Natural Cleaning Tips For Healthy Living - September 2017

Create and maintain a clean environment of your very own.

Apartment Living green living Moving Tips

Making an Eco-Friendly Move

 

Cardboard boxes in apartment, moving day

 

Boxes, tape and bubble wrap, oh my! If you have a move on the horizon or have experienced one in the recent past, you understand well that the act of moving doesn’t lend itself to eco-friendly living at first blush. So much packaging can make the least green of us shudder. Rest assured, you can remain environmentally conscious and stay committed to controlling the waste during your move, while also keeping your transport emissions down. Just follow these simple tips:

Box smart. According to Move.com, the average move uses about 60 boxes (see infographic below).   That adds up to a whole lot of trees over time. Keep usage down by getting the word out about your move as early as you can. If you know folks who are making a move before yours, ask them to save all their packaging, including bubble wrap and protective packing paper, so you can reuse it during your own move.

Choose box alternatives. Before you buy new boxes for your move, make sure you’ve exhausted all possible resources for box alternatives. Pack in empty large plastic bins you own, borrow from friends or ask your mover if they supply or rent reusable bins. Not only is this a great green option, it takes some of the work off your plate as movers drop bins off ahead of time and take them away after the move. No need to break down boxes or recycle them, you can move on to decorating your new home.

Fuel emissions. The size and distance of your move makes all the difference when it comes to emission of CO2. When interviewing moving companies, be on the lookout for green options such as these:

  • Fuel type—ask each company what type of fuel they use. Many organizations have converted trucks to biodiesel fuel, an upgrade that helps reduce your move’s carbon footprint.
  • Car shipping—if you’re moving an automobile, price out both truck and rail shipping options. Train transport can represent huge savings to you and lighten the moving truck’s load on the road.
  • Clean out before you move—whatever you can do to reduce the number of goods you plan to move will make a big impact on related emissions. Don’t pack mindlessly and hurriedly, instead, think about items you can donate before making your move.

Get things clean.  Make sure you leave your old space clean and healthy for the next inhabitants.  Use eco-friendly cleaning products for floors, countertops, and windows or hire an eco-friendly cleaning company—like us!—to come in and take care of dirt, dust, and debris. Grab this great online checklist from our friends at MakeSpace for all your pre- and post-cleaning tasks.

 

Talk to us: Have you made an environmentally conscious move in recent months? Share what you learned and your best tips for other readers below.

Appliances Energy-efficient appliances Kitchen

How To Buy An Energy-Efficient Stove Or Range

Energy-efficient Stove

 

Is your stove or range petering out or nearing the end of its life expectancy? Experts say the best time to make large appliance purchases is in September when manufacturers are rolling out their latest models and looking to make space by offering good deals on last year’s versions. Follow our shopping tips to ensure you’re getting the most affordable, energy-efficient model in your price range.

  • Look for the Energy Star® label. The Energy Star folks have done their homework to identify the most efficient models in every appliance category. This is a great place to start when you’re beginning your search to make sure you’re saving money and protecting the environment.
  • Buy for your space. Make sure to take precise measurements for the space your kitchen allows for a stove or range before you shop. Appliances function at maximum efficiency when located in a spot that allows for proper ventilation.
  • Use the EnergyGuide. All new appliances are required to have an EnergyGuide label affixed to the packaging or appliance so consumers can compare as they shop. Read each one carefully and take pictures of the labels with your mobile device, for a quick comparison. Having an image with key features, estimated yearly operating cost and estimated yearly electricity use at your fingertips will help with decision-making after you’ve shopped around.
  • Choose gas. When it comes to stoves and ranges, manufacturers often offer both gas and electric models. On average, it takes about three times as much energy to produce and deliver electricity to an electric stove, compared to a gas one. The California Energy Commission says that over time, a gas stove will cost about half as much to operate as an electric one. Gas stoves boast more ease of use as well; giving cooks more control of temperatures and cooking time.
  • Plan for long-term useIt’s no secret that consumers pay upfront for energy efficiency, only to reap the many benefits for themselves and the planet down the line. If you can, reach deeper into your pockets for this appliance purchase and others with the end goal in mind.

Talk to us: Please share your favorite energy efficient range and stovetop models below.

 

Photo by Naomi Hébert on Unsplash

Fireplace Home Improvement Tips

Now Is The Time To Check Your Fireplace

Fireplace

 

We’re sure the last thing on your mind right now is lighting your fireplace.  But it really should be – at least the maintenance of it. Do not wait for cold weather to hit before you get your fireplace inspected and cleaned. Doing it now while the weather is nice–and while it’s still considered offseason–will have you ready to light that a match as soon as the first cold fall night arrives.

Has it been at least a year (or more!) since your last professional cleaning?  Then definitely hire a professional chimney sweep so they can clean the flu and inspect the entire fireplace for hazardous cracks.

If it’s been less than a year since your last professional chimney sweep…then you can easily clean and inspect the fireplace yourself by following these steps:

  1. Check the flu for nests, animals or leaves.
  2. Check the chimney. Use a flashlight and mirror to look up to the open damper.
  3. If you see blockages of any kind you’ll have to call a professional chimney sweep.
  4. Repair cracks in the chimney, firebox or hearth–making sure you use the proper materials. Click here for tips and DIY advice.

Once you’ve inspected your chimney, it’s time to clean it:

  1. Gather your materials: a vacuum, bucket, gloves, two cloths, mild dish soap, stiff-bristled brush, table salt, and water.
  2. Vacuum the soot from inside the chimney.
  3. Mix one ounce of soap with one ounce of table salt in just enough water in a bucket to make the mixture creamy.
  4. Thoroughly rub it into the brick with a cloth (wearing gloves if you so choose).
  5. Allow it to dry for at least ten minutes. Then use the stiff-bristled brush to remove the residue and scum from the bricks. Repeat if necessary until your fireplace is “shiny” and clean!
  6. Take another wet cloth and wipe away any leftover soap scum or residue.

Now, stock up on wood before it gets too cold.  Buy a full face cord or a half face cord of firewood to last you a full winter (or two).  Remember to purchase only local wood to prevent spreading invasive species.  Choose hardwood like walnut and maple for a clean, longer and hotter burn. Then sit back and enjoy your warm fires in your clean, safe fireplace!

Talk to us:  What month do you usually light the first fire?

 

Cleaning Tips Clothes Laundry

3 Things to Consider before Heading to the Dry Cleaner

Dry Cleaner

With school and work schedules back in full swing, your dry cleaning bill may be eating into your monthly budget. Not sure you need to take so many items to the dry cleaner?  Real Simple magazine gives us three things to consider before tossing our clothes into the dry cleaning pile:

 

Read the Label

If the tag says DRY CLEAN ONLY, obey it.  If it says DRY CLEAN, that means that it is recommended but is not the only method for getting the garment clean.

Consider the Fabric

Unless the label suggests otherwise, silk, acetate, velvet, wool, and taffeta items should go to the dry cleaner. Cotton, linen, cashmere, polyester, acrylic, and nylon can usually be washed at home. Be sure to check colorfastness first by putting some mild detergent on a cotton swab and dabbing it on a hidden seam to see if any dye comes off.

It’s in the Details

Care instructions are usually for fabric only, not the accents. Before you wash anything with beading, sequins, etc., make sure they are sewen on (not glued) and colorfast (see above).

 

If you do decide to wash your garments at home, click here for tips.

 

Talk to us:  What items do you always take to the dry cleaner?

 

Photo by Tim Wright on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

Cooking Family Kitchen

Getting Kids in the Kitchen

Kids in the Kitchen

Now that school is back in session, your days are busier than ever. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get some help in the kitchen? Look no further than your own family—specifically your kids.

Getting your kids into the kitchen is not only good for family conversation, but it also teaches them valuable life skills such as how to cook simple and healthy meals and how to work well with others. Before you think your child is too young to help, try some of these age-appropriate ideas from The Kitchn.

18 Months to 3 Years

  • Pour dry and liquid ingredients into a bowl
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables (includes scrubbing potatoes)
  • Tear greens into pieces
  • Stir batter in a bowl
  • Pick herbs off the stem

4 to 5 Years

  • Roll out and knead pizza or bread dough
  • Crack an egg
  • Measure and level dry ingredients
  • Whisk a vinaigrette
  • Spread butter or jam

6 to 9 Years

  • Use a small paring knife
  • Cook with you at the stove
  • Peel fruits and vegetables
  • Grate cheese with a box grater
  • Scoop batter into muffin cups

 

Every child is different, so experiment with tasks to find out the ones that work best for your family.  Also, don’t forget the clean up—even very young kids can help get the kitchen back in order after dinner including putting silverware in the dishwasher, wiping down counters, and putting ingredients away.

 

Talk to us: What tasks do you have your child do in the kitchen?

DIY stain removers Stain Removing Tips

Stain Buster: Melted Cheese

Melted Cheese GEC

It’s really hard to say anything bad about melted cheese…unless that gooey deliciousness lands on your clothing, furniture or carpet instead of your mouth.  Fear not! We have just the DIY tips you need to clean up cheese stains.

 

Clothing

  • Carefully remove any cheese that comes up easily.
  • Using a laundry detergent with enzymes (click here for a great list, including some eco-friendly options), soak the clothing for at least 30 minutes before you toss into the laundry.

 

Furniture

  • Carefully remove any cheese that comes up easily.
  • Mix one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing detergent with two cups of COOL water.
  • Sponge the stain with the solution.
  • Blot until all the liquid is absorbed.
  • Repeat the above steps until the stain disappears.
  • Wet a clean towel and wipe down the area before drying with a towel.

 

Carpet

  • Carefully remove any cheese that comes up easily.
  • If the cheese is smashed into the carpet fibers, let it dry and pick out as much as possible.
  • Mix one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing detergent with two cups of WARM water.
  • Sponge the stain with the solution.
  • Blot until the liquid is absorbed.
  • Repeat the above steps until the stain disappears.
  • Wet a clean towel and wipe down the area before drying with a towel.

 

Talk to us:  How do you easily remove melted cheese stains?

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