3 Best Ways to Kick Off Spring Cleaning Tasks

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As winter rolls into spring, you may want to concentrate on fixing, organizing, and cleaning what’s outside — after all, most say that working in the sun is better than working under a light bulb — but there are some tasks inside that just shouldn’t be ignored as part of the annual ritual we call spring cleaning.

Here are a few that will help your indoor air quality the minute you handle them through the course of your spring cleaning.

Spring Cleaning Tasks Worth Doing

Dusty Decisions

A cold, hard winter means the house has been closed up and not aired out. The natural tendency is to think there is no dust coming in. That’s not true. Spring cleaning is a good time to thoroughly dust your entire home, picking up small items off table and desktops, cleaning off the tops of window frames, and don’t forget the baseboards.

Dust the entire home. Be sure to use rags or towels that will collect the dust, instead of spreading it around or pushing it off surfaces onto the floor, where you will just walk on it and kick it around.

All this work means you will be rewarded with less exposure to indoor airborne allergens.

Ducts and Vents

Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system works hard to keep you comfortable, and while it does that, the ductwork gets dusty and dirty. You don’t see it, so the tendency is you don’t worry about it.

Take off a vent or two and inspect. Get out the flashlight. Take a white towel and push it into the ductwork. Does it come out brown? While you can clean the vents, it’s virtually impossible to clean the ductwork yourself. You need to call a professional for the duct cleaning work.

Vacuum and Sweep

This is a good time to get out your vacuum, inspect it thoroughly and clean it up, and start vacuuming everything. Every square inch of carpet you can get to and move as much furniture as you can. You would be amazed how much dust can build up under furniture over the winter.

Besides vacuuming the carpet, get a vacuum tool that can handle the hard floors as well. If you use a regular broom, you may stir up the dust and put it up in your breathing space. If you must sweep, find a tool that doesn’t “whisk” the dust up.

A Real Clean

When you realize the job is tough and need a professional cleaning company for your spring cleaning needs, look towards an experienced, knowledgeable crew. It ensures your house is not only clean but healthy especially with all the spring allergens.

A Weekend Lost: No Professional Carpet Cleaner

Professional carpet cleaner, The article goes over the limitations of do it yourself carpet cleaners and how many stains including pet stains will often return without proper care.

You work hard all week and look forward to the weekend, a time to relax and enjoy family and friends (but you still have to mow the grass and avoid a professional carpet cleaner!)  

But, sometime during the week, you look down. You aren’t happy with the condition of the carpet. So you make a decision to rent a do-it-yourself carpet cleaning machine from your local grocery store in the Tri-Valley. That’s right… you are going to clean your own carpet and remove all those carpet stains even the pet stains your dog left behind. Your goal this weekend is to create a nice, fresh and clean carpet and enjoy a healthier home without the cost of a professional carpet cleaner.

Friday

Friday evening arrives. Off you go to your grocery store and you find yourself in front of a bunch of do-it-yourself cleaning machines and the various cleaning solutions available. There are products to put on the carpet before you clean it. You can use products to put in the machine with the water. Or there are other types of products for all kinds of spots and stains. Still others for pet odors. You aren’t sure which ones you will need. It is all very confusing. You grab a selection of them and take them to the front of the store to pay.

At the register, while paying for the daily rental of the carpet cleaning machine, you discover the cost of all those carpet cleaning products is about what you spend on food for the family for an entire week. But you aren’t deterred!  You are going to clean your carpet and remove the pet stains. Nothing will stop you.

So you go home with all your cleaning stuff and get started. It takes all your Saturday and, sad to say, part of your Sunday as well. It’s backbreaking work. You had no idea what sweating was really like. Yet… it looks pretty good when you are done. The bad part is it takes a few days to dry and you yell at the kids to not walk on the carpet. Maybe you thought they could float over it?

Two Weeks Later

Within two weeks, though, the carpet starts to look worse than before it was cleaned. The dog odor is back and so are the pet stains. Uh oh… what happened?

You didn’t call your carpet cleaning pro! You know, those who have the training and the very best equipment and cleaning solutions to get the job done right.

The Professional Carpet Cleaner Solution

Don’t ruin another weekend. Have a professional carpet cleaner tackle the carpet stains and bring you healthier, cleaner home.

The Dreaded Litter Box

Cute tabby cat using a red, closed litter box.

It’s part of the home that you try to hide. It’s one that you hope no one stumbles across and, of course, hope no one sniffs and notices it is there.

If you have cats, you know exactly what we are talking about. If you have cats, you either train them to go outside (unlikely) or use the toilet (as seen on YouTube) — but most resort to the standard litter box for their feline friends to do their “business.”

As much as you would like anyone else but you to take care of cleaning and maintaining the litter box, if you are the owner of the cat, it’s probably your job to do.

Here are some simple tips to do it faster — and better — and keep things a little more sanitary as well.

Keep it contained

One thing most hate is when the cat (or cats) leave the litter box and bring those tiny litter particles with them, tracking them all over the home.

Placing a cat litter mat under the cat box and some type of carpet remnant where the cats step out on helps reduce the amount of litter tracked through the home.

Protect yourself

Litter boxes are festering tubs of bacteria and other contaminants that need to stay right there in the box. But a cleaning must happen, usually every day, to keep the clumps from taking over and becoming difficult to scoop.

Wear a proper pair of gloves, and even a dust mask, to keep yourself healthy and safe when doing the scoopin’.

Fresh is best

Besides daily scooping, adding some litter every few days is smart. When the litter gets low, add a little more to keep the litter box sufficiently full so your cats can easily cover over their “deposits”. You don’t want to give them any excuse to skip the litter box for a more convenient area to use, if you know what we mean. And each month, empty and completely wash the pan, and add fresh litter.

The inevitable

One thing that cats may do from time to time is “miss” the litter box, creating nasty odors, especially in carpet. That’s when you need some real help, from your favorite cleaning service. Do the right thing. Give them a call today. After all, it pays to call a pro!

Has Your Microwave Gotten Gross?

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It’s fast. It’s easy. And super convenient. Without it, some of us couldn’t survive in the kitchen. No way.

Yes, the microwave oven is an indispensable appliance.

The microwave oven is a modern invention. The first microwaves were around in the mid 1940s, but were mainly for restaurants and reheating food on airplanes. They were massive devices that had to be cooled continuously by water flow. By the 1950s they were introduced to homeowners and some did indeed purchase them, but they were approximately $12,000 in today’s dollars. The popularity along with more affordability began in the 1980s and microwaves as a common fixture in the kitchen is now here.

Virtually everyone has one. If you don’t, you are in the minority. What all microwave users have in common is cleaning up the mess that inherently comes with using these handy ovens that can cook snacks or complete meals in seconds or minutes instead of hours.

To ensure your microwave oven not only looks good but also operates efficiently, you must keep it clean.

Here’s how to clean a microwave.

Scrape it 

As with any cleaning task, scraping up as much as you can before applying cleaning agents is smart. Food particles and residue that resulted from an “explosion” of food can easily be scraped away from the walls and ceiling of the inside of the oven.

Spray it

When you have scraped up as much as possible, use an appropriate cleaning solution and liberally spray the interior of the microwave. Give it some time for the solution to work, perhaps five minutes, and then wipe away the grime. But if there is a lot of grime, continue reading and do this…

Steam it

Fill a microwave-safe bowl about two-thirds full of water. Put it inside the microwave and heat it up on high for about three to five minutes, or until it is boiling. Don’t open the door! Let the bowl sit in there for approximately 10 minutes, allowing the steam to loosen up the grime.

Then…

Wipe it

Spray the moist interior of the oven with more cleaning solution, and use paper towels to wipe all interior surfaces. Even the toughest grime should come off after all your prep work.

Other dirty surfaces

Microwave ovens aren’t the only grimy things that can be part of the modern household. When you need any of your surfaces cleaned, such as carpet, furniture, hard floors and more, call your favorite cleaning company. It pays to call a pro!

Electricity & Appliance Safety

Electric Power Cable on Pink Background in a studio

Electricity. It’s an amazing force of nature and used by virtually everyone in the world, in some form or other.

For most homeowners, and even those working in commercial buildings, the number of appliances that use electricity is mind-boggling. With that comes the issue of safety. After all, if you have a dozen (or more!) items all humming with power in your home, odds are that eventually there could be an issue with electrical safety.

Don’t let that happen to you. Give these practical, household appliance tips some consideration to keep your family and loved ones safe while enjoying the benefits of anything powered by electricity. Although electricity can become exposed, you don’t want that! Smoke, fire, and other damage can occur.

Appliance safety

An “appliance” doesn’t have to be a stove or refrigerator. The term can refer to smaller items, such as space heaters. All appliances that use electricity generate some type of heat and can become unsafe if electrical connections become loose or damaged. That can happen with normal wear and tear and age of the appliance. Even gas appliances, such as an oven or stove, most likely use electricity to ignite the flame, or even keep track of the time of day.

The job of certain types of appliances is to generate heat, and lots of it, which is a safety hazard . These can be toasters, toaster ovens, regular ovens and stovetops, space heaters, clothes and hair curling irons, hair dryers and more. The list can be extensive. Make sure, when applicable, there is plenty of space from anything that generates heat and anything that can ignite. Many homes have suffered fire and smoke damage because someone set down a clothes iron on something ignitable. Or the toaster was too close to the side of the refrigerator and papers attached to it caught on fire.

We all know this, as well. When there is electricity and water, shock hazards can occur, along with possible fire ignition. Analyze each appliance and make sure they aren’t too close to any water source.

Next month, we’ll discuss another appliance safety feature that you might be wondering about… power cords!

And remember, if anything does happen in your home, whether it is a fire and smoke damage situation or flooded basement, do the best thing to bring conditions back to normal. Call your favorite disaster restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!

Solar Bottom – Is It Here Yet?

ideal solar, lighting & electric solar panels

Jeff Nichols of Ideal Solar, Lighting & Electric tells us about the present or future of solar power:

There are 3 factors that determine the cost of solar – material cost, labor cost and incentives.

The future cost of solar panels is open to interpretation because of tariffs and other factors. But we do not foresee any major changes in the cost of panels from where they are now.  

From our own experience labor costs are on the rise. 

The Federal Tax Credit is currently at 30% but it is due to start phasing out at the end of this year. By the end of 2021, the tax credit will be zero. 

Because of these factors we see a slight upward trend in solar installation costs.

Arguably, the bottom is here, within a few solar percentage points. 

Our recommendation to homeowners is to install solar this year while tax incentives are still at their highest point. 

Spring Cleaning: Closets

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Although traditionally a spring cleaning chore, cleaning and organizing a closet can be done any time of year.

And no, keeping the door shut isn’t the best solution to a messy, disorganized closet, although it may give you moments of sanity that quickly disappear when you venture inside for that favorite pair of pants you haven’t seen in months.

Here are a few quick tips on organizing and spring cleaning closets:

Empty the closet. 

Take everything out. Put it in organized piles according to type, such as a pile of shoes, shirts, pants, sweaters, etc.

Clean all surfaces in the closet. 

This means a bucket of soapy water and a sponge, some paper towels or cotton cloths. This is a good time to clean the walls, shelves, every surface you can reach.

Inspect what needs to go back in. 

Take a close look at those piles of shoes, shirts, pants, sweaters, etc. Do you need all of them? Are there some items you might discard or donate to charity? Now’s the time!

If you are a seasonal organizer, this could be an opportunity to store away, perhaps in a basement, items you won’t need for the near future.

Restock the closet. 

Give this some thought. Hanging as many items as you can on thinner hangers saves space. Have areas in the closet where you keep items you wear more frequently and other areas for items that you wear occasionally.

Consider garment organizers.

They’re helpful in keeping items separate for seasonal use, or for specific types of events, such as formal occasions. And remember the floor space, which can be used for shoe organizers.

Closets are very important real estate. Take advantage of them and keep them all neat, clean and organized. Imagine… going into a closet that doesn’t scare you as you select your favorite sweater to ward off a cold evening chill. Nice thought, right?

Why Baking Soda is an Amazing Homemade Pet Stain Remover

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Baking soda (not to be confused with baking powder) is sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3). You can easily buy it in any grocery store.

This article is probably not the first time you’ve heard someone singing praises for baking soda. It’s not a miracle, in the strictest sense, but it sure can seem like it when used as a homemade pet stain remover.

This inexpensive white powder can help neutralize acidic substances, remove odors, and absorb wet messes. It’s not dangerous to your carpets or your pets when used on floors. It’s simultaneously more affordable and safer to use than many store-bought cleaners, yet highly effective.

Things Baking Soda Won’t Do:

  • deteriorate the color of your carpet
  • create moisture damage to your floors
  • cause any harm to your pets unless ingested in large amounts
  • cost you a lot of money

How to Use Baking Soda to Clean Up Urine

When you find a wet mess in your carpet, grab a box of baking soda and sprinkle it onto the wetness thickly. If your can, rake/spread the baking soda into the carpet fiber as opposed to saturating it. Allow the soda time to absorb moisture and wick the urine or moisture from the carpet fibers. There should be enough soda to absorb the mess fully. Do leave it until it’s dry. This may take 24 hours.

While the baking soda sits there, it’s both absorbing moisture and having a chemical reaction that uses its base Ph to neutralize the acidic urine. This is why the smell goes away. The acidic Ph of urine can also discolor or damage the color of your carpet or rug, but quick action with baking soda can prevent or minimize this affect.

Once the baking soda has dried, use a flat tool to scrape off the chunks of dried soda. This can be a spatula, putty knife/scraper, spoon, or similar item. Try to get all the large pieces off and leave only crumbly soda. Do not scrub or become overly aggressive with the tool.

The last step is vacuuming up the last bits of baking soda. If the baking soda is fully dry, this should work easily and look great. If you have a wet/dry shop vacuum, use this first. Then use a regular carpet vacuum with or without a beater bar.

If you find yourself with spots or marks on your carpeting that your homemade pet stain remover or other efforts don’t resolve, then give us a call. We’re always happy to serve as your full service carpet, rug, upholstery, tile and hardwood floor cleaner!

How to Compare Area Rugs: Know Quality When You See It

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Area rugs can be an extremely important part of your overall aesthetic in a room. It’s the area rug that tends to tie in all the colors in a room, provide a soft welcoming feeling, and soften sounds. If your rug is going to be central to your decor and the tone of your room, you should invest wisely. To do this, you’ll need to be able to successfully compare area rugs.

 

Rug Shape

When you compare area rugs, you’ll find quality differences show themselves in shape. Some square rugs are actually squares, while cheaper ones can be parallelograms or irregular rectangles. Some area rugs are round, and others are actually ovals that are trying really hard to be round. This in itself may only be a problem as much as it’s noticeable. But even if the imperfect shape is understated, it’s a sure sign of poor quality craftsmanship.

 

How it Lies

A high quality rug will lie flat. If it’s been rolled up a long time or up until recently, there may be some curl to it when you first see it, but this curl must be minimal and even. A rug that has irregular raised areas or wavy edges is not high quality. In fact, if it’s truly well-made, the rug seller wouldn’t store it rolled up for any length of time anyway. Always see a rug flat before buying it.

 

Compare Area Rugs Finishes

Rugs made with low quality fibers tend to be unnaturally shiny or bright, or unusually washed out for a new rug. When shopping, take note of the luster of high quality and high priced area rugs. Recognizing the natural finish and color saturation level of wool and other natural materials can help you determine what kind of fiber you’re looking at.

 

How the Area Rug is Made

There are many methods for making area rugs. Some are machine made and can last about 20 years, but there are hand tufted, hand knotted and flat woven rugs that can last much longer. Although handmade rugs are often less “perfect” they have character a machine made rug can never match.

 

Knots Per Inch

Comparing area rugs with designs in them, the ones with low knots per inch have more pixelated lines and designs. Higher knots per inch means the designs look smoother and the rug will also feel more dense. Not as course as a low knots-per-inch rug. You don’t usually have to ask about knots per inch because you can tell by observing density and the clarity of the pattern.

Knowing your rugs can help you find the right piece at the right price.

Tile and Grout Floor Care

Tile floors are everywhere, and where there’s tile, there’s also grout to separate it all, keeping everything nice and even, with straight lines.

But a straight line may not always be so… clean. Dirt and grime and other contaminants build up over time and make what was once a beautiful floor look downright ugly. The grout is especially susceptible to soiling and staining.

Just as you would clean any surface, tile and grout floors need special attention. If you keep them clean, following a maintenance schedule, you won’t have to deal with the tough issue of restorative cleaning.

Here are a few simple tips for you to follow in order to keep your tile and grout floors in tip-top shape.

Sweep it

The first step is keep the floor swept. Sweep it daily, which will remove dust and debris and other contaminants that can eventually cause tough-to-remove soiling.

Mop it

Tile floors are very easy to clean and maintain. Use a clean mop and an approved detergent to clean the floor. Some prefer the newer flat floor cleaners. Doesn’t matter the tool, it is how you use it and the products you choose.

Some recommend the use of chlorine bleach, which acts as a disinfectant. The challenge here is remaining residues can create issues, such as being tracked off onto carpet, causing color loss. Be careful with the use of any type of bleach.

Grout issues

The toughest part of a tile and grout floor cleaning job is… the grout. It’s porous, even if sealed, and becomes an eyesore quickly. Purchase a heavy-duty grout cleaner and follow the directions. You will most likely be on your hands and knees, and it takes time to do this right. Apply the product to the grout, allow some reasonable contact time, and scrub – scrub – scrub! Repeat as necessary. Work carefully until the grout looks great again.

When everything is cleaned up, be sure to rinse with a neutral detergent, or just water, and let air dry and inspect. You will find areas need more attention. When you do… get back to work!

Tile and grout cleaning is no easy task, especially when it becomes really soiled. When you find yourself up against an impossible task, do the smart thing. Call your professional cleaning company. After all, it pays to call a pro!