Clearing a Clogged Drain

Conventional commercial drain cleaners often include dangerous and harsh chemicals, such as acid and lye. Not only can these substances harm your drain plumbing, they are also a threat to your health, your family’s health and the safety of the wastewater stream. A gentler approach to drain cleaning that is still effective is to use an old-fashioned plunger, baking soda, washing soda or a natural enzyme product.

First, try running hot water through the clogged drain and following up with some elbow grease and the plunger. If the drain is still sluggish, use the baking soda method: pour ½ cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by 2 cups of boiling water, which will help to clear the drain. Repeat as needed till the drain clogs dissolve.

Baking soda combined with vinegar is also an excellent natural drain cleaner. First, pour ½ cup of baking soda into the drain, and follow with ½ cup of white vinegar. Let the mixture fizz for several minutes, then flush with hot water.

Washing soda may be needed for more stubborn drain problems. Pour 1 cup of washing soda into the drain and let it sit for half an hour. Then, use one of the baking soda methods detailed above. Since washing soda is highly alkaline, it can damage pipes if overused, so only use the washing soda method for particularly difficult blockages.

Natural enzyme drain cleaning products contain live enzymes that actually eat organic matter, breaking it down and keeping your drains clean. Use an enzyme drain cleaner monthly to help keep drains clear; the enzymes in these products also help to reduce odors in drains and garbage disposals.


Odor Control and Removal Made Easy

Odor in homes and buildings arises from many sources that may include animal urine, disaster contamination, moisture problems or just plain soil. Odor in carpet and hidden areas can be especially problematic. Pet urine decontamination normally requires more specialized deodorizing techniques. What should consumers do?

"The key is prompt discovery and cleanup, but if the contamination has been allowed to 'soak in' a professional may be needed. In some cases it may be necessary to not only clean and deodorize the carpet but also replace a section of the under cushion and, in extreme situations, even seal the subfloor to prevent the odor from wicking up and returning after cleaning."

To remove musty odor associated with moisture, ultimately it's important to identify and correct the moisture (high humidity) intrusion problem. What does this involve?

"Moisture intrusion detection for consumers is often limited to noticing wet or damp areas. Sometimes a musty smell is detected prompting the need for investigation. Eliminating water leaks and other moisture sources is vital."

"Professionals have a range of systems for moisture detection including various probes and non intrusive meters that can register the presence of moisture behind or below a surface such as dry wall. Thermal or heat sensing imaging cameras are also used in many cases to locate otherwise invisible pockets of water; due to evaporative cooling, these areas have a lower temperature."

Odor associated with disaster contaminates (smoke, trauma events) requires highly specialized procedures and techniques. What are they?


Homemade Window Cleaning Products

Many people like the idea of making their own window cleaning products, which can be gentler than commercial window cleaning solutions and less expensive as well. An excellent and easy-to-make window cleaner consists of 2 cups of water, ¼ cup of vinegar and ½ teaspoon liquid detergent. Combine these in a spray bottle, spray on your windows, and wipe with a clean, soft rag or paper towels.

Some other good homemade window cleaning solution recipes include:

1 quart of water and 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of ammonia, ½ cup of rubbing alcohol and ¼ teaspoon of dishwashing liquid

1 cup of water, 1 cup of rubbing alcohol and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. This mixture also works well on tile, chrome and other solid surfaces


Where Does All This Dust Come From?

Where does it come from? Scientists in Arizona are reporting a surprising answer to that question, which has puzzled and perplexed generations of men and women confronted with layers of dust on furniture and floors. Most of indoor dust comes from outdoors. Their report was published in the Nov. 1, 2009 issue of ACS' Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal.

In the study, David Layton and Paloma Beamer point out that household dust consists of a potpourri that includes dead skin shed by people, fibers from carpets and upholstered furniture, and tracked-in soil and airborne particles blown in from outdoors. It can include lead, arsenic and other potentially harmful substances that migrate indoors from outside air and soil. That can be a special concern for children, who consume those substances by putting dust-contaminated toys and other objects into their mouths.

The scientists describe development and use on homes in the Midwest of a computer model that can track distribution of contaminated soil and airborne particulates into residences from outdoors. They found that over 60 percent of house dust originates outdoors. They estimated that nearly 60 percent of the arsenic in floor dust could come from arsenic in the surrounding air, with the remainder derived from tracked-in soil. The researchers point out the model could be used to evaluate methods for reducing contaminants in dust and associated human exposures.



Microwaves can be used to emergency disinfect clothes, such as a child's cap that another kid has put on, as long as they have absolutely NO metal in the zippers, buttons, rivets etc. ALWAYS place a cup of cold water next to the article to absorb the heat and microwave on high until the water is steaming.

Removing mildew stains from clothes: Begin by brushing of mold outdoors so you don't scatter mildew spores in the house. On washable fabrics, pretreat by rubbing detergent into the dampened stain. Then, launder the items in hot water, detergent and chlorine bleach, if it is safe for the fabric. If the stain remains, sponge it with hydrogen peroxide, rinse and launder. If the item isn't bleach-safe, soak it in an oxygen bleach that is safe for colors, then wash it. Take non-washable fabrics to the dry cleaner and tell them what the stain is.


House Cleaning - Cleaning Tips

Advice for House Cleaning

Housecleaning can be a tough chore. You may find that you need a little help. If so, then consider these 10 quick tips for cleaning your home.

Vacuum often. While you could spend the whole day vacuuming, especially if you have children or pets, you probably don’t want to. Still you should vacuum each room in your home at least once a week and frequently used areas three to four times a week. That will keep dirt from getting stuck in the carpeting and wearing it out more quickly.

Make a schedule for periodic jobs, such as cleaning baseboards and organizing cabinets. You may want to go through your cabinets every six months, for example, but you cannot remember the last time you did it. Schedule your cleaning time right alongside the doctor’s appointment and business meeting so that you won’t forget.

Wipes aren’t just for babies. You can find antibacterial wipes, furniture wipes, glass wipes, and more. Take advantage of these inexpensive cleaning aids. Wiping down the bathroom sink everyday with a wipe can permit you to go longer between full cleanings.

Do it now! This phrase is the mantra of organizational gurus, who know that the key to keeping one’s home clean is to do every task as soon as it needs to be done. Putting that ice cream bowl in the sink now is much easier than putting three away tomorrow.

Simple is better. Keep things simple, and cleaning will be easier. Stick to one illustrated book on your coffee table, for example, instead of an arrangement of figurines. The former will be easier to dust and keep tidy, making your job to clean, easy.

It’s okay to cut corners – sometimes. You can vacuum around the furniture many times, but you do need to do a good job and move everything once or twice a month. Vacuuming along the walls and furniture is easier to do monthly than annually during a big cleaning day.

If you haven’t used something in a year, throw it out. If you’ve looked at that green sweater in your closet and shrugged everyday this winter, you have moved passed the sweater. Just get rid of it, and you won’t have to worry about it anymore.

When you find a problem, fix it. Many people tend to just allow cleaning problems to build up. If you’re always tripping over the kids’ shoes when you come in, put a shoe rack at the front door. Move the cleaning supplies so they’re easier to reach. Put the broom in a better spot. Fixing problems can make cleaning go much more smoothly.

Have a filing system for paper. Make it a point to deal with paper as soon as it comes in the house. Sign papers. Pay bills. Toss junk mail.

Keep a laundry basket in frequently used rooms. You can toss in items that go in other rooms of the house to make cleaning much easier. Then just take the basket around at the end of the day and deposit items in the right spot.


A checklist of home cleaning supplies

Maintaining a well-kept home requires a commitment to regular cleaning. To make the process easier, make sure that you have the right cleaning tools on hand at all times. This ensures that you can take care of accidents when they happen, rather than risking stains setting into your carpet while you run to the store to buy an emergency ration of cleaning products.

Dusting Products

While every home is different, most will require a basic set of tools and cleaning products that can be used to maintain tidiness and banish dirt and spills. Dusting is nobody’s favorite task, but it’s one of the easiest jobs to tackle when you have the right supplies.

There are five basic types of cleaning supply products used for dusting:

Dusting supplies, which are of critical importance in homes with people who suffer from allergies

Dusting cloths (microfiber cloths are excellent)

Dust mop and/or vacuum cleaner duster attachment

Dusting spray

Furniture polish

Cleaning Tools for Every Job

The floor cleaning supplies you need may vary slightly, depending on the type of floors in your home. For instance, carpeting may require more advanced carpet cleaning tools, including:

Vacuum cleaners, Long-handled brooms, Whisk brooms, Dustpans, Mops, Mop buckets, Solution for mopping based on floor type, Tile and grout cleaners, Floor polish.

General surface cleaning supplies can come in handy for almost every surface in the home:

All-purpose cleaners, Bathroom cleaner or wipes, Kitchen cleaner or wipes, Scrubbers or scrub brushes, Sponges, Paper towels, Cleaning wipes, Protective gloves.

Specialty cleaning supplies, which depend on the appliances and furnishings in your home:

Dish soap, Dishwasher soap, Oven cleaning products, Stone surface cleaner, Wood polish, Glass cleaner, Window cleaning tools, such as squeegees, Leather cleaner, Upholstery spot remover, Toilet bowl cleaner, Soft scrubbing cleaner, Laundry detergent, Laundry stain remover, Laundry additives, Bleach, Metal or silver polish.

Since every household generates waste, garbage supplies are needed to take care of it:

Trash cans (one for each room in the house), Trash can liner bags (reused grocery bags are fine), Recycling containers, Baking soda.

Everyone has methods for making the job of cleaning the house a bit easier. Some tried and true house-cleaning tips include:

Clean paintbrushes are helpful for dusting hard-to-reach areas

A bottle brush is an excellent tool for cleaning wineglasses, flower vases and other glassware with narrow parts

A steam cleaner works well to clean floors and grime in the bathroom

Roomba robotic vacuums are excellent for cleaning underneath furniture without having to move it

Goo Gone can remove just about any sticky residue, including gum stuck on the bottoms of shoes

Ostrich feather dusters have tiny “fingers” that wrap around breakable items, eliminating having to move them when dusting


Chemical-Based Window Cleaners

Commercial window cleaning products are specially formulated for peak effectiveness, especially those which contain ammonia. There are many window cleaning products in the window cleaning supply section of your local hardware store or home improvement store to choose from. Whichever product you choose to use, there are steps you can take to clean your windows for the best results:

Be sure that the sun is not shining on your windows when you clean them, because the sunlight will dry the cleaner too quickly, resulting in streaks.

Start at the top of the window and work your way down.

Use a good-quality cleaning tools like a squeegee, and wipe the squeegee dry after each swipe.

Buff any remaining streaks with towels.

If a streak is especially stubborn, it indicates that grease or dirt remains. Repeat your cleaner/squeegee process.

When washing exterior windows, use a garden hose to perform an initial rinse. Just keep the pressure low to avoid forcing any water into the house, or damaging your windows to the point that you need window repair services.

If your home has many windows, overly large windows or windows that are very dirty, you may want to contact a window cleaning business. Ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations; if you can find a reliable window cleaner who works on their own, you will likely pay less than if you hire a commercial window cleaning company to clean your windows. Just be sure to check references before you allow them into your home.


Miscellaneous Cleaning Tips

Use crumpled up black and white newspaper dipped in vinegar to wash windows. Dip paper in vinegar and wipe the glass until almost dry, then shine with dry newspaper or cloth.

Children's stickers can be removed from wood by applying white vinegar to the sticker, letting it soak and then scraping off.

Clean those dirty, dusty, mini-blinds in your house in a snap! Fill the bathtub with warm, soapy water and let the blinds soak. If they are white blinds, add a little bleach to get rid of any stains.

Remove spilled nail polish from wood furniture: Don't wipe it up! The solvents in nail polish soften most finishes, and wiping may take off the finish. Instead, let the polish dry completely; then gently scrape it off with a credit card. Wax the surface, using superfine steel wool.

Use cooking or salad oil for lubricating non-essential mechanical things like hinges, tools etc. A light coat of oil will keep tools from rusting and you don't need to buy expensive and toxic chemicals like WD-40 etc.

To get hard water deposits off of your fixtures try some diluted muriatic acid (available at pool stores or hardware stores), but don't store it near chlorine- they can combine and become explosive!

Consider investing in a small rug cleaner to use for quick cleanups of pet stains and kid spills.

Run your sponges through your dishwasher every few days, and dispose of them every few weeks. They breed bacteria because they do not get the opportunity to dry out in between uses.

If you live in a two story house, keep a second vacuum cleaner upstairs; who likes to lug those things up and down stairs? Having 2 makes it easier to whip off some vacuuming when the mood strikes.

Don't buy special cleaners to get out baby formula stains, use a little isopropyl alcohol on the stain, then a regular stain remover. Works like a charm.

Cleaning ceramic tile: Regular rubbing alcohol works wonders for a ceramic floor. Just pour straight on and rub around with mop until it drys. Make sure children are not in the area during this process and have good ventilation in room.

Removing Crayon from walls: use damp sponge and colgate toothpaste. Rub carefully.

Removing scuff marks, pen, and pencil from walls: use a dry cloth and rubbing alcohol.

Cleaning your carpet: Preparing for carpet cleaning? First sweep your carpet with a broom, this loosens up all the ground in dirt. Then vacuum. After that you might notice a big difference in the way your carpet looks. For wiping out stains, you can use a solution of 2 parts water one part ammonia in a spray bottle. Spray stain and wipe. For a dry cleaner use a mixture of 2 cups cornmeal and 1 cup borax. Sprinkle on carpet and let sit for one hour then vacuum. To remove pet odors, sprinkle carpet with baking soda and let sit for one hour, then vacuum.

Garbage Disposal: If you've got a lemon that's a little past its prime, cut it in quarters and run it through your sink disposal to freshen your drain.

Use an alcohol(isopropyl)/water solution for cleaning mirrors. 1 part alcohol to 4 parts water. Cleans with no streaks. Coffee filters make great glass cleaning cloths.

Dirty neck rings around shirt or blouse collars can be removed by putting shampoo on them. Rub the shampoo in like you were washing your hair. Shampoo is specifically made to remove body oils. A cheap bottle of shampoo kept by the washing machine is handy for all kinds of stains in clothing. Don't forget this trick when you are traveling.

For removing ink stains: Ball point pen stains can be removed by using hair spray - let the hair spray dry and wash the item. Table salt will absorb ink when it is spilled - pour salt on the wet ink and continue to add salt until there is no more "wet ink". Then vacuum or wash. Other types of ink can be removed using rubbing alcohol.


Other Cleaning Tips & Tricks

Removing Candle Wax from Walls:
Candle wax can be removed from walls or other surfaces with an iron and facial tissue. Set the tissue over the wax and gently iron. When the wax seeps through or the tissue begins to brown, apply a new tissue.

Cleaning Chrome:
Club soda or seltzer water will clean chrome.

Removing Blood Stains:
Corn starch can remove blood stains. Rinse the stain in cold water, then rub in moistened cornstarch. Place the item in the sun.

Removing Gum:
Gum can be removed using ice to harden and a dull knife to remove.

Removing Magic Marker Ink:
Hair spray will remove magic-marker ink from surfaces.

Cleaning Window Screens:
Nylon covered sponges are great for cleaning window screens.

Removing Smoke Odor:
Place a bowl of vinegar out to absorb smoke odor.

Unstick That Door:
Car wax applied to a sticking door will ease opening and closing.

Repairing Cigarette Burns in Carpets:
Cigarette burns in carpeting can be repaired by cutting the blackened fibers from the hole. Squeeze liquid glue into the hole and fill with fibers trimmed from carpet remnants.

Repairing Small Holes in Window Screens:
Clear nail polish will repair small holes in window screens.

Killing Flies:
Hair spray will kill flies.

Window Painting Tip:
Newspaper strips when wetted can be used around windows when painting, in place of masking tape. Remove strips before they dry out.

Drying Out Wet Magazines or Books:
Place paper towels on both sides of a wet page to absorb the moisture and prevent wrinkling.


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