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!

Spring Cleaning: Closets

spring cleaning closets, organization, closet cleaning

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?

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!

Three Steps to a Cleaner Home

clean homes, 3 tips for a cleaner home

It’s a never-ending chore, tasks that must be done each day, each week, each month, each year…

That’s right — keeping your house nice and clean and healthy for your family.

Keeping your home clean is much easier if you have an easy-to-keep schedule. Especially if you concentrate on “preventative maintenance.” If you think ahead and plan your cleaning tasks appropriately, you will find you aren’t stuck an entire weekend playing catch-up with house cleaning chores.

Here are a few tips to an always-clean home.

1: Keep the dirt outside

Be sure to have quality welcome/walk-off mats outside your front door and any other entry door you frequently use. A small — but polite — sign that asks visitors to remove their shoes is a huge step to keeping dirt and grime outside (or at least at the front door.)

2: Stop the stacking

In the kitchen, that is. It’s easy to let dishes and other mealtime items to pile and stack up, with dirty dishes slowly taking over the kitchen sink and nearby countertops. Instead, make it a habit that after mealtimes or snacks that everything is washed, cleaned and put away immediately. If you use it, you clean it.

3: Team effort

It can be challenging, especially when everyone is running all over the place trying to get to work and school, but if the entire family pitches in and spends just a few minutes on making beds, tidying up bedrooms, cleaning up after themselves, first thing in the morning… then the house is much cleaner for the entire day. Plan a short amount of time each week where the family all works together to “speed clean” the home. Pick up and put away items lying around, dust, vacuum, sweep and more together.

Candles and Scents: Candle Soot Damage

candle soot damage, scented candles, holiday candles

Many people love the warm fall and winter fragrances from scented candles. There are hundreds of scents available, from favorites such as vanilla, citrus, lavender, and more. Some scents smell just like cookies or cakes in the oven. Of course, you don’t get the benefit of eating them!

Yet, as inviting as those scents may be, there are some concerns you should consider as you burn them.

Pollution issues

It’s been noted by various environmental groups and indoor air quality specialists that burning candles can produce pollutants such as acetone, toluene, benzene and others. These are some of the components found in soot, considered a hazard all on its own.

More and more people — perhaps just like yourself — love the smell of these scented candles. Yet put off smoke, even invisible smoke, that can be leaving an unhealthy residue in your home. Remember, soot is the product of material that didn’t totally go through the combustion process of burning. If the flame of your candle isn’t totally blue, no doubt there is soot being produced, and candle soot damage is imminent.

What can you do to avoid candle soot damage?

Choose your scented candles wisely. Opt for natural wax materials, such as beeswax or soy candles, both of which are better choices than wax made from petroleum products. Natural materials may cost more, but are a better, safer and healthier choice.

Make sure your wick is burning adequately. The wick should burn evenly with the melting wax, and curl as it burns. Ensuring the wick is less than ½ inch long when you light it will help.

Burn your candles where there is limited or no draft. Air movement can cause the flame to burn erratically and possibly create more soot pollution.

Don’t burn your candles all the time. Make it a treat. Burn them when you are in the mood for a nice scent in the home.

And when you do have issues with your candles, such as a residue on surfaces in your home, call your upholstery and flooring restoration professional. They can help determine if your candle burning habits are safe!

Prepping the House for Bad Weather– Part 1

Bad weather, prep your house for storms, carpet cleaning

When the bad weather comes, it’s time to turn against the weather.

Prepping your home for storms that are either predicted or that can occur at any time is the best defense against wind, water and related storm damages.

Without proper winter preparation of your home, you may end up inviting wind, rain and snow inside and then calling a restoration pro to clean it all up.

Tip #1: Inspect the Windows

No, not in the glass itself (you can see that easily and would have already replaced broken windows.) Check the weather stripping, the caulking and edges of the glass. Ensure no air is getting in or out. This is easier to check on a windy day. Hold a tissue paper up to the areas you are inspecting to see if there is any movement. If so, repair that area. Replace the caulking or weather stripping if necessary.

Tip #2: Get Climbing…

… up on the roof, that is. But keep it safe! Hire someone if you aren’t able to physically do this yourself or if there is any danger of falling. You (or someone) needs to inspect your roofing materials, areas around chimneys and vents… anywhere that water can intrude and cause problems. Be sure to repair any damage before the weather turns bad.

Tip #3: Clean the Gutters for Bad Weather

Dirty, cluttered gutters don’t do their job very well. Rain can easily turn into snow and ice, and debris in the gutters means they clog up and can cause all kinds of problems for your home. When the leaves stop falling, get out the ladder or hire a pro to ensure your gutters are ready for winter.

No matter what you do, occasionally water, wind and bad weather can damage your home. Do the right thing: Call your disaster restoration pro when his services are needed.

How to Remove Hard Water Stains

hard water stains, calcium deposits, scale, lime rust

Spots and stains, no matter where they land, are unsightly and ugly, and you work hard to remove them.

A spot is easy to remove, because it’s a deposit of substance that sits on top of a surface. Examples include chocolate, milk, or ketchup. A stain is a different challenge altogether, as it means the substance has penetrated or is strongly attached to a surface. Examples include mustard, curry, or Kool-Aid.

Hard water stains are common occurrences, and often challenging to remove. If you don’t get to them quickly, they can become even tougher to tackle.

What are they?

Hard water stains, often called lime deposits, are basically limestone, calcium and magnesium, among other mineral substances. They all come from ground content. The more minerals in the ground, the harder the water.

Certain areas of the country have more mineral content than others, and without a water softening system in a home or business, the result is a buildup of hard water stains anywhere water stands and dries, such as around sinks, underneath water fountains, and on bathroom floors.

They can also be a problem in toilets and other receptacles that hold water. Mineral deposits can also affect appliances, such as coffee pots.

If you have ever washed dishes, your car, or other shiny surfaces, and the water is hard, you can easily see the issue. White “scales” of minerals are a problem.

How to remove them

Obviously, the best way is prevention. Wiping up water from surfaces before it dries keeps water stains at bay.

But when they do occur, you need to consider which type of cleaning product will react with the mineral stains.

The most common mineral stain cleaning product is white vinegar, which is acidic. Since mineral stains are alkaline, like rust, an acid-based cleaning product is required. White vinegar is safe, easy-to-use, and effective for most mineral deposit issues. Use it as you would any cleaning product. Apply, allow a minute or two of contact time, and wipe away.

But if the mineral deposit is heavy, and white vinegar doesn’t do the trick, then a formulated product from your department or hardware store is your next choice. These are stronger acid products and you must follow directions when using them. Applying them to certain surfaces can damage those surfaces so be sure to read the fine print.

Always wear protective gloves and glasses; skin and eye contact with any cleaning product can be hazardous.

And, as you know, when you have cleaning questions or need professional cleaning services in your home, do the smart thing. Call your favorite cleaning company. After all, it pays to call Diablo Carpet and Flooring Restoration!