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Preparing Your Home For Vacation

It’s that time of year when many families are planning their vacation. Before leaving for your vacation, there are a few things you should do to keep your things safe and lower your utility bills. In this article from USA Today, they give you some tips on how to prep your home before you leave for vacation. Hopefully these tips will help put your mind at ease and allow you to truly enjoy your time off.

Prep your home for your vacation absence

A vacation requires preparation, including arranging flights, reserving hotel rooms and finding things to do.

It also involves preparing your home for your absence.

No matter how long you’ll be gone, whether a few days or several months, here are steps you can take to make your house safer and lower your utility bills. Short-term absences generally mean one week or less.


Details: An air-conditioner accounts for about half of your annual electrical bill, says Tom Hines, energy-efficiency expert at Arizona Public Services. Every degree you turn up the thermostat will save you 2 percent on your cooling costs, according to Salt River Project.

Short-term: Turn up the thermostat to about 85 degrees. Doing so will still protect your plants, furniture and other belongings without running up your energy bill.

Long-term: Again, turn up the thermostat to about 85 degrees. Ask a friend or neighbor you trust to water your plants.

Pool pump

Details: If you have a pool, continue to run the pump so the pool doesn’t develop algae and turn green.

Short-term: Check your pool-pump settings before you leave to make sure they are where you want them to be. If you have a spa, turn off the heat.

Long-term: Do the above. Also, have a neighbor, friend or pool service check the pool periodically to make sure the pump is operating properly.

General plumbing

Details: No one wants to come home from a relaxing vacation to a plumbing leak.

Short-term: Turn off water at the main shut-off valve, unless some household items require it to remain on. Such items may include an ice maker, an automatic sprinkler system that doesn’t have a separate shut-off, and a pool.

Long-term: Do the same. While you’re gone, have a neighbor or friend turn on the water and run the faucets at least once a month. This will help prevent sewer gas from entering the house while you are gone and can keep parts of plumbing fixtures from drying out or cracking. Also, have the friend flush toilets and run the dishwasher.

Water heater

Details: Why run up your electric bill heating water that you’re not going to be there to use?

Short term: Set the temperature on “vacation” mode. Most newer water heaters are equipped with such a setting. The water heater will run occasionally but not nearly as often as it does normally.

Long-term: Set on vacation mode. Linda Stanfield, owner of Benjamin Franklin the Punctual Plumber, recommends not turning it off while you’re gone, but instead flushing it out when you return. One way to do this is to run the water heater until it is empty and let it refill again.


Details: Toilets can collect bacteria, which can cause stains.

Short-term: Pour a half cup of chlorine into the bowl (not the tank).

Long-term: Do the same. Have a friend periodically flush the toilets while you are gone.


Details: A continually dark house, both inside and out, can be a signal to a burglar that no one is home.

Short-term: Turn off all lights except the ones you want as security measures. Put the security lights on variable timers.

Long-term: Do the above. Make sure your security lights are outfitted with CFL bulbs, which save on energy and are long-lasting.


Details: Don’t come home from your trip to a refrigerator filled with spoiled food.

Short-term: Throw out perishables such as milk that will expire while you’re gone.

Long-term: Clean out the refrigerator; either throw items away or give them to a neighbor. You have two choices. One is to unplug the refrigerator and leave the door open to prevent mildew, odor and mold. The other is to keep the refrigerator running. Don’t let it sit empty, however. Fill it with bottles of water so it will run more efficiently.

Pantry items

Details: Avoid having to call an exterminator after you return by leaving your kitchen and pantry clean.

Short-term: Throw away opened bags and boxes of food (or give to friends).

Long-term: Do the same. Also, check expiration dates of unopened items. Toss or donate unopened boxes of food (or, if you plan to keep them, put them in plastic bags to deter pests.)


Details: An untrimmed lawn can be a sign to burglars that you are away from home. Depending on how it looks, it also can be considered blight.

Short-term: Mow your lawn and trim shortly before your trip.

Long-term: Arrange for a lawn service to take care of your landscaping while you are away.

Other considerations for any length of vacation

— Small appliances, computers, televisions: Unplug these items.

— Smoke detectors: Make sure they are in working condition.

— Security company: If you have one, notify the company that you will be gone.

— Disposer/drains: Run the disposer. Mix a half cup of vinegar with a cup of water and pour down.

— Newspaper: Put delivery on a vacation hold.

— Leaks: Check for water leaks before you leave. Feel the valves underneath faucets to make sure they aren’t moist. Get any leaks fixed.

— Mail: Contact the U.S. Postal Service to put your mail on hold. If you are going to be gone long term, arrange for your mail to be forwarded.

— Phone: Don’t leave a message that you are out of town.

— Car: If you park your car in the driveway normally and are leaving it while on an extended trip, arrange for a friend or relative to drive it so that it looks like it is being used (and so cobwebs don’t develop, a sure signal that no one is home).

— Banks/credit cards: If you plan to use your credit or debit cards while you’re out of town, specifically out of the country, notify your bank and credit-card company. Provide the dates you will be gone and where you are going. That way, they won’t be surprised — or put a hold on your card — when they see charges from abroad.

— Emergency contact: Leave your contact information with a friend or neighbor. Include the names and contact information for your plumber, electrician, yard service, pool service or other contact should a problem happen while you are away.

— Locks: Make sure all your windows are shut and doors are locked before you leave.

Cleaning Up For BBQ Season

BLOG-BBQ1With Memorial Day having just past, it is officially the beginning of backyard BBQ season! This is a great time of year when having a few friends over, can quickly turn into a party by just hanging out in the backyard and grilling up some burgers and dogs and throwing back a few. Unfortunately, before any of that fun can happen, you have to clean off all of your patio furniture and grill. To help you get everything clean and ready, without having to use chemical cleaners, here are a few tips…

“Plastic Patio Furniture”- Patio furniture seems to collect dirt and grime like it’s nobody’s business. Luckily there is a fairly simple fix for this, and it doesn’t involve bleach or any other chemical cleaners. To get the job done, all you need is 1 cup of baking soda mixed with some warm water to form a solution. Wipe the furniture down with the solution, then thoroughly rinse off with a hose.

“White Wicker Furniture”- White wicker looks great, at least until the elements do a number on it. To keep the wicker from yellowing, try scrubbing the wicker every so often with a stiff brush dipped in salt water. Scrub thoroughly and let dry in the sun.

“Grill”- While nobody wants to sit on dirty furniture, or eat off of a dirty table, they especially don’t want their food cooked on a dirty grill. To clean off whatever charred remains may be on your grill, you need nothing more than a steel brush, baking soda, vinegar, and a little elbow grease. Simply sprinkle some baking soda on the needed areas, add a little vinegar for the foaming action, and let sit for a few minutes. Once the baking soda and vinegar have done their job, grab the brush and start scraping.

Put these tips to use and enjoy BBQ season!


Fun Ways To Reuse Cardboard Boxes

If you happen to have kids, and cardboard boxes laying around, this article from our friends at Housekeeping, can give you some fun and creative ideas on how to take those old cardboard boxes and turn them into something fun. It’s a great way to get your kids to use their imagination and is something you can do as a whole family. Here is Housekeeping’s article on how to reuse those cardboard boxes…

Creative Ways to Recycle Cardboxes Boxes

After a move or the purchase of new appliances, it’s easy to drop your broken-down boxes into a recycling bin or even to take them to the nearest recycling center. When you have kids in the house, though, it’s definitely more fun to creatively re-purpose those boxes into something that will spark little imaginations and give them hours of enjoyment. These suggestions can help you turn an ordinary cardboard box into a free-play wonderland.

Make a Puppet Theater

Puppet shows are still a favorite with the smaller set, especially if they’re the stars and producers. Turning a large cardboard box into a miniature puppet theater not only allows your kids the chance to dream up their own shows and figure out their execution, but can also boost reading and writing skills as they create a script. Just be sure that you’re willing to sit through a few productions, as the little ones under your care will be anxious to show off their skills.

Build a Castle

If a playhouse is great, a play castle is even better! Using strong scissors, craft knives and decorative accents to create a castle for your little princes and princesses to rule over is sure to net hours of downtime as they explore their new fairytale universe. Just be sure that you keep kids clear of the area while you’re using such sharp objects to shape the cardboard, as curious fingers have trouble keeping themselves clear of shiny and forbidden tools.

Create an Automobile

Your little ones may not be allowed to drive an actual automobile until they’re sixteen, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t dreaming of the open road. Help them make those fantasies come to life by creating a simulated car, truck or other automobile from cardboard boxes. Extra points if you fashion a mini fire truck for a child with an affection for firefighters, or a police sedan for little law enforcement officers in the making.

Fashion a Home for Wayward Fashion Dolls

Kids’ fashion dolls may have an outfit for every occasion or occupation you can imagine, but their lodgings are generally restricted to commercially-available townhouses made of pink plastic. With a bit of effort and creativity, you can turn an old box into a palatial residence for previously-homeless fashion dolls. If you really want to get fancy, consider the installation of interesting wallpaper fashioned from patterned scrapbooking paper.

Create an Oversized Shape Sorter

Those small plastic toys with stylized holes and matching blocks help smaller kids learn shape recognition and spatial relationships, but the tiny pieces are easy to misplace in a cluttered room. While they won’t stand up to days of repeated play, it’s not difficult to fashion an oversized shape sorter out of a large box and smaller, three-dimensional cardboard shapes. These toys are great for kids’ parties and other gatherings!

Build a Pirate Ship for Small Buccaneers

There’s just something about pretending to be a pirate that sends most kids into paroxysms of joy. It’s not safe to send little ones out onto the high seas, but they can explore a life of old-fashioned piracy from the safety of their own home with a pirate ship made of cardboard boxes! You can get as elaborate as time allows, even adding ornate figureheads and painted sails to the mix if you’re so inclined.

Let Your Kids’ Imagination Run Wild

Anything you can come up with to create a plaything out of a cardboard box is sure to be bested by the vivid imagination of a child. Throw some drop-cloths on the floor and hand your little ones a palette of paints. If you want to help, just make yourself available to do any cutting or shaping that’s too advanced for small hands and watch to see what wonders they cook up in their remarkable little minds.

Use these suggestions as a jumping off point and as inspiration for future projects of your own creation. With a bit of creative thinking and determination, there’s very little that can’t be replicated on a smaller scale with enough cardboard and paint.

Grow Your Own Potatoes

If you’re anything like me, you absolutely love potatoes. Maybe my love for this vegetable comes from my Irish heritage, or maybe it’s because no matter how they’re prepared, potatoes are just that good. Wouldn’t it be great if you could grow your very own potatoes at home? Well, thanks to some great tips from our friends at Housekeeping, you can now learn how to grow fresh potatoes at home, using a bucket. Here’s the article….

20 DIY Blogs Show You How to Plant Potatoes in a Bucket

Planting potatoes in a bucket may sound funny, but it’s actually an efficient way to utilize your space and save yourself some back-breaking labor during harvest season. You need ample space to grow potatoes in a garden, and the soil has to be turned and soft enough for the potatoes to grow and thrive. It also needs to be free from diseases and pests, and maintaining the garden can end up being a lot of work. If you don’t have the space or the time to get a potato garden up and running, you may want to consider growing them in a bucket instead. Take a look at these 20 blog entries to learn the ins and outs of successfully growing potatoes in a bucket.

Preparing the Buckets

Before you begin planting, you want to make sure the buckets are clean and that you have poked or drilled drainage holes in the bucket. Putting gravel in the bottom of the bucket will help with drainage, as well keep the holes from clogging up.  Figure out what kind of soil you want to use in the buckets and get ready to start planting! These five blog posts will give you all of the instructions you need for preparing the buckets.

Planting and Growing the Potatoes        

After you’ve planted the potatoes, you’ll need to continue adding soil as they grow so that the potatoes form under the dirt.  Make sure to keep the soil moist but not wet, because that will cause the potatoes to rot.  To learn more about caring for the potatoes, read these five blog articles.

Harvest Time

When you harvest potatoes in a garden, you usually use some sort of potato or pitch fork to bring the potatoes up to the surface.  There is no way to know where the potato tubers are going to be, so you most likely will stab some potatoes with the fork. Unfortunately, when that happens, you end up losing those potatoes.  When harvesting a bucket of potatoes, however, you just dump it out on a tarp and pick up the potatoes. No potatoes are damaged and there’s no back-breaking digging involved!  Check out these five blog articles that explain all of the harvesting details.

Tips & Tricks

To perfect growing potatoes in a bucket, you’ll need plenty of tips and tricks, such as making sure that the soil you use in your buckets contains manure. The nutrients in manure will help your potato plants grow and produce a larger crop than if you just used plain garden soil.  The five blog posts below will explain various tips and tricks for growing potatoes in a bucket.

The Paw-Mazing Chase

BLOG-PAWMAZINGWhat exactly is The Paw-Mazing Chase? The Paw-Mazing Chase is modeled after the television show “The Amazing Race”. However, in this game each team consists of one person and one dog, or two people and at least one dog. Each team receives a sealed envelope containing a clue. Each deciphered clue will then tell each team which store at the Table Mesa Shopping Center to go to next. There are 20 stops. The first team to finish the race wins!

The Paw-Mazing Chase will start in the Table Mesa Shopping Center in South Boulder- event registration, beginning and end will be outside Boulder’s Natural Animal Hospital. This fun-filled event will take place on Sunday, June 2nd, 2013. The cost to register is $35 per team. The winning team will receive a prize gift basket valued at over $1,000 and a new Apple iPad Mini! All proceeds benefit Canine Partners of the Rockies.

Clean Conscience is excited to support our friends at Out U Go and Only Natural Pet, who are sponsors for this great event!




Tips For Cleaning Your Bathroom

Hate cleaning your bathroom? Welcome to the club. Cleaning the bathroom is one of the worst household jobs. One of the reasons it’s such a pain, is how long it takes to get everything looking it’s best. Between mildew and soap scum, the bathroom gives you plenty to scrub and scour, which takes time and a lot of effort. Wouldn’t it be great if you had a few tips to help make cleaning the bathroom a little easier? Well, thanks to this article from Enviro Maids, you now have those tips.


Bathroom Cleaning Problems Solved

Dingy shower curtain liner

Don’t toss your shower curtain liner just because it has some dirt and mildew buildup. Extend the life of your liner and save money in the process by tossing liners in the washing machine. For plastic liners set the machine on the gentle cycle with warm water and regular laundry detergent or 1⁄2 cup of vinegar.

Polish dull brass fixtures — quickly

To get your brass fixtures looking shiny and new, you don’t have to turn to expensive brass cleaner. Polish them the natural, inexpensive way with baking soda and lemon juice instead. Make a paste with equal amounts of baking soda and lemon juice. Dip an old toothbrush in the mix and lightly scrub the fixtures. Let the solution dry a few minutes and then buff the fixtures with a clean cloth.

Battle mineral deposits on faucets

Those white, crusty mineral deposits that sit on your faucet can make your entire bathroom look dirty. Banish these deposits with white vinegar. Before heading to bed one night, head to your kitchen for your white vinegar. Saturate two paper towels in the vinegar and wrap them around the faucet. Leave the vinegar-soaked paper towels around the faucet overnight. In the morning, remove the towels. Fill the sink with warm water, plus a squirt of dishwashing liquid. Dip an old toothbrush in the solution and scrub the faucet to remove the final bits of mineral deposit. Rinse and dry with a soft cloth.

Preventative tip: After getting ready in the morning, take a minute to wipe down the faucets with a terrycloth towel to help remove soap scum and prevent mineral deposits.

Filmy Shower Doors

Stubborn soap scum and water spots can leave a cloudy film on your glass shower door. Get your door sparkling again with the help of salt, baking soda and white vinegar. Spray vinegar on the door and let it sit for a few minutes. Next, create a paste with equal amounts of baking soda and salt. Use a damp sponge to rub this paste over the door; then rinse well with warm water. To prevent future filmy buildup, get in the habit of using a squeegee to wipe water off the shower door and walls when you’re finished showering.

Clear clogged shower heads

When your shower head suddenly develops low water pressure or the water stream spurts in all directions, mineral deposits clogging the holes are usually the culprit. Fill a clear plastic bag (gallon size) with white vinegar, about 1/2 full. Submerge the shower head into the vinegar and secure the top of the bag to the shower head with a rubber band. Soak for one hour or longer followed by gently scrubbing the holes with a toothbrush. Wipe clean with a damp cloth.

Give The Gift Of A Clean Home This Mother’s Day

BLOG-MOTHERMother’s Day is this Sunday. This year, instead of giving your mother the typical gift of flowers or chocolate, why not give her a gift she can really benefit from. A house cleaning gift certificate from Clean Conscience is a great Mother’s Day gift idea!

While flowers are a nice gift, they’re often just put in a vase and somewhat forgotten about after a few days. Chocolates are also a popular gift idea (though not original), and are often times either eaten that day or forgotten about until they are thrown away.This Mother’s Day, give your mother a house cleaning gift certificate. It is an original, thoughtful gift which will actually help your mother out this year.

Most mother’s spend a good portion of their time cleaning up after their children, this Mother’s Day why not return the favor with a gift certificate from Clean Conscience. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

And a special Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, Sheila.

Moving? Call Clean Conscience For A Cleaning

BLOG-MOVINGMoving can be a stressful experience. There always seems to be so much to do, and so little time to do it in. One contributing factor to the stress of moving is making sure the place you’re moving out of, or into, is clean. Luckily for you, Clean Conscience now offers a Move In/Out Cleaning Service, to help relieve you of some of the burdens of moving.

Clean Conscience will clean your apartment or house, with a customized cleaning to fit your budget and needs. They also offer a cleaning service for your new home before you move in.

To make your moving experience a little easier and less stressful, call Clean Conscience to schedule a cleaning service today.

Boulder Residents Call: (303) 647-5018

Denver Residents Call: (303) 495-5656

Keep Your Painted Walls Looking Good

Painting a room can be a bit of a pain, and having a room painted by a professional can be expensive. The pain of painting yourself, or the cost of paying someone else to do it will keep coming back unless you take care of your painted walls. This article from Enviro Maids, tells you how to prolong the life of your paint.

Keep Painted Walls Looking New

Before cleaning your walls the first step is to assess what type of paint your walls are covered with. Semi-gloss and glossy enamel paints tend to stand up best to washing. Flat, satin, and eggshell latex paints, on the other hand, may fade or rub off with overly abrasive cleaning. It’s always best to test in an inconspicuous spot first.

Dust first

Before you do any washing, run the dust brush attachment of your vacuum over ceilings and walls. You’ll want to remove as much dust and cobwebs first. Often, this is enough to get your walls looking clean.

Prep Step

When vacuuming isn’t enough to get rid of tougher stains and smudge marks, a bit of old fashioned elbow grease is required. To avoid stripping or causing fade spots on the paint, always start with the gentlest materials possible — in this case, water and natural sponges. Avoid using colored sponges since the dye can be deposited onto lighter-colored walls. When water isn’t enough to remove stubborn stains, a mixture of warm water and mild detergent should get the job done.

Before starting, be sure to lay down old sheets or canvas drop cloths to catch soapy drips and to protect your floors. You’ll also need two buckets — one for cleaning and one for rinsing.

Get Cleaning

Begin at the bottom of the wall working your way up, alternating between the wet, soapy sponge and a wet, clean sponge to rinse; each sponge should have its own bucket. Rinsing with clean water is essential to prevent soapy residue from being left behind. Rinsing also ensures that any new dirt and grime won’t cling to the soapy residue left behind.

Rub in a gentle, circular motion and make sure to wring out the sponges well to avoid drips. Work in sections, and once you’ve completed a section, dry the area with a clean, soft cloth.

If you need to take a breather, never stop for a break in the middle of washing a wall. Stopping the job before you finish the entire wall can cause “wash marks”: a wave effect caused by stop-and-go wall washing. Always wash an entire wall in a single session.

Prevention tip: Always try to clean a spot or remove a stain promptly. The longer a stain stays stuck to the wall, the harder it’ll be to scrub off later. For spot-cleaning, try a paste of baking soda and water gently rubbed over the stain, then rinsed with clean water and dried with a soft cloth.

Keep Weeds Out Of Your Garden

Today is the first of May, which means if you have a garden weeds are going to begin to take over soon. To help you keep those pesty weeds out of your garden, our friends at Housekeeping, have 15 tips for you to help keep your garden weed free. Here is the article…

15 Ways to Keep Weeds from Growing in Your Garden

Cultivating and maintaining a garden, whether ornamental or edible, can be a relaxing and rewarding hobby. Watching plants that you’ve nurtured and carefully chosen begin to thrive in your garden is a joy, but there are some unwelcome guests that are eager to crash your garden party. Weeds are persistent and difficult to get rid of, and can spoil the look of an ornamental garden altogether. These 15 tips can help you keep the weeds at bay.

  1. Remove Weeds as They Appear – It’s tempting to put off the chore of weeding until the weekend, but a few days of growth can give those weeds quite a foothold. Remove them as they appear to maintain some semblance of control.
  2. Install Black Plastic Under Topsoil – A layer of black plastic under topsoil that you’ve brought in can prevent weeds in your lawn from growing into flower beds and vegetable gardens. Just be sure that you supply plenty of soil to support healthy root growth of the plants you want.
  3. Apply Mulch – Mulch is a gardener’s best friend. It helps to retain moisture, prevent soil erosion and block weed growth.
  4. Use Intensive Planting Methods – Choosing plants that are tolerant to crowding and planting them close together will make it difficult for weeds to thrive, as there won’t be enough space for their root systems.
  5. Apply Herbicides – If you’re not planning to eat anything from your garden, commercially-available chemical herbicides can kill weeds. There are some herbicides that can be used on vegetable gardens, but you should be sure to check the labels carefully.
  6. Use Weed-Free Soil – Bringing in bagged soil is a great alternative when the existing soil isn’t ideal for gardening, but you should always make sure that you’re choosing sterilized soil that’s clearly marked as “weed free.”
  7. Make Cover Crops Work for You – Cover crops like clover and vetch can act as a natural barrier against weeds, preventing their growth altogether.
  8. Install a Drip Irrigation System – While a sprinkler provides much-needed water to everything in your garden, including the weeds, a drip irrigation system will only water the plants that you want to grow. In dry climates, this can be quite effective at preventing weed growth.
  9. Use a Weed Prevention Product – There are chemical weed prevention products on the market that come in granule form that will stop weeds from germinating. They may not be ideal for all gardens, but they’re effective.
  10. Look for Double-Duty Products – Some fertilizers also contain chemicals that inhibit weed growth. Choosing products that do double duty will reduce the amount of work you have to do while supporting a healthy, weed-free garden.
  11. Prevent Seeding – A weed that seeds on the other side of your lawn can cause growth in the garden, as many seeds are carried on the wind and can move quite a distance. Be on the lookout for weeds in other parts of your property and remove them.
  12. Compost Carefully – When you compost for fertilizer, the temperature of your compost heap may not be high enough to kill any weed seeds in the mixture. Make sure that you’re not introducing weeds to the compost heap by tossing them in as you pull them out of the ground.
  13. Mind the Gaps – Just as a weed yards away from your garden can cause trouble, so can those pesky ones that grow in the gaps of walkways. Sprinkling a healthy dose of baking soda, salt or even borax can kill those weeds, preventing their proliferation throughout your garden.
  14. Know What You’re Dealing With – A weed is really just a plant that’s growing where you don’t want it to, which encompasses a wide range of plant life. Knowing the specific type of weeds that you’re battling can help you tailor your approach accordingly, so read up on your weeds.
  15. Watch for HitchhikersPotted plants from a garden center or nursery are much more convenient than those you start from seed, but weeds can take root in those pots, too. Be sure that anything you transplant is something you want, and avoid the introduction of undesirable shoots that might be lurking on the perimeter of the pot.