clothing item.

Ignoring colour differences
White clothes should never be washed with colored ones. If you do, it is highly likely that the lighter clothing items will be stained. Although the coloured clothing may not realese ink, the white clothing items gain a yellowish appearance by coming into contact with our darker clothing items. 

Mixing personal clothing items with household items
Clothes for personal use should be washed separately from pieces of kitchen tea-towels, cleaning cloths, and blankets for animals. Tablecloths and dishcloths usually have food and grease residues and can stain other clothes. Wipes and blankets animals carry the toughest of dirt and need a heavier type of washing, which can damage ordinary clothes. 

Not checking how dirty the clothes are
Heavily soiled parts require more work and a more aggressive washing process, getting more worn. With a little dirt, there is no need to go through a heavier wash, ie, it is an injury that can be excused. The ideal is to wash heavily soiled separately. 

Overusing the washing powder
Understand that it is not the excess soap that cleans your clothes, so do not abuse the quantity. The more you put detergent in the clothes, the more they need to be rinsed and may fade. Also, in case you get some residual foam in pieces, people may have a sensitive skin allergy. 

Using the wrong water temperature 
Some washing machines use hot water, which helps a lot in cleaning. However, people do not use it correctly. Note that the new washing machines have the pre-wash phase in which the water is not heated because stains and dirt must be removed first with cold water. If you put hot water in the first wash, instead of removing stains and dirt you can make them worse, with the end resulting in an apparent stain. So it is important to always use the pre-wash with cold water and then use hot water to complement the cleaning process.

Abusing the bleach
Do not believe in miraculous tricks for stain removal. There are fabrics that fade and fray even with the use of unsuitable products or homemade clothing items. 

Not leaving enough time for the clothes to soak
Extremely soiled items need to soak. Furthermore, the contact of the clothing with water and soap for too short of time may cause stains or fade the colors. 

Not using fabric softener 
This is indispensable, you do not need to use a large amount as washing hardens the fibers of clothing, which makes them unpleasant to touch and more difficult to wear. Fabric softener can help with this. 

Skipping dirty clothes

One of the most common mistakes is to wear the clothes without having washed them. Even though they may appear clean there may be some less obvious dirt and the hot iron can leave a permanent nasty stain.

Friday, 5 December 2014

10 Simple House Cleaning Tips

Organizing and keeping the house clean can sometimes seem to be an endless task, but acquiring small habits can make all the difference in your home. See our 10 tips to leave the house clean and tidy without losing too much of your valuable time: 
  1. Arrange the bed up, so you wonder that urge to go back to sleep and leave the room ready in just three minutes. 
  2. Open the windows and let the house air out for at least an hour. 
  3. Organize your cleaning supplies by sectors: put in a basket products which are used to clean the bathroom, in the kitchen the other stuff in the room and the other rooms, and so on. This way you are not going back and forth to the laundry in search of what forgotten. 
  4. Always collect the trash from the bathrooms. 
  5. Spend a brush and sanitize the toilet seat with a soaked in a mixture of 50% water and 50% white vinegar cloth. 
  6. Every day throw away the newspapers from the previous day, even if you do not read them, because they almost certainly will not be read. Do not forget that there are the online editions if you need to review an article. This ensures that nothing is left to accumulate. 
  7. Do not leave dirty dishes in the sink. If you used something, wash it straight away. A clean and tidy kitchen is synonymous with house that is in order. 
  8. Leave baskets in the bathrooms and laundry and get used to putting clothes there, and not on the bedroom floor. 
  9. Change bed linens and wash them once a week. Make sure to choose a day that does not have a lot of other laundry to be done. 
  10. Used, cleaned, put away. This simple rule of thumb will make all the difference in your home. By sticking to this policy you can reduce up to 90% of the mess. Remember: everything has its place, but they will not go to that place alone! 

Test: how does your home feel now. Fresh and revived?

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