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Keep Your Refrigerator Safe and Clean

When it comes to keeping your family safe from harmful bacteria, one of the most important, yet often overlooked things to do, is maintain a clean and organized refrigerator. Besides the obvious health issues that can arise from an unclean, unorganized fridge, there is also the gross-factor of gazing into an unkept refrigerator and the potential smells that may accompany it. If you happen to be interested in giving your refrigerator a little makeover, check out this article from Home Food Safety, which has tips on how to keep your refrigerator safe, fresh, and clean.

 

Does Your Refrigerator Need a Makeover?

organized safe refrigerator

When it comes to keeping your food fresh and safe, your refrigerator is your best friend. Yet we don’t always give it the attention it deserves. If you can’t remember the last time you gave your fridge a good wipe down—or it’s so stuffed you can’t find a thing in it—it could be time for an overhaul.

Here’s how to get a cleaner, healthier and more organized fridge in three simple steps:

1. Keep It Safe

Set the temperature in your refrigerator below 40°F. This keeps food cold enough to prevent bacterial growth, which can cause food poisoning. If your refrigerator doesn’t have a built-in thermometer, an appliance thermometer placed on the center shelf also will work.

2. Keep It Fresh
Making sure foods are at their peak of freshness not only protects your family from food poisoning, it also helps your food taste better.

  • Schedule a weekly freshness check: Once a week, toss all spoiled leftovers and packaged foods that are past their expiration date. While most leftover food is generally safe for about four days, freshness can vary from food to food. The Home Food Safety program’s app, Is My Food Safe?, can tell you exactly how long you can safely store everything from soup to steak.
  • Wrap it right: Make sure all meat, poultry and seafood are either tightly wrapped or stored in sealed containers. This will ensure that their juices don’t leak and contaminate other foods.
  • Assign foods prime real estate: Your refrigerator is specifically designed to help you store foods for maximum freshness:
    • Condiments: The door is the warmest part of your refrigerator, making it best for storing long shelf-life items.
    • Orange juice: Orange juice tastes best when it’s kept cold, so skip the door and stow it on an interior shelf instead
    • Butter: The butter keeper in your fridge door might look like the perfect place to stash your butter, but it’s not cold enough to keep it fresh. Since butter can pick up off flavors quickly, keep it protected in its original wrapper or in a covered dish inside your fridge
    • Milk: Store milk where it’s coldest, specifically the back of the bottom shelf.
    • Yogurt: As long as it’s tightly covered, you can store yogurt in the interior of your fridge up to 10 days past the “sell by” date.
    • Eggs: Keep eggs in their original cartons in the center of the fridge.
    • Deli meat: The meat drawer delivers an additional blast of cold air. That makes it the ideal place for highly perishable deli meats and cheeses.
    • Packaged raw meat: To prevent dripping which can contaminate other foods, store packaged raw meat on the bottom shelf.
    • Produce: Store fruits and vegetables in the crisper drawer. If yours has dual controls, adjust them to allow for higher humidity for vegetables and lower humidity for fruits.

3. Keep It Clean

Nothing spreads bacteria faster than a dirty fridge. Here’s how to germ-proof yours:

  • Think soap and water: Once a week, give your refrigerator a thorough cleaning by wiping down all shelves and compartments with hot, soapy water. Then rinse well and dry thoroughly. Check all bottles and jars for drips and rinse and dry those as well.
  • Wipe it up: Spills can spread bacteria fast. Between cleanings, immediately wipe up any leaks or spills with hot, soapy water.
  • Get organized: Make food easy to find by storing leftovers in clear glass containers. Placing smaller items in the front and taller items in the back can also help. For more tips on refrigerator organization, watch this video.
  • Freshen it: Keep an open box of baking soda in your fridge so it will always smell clean and fresh.

A Few Tips for Fall Cleaning

Fall cleaning often gets overlooked as being as important as spring cleaning. However, after a long summer of having the windows and screen doors open, along with dirt brought in on kids shoes after long summer days/nights playing outside; a good fall cleaning can be very important. Luckily, the good people at Seventh Generation, have a few tips to help you out with your annual fall cleaning, to make sure you go into those chilly autumn months with a nice clean home.

 

5 Tips For Fall Cleaning

Do you Fall clean as much as you Spring clean? You should! Summer is a time of open windows and little ones running through the house from outside, which provides a lot of opportunity for germs to enter your home. Take advantage of these cooler fall weekends and get the house ready for winter with this checklist:

  • Clean from top to bottom. Go through each room and dust everything! Walls, ceilings, baseboards, etc. Summer is a common time for the house to collect dust, and an dust is an easy way to cause irritation in the winter. Follow through with a thorough vacuuming of carpets and any fabric drapes you may have.
  • Winterize the beds. Pull out all of your heavier winter blankets and give them a solid wash to make them feel like new. Flip or rotate your mattress (you should be doing this every three months).  Tuck your kids into a warm, cozy and clean winter bed.
  • Organize the closets. Go through your closets and your kids’ closets and pull items that you no longer wear or don’t fit anymore. Make a pile of clothing to donate. Swap out the summer styles for the winter coats and sweaters that have been packed away.
  • Wash the windows. Go through the house and was all the windows, indoors and out, to avoid this step during the cold and snowy winter months. Take out the screens and wash them so they’re ready to go next summer. Replace them with storm windows.
  • Deep clean the kitchen. Fall means the holidays will be here before we know it, and holidays often bring guests. Deep clean all of your appliances – refrigerator, oven, and dishwasher. Organize your cabinets and drawers to make sure you can easily find what you need.
  • Use VOC-free OR Low-VOC cleaners. In winter, windows are open less, and according to the EPA, our indoor environment is two to five times more polluted than the air in our outdoor environment. Because of this, it can be important to choose the cleaners you use indoors wisely – and make sure to open your windows for 5 minutes a week during the winter!

Eco-Clean Your Yard This Fall

Autumn is now in full swing, which means many people are beginning to notice an abundance of leaves accumulating in their yards. If you happen to be one of these people, you’ll definitely want to check out this article from Seventh Generation, on how take care of fall yard work the eco-friendly way. The article has tips on how to clean your yard, create compost heaps, transfer your outdoor vegetables to indoors, and prepare your lawn for spring.

 

Eco-Friendly Fall Yard Work

Fall marks the environment transitioning from summer to winter, and we experience many of our own transitions as well. You probably winterize your house, and your car, but what about your yard? Here are some eco-friendly fall yard work tips to keep your yard happy until spring:

Compost. This time of year generates a lot of waste that is often bagged up and thrown away. This year, take your lawn clippings and fallen leaves and turn them into top-notch fertilizer to use in the spring! To successfully compost fall waste, first shred leaves and grass clippings using a mulcher or shears. This will make it much easier for the leaves to break down. Try to have equal parts grass clippings, which are a nitrogen source, and leaves, which are a carbon source. Moisten the pile slightly, and then just let it be. Turn the pile just about once a month to keep things moving.

Use Your Own Power. Fall chores tend to bring out a lot of machines. Leaf blowers, lawn mowers, rototillers – the list goes on. While these tools may make your job a little quicker, they also release hazardous emissions and use up a ton of energy. Garden equipment engines make up 5% of the nation’s air pollution, with gasoline powered lawn mowers at the top of the list. Running a gas-powered mower for one hour emits as much pollution as 11 cars being driven for an hour! Make the environmentally friendly choice while getting a workout in and trade the leaf blower for a rake.

Put Your Lawn to Bed. If you want to keep your lawn happy, you need to prepare it for the cold weather that’s about to come! Do your final mow of the season with a push mower and cut a little shorter than usual – this will discourage matted grass and snow mold over the winter. Spread a thin layer of compost on top of your lawn to keep it happy under the snow, as well as promote healthy soil and help nourish the many creatures that live in the soil! The fall is also a great time to fill in any bare spots with new seeds for a lush green lawn in the spring.

Do an Outside House Check. You’re not going to want to repair leaks or cracks in the middle of winter, so use the fall to check the outside of your house for any areas that may need attention. Making sure all windows and doors are tightly sealed will prevent heat from escaping, and in turn prevent you from turning up the thermostat.

Final Garden Harvest. Go through the garden and harvest the rest of those tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce. If you have herbs or other plants that you like to enjoy year round, transplant them to a pot and move them indoors to grow.

6 Tips for Cleaning Your Kitchen

Keeping your kitchen nice and clean should be a priority. Think about it, the kitchen is where you store and prepare all of your food, not to mention, where you store and clean all of your plates and utensils. Part of keeping your kitchen clean and safe, is keeping potentially harmful cleaning chemicals out of it. So, how can you maintain a clean kitchen without using traditional cleaners? Our friends at Green Cleaning Magazine, have a few answers for you. In the article below, 6 tips are given on how to clean your kitchen naturally, with items you probably already have in your home.

 

6 All-Natural Kitchen Cleaning Tricks

7 kitchen cleaning tricks

Need some inspiration in the kitchen when it comes to cleaning up? Take any (or all) or these 6 cleaning tricks for a test run for a fresh—and green—take on scrubbing up the most-used area in the home.

  1. Try using lemon as a surface cleaner. You will find that a lemon’s acid is perfect for cutting through grease and grime. Bonus: it will leave a very pleasant scent. Lemon juice kills bacteria, but is natural and not at all harsh on surfaces. Dilute the juice of one lemon with a little water to make it go a little farther.
  1. Clean as you cook, so that you don’t have as much cleaning to do afterwards. Lets face it, there are many different points during the preparation of a meal where you could be scrubbing a few pans, or wiping down the surfaces. Make you own life easier, and get all that done while you are in the swing of things, so that you don’t have to after you’ve relaxed with your meal.
  1. Vinegar is the solution if you are having trouble with limescale on the taps. If you regularly clean your faucets and taps with a little acidic vinegar there will be no need for deep cleaning later on when limescale has built up too much.
  1. If your drain is seemingly blocked up don’t call the plumber—yet. Try pouring some boiling water, two teaspoons of baking soda, and a 1/2 cup of vinegar down there. The reaction will be a large and fizzy one, so stand back, but it should unclog your drain. Be aware that using too much baking soda could leave you with a bit of an explosion, so keep its use to a minimum.
  1. If your fridge is getting a bit smelly, then you should try taking a lemon rind, scooping out the inside (and using it for surface cleaning), and filling it with baking soda. The baking soda will absorb the smells, whilst the lemon rind will replace them with a nice, fresh scent. This should keep your fridge fresh all day long.
  1. Use dish washing liquid to break through the unappealing build up that can happen on top of your cupboards. If you get a look up there you may find that the dust has settled in with the grease from your regular cooking. Try making a thick lather of dish washing liquid, apply it to the problem areas, and leave it there for a while. Scrub it all off, rinsing with a wet sponge or dish towels.

Information provided by South East London deep cleaning company.

Have a Green Office

It is no secret that switching from chemical laden traditional cleaners, to more natural green cleaners at home, can help keep you and your family safer and healthier. However, how can you be sure you aren’t inadvertently inhaling toxic chemicals at your office? Recent studies have shown that cleaning substances, are among the top reasons for exposure to poison in adults. So, what are some things you can do to make sure your office isn’t a hazard to your health? This article from Green Cleaning Magazine, discusses several steps you can take to ensure a safer work environment for you and your coworkers.

 

10 Tips for a Clean & Green Office

clean and green office

Recent government reports and non-profit studies have revealed that exposure to chemicals and toxins found in common cleaning products can cause reproductive problems, lung issues, and multiple forms of cancer. In fact, a recent EPA study concluded that toxic chemicals in common cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than outdoor air. Additionally, in 2013, the American Association of Poison Control Centers listed cleaning substances as one of the top three most common reasons for exposure to poison in adults.

One of the most prolific places for exposure to concerning cleaning chemicals is the workplace. Are you longing for a clean and green office? Check out 10 green office cleaning tips below—offered up byOpenWorks, a leading commercial cleaning and integrated facility services company—and share them with your office’s manager. These tips can help all employers and cleaning professionals avoid dangerous cleaning products and create healthier work environments.

“Too few American workers realize the health risks they face at their office due to dangerous cleaning products and uninformed cleaning crews,” says OpenWorks founder Eric Roudi.  “At OpenWorks, we are dedicated to improving all workplaces we serve by using 100% green and environmentally sound cleaning strategies, including using the safest cleaning products on the market. We are sharing these ten tips to make sure all Americans have an opportunity to execute similarly healthy and green strategies at home and at work.”

10 Tips for a Clean & Green Office

1. Quick-Fix Means Danger: Avoid air fresheners and fabric protection sprays as they contain chemicals linked to endocrine system issues, like reproductive problems.

2. Treating Carpet is a No-No: Stay away from carpet floors if you are opening a new facility. However, if you do have carpet, avoid carpet cleaners and stain-resistant treatments that expose your office to chemicals.   Rely on a steam cleaner instead.

3. Beware of Old Furniture: In recent years, laws have been created to rid the furniture market of PBDE’s, which are fire retardants that break down into dangerous metabolites linked to cancer. Old furniture may be putting your office (and its workers) at risk.

4. Replace Cleaners with Clever DIY Tricks: For DIY projects,  there are many standard household items that can be used to clean surfaces and handle tough odors. These include, but are not limited to, lemon, cooking oil, vinegar and baking soda.

5. Carefully Inspect Cleaning Product Labels: Even though only 7% of cleaning products adequately disclose their list of ingredients, some do reveal dangerous chemicals on the bottle. Make sure to avoid cleaning products that contain dangerous chemicals like phthalates, formaldehyde, and “chemical surfacants.”

6. Make Air Quality a High Priority: A recent EPA study concluded that toxic chemicals in household cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than outdoor air. Additionally, consistent exposure to other dangerous elements (like asbestos) has been linked to cancer and mesothelioma. Make sure your internal and/or external cleaning team has the resources to check HVAC/ventilation systems and control air quality.

7. Go Green with LEED-Certified Cleaners: It’s important to make sure that the cleaning crew who maintains your building is LEED certified. The US Green Building Council ensures LEED certified facility management teams are up to speed on best practices regarding green cleaning. Help the environment while keeping your staff healthy.

8. Don’t Skimp on Cleaning Technology: Commercial cleaning experts are investing considerable time, money, and resources to improve health and quality. Technological advancements, like sprayer nozzles that reduce chemical releases, are making a big difference. Invest in modernized cleaning equipment to take advantage.

9. Establish a Cleaning Policy with Employees: All of the changes you make as an employer will be compromised if your staff neglects to follow suit. Educate your employees on the damaging effects of cleaning products and create a policy that restricts and/or bans their use.

10. Hire a Proven Cleaning Company that Values Health and Open Relationships: Trust a commercial cleaning and facility maintenance company who uses only safe, environmentally sound products and understands green cleaning techniques. Make sure they work with you to understand the your specific needs.

Numbers You Need to Know: Common Cleaning Products

• Indoor air quality is a top five environmental risk to public health. *
• Toxic chemicals in household cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than outdoor air. *
• 30% of cleaning products contain ingredients known to cause human health or environmental problems. **
• Cleaners are the third most common reason for exposure to poison in adults. ***
• 53% of cleaning products contain lung harming ingredients. ****
• Only 7% of cleaning products adequately disclose their list of ingredients. ****
• 22% of cleaning products contain chemicals known to cause asthma in otherwise healthy people. ****

SOURCES:
* Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
** Green Schools Initiative
*** National Capital Poison Center
**** The Environmental Working Group

How Clean Are Commercial Flights?

With the recent Ebola virus crisis, concerns about health and safety on commercial flights have increased. Let’s face it, when you’re 30,000 feet in the air, and major cities appear as random clusters of light; the cleanliness of your plane is the last thing you want to worry about. Unfortunately, many of these worries may be warranted. This article from The Wall Street Journal, discusses the cleaning regulations (or lack thereof) of many commercial airlines. My advice, load up on Vitamin C and hand sanitizer before your next flight!

 

The Trouble With Keeping Commercial Flights Clean

With the Ebola Crisis in the Background, Standards for Disinfecting Planes Vary Based on Time, Class

The Ebola crisis and heightened concerns about the risk of spreading disease during air travel have focused concern on what airlines do to keep planes clean.

It’s a murky area without clear regulatory standards. The Federal Aviation Administration says it doesn’t regulate or inspect cleaning and referred a reporter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which says it has nothing to do with aircraft cleanliness. OSHA suggested contacting the FAA. The FAA then suggested the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA says it inspects food and water safety on commercial aircraft only.

Airlines say they set their own standards without regulators and give voluminous instructions to contractors. They use chemicals approved by aircraft manufacturers and conduct their own quality-control inspections.

A traveler walked through New Delhi's international airport Aug. 26.ENLARGE
A traveler walked through New Delhi’s international airport Aug. 26. GETTY IMAGES

With more than two billion people flying every year, “commercial air transport is potentially an efficient means for spreading communicable disease widely by surface contact and proximity to infected people,” the World Health Organization cautions in itsGuide to Hygiene and Sanitation in Aviation. Much of the risk comes from being in close contact with an infected person. But contaminated surfaces on airplanes also can spread disease.

Some airlines are reluctant to discuss how much cleansing airliners get. Typically, planes get a once-over straightening-up between flights and usually a more thorough cleaning overnight or between long international flights. Periodically planes get scrubbed from nose to tail when they undergo major maintenance work.

Workers wearing protective masks sat at the international airport in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on Aug. 12.ENLARGE
Workers wearing protective masks sat at the international airport in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on Aug. 12.REUTERS

Delta Air Lines and United Airlines say their aircraft that fly into and out of hot spot zones such as western Africa, where several countries are under the threat of the Ebola virus, get a thorough cleaning with disinfecting solution per guidelines issued by the WHO. Because of the Ebola threat, United increased its cleaning regimen on aircraft flying between Houston and Lagos, Nigeria, on the WHO’s recommendation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also issued guidelines for protecting crew members and reporting ill passengers. Airlines say they are complying.

Medical studies have shown that air travelers face higher rates of infection: One study pegged the increased risk of catching a cold at 20%. Much of the danger comes from the people within two rows around you.

Health officials waited to screen passengers at the arrivals hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport on Aug. 4 in Lagos, Nigeria.ENLARGE
Health officials waited to screen passengers at the arrivals hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport on Aug. 4 in Lagos, Nigeria. ASSOCIATED PRESS

But viruses and bacteria can live for hours on some surfaces. Some viral particles have been found to be active up to a day in certain places. Tray tables can be contaminated. Seat-back pockets, which get stuffed with used tissues, soiled napkins, dirty diapers and trash, can be particularly scuzzy. It’s also difficult to know which germs are lurking in an airline’s pillows and blankets, which sometimes don’t get sent to the laundry until the end of a day’s flights.

How clean the airplane appears can go a long way toward making fliers happy. “We see in data that customers enjoy a flight more when the airplane is clean,” Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant says. “And we certainly hear it when it’s not so tidy.”

Carriers don’t report what they spend for cleaning, but some have said they reduced costs in that area when pinched economically. They have also mentioned boosting spending on cleaning during economic recovery after customer complaints about dirty airplanes. Two years after emerging from bankruptcy reorganization, United said it would do “deep cleanings” on planes several times a year, instead of once every 18 months, after increased customer cleanliness complaints.

Singapore Airlines spokesman James Bradbury-Boyd says a crew of up to 12 contract workers spends about 40 minutes cleaning a Boeing 777-300 during a typical stopover in Houston. Floors get vacuumed, sheets are changed in crew rest areas, and toilets, waste bins, galley floors and wine chillers are washed. Pillows, headrest covers and blankets get changed out.

But while airlines know a visible mess alienates passengers, the more serious cleaning is the cleaning you can’t see. Most airlines say there’s not enough time between domestic flights to clean out seat-back pockets or wipe down tray tables—that happens in overnight cleanings.

Sometimes first-class seats get better cleaning. Delta and United say they wipe down first-class tray tables and windows between flights. Coach tray tables and windows don’t get cleaned until overnight.

A Nepalese health worker inspected an arriving passenger with an infrared thermometer for signs of fever, one of the symptoms of Ebola, at a health desk at the international airport in Katmandu, Nepal on Aug. 20.ENLARGE
A Nepalese health worker inspected an arriving passenger with an infrared thermometer for signs of fever, one of the symptoms of Ebola, at a health desk at the international airport in Katmandu, Nepal on Aug. 20. GETTY IMAGES

And there are small variations in how airlines clean. United, Delta and American Airlines say bathrooms and galleys get cleaned with disinfectant during overnight cleanings and after long international flights. But that’s not always the case for passenger tray tables. United uses general-purpose cleaners on them; Delta uses disinfectant. American says its normal procedure is to clean, then disinfect, but that may soon change.

In 2010, Delta spent a year testing disinfectant products for cleaning and for availability world-wide before settling on one standard following its merger with Northwest Airlines. (A Delta spokesman wouldn’t reveal which product it uses.) Use of disinfectants can be tricky, since some can corrode metals and cause damage to materials in aircraft interiors.

Mike Mayer, United’s senior manager of aircraft appearance, says the airline believes all-purpose cleaners like Formula 409 and Fantastik clean better than disinfectants in seating areas.

For domestic flights, the “turn time” between flights often dictates what kind of cleaning the airplane gets, Mr. Mayer says. On quick turns, workers remove visible trash from seat-back pockets. On standard turns, cleaning crews actually go through and clean the seat-back pockets out. And if there are bigger problems, flights will get delayed. “If someone vomited on a seat, we are going to take the delay and clean it up,” Mr. Mayer says.

With all flights, the bathrooms and galleys get cleaned and supplies get restocked. Workers are asked to remove trash, wipe crumbs off seats, put all armrests down and clean up large spills. Airplanes aren’t vacuumed until overnight cleaning.

A quick early-morning trip full of business travelers may arrive virtually spotless. Long international flights? Way worse. “After eight or 10 hours in the air, the amount of trash is really amazing,” Mr. Mayer said.

Most customer feedback on long-haul flights involves messy lavatories, Mr. Mayer said. On domestic trips, seat-back pocket trash is “probably one of the top pet peeves,” he said. On a tight turn, cleaners just don’t have time to clean it all out.

Every 35 to 55 days, depending on the aircraft type, United planes get a “deep cleaning” that includes washing the ceilings and sidewalls and the seat-bottom cushions. American says it does its version of deep cleaning—washing seat cushions and cleaning carpets and floors, lavatories, bins, tray tables—every 30 days. Delta said its planes get a deep cleaning every 90 to 100 days when jets get regular maintenance work.

Microfiber Cloth, the Superior Cleaning Tool

When it comes to cleaning, the tools you use are just as important as the effort you put in. If the cleaning task at hand happens to be cleaning off a counter top, mopping a floor, or other similar tasks; the best choice for doing so would be a microfiber cloth. Microfiber cloths are far superior to the average rag when it comes to absorbency and soil removal. So, why are microfiber cloths so much more effective? Well, the good people at Town and Country Cleaning, may have the answer to that question. This article, gives four reasons why microfiber is the superior cleaning tool.

 


4 Reasons Why Microfiber Cloth Cleaning is Superior

 

What Makes Microfibers Superior For Cleaning?

They are made up of tiny split fibers that act like paddlewheels scooping up and retaining dirt and soils until they are laundered out.

Microfiber Cloth Cleaning Tips

  • It is important to use only damp, never over-wet microfiber cloths or mop heads, to avoid coating the tiny fibers with water.  Permitting that coat of water (by using wet rather than barely damp) defeats their magnetic attraction to soils and their adsorbent capacity.      (See more on cleaning floors with water.)
  • Microfiber materials can hold many times (roughly 7 to 8 times) their own weight in liquid and clean far more effectively than cotton (90+ % soil removal versus 30% for cotton).
  • TownCountryMicrofiberClothCleaning 300x191 4 Reasons Why Microfiber Cloth Cleaning is SuperiorMicrofibers are available in colors to help prevent cross-contamination.  At Town and Country Cleaning Services, we use red/orange in bathrooms only, other colors for other parts of the house.  We build in color-coding to prevent cross-contamination as we clean.  Your kitchen person may not be able to tell where a cloth came from – but if it is red/orange, they know it does NOT belong in their tray.

4 Reasons Why Microfiber Cleaning is Superior

  1. They pick up and hold dirt better and longer.
  2. They help prevent cross-contamination
  3. They launder readily and come back for more.  Town and Country Cleaning Service’s “hospital-grade” microfibers used in our residential cleans can be laundered hundreds of times – ideally with temperatures up to 160o F and dried up to that temperature as well.
  4. TownCountryCleaningwithWaterH2O 300x175 4 Reasons Why Microfiber Cloth Cleaning is SuperiorThey have been shown in a University of California – Davis study to remove debris, bacteria and viruses to at least the 99% level with pure water.  It is exciting to pursue the theory that disinfection may prove attainable with NO toxins!

Vinegar: Facts vs. Myths

It is no secret that vinegar is often used in many DIY cleaning jobs. Whether it used completely on its own, or coupled with something like baking soda, vinegar is a common ingredient for all kinds of tasks. The question now becomes, does it really work? What exactly is in vinegar that makes it such an effective cleaning agent? This article from Town and Country Cleaning, discusses some of the myths and facts about vinegar. Can vinegar really disinfect? Can it be used on any surface? Is it really as effective as many people claim it to be? These questions and several others are answered in the article below.

 


Myths and Facts about Vinegar

Myths and Facts about Vinegar

 

Vinegar:  Myths and Facts

Does vinegar clean?  Newspaper articles, magazines, green cleaning websites all tout vinegar as a miracle cleaner and ‘disinfectant’.  All you need they say, is to put a little household vinegar in water and voila – you have a great cleaning and disinfecting solution.  Let’s look at how well (or not) the claims stand up.

What is Vinegar?

Vinegar is an acidic solution with a pH of organic acids, mainly acetic, and other organic compounds, many of them volatile organic compounds (VOC’s).  It is a relatively strong acid with a pH of about 2.0 to 3.0 and is corrosive to many surfaces.

The VOC’s of vinegar have not, to the best of my knowledge, been tested for health effects, but the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS, soon to be known as Safety Data Sheet) does recommend the use of a respirator when vinegar is used in large quantities or sprayed, as it is during cleaning.

Myth or Fact:  Vinegar Gets Things ‘Squeaky Clean’.

True, sometimes. In the days when all we had to clean with was true soap, the soap left an alkaline residue which had to be rinsed off. If you added an acid to the rinse water it would do a better job of rinsing, so someone added vinegar to the rinse water.  It rinsed the surface ‘squeaky clean’. Today (sixty-some years after the introduction of detergents) it is much less common but when and if you have an alkaline residue, adding vinegar to rinse water will still improve the rinse. Vinegar can also be effective in breaking up alkaline soils such as soap scum or hard-water film, but it is much less useful for other types of soil.

Myth or Fact:  Vinegar Is a Disinfectant

As an acid, vinegar creates an environment that is inhospitable to many (though certainly not all) undesireable pathogens. Non-diluted vinegar has been shown to achieve kill rates as high as 90% in lab studies. However, in order to be rated as a disinfectant, it would need to achieve a kill rate of at least 99%.  Anything that would tend to neutralize its acidity, such as adding an alkaline detergent(i.e. most cleaning agents), would definitely decrease its anti-microbial qualities.

Myth or Fact:  Vinegar and Water Is the Best Wood Floor Cleaner

Move in Move out Cleaning Chapel Hill NC 190 Myths and Facts about VinegarIn a word, ‘NO’!  Installers at one time would recommend (and sometimes still do) using vinegar and water for polyurethane-finished wood floors–mainly because they did NOT want oil soaps to be used.  Oil soaps had been the primary wood floor cleaner before polyurethane finishes, but they caused major problems when it came time to re-coat those same finishes.  Vinegar and water seemed a safe alternative.  It turned out that over time, the acid degraded the finish.  At the big flooring show, Surfaces, all manufacturers of wood flooring said ‘Do NOT use vinegar.”  Several said it would void their warranty.  Note: also heard at this year’s show, manufacturers of vinyl flooring are starting to say the very same thing!

Myth or Fact:  Being Sourced from Nature Means Vinegar Is Safe for All Surfaces

Don’t be fooled!  See the above note about wood and vinyl.  It can also, as is true of any acid, damage many stone surfaces, especially marble, travertine and limestone.  Even a brief second’s contact can etch these calcium-based stones.

In conclusion, vinegar can be useful as a rinse agent and even as a ‘cleaner’ in certain instances, but its uses for general cleaning and disinfection are highly overrated and misunderstood.

Cleaning With Baking Soda

When it comes to cleaning your areas of your home using natural alternatives instead of traditional cleaners, few things can be used for so many different jobs quite like baking soda. In fact, this article from Green Cleaning Magazine, has 6 cleaning tasks you can take care of using baking soda as the main ingredient. So, grab a box of baking soda and tackle those cleaning jobs without having to use any harmful chemicals.

6 Ways to Clean with Baking Soda

green cleaning with baking soda

Commonly known as baking soda, Bicarbonate of Soda is a highly effective cleaning agent that also happens to be eco-friendly—and safe to use in your home.

It is one of those everyday household products that can actually be used on practically every surface in the home. In addition, baking soda is an affordable, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly cleaning alternative to conventional cleaners.

One of the best ways to clean with baking soda is to mix it with vinegar. Baking soda gently wears away at stains so is most useful as a regular cleaner to keep dirt at bay rather than as part of a deep clean. However, if you mix it with vinegar then you create carbonic acid which is more bubbly—and better to scrub with—and also more corrosive and therefore tougher on stains.

This old-school cleaning product can be used for a variety of different cleaning tasks (and on a variety of surfaces), including the following 6 ways to clean with baking soda:

Toilet Bowl: Toilet bowls can stain even if they have a stain-resistant coating. Strong cleaners can wear away at the enamel on the bowl when removing the stains and, consequently, a less-abrasive cleaning alternative will keep stains at bay while also keeping your toilet in mint condition. Sprinkle baking soda into your toilet and leave it. Moisten with vinegar. Scrub and flush.

Shower Doors: Baking soda effectively cleans shower doors plus mirrors. Just sprinkle a little baking soda on a damp sponge and wipe. The granules in baking soda will not scratch surfaces and, if you are careful and diligent with sponging technique, you can remove the unsightly soap scum, toothpaste, and general dirt without leaving cleaning streaks of your own.

Unclogging the Drain: Baking soda is also a non-toxic and pleasant-smelling product that works to unclog your drains. Pour in a decent amount of baking soda, vinegar, and a dash of lemon juice for a sweeter smell. Let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the significance of the blockage, and then flush it through with very hot water.

Tiles: If left unattended, tiles can harbor mildew and mold—tiles are a part of the bathroom or kitchen cleaning routine that is often ignored. Mixing baking soda and water together to create a paste is a fantastic way to gently get at all the stains without ruining the seal. Scrub away with a toothbrush or other small cleaning brush to make sure you really get in there. You can mix some bleach into this paste if you end up discovering mold growth.

Shower Curtains: A simple mixture of baking soda and water can be used to get rid of the dirt and marks on your linoleum floors, shower curtains, and other wipe-clean furnishings in the home.

Cookware: Baking Soda can even be used to clean a stained saucepan. Sprinkle it on the base with a little water to moisten it or with a little vinegar for tougher stains.

These are just a few of the ways that Bicarbonate of Soda can be used in everyday house cleaning but there are many more. Feel free to experiment yourself and use it on a variety of surfaces and in a variety of combinations to achieve your optimum cleaning results.

Bathroom Cleaning Mistakes

When it comes to cleaning your home, no room requires more of a hard scrubbing, deep clean, quite like the bathroom. I usually leave the bathroom as the last room to clean, just because it’s such a pain. Even though, most people bust hump trying to get their bathroom as clean as possible, there may be some common mistakes being made, which can mean your bathroom may not be as clean as you think.

This article from Enviro Maids, lists several of the most common mistakes you make when cleaning your bathroom. Check it out, and see if any of these mistakes are being made in your cleaning routine.

 

Mistakes you make when cleaning your bathroom

Mistake #1: Cleaning only part of the toilet

The inside of your toilet and the seat always get cleaned, but what about the other parts of your toilet — the outside of the bowl, the base, and the back of the toilet? According to Goodhousekeeping.com these areas get just as dirty. Don’t forget to clean the outside of the tank, the top of the tank, the bolt caps, and the handle, as well.

Mistake #2: Not giving your cleaning products time to do their job

Do you give your cleaning solutions time to work properly? The pros at Prevention.com find that many people spray the surfaces of their bathroom with a cleaning solution and immediately start wiping away. When you prematurely wipe the cleanser away, you’re not giving it time to do what it’s supposed to do — dissolve dirt or kill bacteria and germs. Read the labels of your cleaners and follow the directions carefully. The manufacturer of the product has done extensive testing on how to properly use their product.

Mistake #3: Neglecting the “high touch areas”

Don’t forget to clean the areas in your bathroom that you frequently touch, but rarely clean. Cabinet handles, light switches, shelves, faucets, towel racks, toilet paper holders, and toothbrush holders all fall under this category. These areas should be routinely cleaned, especially when family members are fighting the cold, flu, or stomach virus.

Mistake #4: Not washing your shower curtain liner

Mold doesn’t only grow on your shower tiles and grout, it also grows on your shower curtain liner. When you notice a buildup of mold on your curtain liner, simply toss it in the washing machine.Readersdigest.com suggests adding a ½ cup of baking soda during the wash cycle, followed by a ½ of white vinegar during the rinse cycle. Use the gentle cycle on your washer and air-dry the liner. A great tip from Goodhouse Keeping is to remember to pull the curtain closed each time after you shower. If the liner is bunched accordion-style, it’’ll exacerbate the growth mold.

Mistake #5: Wet toilet brush

Bacteria, mildew, and mold all thrive in warm, dark environments. That’s why you shouldn’t place a wet toilet brush back into its holder immediately after use. Goodhouse Keeping suggests setting the wet toilet brush across the toilet seat, where it can drip into the bowl. The brush should be completely dry before putting it back. Be sure to disinfect your toilet brush after each use, and don’t forget to disinfect the holder, too.

Mistake #6: Not using your exhaust fan

This is more of a preventative tip, than a cleaning tip. Your exhaust fan is meant to be used regularly when you shower to help prevent the buildup of mildew. Once you’re done showering, leave the fan running for another 15 to 20 minutes to help absorb as much moisture in the air as possible. If you have a window, you can open it partially and it’ll work just as well.

Mistake #7: Mixing multiple cleaners

Many cleaners are made up of toxic chemicals that may pose a health risk to many. When you use two or more different types of cleansers at the same time, the combination can be extremely hazardous. According to Prevention.com, combining two or more chemicals together — such as bleach and ammonia — can damage the lining of your lungs. Use a solution of 10 percent vinegar and water instead; it’s 99.9 percent effective in killing bacteria and doesn’t pose a health risk.