Sunday, May 30, 2010


This is your Better Understanding Guide (B.U.G.) to books that I've read and enjoy!

CLEAN:  The Humble Art of Zen Cleansing

This book is great!  Its very small, easy to read, and great to keep in the bathroom reading basket or side table knick knack pile.  It was written by a fellow who loves to clean!  He presents the idea that cleaning will help you attain a more peaceful state.  I think he even suggests that the cleaning process is meditative and necessary for mental, emotional, and physical health.  It is not such a far fetched idea but it is not one that we are used to considering when attacking the mess that is in our own homes.

In the book, Michael De Jong, talks about green cleaning, the products he likes, how to use them, and methods that he employs in his own cleaning processes.  It is very interesting to read about someone's views on cleaning and it is very well presented!  I highly suggest this book as a gift to someone who wants to create a more peaceful atmosphere, someone who could use a hand shifting to green cleaning methods, and someone who likes an easy read!

If you have read this book, please feel free to leave your own review of it in the comments below!
It would be awesome to hear what YOU have to say about it!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Air Quality Knowledge B.U.G.!

If you didn't know, the EPA has deemed MAY the official Asthma awareness month! Its no wonder since an enormous amount of trees and flowers across the country are pollinating! We've focused so far in our B.U.G.'s on your inside air quality, but what happens when you step outside your house? You shouldn't have be a shut in for the rough 2 months it takes for all the plants to go through their reproduction processes!

In this segment, I'm going to focus on how to reduce the effects of pollen and particulate irritants while outside.  Here are a couple of tips for traveling around town!

- CHANGE YOUR CAR AIR FILTERS.  Your car will thank you and for most makes and models, this is an extremely easy thing to do!  Some cars have two filters, one for the engine and one for the vents.  It is best to change both but definitely do the one for the vents if you are feeling allergic.  If you aren't into the diy maintenance of your car, most tune and lube shops will do it for a reasonable price!

- CHANGE OUT OF YOUR CLOTHES when you get home.  If you left the house, the clothing you left in probably picked up a decent amount of pollen and irritants throughout the day.  If you change out of your clothing when you get home, you deter pollen and germs from entering your house and you remove them from your immediate vicinity and skin.  Taking a shower after changing would be even better!

- BRING A HANDKERCHIEF.  Okay, I know that sounds old-fashioned but substitute a bandana, wrap, or any other reasonable, rather fashionable piece of cloth for the notorious "hanky" if you want.  It's useful to cover your nose and mouth as you walk.  Yes, you may look like a bit of a bandit but if you do it right, you might just look fashionably mysterious!

- PETROLEUM JELLY ON THE RIM OF YOUR NOSTRILS.  Sounds weird, I know.  Basically, by thinly coating the inner rim of your nostril with vaseline for instance, you are creating another barrier on which pollen and other particle based irritants are trapped.  Your nose hairs are there to do the same action which is why boogers form.  The nice thing about doing this is that you can swab your nose before you leave the house, it doesn't smell and whenever you get to your next destination, you can wipe your nose clean with tissue.  Its incredibly innocuous and very helpful.

- WASH YOUR FACE.  Wash your face often, perhaps every time you wash your hands to remove pollen and particles from your tiny facial hairs, eyelashes, and brows!  No brainer!

Please visit the EPA website for more info on Asthma and Air Quality!

And if you have any other suggestions on dealing with Asthma, allergies, and improving the air, please feel free to email them to me or comment below!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Germs Exposed: Shigella

Our first germ's introduction typically happens in the bathroom.  It's description is brought to you by wikipedia - SHIGELLA.

Shigella aka "Shegalla Choy" is a genus of Gram-negativenon-spore forming rod-shapedbacteria closely related to Escherichia coli and Salmonella. The causative agent of humanshigellosisShigella cause disease in primates, but not in other mammals.[1] It is only naturally found in humans and apes.[2] During infection, it typically causes dysentery[3] The genus is named after Kiyoshi Shiga, who first discovered it in 1898.

More information on Shigella, the illness shigellosis, its symptoms and its treatment, can be found at Todar's Textbook of Bacteria!

<-------------Meet my plushy friend! 

 Germ awareness is important in cleaning!  Processes and methods that can deter illness will help you live more healthy and happy!  For Shigella, be sure to wash your hands often and clean your toilet often!  More ways to disinfect your bathroom can be found at WebMD!

I will soon write a segment on cleaning bathrooms but until then check out this article on cleaning your bathroom in 15 minutes from the website Creative Homemaking.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cleaning Tip number 4: The Order of Operations

     Sometimes I feel like the hardest thing about cleaning is looking at a place and figuring out how to clean it the most fast and efficient way possible.  Some cleaning services and personnel have a system that they use for every place which is definitely an acceptable and reliable way to approach cleaning.  In my own business, I tailor all my cleans to the client's preferences, taking what would, across the board, be considered a regular cleaning regimen and reconstructing it to best fit either budget or hygiene specifications.  Thus I don't start every clean the same way, and sometimes I find too that the space dictates that I adopt different methods.

So, here are a few tips to tackle, in a fast and efficient manner, the grime that invades all your various spaces!

1.  THE BIGGEST MESS -  What helps me clean is finding the things in a space that are making the biggest mess!  Perhaps it is dust or cobwebs all over, or toys, or dishes all over the kitchen....whatever it is, get it out of the way immediately.  Once you do this, you'll feel a change that will be both visible and inspiring, which will help to keep up your stamina and speed!

2.  STREAMLINE YOUR PROCESS -  Sometimes when intense detailed dusting in unnecessary, I will dust with the vacuum, eliminating the dust on surfaces and the grit on the floor at the same time.  Infact, my vacuum is equipped with a motley crew of wonderful vacuum hose tools so that I can quickly switch between my brush tool and my crevice tool without stopping or changing processes.

3.  BACK TO FRONT or TOP TO BOTTOM -  This is kinda fun and I do it when the situation calls for it or when I'm loosing my steam.  I will start at the top floor of the house and clean down to the bottom floor.  In a one level house, I'll start at the back and literally clean myself out the front door!  This approach works best when you have to go room by room and will help if you are more categorically minded.

4.  STREAMLINE YOUR PRODUCT -  This is not always possible, but in houses that are less fussy, I like to use a product like pledge all surface cleaner or vinegar.  The Mrs. Meyer's and vinegar mixture is my favorite to use everywhere because it is environmentally friendly and so versatile!  Grab your spray bottle, and various cleaning clothes/sponges and rock it!  I even like to make a belt that everything fits into so that I can really run!!

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Friday, May 7, 2010

THE BIZZ: Tender moments...

This business is bizarre as hell! Maybe its a bit unprofessional for me to say that but its so true! Service industry people probably see some of the most wonderful and disturbing things ever! In Atlanta, we see our share of famous people, retarded scene-sters, various nationalities, yuppies, hippies, hicks, and more. The city is booming with all types of people doing all types activities at every point in the day! Its not New York but its big and busy for the south!

Today I'm just sharing an odd but tender moment. Clients have all types of requests for all types of cleaning that they'd rather not do themselves. Some of the cleaning is even lewd or sexual in nature and I am most certainly not into that. Still, someone out there probably is, and in a city this big, I just tell them to keep looking, because they'll probably find what ever it is that they are looking for.

As I vacuumed the floor of a house outside the city proper, the owner came up to me and lamented that he had a strange request. He asked "Do you ever clean cats?" Holding the vacuum hose in hand, my brain logically granted me the vision of me vacuuming the poor creature clean. I stuttered out some "uhs and ums" and then asked what he had in mind.

Houdini was the little kitty, a stray that had crept into the house many years back and weaseled her way through an air vent to set off the alarm when no one was home, who loathed baths but was now too old to clean herself. Thinking of the animal, I decided that the man would probably need help, if anything just to hand him soaps and brushes. I was actually pretty thoroughly against doing any of the cleaning myself, having never cleaned a cat before.

So I accepted the invitation to assist him in her bath. He picked her up and took her to the kitchen sink where he had made a little bath of luke warm soapy water. As he held her, we both started to spoon the water onto her with our hands and rub the soap into her fur. She let out some loud yowls of protest but seemed overall rather pleasantly surprised to have so much attention.

The man fumbled with the water and I could feel it was too hot and then too cold. At some point I think I must have just taken the cat, the water, the soap and continued to soothe and bathe the kitty independently of his help with out realizing it. He stood there in a strange silent awe. Kitty was almost purring....but still yowling to continue her original argument against baths.

I rinsed her thoroughly and wrapped her in a towel. She lay in her towel in my arms like a tiny baby and i rubbed her head with the terry cloth to whisk away the water from her face. The man was drenched in appreciation and sincere thanks by the end of the ordeal. As I put Houdini down, he began to brush her. She was pretty much done with the whole thing by that point and had really lost all patience for anything going on, even if it was on her behalf and for her enjoyment. She scampered off to a corner to silently express her disdain for being wet and annoyed.

I don't know what one should charge for such experiences. It was odd and heart warming but still work. I don't know if I even charged him 20 bucks for it. I don't know how much they charge at those grooming shops or what the difference in service is. From a business stand point, it was kind of a rediculous activity to be involved in since it was not normal and difficult to price with an unknown time span. Still, its a good story to tell, and that's pretty much priceless!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

What's in The Cleaning Lady's Bucket?

One of my favorite cleaning agents that I never thought would melt my cleaning lady heart is vinegar!  Although it is quite stinky, the smell dissipates quickly and takes with it any odors that might have existed previously.  It is a cleaning and deodorizing product!  It can be used on a multitude of surfaces as well including wood, plastic, rubber, metal, and glass just to name a few.

According to Wikipedia, Vinegar is an acidic liquid made from the fermentation of ethanol which yields acetic acid (ethanoic acid).  It is then diluted in varying ratios based on the use for which it is being made.  White distilled vinegar is the one used most often in cleaning and it is environmentally friendly meaning naturally occurring and biodegradable.

You can find a myriad of resources online touting its amazing abilities!  Beyond cleaning, it is used in ceramic work to condition clay, the apple cider variety is used to improv the ph in the body, you can cut grease with it,  and some varieties are used for cooking and pickling.  The link that I have provided today gives a list of amazing uses for vinegar, coupled sometimes with another favorite of mine, baking soda.

1001 uses for Vinegar

If you plan on using vinegar in your cleaning regimen, please be aware that mixing it with certain other cleaning products will produce harmful gases and health effects!  The main mixture to avoid is vinegar and bleach.  Together the mixture gives off chlorine gases which are cancer causing and highly toxic!  If you are using chemical products and do not know the exact ingredient content, it is best not to mix them as the possibilities could be disastrous without a proper recipe and ratio.

Here is a great site with helpful info on dangerous mixtures and common products!  Please take a look at it for your future knowledge and safety!

Common cleaning products may be dangerous when mixed!

If you read my previous bucket post then you already know that I enjoy using the mixture of vinegar and Mrs. Meyers all purpose cleaner.   The recipe again is:

1/8 to 1/4 cup all purpose Mrs. Meyer's Cleaner
mixed with 1 cup of vinegar
in a spray bottle
then fill to the top with water. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cleaning Tip number 3: Window washing MAGIC!

Well the truth of the matter is that I am only so-so at cleaning windows and glass.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, cleaning is a skill and has a learning curve.  If you want to get better at it, then you have to do it often and be incredibly curious about all the things you don't know about it!  With that in mind, I have put together today's cleaning tip in order to give myself a goal for the day.  Perhaps you will join me in some window cleaning efforts at your own house today!

And for a little extra encouragement I bring to you this small link on feng shui and windows.  Regardless of whether you believe this eastern philosophy inspired design process, sometimes its useful in understanding how to create peaceful environments.  Also its never a bad thing to expand your knowledge and consideration of other cultures and practices!

Feng Shui For Windows

picture from

These tips come from TLC Howstuffworks on homes.  Please visit this link for an extended list!

  1. When wiping windows, clean one side with horizontal strokes and one side with vertical so that you can pinpoint which side is streaking.
  2. Wash windows from the top down.
  3. Wipe windows with t shirt or diaper material.  
  4. Wiping windows with newspaper leaves a film that resists dirt.
  5. Polishing windows after cleaned and dried with a black board eraser will make them sparkle.
  6. Always clean windows on a cloudy day so that the heat of the sun doesn't evaporate your cleaner.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Stain Solver: The Chemistry of stain removing!

When your grandma told you to put peanut butter on the gum that got stuck to your shorts after sitting in some random chair, you probably thought she was crazy.  Its likely that she doesn't know exactly why it works, which lends to the mystic reputation of old world cleaning methods and wives tales.  Still, wouldn't it be awesome to know why these things work and how to possibly apply them to new situations?  Okay well even if you don't think that is cool, with this bit of info, you could probably teach your grandma a thing or two, and that's gotta be worth something!

The link that I'm going to give is pretty good, but even if you don't have time to read it, I will attempt to sum things up for you in a short bulleted list for your reading convenience!

How Do Stain Removers Work?

  • Dissolving stains in a solvent:  "like dissolves like" pick a solvent that is similar to your stain. - the reason why you would use peanut butter to dissolve gum.

  • Dissolving stains using a surfactant:  soap is a common surfactant, most popular way to cut stains, what most cleaning products include to cut grease etc.  

  • Eating away the stain:  bleach, peroxide, and borax work by eating away at the molecular structure of the stain substance, leaving behind water soluble elements that wash away.  

  • Hiding the stain:  detergents that include whiteners don't actually break down molecules or help to wash them away, they merely mask them by covering them with an ingredient that absorbs ultra violet light and re-emits it as visible light.  Clothes washed with whiteners will glow in a black light.

Now that you know just a little bit about the way cleaning works, here is a cute link that will help you tackle different types of clothing stains.  You can use your new knowledge to make connections between methods, ingredients, and application.  Or maybe we'll just put that aside as a future goal!  Happy Cleaning!!

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