Product Reviews

4 Things you should be buying at the Dollar Store

There are some things that you have to buy.  The good news is, you can buy the same products at the dollar store and pay less money for them.

 

Here are the top 4 items that you should be paying less for!

1. Party Supplies

If you’ve ever thrown a birthday party you know that tablecloths, pink paper plates, and plastic spoons can get expensive.  Why would you spend a ton of money on disposable items when you can purchase them at the dollar store for a fraction of the cost?  While you are there, make sure you stock up on gift bags and greeting cards.  (These are great to have around for those last-minute gifts!)

2. Cleaning Products

Buying products to clean your home doesn’t have to clean out your wallet.  The exact same brands that are available at major retailers are also at the dollar store.  While I can’t vouch for the dollar store brands, I am always a fan of saving money on the brands that I already buy.

3.Cleaning Supplies

Just like cleaning products, you can also find all of the nifty tools to clean your home: sponges, scrub brushes, scouring pads, and even microfiber cloths.   They also carry rubber dishwashing gloves, spray bottles, and even cleaning caddy’s to store everything inside.

4. Storage Solutions

My absolute favorite aisle at the dollar store is the storage aisle.  Hands down.  They have a plethora of bins and baskets of every color to make organizing a cinch.  I’ve bought small baskets for the shelves of my desk, fabric bins for organizing my pantry, plastic boxes for organizing Barbie’s countless outfits and accessories in my daughter’s room, and even a few color-coded boxes for my husband’s tool bench.


What’s your favorite item to buy at the dollar store?

The Truth About Mold Removal – Bleach vs. Vinegar

For some of you it may surprise you to learn that using bleach as an effective mold killer is bleacha myth. Why would it not kill mold? It sure smells strong enough to kill anything, however, the real facts are that using bleach on any porous surfaces (i.e; drywall, wood etc) only takes away the discoloration, not the mold itself.
Mold is the name of a giant family of microorganisms and it can be found every where, inside and outside & especially in your home! Mold enjoys dark moist areas (i.e; under your kitchen sink) and loves living in the same temperatures we enjoy (between 68-86 degrees) However, it seems no matter the conditions mold grows where it is least wanted. On your walls, under your carpet and in your cabinets.
How to kill mold the EFFECTIVE way:
bleach will not kill the mold entirely. Molds have roots (hyphae) and bleach’s ion structure stops chlorine from penetrating porous materials, therefore when you spray all the chemicals are going to stay on top of your surface while the water part of the solution just soaks through. The EPA quotes “the use of chlorine bleach is not recommended as a routine practice for mold clean up”
So what works? It may surprise you to know that the most effective way to remove mold is most likely in your pantry..it’s vinegar! Straight vinegar kills about 82 percent of mold spores and also prevents future mold if you spray it on the surface and allow it to dry.
Although the smell of vinegar is not ideal, the scent will dissipate after awhile. Some prefer to mix essential oils in with their vinegar spray, tea tree oil and grapefruit extract are great choices when it comes to removing mold.
After all the hard work removing mold, how can I prevent it?
Be vigilant!! be aware of leaking pipes in your home, wipe your wet floors and walls after showers (dehumidifiers work excellent), clean up immediately after spills and clean with vinegar often!
sources:

http://www.normi.org/articles/bleach-mold.php   [1]
http://www.greeneenvironmental.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=28&Itemid=49  [2]
http://www.care2.com/greenliving/three-ways-to-kill-mold-naturally.html [3]
http://www.care2.com/greenliving/three-ways-to-kill-mold-naturally.html?page=2 [4]

The Many Wonders of the Magic Eraser

One of the best kept secrets of the cleaning industry – The Magic Eraser! This little sponge is the answer to your cleaning prayers:

  • Busts soap scum like nobody’s businessmagic eraser
  • Grease doesn’t stand a chance!
  • Makes vinyl patio furniture look like new
  • Removes marks on vinyl siding
  • Makes tennis shoes look like new again
  • Removes cooked-on stains in pots and pans
  • Removes hair dye from counter tops and floors
  • Cleans plastic coolers inside & out
  • Cleans oven shelves & the grates on the grill
  • Removes water line marks around pool

A word of warning though – Magic Erasers are for all practical purposes a very fine sand paper (a pencil eraser would also be a good comparison) so they can take the finish off of some surfaces. Always test in an inconspicuous spot!

Green Irene Update – We now have a local consultant!

You may (or may not!) remember me posting some time ago about Green Irene, a wonderful new company providing Green Home Makeovers through highly trained Green Irene Eco-Consultants. Their Green Home Makeovers run around $99, and cover topics such as energy-efficient lighting, energy conservation, toxic-free living, water purity and conservation, indoor air quality, waste reduction and recycling, and emergency safety and preparedness. While of course it is perfectly possible to learn all this stuff on your own, a Green Home Makeover can save you tons of time in research and trial and error, which I think makes it a great resource for busy families.

For awhile I considered becoming a Green Irene consultant myself, just because it fits in perfectly with my passion for helping people remove the toxins from their daily life and go green! In the end, I decided I am already wearing too many hats and didn’t sign up for the training.

I was quite excited to recently find out Lara Williams with The Green Team Real Estate has officially joined up with Green Irene and become a certified Eco-Consultant!

logo

If you are serious about going green, Lara is going to be an invaluable resource. If anyone has already had a Green Home Makeover, I’d love to hear all about it in the comments!

Get a Great Deal on an Oreck Vacuum, and Help Support Cleaning for a Reason too!

For a limited time, you can purchase an Oreck upright Commercial RHB vacuum cleaners at the dealer cost of $209 including shipping! $45 of each vacuum sold goes directly to the Cleaning for a Reason foundation!
oreck

Extremely lightweight and easy to maintain, these are the ONLY upright vacuums the All Stars use in our client’s homes.

Call our office today to place your order! This special offer won’t last long!

We can be reached by phone at 970.215.2224
or by Email at laura@cleaningallstars.com

Tools of the Trade – Steamers

I love my steamer. I would be lost without it. I didn’t even know what a steamer was before I got my start in the cleaning industry, and now I just can’t imagine life without one. When faced with dirty grout, a soap scummy shower, sticky baseboards or other tough messes, it is a lifesaver.

For example, just last week the grout in my kitchen was black. Fed up with looking at it, I pulled out the steamer. Here is the after pic:

grout

No nasty chemicals, just my steamer and a grout brush.

Steamers are easy to use, melt away grease, dirt, grime, and soap scum effortlessly, and are relatively inexpensive. They clean with the power of dry steam – usually heated to between 240 and 275 degrees – sanitizing hard surfaces using only water.

We have two:

The “big steamer” for large jobs will run continuously for 45 minutes without refilling. We paid around $100 on Amazon.

big-steamer

The “baby steamer” is for quicker jobs, running around 15 minutes at a time.  I think I picked this one up for around $30 at Walmart one day when big steamer was being repaired.

steamer-baby

Please keep in mind steamers should not be used around small children or pets! They are safe to use on most hard surfaces, but always be sure test a small area first. Happy cleaning!

Tools of the Trade – Pumice Stones and Putty Knives

Here are two more tools no natural cleaner should be without – the pumice stone and the plastic putty knife.

Pumice Stone

pumice

Natural Pumice Stones are another well kept secret of the cleaning industry. They will remove stains and mineral deposits from toilet bowls, and scrub burnt on messes from ovens like nobody’s business. Cleaning-quality pumice stones are sold in the cleaning supply aisle of most stores, and crumble easily when wet (do not attempt to use a cosmetic-quality pumice stone in your toilet!) To avoid scratching, keep your pumice stone very wet when in use, and test a small area first. If it doesn’t scratch, go to town with it!

Plastic Putty Knife

putty-knife

Have you ever been cleaning your kitchen, wiping along innocently, and suddenly run into a mysterious glob of something – petrified pancake batter, or worse, dried egg –  and it just won’t budge? No need to pull out the big guns (chemical cleaners) in an attempt to dissolve it. Just whip out your plastic putty knife, scrape it away easily, and move on. I recommend sticking with a plastic knife to minimize risk of scratching.

Tools of the Trade – Microfiber for Natural Cleaning

microfiberMicrofiber has literally revolutionized cleaning as we know it. Made from fibers 1/100th the diameter of a human hair, microfiber has unmatched scrubbing power, and is capable of removing 99% of bacteria on a surface using water alone. It attracts and traps dirt, dust, and bacteria in the cloth like a magnet, to be simply washed out later. Microfiber is highly absorbent, holding seven times its own weight in liquid, and is completely lint free, making it perfect for dusting and mirrors. Use dry for dusting, or wet for scrubbing.

Microfiber must be properly cared for to retain its unique properties. Wash separately from other fabrics in cold water, with no fabric softener.

Excellent, high quality microfiber cloths can be purchased in packs of 25 from Sam’s Club for $11. I recommend starting with two packages, and keeping a small waste basket under the sink to collect the used cloths in until you have enough to run a load of wash.

Tools of the Trade

Most people have a large collection of cleaning supplies – after shower spray, soap scum remover, rust/limescale remover, soft scrub, scouring powder, glass cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, disinfectant spray, floor cleaner. Sound familiar? And that is just for the bathroom!  Really only a few products are needed to get the job done. Why do people collect cleaning supplies like it’s a hobby? Everyone is looking for the magic bullet – the one product that will clean the bathroom for you, effortlessly.

What a lot of people don’t realize, is it is not the products that do the work for you, it is the tools. I still remember being eighteen years old in my first apartment, scrubbing fruitlessly at my countertops with a rapidly shredding paper towel (now I am embarrassed to even admit to ever using paper towels!)  I, like most people, bought into the magic bullet theory, and blamed the product (spray cleaner) instead of considering my tool (paper towel.)

There are a few tools every natural cleaner needs in their bucket. They are:

  • Microfiber cloths
  • A natural pumice stone
  • A plastic putty knife

I think I’d better make this one a mini-series. Look for more posts in the coming days detailing how having the right tools can help you make the switch to natural cleaning painless.

Introducing FREE Natural Cleaning Workshops

I will be offering completely free workshops on natural cleaning to any group of 5 or more who would like to book one. This is a public education outreach effort on behalf of my company, but will not be about my company or a sales presentation for it. In this workshop you will learn:

  1. Why you should make the switch to natural – health benefits, allergies, chemical sensitivity issues, environmental impact, etc.
  2. How to go about making the switch – what to do with all those old products lurking beneath the sink.
  3. What products to use – store bought or homemade? Brand reviews and recommendations, recipes and more!
  4. Tips, tricks, and solutions from an industry expert.

All participants will receive a booklet on Natural Cleaning, a sample bottle of all-purpose cleaner, and a special microfiber cleaning cloth. Workshops last between 30 minutes and an hour, depending on the amount of time your group wishes to allocate and audience participation.

Give me a call to book your group’s workshop today at 970.215.2224 or email laura@cleaningallstars.com for more information.