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Sparkle and Shine Cleaning
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Quality house cleaning has never been so simple
Quality house cleaning has never been so simple

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Top Tips for Organising Small Spaces

At least once in our lives, we find ourselves lacking in space, which always leads to a decrease in sanity. Our brains don’t function as well when we’re disorganised or when we see large areas of disorganisation.

So, what can you do when you’re not working with a lot? Organising small spaces isn’t impossible, you just have to get creative. Learn some tips to corral the chaos below.

Take Advantage of Random Space

You know the saying leave no stone left unturned? Well if you’re living in a small space, leave no space unused.

So many times people look over usable storage space because it’s not what they think of as “usable”. But a quick weekend project or two and you’ve now got shelves above your bathroom door.

Other great places to store things are up above cabinets and in the top of closets. Can you install a row of wire shelving on top of your clothes rack?

Go out and buy some rolling drawers and stack them so they fit on your closet shelving. Now you have divided storage where you used to stack shoe boxes.

Get Rid of Boxes

On that note, no one should keep shoe or product boxes around the house. When you buy new shoes or a new appliance, break down the box and lay it out flat.

Take pictures of the information on the box, like usage directions or unit model #s. Then, send the box out to the recycling and throw the photos in an online drive.

Better yet, use that box and throw a few things in it to donate or give away. If your space is really small, it’s smart to always take one old thing out when you bring something new in.

Buy A Label Maker

You’d be surprised how much difference a label maker and some bins from the dollar store can make.

You may think it’s unnecessary, but with the machine in hand, the organisational bug will take you over. You’ll find yourself thinking “what else can I label”.

And it actually helps you organise in the long run too. A lot of mess happens when there isn’t a prescribed place for a certain thing. When you have a bin labelled “school stuff” and a bin labelled “extra cords”, you’ll find your junk drawer overflows less.

Help Little Hands

Children’s toys are one of the hardest things to organise. Why? Kids have a hard time remembering which things go where. Do balls and blocks go in the same bin or different ones?

If you kids are anything like ours, they just throw them wherever they can to get them off the floor and get done cleaning faster.

There’s an easy trick that we’ve had success with. You know those small Polaroid-type cameras that are popular right now? If you don’t already have one, ask a friend if you can borrow one.

Then lay out a bunch of toys that go in the same box together. Make sure the lighting is bright and snap a picture. Then, tape the polaroids onto each bin.

Now your child not only plays the matching game when it’s time to put things away, but they have no excuses about not knowing where something goes.

Use Vertical Space

Have you heard of floating shelves? What about the superman bookshelf that’s been floating around on Pinterest?

If you haven’t seen it, it’s a metal cut out of Superman with one arm holding up a load of books. The trick behind it is that the books hide the shelf and stack upwards.

You can install these vertical invisible shelves anywhere on your walls, which clears up bookshelf and desk space for other things. Try stacking books in colour order or invest in a book tower.

Book towers are the same idea, but they’re taller and can stand alone. What’s more perfect to put in an unused corner than all the books in your house?

It keeps them in one spot, they don’t tip over, and you can organise them by colour for a rainbow effect.

Repurpose Spaces

Do you have a large linen closet or an unused closet in the guest room? Repurpose it into a small office. Most closets are deep enough to fit a desk, though you may have trouble finding something the right width.

Don’t be afraid to look at used stores and buy second hand, you can shop more unique sizes that way. Use the shelving in the closet for office supplies then simply close the closet doors when you’re done.

Now you have a hideaway space that gives you privacy and opens up a spot in your living room.

Kick Out The Boogey Man

If you’re not using the space under yours or your kid’s beds for storage, get to it! Under-the-bed-bins are long, flat, and stack on top of each other.

We’ve used them to hold linens when we didn’t have a linen closet, old shoes, and craft supplies.

As a bonus, the plastic bin keeps dust and creepy crawlies away from whatever you store in the bins. Throw in a satchel of lavender and you’ll never have musty sheets again!

Repurpose Furniture

You know what makes an awesome TV stand and has much more storage than a traditional one? A dresser with lots of drawers. Or an old desk.

You can cut out the back part of the drawer for easy cord-connecting…
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How Often Should You Clean Your House?

Cleaning the house is a polarizing thing. Some people love doing it, while some will wait until the mould starts growing hair.

Not everybody can always be on top of it, though, and that’s totally understandable. There are a lot of things to clean. And with everything that needs cleaning, there’s another thing that most people don’t want to clean.

That being said, we have to clean. We would get sick and unhappy if we didn’t clean here and there. The best method is to plan out when you’ll clean individual parts of your home.

How often should you clean your house? Probably more than you want to, but if you break it up it’s not too much to manage.

How Often Should You Clean Your House?

Let’s get right into it– you might be due for a cleaning in a few areas!

1. The Bedroom

Our bedrooms have a couple of layers when it comes to cleaning. The first is bedding.

It’s recommended that you wash your bedding at least once a week. We also suggest that you fold your top cover in half to open up some airflow while you’re away at work. If the blanket is air-tight around the bed, it could lead to bad smells and livelier bacteria.

Another surprising thing you might want to try is vacuuming your mattress. Doing so every month will help prevent dust mites.

Next, you want to make sure that you wipe down all of your surfaces and keep your floors vacuumed. You should do this as needed, but it might help with consistency if you’re cleaning on a regular basis.

2. The Kitchen

The kitchen is so crucial and used so regularly that it’s essential to clean your surfaces at least once every couple of days. Two days at the max. There’s so much organic material that lives around your kitchen surfaces that you need to break it up regularly or else you’ll have mould problems.

You should scrub the insides of your fridge every few months, or whenever there’s a significant spill. You should scrub the inside of your oven at the same time you do the fridge.

Additionally, whether or not you use your microwave that often, you should try and clean it once a week. Wipe it down once every week or so, and do a deeper cleaning around once a month. One excellent way of deep clean your microwave is by putting a half-and-half cup of white vinegar and water in the microwave and letting it run until the glass steams up.

Let it sit for a while and wipe it down– voila!

3. The Bathroom

The bathroom might be the toughest thing to bring yourself to clean. Who could blame you? You have to put your face next to urine-grime while you reaching behind the toilet to clear out all of the gunk back there.

What could be worse than that? Not much. The trick is to not let that grime get there in the first place, dummy.

You should clean your bathroom once a week. This means scrubbing floors and surfaces, mostly. If you wipe everything down you won’t give those areas enough time to produce that nasty bacteria and grime.

Pay particular attention to your bathtub, too. A recent study showed that the bathtub was actually the place in the bathroom that harboured the most bacteria.

Other Things to Keep Up On

There are a lot of parts of our home that don’t require regular cleaning. Certain spots and items can hold their own for at least a few months, if not more without being cleaned.

That being said, you need to remember to clean them when the time comes. We’re here to be that reminder. You’re welcome.

You may want to do all of these together, as they can fit into the same cleaning time frame. Lump wiping down the walls of the fridge and oven into this list as well.

Every 3 to 6 Months

The first thing to do is wash your shower curtain. These things are constantly exposed to moisture, and they don’t get any relief. It may be the case that your shower curtain is passed its prime and has been for a long time.

There’s no shame in just getting a new one. The next thing to do is clean underneath all of the major furniture in your house. Yep, you have to move it.

This includes the patio furniture and furniture in rooms that you rarely use. Just make a sweep through the house and exterminate all those dust bunnies. Your pillows and blankets also fall into this category.

You’ll probably have cleaned your blanket more often than every 6 months, but sometimes the pillowcases get all the attention and the pillows themselves are left to collect bacteria.

Every Year

Your chimney and fireplace should be cleaned every year or so. Same goes for your gutters if you haven’t been up there in a while. You should try and handle your gutters every fall.

Also, make sure that ice dams don’t build up during the winter. If the ice dams, you’re likely to get a large build-up of melted snow that will build up and could potentially ruin your gutters.

There are a few yearly things to do on the inside of your home as well. Clean your carpet with a carpet cleaner and…
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10 Laundry Tips to Make Doing Laundry Less of a Chore

There seems to be a common disdain for laundry. It’s the chore that haunts many people as they try for days to ignore the overflowing basket. Yet, like most things in life, they can’t dodge it forever.

As the pile grows, their closet thins, forcing them to acknowledge the task they’ve been avoiding.

If this is you, take a deep breath. We’re about to make this monumental task just a little bit easier with 10 genius laundry tips.

Cycle Through with 10 Timesaving Laundry Tips

Ditch the dragging feet and put this dreaded chore into a quick cycle with these 10 time-saving laundry hacks.

1. Wear More, Wash Less

Not every outfit should only be worn once. Clothing that you wear but doesn’t become soiled throughout the day by dirt, sweat, stains, or other unsavoury things can be worn again without washing them.

This includes shirts, jeans, dresses, and other outer layers of clothes. Just avoid reusing undergarments and socks. These items should only be worn once before washing them for hygiene reasons.

But how long exactly can you wear your clothes before they need a fresh wash? According to GQ Magazine:

Workout clothes should go through the wash after every use

You can don the same suit up to 4 or 5 times before washing it

You can wear dress shirts and blouses 3 to 4 times between washes

T-shirts vary based on how much you sweat, but on average can be worn once or twice

Winter outer clothes such as jackets and coats can last the entire season

Hats, scarves, and gloves can go an entire month without cleaning

Pyjamas can be worn up to 4 times without needing a wash

Of course, these are loose guidelines. With the exception of single-use clothing, you should always gauge when it’s time to clean clothes by how soiled they become after each use.

2. Ditch Sorting By Doubling Up on Hampers

Skip the frustration of clawing through a mound of clothing as you sort between your whites and your colours. All you have to do is buy an extra clothes basket and designate one for each type of load.

You can toss your clothes in the appropriate bins when they’re ready for washing. Not only does it make shedding your old ensemble more fun, but it shaves off time from your regular laundry chores.

3. Beat the Lost Sock Dilemma with Uniformity

Socks are notorious for becoming lost at some point during the laundry process. In goes two, but only one comes out. Then what?

Stop playing the matching game by going out and buying uniform sets of socks. Buy solid colours in bulk so you can easily match them together, even if it isn’t the same original set.

4. Tackle Stains Immediately

Thanks to awesome inventions like Tide to Go Stain Remover Pens or Sard Wonder Stain Remover Sticks, you can tackle stains when they happen. Keep these handy utensils in your bag.

Not only will it get rid of the stain before it sets in, but they also save you from having to throw it in the wash the moment you get home. These spot removers are quick, efficient, and handy.

Especially when you loathe having to go through an entire wash cycle just for one item.

5. Gather You Loot in One Scoop Using a Towel

How many times have you tried to carry a load of laundry from one place to another only to leave a trail of socks and undergarments behind you?

Thankfully, there is a quick fix for this frustrating issue! Simply use a large towel to gather your load and fold it into a sack you can throw over your shoulder! It’s simple and effective.

Plus, you can see where you’re going far better than you would be when trying to peer through an armful of dirty clothes.

6. Do It Right the First Time

While this may not be a time-saver during the cleaning process, it will save you the time spent tossing ruined clothing and heading out to the store to buy new ones.

As you sort your loads, make sure you separate the fabrics by their cleaning requirements, not just colour.

Different fabrics require different cleaning methods. It pays to pay attention to them. Read the tags and look up any information you aren’t clear on regarding the directions for how to wash them.

You can also use this handy chart.

7. Conquer Overflowing Drawers by Stacking Horizontally

This simple storage hack can keep your drawers from overflowing. Instead of stacking your folded clothes vertically in the drawers, stack them horizontally.

Fill your drawers from to back and you’ll discover they hold far more than before. It will be easier to select your clothing without wrinkling others as well because you can visually see what’s in the stack without moving it around.

8. Cut Back on the Concentrate and Pocket the Extra Cash

Laundry detergent is often concentrated, meaning you don’t need a lot to get the job done. A little bit will cover an entire load.

Avoid being liberal with your detergent. Use the amount recommended on the back or a little l…
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8 Minimalist Living Tips for a Clutter-Free Home

Does it feel like you have entirely too much stuff inside your home?

You’re not alone! There are millions of people all across the globe who feel the same exact way you do, and many of them are taking steps to do something about it.

Millennials, in particular, have embraced what is being called the minimalist movement. They’re throwing out items that they don’t want or need anymore and decluttering their homes in a major way as part of minimalist living.

If this sounds like the right lifestyle for you, there are some simple steps you can take to live a clutter-free existence. It’s not as difficult as you might think to avoid cluttering up your home with too much stuff.

Here are 8 minimalist living tips designed to help you declutter your home and keep it that way.

1. Take Stock of What You Actually Have in Your Home

Most of the people who have a lot of stuff in their homes don’t have the faintest clue what the majority of it even is. They have boxes in their basements that haven’t been opened in years, clothes in the back of their closets that haven’t been worn in a decade, and more.

So the first thing you should do once you decide to embrace minimalist living is walk through your home and take inventory of everything inside of it. Look through closets, under beds, and up in the attic to give yourself a good idea of just how much stuff you have.

By doing this, you’ll likely motivate yourself to throw out some of your stuff. It’ll show you that you have entirely too many things cluttering up your home.

2. Break Your Home Up Into Sections and Start Decluttering It

It’s going to be just about impossible to declutter your entire home in a day. You probably won’t be able to do it over the course of a long weekend, either.

The decluttering process could take weeks and potentially even months to finish. And it can be a very overwhelming process if you attempt to tackle all your clutter at once.

Instead of taking that approach, break your home up into sections and tackle one section at a time. One weekend, you might want to work on cleaning out your bedroom closet, and the next, you might want to make a dent in everything you have stored in boxes down in the basement.

You’ll make decluttering a lot more manageable when you do this. You’ll also start to see progress before long, which will motivate you to continue to purge.

3. Make Sure Everything in Your Home Has a Place

Ideally, you should take the majority of the things you have stored away in the various parts of your home and either donate them to a good cause or throw them out if you don’t think anyone will want them.

But you’re obviously going to want to keep some of your stuff, and that’s perfectly fine. You just need to figure out a system for keeping your things organised so that things don’t spiral out of control again.

Figure out where you’re going to store items in your home and organise that area so that anything you’re keeping fits neatly into it. Label everything accordingly so that things are easy to find when you need them. And if you find that something doesn’t fit into your storage space, reconsider if you really need it.

4. Resist the Urge to Feel Guilty About Throwing Things Out

There are some people who really struggle to throw out things they have in their homes, even if they haven’t looked at or used them in years. They feel an emotional attachment to certain items and keep them around because they have sentimental value.

You don’t necessarily need to throw out everything when decluttering your home. Allow yourself to keep things like family heirlooms and thoughtful gifts that were given to you by family members over the years.

But you should try to detach yourself from as many items as you can. You should also avoid feeling guilty about doing it. Once you master this, it’ll make it much easier for you to get fully on board with minimalist living.

5. Avoid Buying New Things to Take the Place of Old Ones

Once you’re done decluttering your home for the first time in a long time, you might be tempted to run out and buy a bunch of things to fill it back up. After all, you have all this open space now, so why not make the most of it?

Don’t do it.

Enjoy minimalist living for a while and see how you like it. You’ll likely find that your mind and your life as a whole will be a lot less cluttered when your home is cleaner.

6. Commit to Buying High-Quality Items When You Do Shop

It’s unrealistic to think that you’re never going to go out and buy anything again. There are going to come times when you want to go shopping and purchase things.

But one easy way to prevent yourself from cluttering up your home is by investing in high-quality items when you decide to buy things. Rather than buying five pairs of $20 shoes and filling up your closet, buy one really nice pair of $100 shoes that will last…
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Secretly Dirty Homes: 8 Germ-Ridden Spots That Often Get Missed

You do everything you can to keep your family healthy. And your home is the heart of it all.

But could your home be harbouring germs and bacteria in places you don’t know about?

The short answer – yes. On the surface, your home can appear spick and span, but there are commonly missed areas that many people don’t even think about cleaning.

So where are these germs hiding? Let’s look at 8 hidden places that are secretly making our houses dirty homes.

Toothbrush Holder

After you spent time and consideration picking out the perfect toothbrush holder to compliment your bathroom decor, it’s likely you haven’t given it much thought since. Why would you? It’s serving its purpose well.

But your pretty toothbrush holder may be hiding a dirty secret.

Water runs down the toothbrush and collects at the bottom of the holder. This provides the perfect moist breeding ground for germs from your mouth and bacteria in the air (toilet water mist!) to grow.

And if more than one person is sharing the toothbrush holder, you could be sharing germs as well.

Stick your toothbrush holder in the dishwasher regularly. Or wash it with hot soapy water twice a week to put a stop to the yuck.

Sponges and Rags

You wouldn’t think that the very item you use to clean with could be harbouring grossness itself. But in fact, your sponges and rags are the germiest items in your house.

Bacteria, mould, and yeast can get picked up by your sponge or rag while you’re cleaning. And after it’s had time to grow and make a home there, you can spread it back into your house when you reuse it to clean again.

It’s a good idea to microwave wet sponges for two minutes once a day. Then make sure you replace them every two weeks. And for your rags, toss them in the washing machine using hot water after use.

Stove Knobs

Stove knobs are another item in your house that don’t get a lot of attention. Besides making them baby-proof, they don’t seem to be a hazard at all.

But in fact, when you touch food, particularly raw food, then touch your stove knobs, you’re transferring bacteria, mould, and other harmful pathogens. And when you go back to touch the knobs again, those pathogens get back onto your hands, which can make you or your family sick.

Wash your stove knobs once a week. And if you can remove them, even better. Giving them a good soak in hot, soapy water will take care of those pathogens once and for all.

Coffee Makers

There’s been recent controversy about dirty coffee makers on passenger aeroplanes. But have you considered the same dirty secret could be lingering in your kitchen as we speak?

The water reservoir in your coffee maker is a breeding ground for mould and bacteria. It gets into the machine from the water itself or from the air. Then the moist environment allows it to grow.

And if it’s not cleaned often and well, those pathogens drip into your coffee pot and end up in your cup of joe.

Always wash the removable parts of your machine after each use. And deep clean it once a month. Not only does it keep your coffee maker clean, it makes your coffee taste it’s absolute best.

Pet Food Bowls

Our pets are our family. We feed them the best pet food we can. But are we serving that food in the cleanest bowl possible?

Most of us refill our pet’s food and water dish without much thought. But how many times have you reused it before washing it? And think about it… do you know where your pet’s mouth has been before they stick it in their food bowl?

Old food, stagnant water, pests, and bacteria from your pet’s mouth will make their food station a playground for germs and bacteria.

Keep Fido safe and healthy. Wash their bowls in the dishwasher frequently. Or clean them with soapy, hot water.

Kitchen Sinks

Sure, we scrub down our kitchen counters often. Food and drink are frequent visitors to our counters, so we know to keep them clean. But when those food and drink stained dishes end up in our kitchen sink, do you give it the same consideration?

Dirty dishes, sponges, maybe even bathing the family pet all end up in your sink. And the moist environment is a favourite to germs and bacteria.

Because soap and water touch your kitchen sink doesn’t mean it’s clean. Scrub down the sides and bottom of the basin twice a week. Then once a month, use a bit of bleach and water to wash down the drain. And don’t forget about that sink strainer.

Toilet Brush

Here’s another perfect example of a cleaning tool that isn’t so clean. Toilet brushes are notorious for getting used, then stuck back into its holder until the time comes to scrub the bowl again. And while it waits, all those germs and bacteria picked up from the toilet continue to grow.

The best possible way to avoid the dirty, stinky toilet brush is to use brushes with disposable heads instead. All you do is use the cleaning head once, then throw away t…
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8 Easy and Effective DIY All Natural Cleaning Supplies

Did you know that your cleaning products could be killing you?

In fact, breathing the fumes of some cleaning chemicals can be as toxic as smoking. That’s a sobering thought.

Of course, most people (mostly women) who suffer ill effects this intense typically worked as cleaners and thus are exposed more often. Knowing the risks, why would you want to expose yourself even if it’s only every few days?

However, you still want to have a sparkling clean home. The great thing is that there are plenty of all natural cleaning supplies that you can use instead.

Let’s take a look.

1. Vinegar

Vinegar is a rock star when it comes to cleaning. It might not have the most pleasant smell in the world, but at least it dissipates quickly. You can also add essential oils to the mix to freshen up the smell. (More on those later).

The acidic nature of vinegar is perfect for cutting through tough grease, grime, and even soap scum. However, it’s not so good for natural stone surfaces. The acidity can damage porous materials like marble and granite.

Aside from that, you can use vinegar in virtually every room of your home. Pure vinegar is perfect for killing mould and mildew. So spritz some in your shower (or wherever the nasty stuff is growing) and let it sit for a few minutes. Rinse (you may need to apply a sponge for stubborn spots) and voila!

You can also use it in the kitchen for stubborn food messes. Heat the oven and spray with vinegar to clean out that crusty stuff. Or microwave vinegar in a bowl, let it sit a few minutes, then simply wipe away the grime.

2. Baking Soda

Baking soda is another star in the natural cleaning world. In addition to cleaning, it also deodorises and brightens.

The pH of Baking soda is very basic which is opposite to vinegar which has higher acidity. A bonus when using baking soda and vinegar together is that they combine to neutralise each other but do so by fizzing a lot and releasing some heat. Both the warmth and fizzing can be used when cleaning to your advantage.

Try mixing them together and scrubbing at those stubborn stains in the toilet. Have a clogged drain? Trying adding baking soda and vinegar following by a few cups of boiling hot water.

3. Essential Oils

Essential oils are a great way to freshen up your cleaning products. Who really loves the smell of vinegar anyway? A delicate lavender or lemon scent in the air is much more pleasant.

Also, many essential oils have antimicrobial properties making them an excellent addition to cleaning mixtures for more reasons than one. Some oils can irritate your skin so be sure to research the right ones. Common oils used in cleaning are lemon, lavender, and tea tree oil.

4. Lemon Juice

You can also use straight up lemon juice for a fresh smelling clean. It’s useful in many capacities.

Try adding a couple teaspoons to 4 parts water and 1 part vinegar for a streak-free shine on your windows and mirrors. Or use it to scrub down your cutting boards. Lemons can sanitise to a certain extent, but be aware that they don’t have a 100% kill rate. You may need something stronger to sanitise after cutting up raw meat.

5. Hydrogen Peroxide

For some strong sanitising action you can always turn to hydrogen peroxide. Yes, this fizzy liquid is useful for more than just cleaning out cuts.

Try adding 1/2 teaspoon to 1/2 cup baking soda along with 1 teaspoon of castile soap for a disinfectant akin to bleach. You can also mix it with vinegar and water to give your floor cleaner a disinfecting boost!

6. Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is another common medicine cabinet item that you can use for cleaning. Remember how we said you shouldn’t use vinegar on your marble or granite countertops? Here’s your alternative.

Like vinegar, it doesn’t have the most endearing smell in the world but at least it dissipates quickly. You can also use it with vinegar and water for an extra boost when cleaning windows and mirrors. Try adding a few drops of orange essential oil to ease up the smell.

7. Olive Oil

Bet you didn’t expect to see olive oil on this list! It’s great for both cleaning and polishing.

You aren’t supposed to use harsh cleaners on cast iron pans. So tackle that crusty food with olive oil and coarse salt instead. Rinse with hot water and voila! Note: the pan will still be slightly greasy but cast iron pans are supposed to be greased regularly anyway.

You can also use it with lemon juice or vinegar as a furniture polish.

8. Salt

Coarse salt is excellent in combination with some of these other cleaners when you need extra scrubbing power. If you couldn’t get all the yuck out of your oven with vinegar only, try adding some salt to the mix.

We already mentioned you can use it for cast iron pans. It also works well by itself to get the stubborn grime and grease out of normal frying pans.

You can also …
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The Main Causes of Indoor Air Pollution

We often worry about the air we breathe outside, but what about the air in your home? Did you know that the air in your home can be just as polluted as outdoors? Learning about the most common causes of indoor air pollution as well as how to prevent your air from being contaminated can make a huge difference in the overall health of your family, as well as the comfort of your home. Take a look at some of the most common factors you can easily solve to keep your home pollution free.

Cigarette Smoke

Of course, second hand smoke from cigarettes can be an issue, leading to breathing problems as well as causing lung cancer. However, other forms of smoke, including from fireplaces and cooking in the kitchen can pollute your home, aggravating allergies and other breathing conditions. Take the time to make sure your home is well ventilated, and don’t smoke indoors. Have your chimney cleaned regularly, and make sure air filters are replaced on a regular basis to avoid buildup of harmful chemicals.

Mould

A lot of people use humidifiers to keep the air in their homes moist for easier breathing. However, if the air is too damp and warm, it could lead to the growth of mould, which can seriously harm you and your family, especially if you have long term exposure to black mould. In fact, it could cause chronic respiratory conditions and irritate asthma.

You should be sure to keep the humidity level in your home under 50% and check regularly for leaking pipes or water drips. In addition, consider a dehumidifier for your crawl space, since this is one of the most common areas for mould to grow and fester.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

This may not be a term so familiar, such as mould, but these are common in most households. These are toxic gases emitted from common household cleaners, paints, paint removers, varnishes, glues or adhesives, building materials, and even office equipment like printers or copiers. Short term ailments caused by exposure to VOCs include headache, nausea, and dizziness or light-headedness. However, there are much more severe, long term issues as well, such as potential for cancer and organ failure.

These are present indoors in concentrations ten times that of what you find outside, making them a leading cause of health issues. One way to reduce the presence of VOCs in your home is to use organic cleaners or to make your own (typically with baking soda and vinegar) which won’t contain VOCs. Also, if you avoid direct exposure as much as possible and assure that your home is well ventilated – especially while cleaning or working on home projects – you’ll greatly reduce the chances of being affected by VOCs.

Radon

This is a less common problem today, since most builders utilise materials that don’t contain radon and are careful about locations to assure that homes aren’t built on rock formations with high concentrations of this radioactive material. However, if you have an older home, it could be in your best interest to have your house checked for exposure, since radon is a significant contributor to lung cancer and actually causes tens of thousands of deaths every year. When it comes to clearing up the issue, you’ll have to enlist the help of professionals who can have the substance removed carefully and safely so that your family is no longer at risk of harmful effects of this toxic material.

Carbon Monoxide

Again, when you think of carbon monoxide, your first image may be cigarettes, but these are only one source of the poisonous gas. You also have problems from equipment, such as a leaking furnace or gas heaters. Anything that burns fossil fuels can be a source of carbon monoxide, and can cause nausea, unconsciousness, and, in high concentrations if exposed for too long can even lead to death. You can’t see or smell carbon monoxide, which makes it extremely dangerous. The first step to protecting your home from this form of pollution is to install a carbon monoxide detector to alert you to the presence of the gas. You can also have your furnace and gas heaters inspected and cleaned regularly to assure it’s in good working order as a preventative measure. And as mentioned before don’t smoke in your home to avoid exacerbating the problem.

Keeping Your Home’s Indoor Air Pollution Free

These are a few of the most potent toxins that can add to the indoor air pollution of your home and make breathing a hazard to your health, but understanding these is a great start to assuring your home is safe and that you only breathe good quality air. Other simple ways of ensuring you and your family breath clean healthy air is by simply adding some specifically selected plants or by utilising the help of a professional cleaning service. Be mindful of your environment, and try to live a cleaner, greener life, and make sure your home is clean to avoid other issues that may arise from…
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Things to Clean Before a Holiday: 8 Things to Clean Before You Leave

If you’re planning a big holiday, you’re probably wracking your brain, trying to make sure you’ve done everything you need to make for a smooth vacation.

So your bags are packed, your trip is planned, you’ve got someone to stop by and water the plants–but what else do you need to do before you head off to paradise?

One big thing you’ll want to accomplish before heading out on holiday is to make sure everything is squared away at home. This includes making sure everything is tidy and clean.

To help you be sure you’re tackling all the chores necessary, we’ve compiled 8 of the most important things to clean before a holiday! Here they are.

1. Clear Out the Fridge

Perhaps one of the worst things to come home to after a long holiday is a fridge full of old, expired groceries.

Take a few minutes the night before you leave on holiday to toss anything that’ll go bad over the course of your trip. If you’re a planner, you’ve probably taken care to cut down on stocking the fridge in the days prior to leaving anyway, but now is your chance to toss whatever is leftover.

Throw out fruits and vegetables, restaurant leftovers, milk, and anything else that has the potential to become stinky over the coming days. When you come home to a crisp, clean-smelling refrigerator, you’ll be glad you did!

2. Wash Those Dishes

One of the only things more unpleasant than coming home to rotten food in your refrigerator is coming home to a huge, rotting stench filling your entire kitchen, wafting throughout the whole house.

The culprit? Those dirty dishes left to sour in the sink.

Doing dishes is a time-consuming chore, especially if you haven’t got a dishwasher to fall back on. But if you’re planning to leave your house behind for longer than a few hours, you’ll want to get a headstart and take the time to wash your dishes.

Dirty pots and pans left for an extended time are enough to create a smell so terrible not even the strongest candles will mask it!

3. Wipe Down the Counters

Once you’ve cleared out the refrigerator and scrubbed every last dish, you might notice your counters suffering from stray messes. If you’re headed out of the house on holiday, it’s a good idea to take a minute to wipe down your counters, leaving no wet or sticky or crumby messes behind.

The best part about this task may be how quick and easy it is–but another huge plus to wiping counters off is how much more clean it can make your space as a whole feel.

Even if you’re on your way out the door, take a second to snag a wet cloth and skim your counters. Your future self will thank you!

4. Scrub the Bathrooms

While you’ve got your counter-scrubbing-pants on, head down the hall to your home’s bathrooms. Although you know full well that it’s one of the most mess-prone areas of your home, you just hate cleaning your bathroom. We all do.

But if you’re planning on skipping town for a few days, there may be no better peace of mind than to know that, when you’re home again, there won’t be a toilet or tub or sink waiting there to be scrubbed.

So strap on some rubber gloves, grab a cocktail, put on some tunes, and get scrubbing!

5. Finish the Laundry

Your bags are all packed for your trip, but there’s still a laundry basket full of last week’s work clothes waiting in the laundry room, huh?

The good thing about laundry is that, although it can take hours to get through a few loads, it’s a great multitasking activity. Throw in a load of laundry before you start washing dishes, then switch it over when the machine’s buzzer sounds and you head to clean the bathrooms.

Getting your laundry folded up and squared away means your machines will be free for washing all your holiday outfits whenever you’re ready to empty your suitcase!

6. Leave Nothing Behind

On the floor, that is.

This is another simple, but high-impact task you should do each time you head out on holiday. Take a look around–is there anything strewn across the floor that doesn’t belong there? Pick it up!

One way to ensure you’re leaving your house as picked-up as possible is to run the vacuum cleaner or broom across the floors of every room in your home. If you need to bend to move it out of the way of your cleaning, it should be stored somewhere besides the middle of your floor!

7. Make Your Bed

Ever come home from a long holiday, desperately missing your own bed–only to find that your sheets are rumpled, your pillows are missing, and your comforter is still hanging up to dry?

There may be no better feeling than coming home from a long holiday to be welcomed by your very own bed. But no one wants to find that cozy, happy place to be a total mess when they finally make it there.

Taking the time to make your bed can be a super-quick process. Just shake out your sheets, straighten the pillows, and drape your quilt on top. Having a neatly-made bed o…
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Carpet vs Hardwood Flooring: Which is Healthier?

Many homeowners and house design experts debate about choosing carpet vs hardwood flooring. Is it true that one holds onto more dirt and bacteria than the other? Is one easier to clean than the other? What about other considerations, such as price, soundproofing, insulation, and overall comfort.

In this article, we’re examining the pros and cons of both carpet and hardwood flooring. We’ll attempt to resolve the carpet vs hardwood debate once and for all.

Does Your Floor Affect Your Health?

Hardwood is perhaps the oldest and most widespread type of flooring used all across the Western world. It’s durable, easy to clean, and attractive. However, people also think that hardwood is healthier than carpet because it does not allow mould and dust to accumulate.

Besides allergies, there’s asthma and a variety of other conditions that may be aggravated because of your flooring choices. So yes, your floor can affect your health. But how does this happen?

Asthma and Allergies: Are Hard Floors Better than Carpets?

Reducing exposure to triggers is the most effective way to prevent asthma or allergy flare-ups. Based on studies, carpets can indeed act as storage for most allergens. This can lead to worsening of the symptoms of asthma and lower the quality of life for those suffering from allergies.

The most troublesome location is the bedroom. A dirty carpet flooring in the bedroom means that you will be exposed to dust and allergens each night. On the other hand, hardwood flooring is a lot easier to clean and keep free of dust, pet fur and other allergens.

However, hardwood floors still get dirty and an unclean hardwood floor is as dangerous to people suffering from asthma as an unclean carpet floor.

In either case, keeping your floor clean will reduce the concentration of allergens in your home. Cleaning your carpet flooring with steam on a regular basis will make it as safe as any hardwood flooring for people who suffer from allergies or asthma.

However, if you are not up to the task of steaming your carpets at least twice a month, then it is probably best to replace carpeting with hardwood flooring. This is especially important if you or someone in your family suffers from allergies or asthma.

As a side note, keep in mind that synthetic flooring can be even worse than unclean carpet flooring when it comes to asthma. Synthetic flooring is known to release gasses that are collectively known as volatile organic compounds.

These compounds can aggravate the symptoms of asthma. Thankfully, most synthetic flooring stop releasing volatile organic compounds after a while, but this is something you should know before investing in new flooring.

Testing Yourself before Deciding

Before deciding on a type of flooring for your house, it is a good idea to test yourself and your loved ones for allergies. Allergy skin testing will help you decide what type of flooring is best for you. Also, keep in mind that children are more sensitive to allergens that lie on the floor due to their size and height.

Even if you are allergic, remember that a dry, clean carpet helps improve indoor air quality instead of worsening the symptoms of allergies.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), you can indeed have healthy and safe carpet flooring. AAFA suggests using the Stanley Steamer Carpet Cleaner, which has been certified by the foundation. There are other commercial carpet cleaners you can use as well.

Carpet vs Hardwood: Additional Considerations

Even when dust and allergens are cleaned off, there are several other health issues to consider.

Moisture

Carpets absorb moisture a lot more than hardwood flooring, making them a poor choice for wet areas. Also, mould can grow literally overnight in a wet carpet, and it’s notoriously difficult to remove. So, forget using carpets anywhere near your bathrooms.

Insulation

Another important consideration is heat insulation and overall warmth. In this area, carpets are the clear winners. A carpet flooring can keep your home warmer and better insulated, helping you lower your utility bills.

The way carpets warm your house has to do with the air that is trapped inside their fabric. The trapped air acts as an insulator, making the carpet a floor-wide insulation against heat loss. Carpets are easier on naked feet as well, especially during cold winters.

Comfort

This is entirely a matter of taste. For some people, the soft fabric of carpets feels more comfortable than hardwood flooring. There is no definitive answer here, so pick the one you like most.

Ease of Cleaning and Maintenance

When it comes to cleaning, hardwood flooring is definitely easier and faster to clean. Carpets need special equipment and a lot of time to clean properly. However, hardwood flooring is also a lot more expensive to maintain and replace when needed…
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How to Clean a Bathtub Without Hurting Your Back

There are few things more relaxing and replenishing than a warm bath.

Bathing can be more than a luxurious experience, it can also be good for you. The health benefits of relaxing in the tub are numerous and varied and backed by a number of scientific studies.

But before you take a dip into soapy relaxation, your own home bathtub could probably use a bit of a cleanup. Tubs quickly can collect the dirt, grime, and bacteria we leave behind on their surfaces. Soap scum buildup can leave a slimy film across your bath and shower’s surfaces.

Simply stated, cleaning the tub is a task all homeowners should take on frequently.

But if you’re someone with back problems, this task can be awfully difficult. The shape of a tub can require contorting yourself into uncomfortable positions. Read on, and we’ll walk you through how to clean a bathtub without irritating your back.

Know Your Tub

Not all tubs are the same, and different types of tubs will require different cleaning approaches.

Take special note of what kind of finish your bathroom’s bathtub has. Common tub finishes are porcelain, enamel, acrylic, and fibreglass. If the finish on your tub looks more plastic, it’s likely acrylic or fibreglass finish.

Some tubs may be made from stone, copper or other materials used to make bathtubs during their long history. Cleaning these tubs will require special care and technique, and you should check with the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions before proceeding.

Choosing A Cleaner

Once you’re familiar with what finish your tub has, you can get the right type of cleaner. When buying commercially available tub cleaners, always check the label to see if the cleaner can be abrasive. Abrasive cleaners can easily damage certain types of tubs.

A porcelain tub has a far rougher surface than other tub varieties and therefore has a wider range of options when it comes to cleaners. Porcelain and enamel tubs can usually stand up to cleaners that can be abrasive, but other types of tubs should stay away.

Homemade cleaners can typically be used on all types of tubs with little concern for damage. A paste made by combining baking soda and water is a great DIY tub cleaner and one that works especially well on soap scum. Mixing warm vinegar and dish-washing liquid is another DIY concoction that many swear by.

Clear The Area

Once you’ve got a cleaner picked out, it’s time for the hard part: the cleaning itself.

First things first, make sure you’ve cleared an area for yourself to work in. That means pulling out all the shampoos, conditioners, and soaps that line the corners of your bathtub and leaving them off to the side. Razors and washcloths too.

Attempting to work around these items is a recipe for disaster.

Most of these items should be easy to grab and deposit off to the side. But if some are hard to reach without bending over into uncomfortable positions, consider bringing a pair of tongs with you into the bathroom and picking them up that way. Or, enlist the help of a family member.

Proper Tub Cleaning Techniques

Once everything is removed, take a look over your tub and search for trouble. Large stains are indications of serious dirt and grime. They are areas you’ll want to put extra focus on.

After a brief lookover, begin applying your homemade paste or commercial cleaner to your bathtub. Conventional wisdom is to start at the rim of the tub and work your way into the centre, applying the paste in small circular motions. For those with back pain, this is likely the step we’re worried about.

Using the right tools can help to elevate the awkward posture needed to apply tub cleaner. Using a clean floor mop or a no-kneel scrubber can help to apply cleaner correctly without needing to bend over at an uncomfortable angle.

If you do plan to use a mop, it’s best to spray down the whole tub at first from above. Then work the mop from the corners down to the centre of the tub just as you would normally.

When scrubbing through with your mop or scrubber, remember to put extra care and attention on any stained areas. Longer and more rigorous scrubbing in these areas will help to clear stains and restore cleanliness.

Your Next Steps

Once you’ve worked through the tub with cleaner, you can take some time to relax.

Many people make the mistake of cleaning the tub immediately after applying the cleaner. But this actually robs the cleaner of time to work. Instead, taking a half hour to rest your back or take care of other chores is much more likely to produce good results.

When it comes to rinsing the tub, one should use the shower head or a bucket of cold water. Rinsing cleaner is often an overlooked but essential step of the process. A few hours is fine, but leaving cleaner sitting for too long in a tub can permanently harm the tub’s finish.

If your tub has shower doors on it, it’s als…
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