Natural Cleaning Tips For Healthy Living - August 2015

Create and maintain a clean environment of your very own.

Eco-Friendly Cleaning Tips Eco-friendly ways to clean countertops Kitchen Cleaning Tips

Cleaning Countertops: How to Clean Countertops Naturally

Here Are Some Eco-friendly Ways to Clean Your Kitchen Countertop

countertop

We all know the family parties and household gatherings always end up in the kitchen, so you want to keep those countertops looking their best!  But keeping those large, beautiful surfaces clean can be tricky.  Here are some eco-friendly ways to clean your kitchen (or bathroom) countertop, no matter what kind of surface you have:

  • Butcher BlockIf you have stubborn stains use salt and lemon juice to remove them, but for everyday spills a wet cloth and natural dish soap will do.  Make sure you rinse and dry the butcher block with a clean cloth.  Every three months you will need to coat the wood with olive, almond or walnut oil; let it soak in overnight; then wipe off the excess with a soft, dry cloth.
  • Stainless SteelStainless steel countertops can be cleaned with a simple baking soda and water paste.  Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda on the counter and use a damp cloth to gently scrub, and then rinse with a clean, damp cloth. For touch stains or dried food, let the baking soda/water paste sit for a few minutes before you scrub it clean. After cleaning, wipe the counter with a clean dry cloth to buff the stainless steel.
  • Granite and other natural stonesWarm water, natural dish soap and a soft cloth is all it takes to clean your beautiful granite countertops. Use a second cloth to dry the granite to remove the excess water. If you have hard to remove stains or dried food, cover the area with a paste of baking soda and water, top it with a wet rag and leave it to slowly dry.  As the paste dries, it will lift the stain out of the stone.  Repeat this process until no discoloration remains in the granite.  Rinse with water and dry with a soft cloth.
  • Marble – Marble is another easy to clean countertop, using just water and natural dish soap. Mix the detergent and water and use a sponge to wash the marble. Rinse completely and buff with a soft, dry cloth.  Never let the marble air-dry.
  • QuartzUnless your quartz counter is really dirty, a simple wipe down with water will do.  When you need to do a good cleaning, hot water and a mild liquid detergent will suffice or water and vinegar can also be used.  Be sure to rinse and dry the surface thoroughly to remove residue and streaks. Never use bleach or anything else abrasive which will damage the smooth surface of your quartz countertops.
  • Eco-Friendly Cleaner for Other Surfaces – Vinegar is perfect to clean other countertops because it contains a powerful acid that kills E. coli bacteria and salmonella. Use equal parts vinegar and tap water to clean and disinfect countertops in both the kitchen and bathroom by using just a soft cloth.

 

One last tip – Be sure to never use lemon, vinegar, or any other acidic items to clean marble, granite or other stone countertops because it will eat into the stone.

 

Remember; clean your countertops frequently to avoid bacteria and germs from coming in contact with food or everyday items.  Using these eco-friendly cleanings will help keep your countertops clean and keep your family healthy!

 

 

Talk to us:  What is your favorite countertop material?

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Alison and Fil

 

Eco Leaders Eco Quotes that Inspire Female Eco Leaders Women's Equality Day

8 Quotes from Women Eco-Leaders

Quotes from Eco Leaders

In honor of Women’s Equality Day, we wanted to celebrate those women who inspire each of us to be kind to ourselves, to others and to our planet.  Here are some of our favorite quotes from female eco-leaders we so admire:

 

“We live in a disposable society.  We throw so much away.  But it doesn’t come from nowhere.  It comes from the planet and it comes from future generations’ lives.”–Julie Butterfly Hill

 

“Just because you have a piece of trash and you throw it away and it gets hauled away, it doesn’t mean that it’s not affecting someone else.”–Majora Carter

 

“Everybody has to look at his or her own footprint and do the best they can. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about doing something. If we’re looking for perfection, we’ll never, everget there.” —Laurie David

 

“Average people and the average community can change the world. You can do it just based on common sense, determination, persistence and patience.”– Lois Gibbs

 

“Saving the planet means going beyond our comfort zones: working with faith communities, even if we’re not believers, with old people, even though they talk slowly and with young people, even if we can’t decipher their text messages.”–Annie Leonard

 

“It’s the little things citizens do. That’s what will make the difference. My little thing is planting trees.”–Wangari Maathai

 

“You are not Atlas carrying the world on your shoulder. It is good to remember that the planet is carrying you.” —Vandana Shiva

 

 

 

“The decisions you make are a choice of values that reflect your life in every way.”–Alice Waters

 

Talk to us:  Who is one of your favorite female leaders of the environmental movement?

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Marian


 

 

 

 

Back-to-School Tips Creating a Study Workstation Homework Stations in Small Places

How to Create a Study Workstation in a Small Space

HomeworkStation

As kids head back to school this month, the homework will soon start, so this is the perfect time to set up a study space for kids to call their own. Here are some tips for creating the perfect study area–even if you have a small space:

 

Location
Ideally, your homework station should be somewhere quiet with lots of natural light.  However, if you are tight on space, it might not be easy to find such a location.   Look for unused spaces such as a hallway or bedroom closet (clean out clutter and store seasonal items offsite by using a company such as MakeSpace) and turn it into a study nook by simply adding a vibrant paint color, some shelves and a desk.  Consider taking the door off its hinges if a closet space seems too snug.  Don’t have any unused space?  Create a mobile study station like this one from 4 Men 1 Lady–they have upcycled a metal library cart into an all-in-one study area.

 

Storage
Supplies and paper should be readily accessible at all times.  Labeled see-through bins are great for storing writing utensils and art supplies, but if you are running low on space consider purchasing an over-the-door organizer with see-through pockets, make sure you hang it low enough for kids to reach. For papers, hang a mail organizer on the wall or inside a door to house loose leaf, printer and construction paper.  If your homework station is more mobile, invest in a rollaway cart with drawers like this one from Wayfair–simply wheel it out when it is time to study and wheel it back in its place when you are done.

 

Supplies
Now that you have a place to study and a place to store supplies, you need…supplies.  Stock up on writing utensils, paper (loose leaf, graph and construction), art supplies (scissors, glue, tape) and basic office items (stapler, paper clips).  In addition, you should keep study resources like a calculator, ruler and dictionary (yes, the print kind) on hand as well as items like poster board for those “I-forgot-to-tell-you-it’s-due-tomorrow” projects. Still not sure what you need to have on hand?  Simply buy double of everything on the school supply list–keeping the duplicates at home.

 

Organization
Your homework station is a great place to gather and manage tasks, due dates and materials.  Turn an unused drawer into a home filing system, color-coding tabs and folders to go with each subject, make sure you include a folder for those “need-to-get-back-to-school” forms.   Hang a bulletin board or dry erase board on the wall where you can post schedules and write down important dates (or inspirational phrases!).  Invest in a weekly planner for your child–having them get into a habit of writing down assignments and test dates as soon as they are given.  Another tip for keeping papers organized? Put two boxes by where your child hangs his or her backpack–one for recycling old papers and one for papers that need to go to the homework station.  This makes it easy for kids to clean out backpacks on a daily basis.

 

Talk to us:  What is your best tip for creating a homework station?

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Scott Akerman

 

 

Eco-friendly cleaning products Eco-friendly cleaning supplies Office Cleaning Tips

6 Items for Your Office Cleaning Toolkit

Office Cleaning Supplies

As a company that specializes in residential and commercial cleaning services, we are big believers in stocking up cleaning supplies with products and ingredients that not only keep your space clean but healthy.  And while we often think about the eco-friendly products we should keep under our kitchen sinks, today we challenge you to think about the cleaning products in your office.  Are you using the same eco-friendly options at the office as you do at home?

 

Here are 6 things that should be part of your office cleaning toolkit:

Microfiber Cloths & Broom: In addition to being a great product for removing dust, microfiber cloths & brooms are also known to remove allergens and bacteria. The cloths and broom head can easily be washed and reused, making them a great addition to your cleaning arsenal.

 

Reusable Mop: Not that we don’t love the convenience of disposable brands, but you cannot beat the earth-friendliness of a reusable mop. Look for mop heads made from plant-based fibers that are free of dyes and plastics.

 

Stainless Steel Bucket: We recommend having a couple of buckets on hand since you can use them for all sorts of general cleaning projects around the office. We recommend stainless steel buckets, which will not only last longer, but are easier to carry around.

 

All-Purpose Cleaner:  The perfect cleaner for almost any surface of the office–from desks, to conference tables to phones (essential during cold and flu season).  Make your own all-natural version by combining equal parts warm water with vinegar in a spray bottle.  Add 20 drops of your favorite essential oil for a fresh (non-vinegar) scent.

 

Glass Cleaner:  From front windows to bathroom mirrors, keeping a good glass cleaner on hand will make it easy for you to wipe away smudges at the end of each day.  We like this DIY idea from Good Housekeeping: In a spray bottle, combine 2 cups of water, 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol and 1-2 drops of essential oil.

 

Baking Soda: We know that this is a must-have product for the home, but it is also a must-have for the office.  Baking soda can be used to freshen up carpet and rugs (just sprinkle on your carpet, let sit for 10 minutes & then vacuum), remove stains and alleviate odors from your workplace kitchen.

Of course, if you are not interested in creating your own all-natural cleaning products, look for eco-friendly brands such as our Ecospirit line to help you keep things clean and healthy!

 

 

Talk to us:  What is the one product you cannot live without when it comes to keeping your office clean?

 

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Susy Morris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Olive Oil: Great product for hydrating wood or minimizing scratches, olive oil can also be used as a furniture polish when mixed with lemon juice. Read: Clean Your House With Olive Oil

 

 

    1. Vinegar: What can’t you do with vinegar? Vinegar helps cut through everything from tarnish to soap scum and actually stops some bacteria–such as E. coli–from growing on your surfaces. Read: 10 Creative Ways to Clean with Vinegar

 

 

    1. Borax: If you need to kill mold and fungus–we’re talking to you bathroom tubs and toilets–borax is your primary ingredient. Read: 25 Household Uses for Borax

 

 

    1. Salt: Scouring a pan or counter surface? Salt is one of your best options. Mixed with other products such as lemon juice or vinegar, salt becomes a great way to get rid of tough stains and mineral deposits. Read: 20 Household Things You Can Do with Salt

 

While I always recommend having the above products on hand, you can also use eco-friendly cleaners or hire an eco-friendly cleaning company to help with your spring cleaning efforts. Whatever your choice, make sure you are keeping the inside of your home as healthy and natural as the outside.

Dishwasher How to use your dishwasher Kitchen Appliances

Surprising Ways to Use Your Dishwasher

dishwasher

As an eco-friendly cleaning company, we are all about multipurpose household items which is why we love the everyday dishwasher.  Yes, dishwasher.  Not only does your dishwasher save you the physical labor of washing your dirty dishes (and is actually more eco-friendly than washing dishes by hand),  but it can also help clean and sanitize other items throughout your house.

And, it can help you cook salmon (we’re not kidding–see below).

Let’s start with 10 things you can wash/sterilize in your dishwasher:

  • Baseball capsPlace baseball caps on the top rack of the dishwasher and they will not get bent like they do in the washing machine.  Then air dry your cap and it’s ready to wear!
  • Small toysPlace action figures and other small toys into a mesh lingerie bag and place it on the top rack of the dishwasher to sanitize.  However, don’t include the Barbie–her hair will come our looking like she’s been electrocuted!
  • Plastic boots and shoesJust remove the liners of rain boots and lay them horizontally in dishwasher; and hook flips flops to the tines in the top rack so they don’t fly around during the cycle.  Crocs are not dishwasher safe so don’t ever include those in your washings.
  • Sports equipmentThrow shin guards, knee pads and mouth guards all in for a cycle.  They can all be cleaned and disinfected from the top rack.
  • Random household coverssuch as fan grilles, switch plates, vent covers and light fixture covers can all go in the dishwasher as long as they are not enameled, painted, plated or antique.
  • Cabinet knobsThese do great if they are ceramic.  Place them right in the silverware basket.
  • Removable cup holdersWe’re talking about the ones from your car.  Take them out of your car and place them on the top rack.  These can be washed right along with your dishes.
  • Shower HeadRemove the shower head every three months and add it to the dishwasher for a deep cleaning to break up the hard water buildup.
  • PotatoesYes, the kind you eat!  Clean dirty potatoes right in the dishwasher. Set it on rinse only cycle with no detergent.  Helps when you’re making mashed potatoes for a full house at Thanksgiving!
  • Sponges Easily clean and sanitize your germ infested sponges by throwing them right in the dishwasher for a cycle!

We suggest doing a full load of these non-kitchenware items in between your next dirty dish cycle so that your makeup brushes, baseball hats and action figures aren’t mixed in with your pots and pans. Don’t forget, in order to properly sanitize, the water temperature has to be at the hottest level possible.

Okay, now we know you’ve been waiting for the instructions on how to cook salmon in the dishwasher.  It really is possible! Here’s how:

  1. Place your salmon fillet on 2 sheets of foil.
  2. Season your fillet with whatever you’d like – butter, lemon juice, spices, etc.
  3. Seal the foil very well and place it on the top rack wire basket. Make sure your foil is tightly sealed to keep the dishwasher from smelling fishy afterward.
  4. Do not add detergent.  Run the hottest wash and dry cycle. When the cycle is done, remove the salmon and enjoy your dinner!

Take full advantage of your dishwasher and turn it into a multi-tasking cleaning machine.

Talk to us:  What non-dish item do you put in the dishwasher?

 

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Kevin McShane

 

Cleaning office fridge Items to keep in refrigerator Office Kitchen

5 Weird Things to Keep in Your Office Fridge

SharpieMaskingTape

Vacation schedules and summer hours will soon be coming to an end, and your office space will be back to buzzing with colleagues.  Now is a great time to stock up the office fridge with a few items that will help you and your office mates keep things clean and organized all year long.

 

Box of Baking Soda
An open box of baking soda in your refrigerator and freezer will help eliminate odors.  Although you should replace the box every three months, you may find you need to replace it more often if it is absorbing too many odors.  We also suggest sprinkling a little baking soda at the bottom of refrigerator drawers—covering with a folded paper towel—to help eliminate odors in those spaces as well.

 

Fridge Mats
This is an easy DIY solution that will make it easy to keep your office refrigerator clean.  Simply purchase a plastic placemat and cut to fit fridge shelves.  When you have a spill (or someone else has a spill and doesn’t clean it up), you can simply pull out the mat and wash it in the sink.

 

Lazy Susan or “Turntables”
Often reserved for the kitchen table or countertop, a lazy Susan in the office fridge is a great way to store bottles and jars of condiments—you know, those things everyone needs to use, but no one can ever seem to find.  We like the non-skid versions from Bed, Bath & Beyond because they come in various sizes, perfect for any kind of office fridge.

 

Upcycled Crystal Light Containers
We love this idea from Buzzfeed—turn those Crystal Light cylinders into storage containers for vegetables such as carrots, celery and cucumber slices.  In addition to being able to store these items in water (keeps your vegies fresher longer), they fit perfectly inside the door of most refrigerators—a great way to keep healthy snacks handy for the entire office.

 

Masking Tape & Sharpie
For those office mates who love to keep leftovers in the fridge, make it easy for them to label their food.  Store a roll of masking tape and a sharpie in the side of the door (fits great in the sections reserved for butter and cheese) and encourage colleagues to not only put their name on the food, but the date.  That way, when it is time for a fridge “clean out”, you will easily know what can be thrown away.

Cleaning Tips for S'more Party How to Host a S'more Party Tips for S'more Party

4 Tips for Hosting a S’more Party

smoreparty

Monday is National S’more Day and we couldn’t be happier.  I mean, who doesn’t love melted chocolate and gooey marshmallow smashed tightly between two graham crackers?  This year, why not celebrate the special day with a S’more Party.

Here are 4 tips for hosting your own s’more party:

 

Fire Pit Optional
There is nothing better than sitting around an open fire roasting marshmallows on a stick.  But, an open fire pit is not always an option—especially if you have a small outdoor space or you are camping.  Martha Stewart shows you how to make s’mores using your grill (you will actually be “grilling” the graham cracker) and The Kitchn gives you instructions for using a couple of cans of sterno.

 

No Tables, No Problem
If you’re looking at your guest list and panicking that you don’t have enough table space, relax.  We love this idea from The Kitchn:  Make tables out of old doors propped up with plastic milk crates or bricks.  Once you have them assembled you can drape each table with old sheets for a beautiful table.  Chairs?  These tables sit so close to the ground that you don’t even need chairs.  Just throw some sheets and old pillows on the ground next to the table for a comfy, relaxed feel.

 

Create a S’More Bar
Yes, a s’more bar.  While we all love the traditional graham cracker stuffed with chocolate and marshmallow, today’s s’mores can be even more fancy and fun.  There are numerous graham cracker and cookie options (vanilla wafers, anyone?) as well as flavored marshmallows (caramel swirl may be the end of us).  Checkout this great list of ingredient options from Kitchen Concoctions—they even include recipes for mixing/matching ingredients to create things like “The Christmas S’more” (cinnamon graham cracker, peppermint marshmallow, Peppermint Pattie).

 

Think Cleanup
As a cleaning company, we go into almost any activity or event thinking of ways we can make the cleanup easier.  Consider putting craft paper down on tables, have all the ingredients stationed on a “wheel cart” so you can move it back inside and place trash and recycling receptacles throughout the yard.  And, since s’mores are not the cleanest of treats to eat, help your guests stay clean by filling baskets with containers of eco-friendly wipes (there’s a great list of options from Inhabitots) or wet reusable cloths (put the cloths in water proof baggies to keep them moist).

 

Talk to us:  What is your favorite combination of ingredients for a s’more?

 

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Pete

 

Back to College Creative Storage Solutions Dorm Room Storage Dorm Rooms

4 Creative Storage Solutions for Your Dorm

As you pack up your child for college, you may be concerned there won’t be quite enough space in that tiny dorm room for all of his or her belongings.  With the average dorm room coming in at a whopping 228 square feet, the struggle to find storage space is real and today’s dorm dwellers need to get creative with their storage solutions.

Here are four places to find extra storage in your dorm room:

 

powerbedrise2Under the Bed
Make the most of your under-the-bed storage by investing in bed risers—these tiny little things can help raise your bed 7” off the floor, giving you plenty of room to store bins of sweaters, shoes and extra bedding.   And, since we love any product that has multiple uses, we are big fans of these Power Bed Risers from Bed, Bath & Beyond.  In addition to giving you more under-the-bed space, they also feature grounded power and USB outlets.

 

 

 

41rIPrroSxL._SY300_Over the Door
There are several over-the-door storage options—everything from your laundry to your shoes to your accessories can be stored in the back of your room door (or closet door).  Not only does this keep things out of your way, but you have easy access to items you might need quickly.  Apartment Therapy gives you 10 over-the-door organizer ideas—each under $50!

 

 

 

aussie_pouch_dorm_chair_pocket_denim_green__38313.1423449880.500.659Back of Chair
Often referred to as “school chair pockets” these little pieces of storage gold have been promoted from elementary classrooms to college dorm rooms.  Chair pockets are great for storing school supplies, water bottles, calculators—basically whatever you need to help you study will find its home on the back of your chair instead of cluttering up your desk.   Aussie Pouch has great options with lots of different sizes and styles.

 

 

 

SeeStoreCntnrsOffice300Door of Your Fridge
Often used to house spices, these small magnetic containers with clear lids are perfect for storing desk supplies, sewing notions or spare change for doing your laundry.  The See & Store Containers from The Container Store adhere to any steel surface, so the door to your fridge becomes an instant storage solution.

 

 

Talk to us:  What is your most creative storage solution for a dorm room?