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Halloween Cleanup

This Thursday, the streets will be full of ghosts, witches, monsters, and just about anything else you can imagine. Halloween is a time to scare and be scared. Let’s face it, when else is it acceptable to wear tattered clothes stained in blood while wielding an axe? Unfortunately, the real scary stuff comes after the candy, costumes and parties………the clean-up! Luckily, the good people at Enviro Maids, have some tips on how to tackle the post-Halloween mess.

Cleaning up after Halloween

Ghouls and goblins aren’t the only things that’ll give you a fright this Halloween. After a Cleaning up after Halloween, October 2013night of trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving and mischief (thanks to the neighborhood kids egging your house) you’ll be left with the frightening task of cleaning up after the festivities are over. With the help of House Logic and All You, we’ll show you how to get rid of the sticky wax, glittery makeup, rolls of toilet paper and more. Luckily all you need is a little elbow grease and products that you probably already have on hand. Now that’s our idea of a treat!

Stuck-on candle wax

Candles help create the dimly-lit, spooky mood associated with Halloween. But once you blow out the candles and turn on the lights, you may have to deal with the horror of wax drippings. Remove wax from carpeting by first waiting until it’s completely hardened; carefully scrape as much wax as you can with a dull knife. To remove remaining wax, place a flat piece of paper bag on the waxy area and smooth a warm iron over the paper bag that’s covering the stain. The wax should transfer to the paper bag.
To remove candle wax spills from wood furniture or floors, avoid using a knife as the blade can scratch the wood. A safer way is to soften the wax using a hairdryer set to medium heat. When the wax starts to melt, wipe it off with a soft cloth. Finish by wiping the area with a white vinegar and warm water solution.


Glitter is a must-have accessory when putting on the finishing touches to a fairy princess costume. But once you’ve put your little one’s princess costume away, you begin to regret your decision to use glitter since it’s still showing up everywhere. Just when you think you’ve tackled all the glitter, the sparkling bits seem to reappear out of nowhere. Vacuum up as much glitter you can, using a soft brush attachment to vacuum furniture. To pick up any remaining sparkles, roll a lint rollerball or some mailing tape over the sparkly areas.

Toilet paper

One of the most common sights of Halloween are the tree-lined front yards “decorated” with endless ribbons of toilet paper. If your yard has been TP’d, try to remove the toilet paper as soon as possible. Toilet paper that becomes wet from dew or rainfall is painstakingly challenging to remove. If the toilet paper is already damp, wait until it’s dry before attempting removal. To reach toilet paper high up in a tree, use a rake to scrape it down, or a leaf blower to blow it free from the branches. Another method is to wrap duct tape around a stick (sticky side up) and use it for hard to reach areas.


Perhaps the most burdensome task of all Halloween cleanups is egg removal. The key to successfully removing egg from the siding of your house is to act fast. Once dried, the caked-on mess sticks like glue to the surface, making it much more difficult to remove. Never use hot water, as hot water will cook the egg making it stick to the surface. Point the nozzle of a hose above the splattered mess to carefully flush the egg down the siding. If eggs are already stuck on, place a rag soaked in half water, half vinegar on the area for about 15 minutes; rinse. For stubborn stains, a power washer and a solution of one part warm water, one part white vinegar and a squirt of dish detergent is your best ally.

Eco-Friendly Halloween Decorations

BLOG-HALLOWEEN1Last week we talked about some eco-friendly Halloween costume ideas. These were costumes that could be homemade, or costumes that didn’t use things that weren’t biodegradable, like plastic masks and synthetic wigs. It’s just as important to think about the environment when you’re decorating your home for Halloween as well. Luckily, there are plenty of environmentally friendly decoration ideas for this spooky holiday. Here are a few ideas and tips to help cut back on some the waste, but none of the fun, this Halloween.

“Jack-O-Lantern”- Yes, one of the most popular and oldest Halloween decorations is also one of the most eco-friendly. The whole family can enjoy creating their own spooky or silly pumpkin carving. And, when it’s time to dispose of the rotting pumpkins, you can simply use them for mulch.

“Straw, Corn Stalks and Gourds”- Just like the Jack-o-lantern, these decorations really give your home a nice old-fashioned Halloween vibe. They are also all natural, and can be disposed of in the very same way as the pumpkins.

“Reuse”- Instead of going out and purchasing new decorations, use what you already have tucked away in boxes from previous years. If you do have to buy decorations, try buying them from a secondhand store. Not only will this save you money, it’s also lessening waste.

“Candles”- Set the Halloween mood by lighting home with candles. Not only will this allow you to cut back on some electricity used in certain rooms but it also gives your home a nice spooky glow.

“LED Lights”- If you decide you want to string up lights as part of your decoration, try using solar powered LED lights instead of traditional holiday lights. They use far less energy and are just as effective.

“DIY Decorations”- If you’re feeling creative and want to have some fun with the family, have everyone create their own decoration using just their imagination and whatever is lying around the house or the backyard.

Eco-Friendly Halloween Costume Ideas

BLOG-HALLOWEENWith Halloween just two weeks away, it’s time for both children and adult to start thinking about what they want to be this year. I always loved Halloween, and still do, it’s a blast trying to outdo your friends on who can come up with the most outrageous or ridiculous costume. I always try to go for laughs instead of screams when it comes to my Halloween costumes, but whether you’re out for laughs or out to scare, you don’t have to use products that are harmful to the environment or break the bank. Here’s an article from GreenYour, with some tips for eco-friendly and cost efficient Halloween costume ideas.

Dress up with an eco-friendly costume

Don’t give the earth a reason to scream. Finding or making your eco-friendly costume is not as scary as you might think.

Ideas for an eco-friendly costume

Warm up your wand and get ready to summon up some magical Halloween costumes, the green way:

  • Shazam! Costumes on the cheap: Go to a secondhand store, pick up some used clothing for an inexpensive version of Tarzan or Jane and you’ll prevent new resources from being used to create virgin apparel. When you’re done, simply re-donate the clothing so that someone else can use it next Halloween.
  • Pow! Transformational magic: There are many ways to create your own costume using items found around the house. While you can certainly sew your own (with or without a pattern) from eco-fabrics like bamboo, organic cotton, silk, or hemp, making one from closet-bound items is a great way to recycle, and low-cost, too! Look for supplies in the attic, your junk drawer, seasonal closets, the toolbox, or even kitchen cupboards.
    • Why not convert that old prom or bridesmaid dress into something more festive, like Tinkerbelle?
    • Stockings stuffed with socks make great spider or turtle legs
    • Grab a black cape and add a scarf, a tree branch (for a wand), and glasses to turn your 12 year old into Harry Potter
    • Use old clothing, some glue, or a bit of paint to create pirate, Iron Man, witch, or Batman costumes.
  • Poof! Recycling box to the rescue: Don’t forget that there are costumes-in-the-making in your recycle bin. Use boxes,cans, bottles, tissue paper, milk jugs, and plastic bags to make a fire truck, cotton candy, or a candy bar outfit. Don’t forget the masks!
  • Kawabunga, Dude! Costume rentals: Renting allows you to dress up in a a high-end costume without creating any new waste. And although renting from a local costume shop is better (in terms of transport emissions) than having something shipped from several states away, if there are no local rental stores near you, Costume Holiday House, Costumes Galore, Boston Costume, and Children’s Party Productions all offer nationwide delivery.

Green Ways to Clean-Up the Clutter

One of the biggest keys to getting your home clean and looking good is getting rid of a lot of clutter. The clutter can be caused by things that you’ve accumulated over the years and don’t really even use anymore. Things such as clothes, old children’s toys, unwanted or old furniture, and outdated computer and/or video games can pile up over the years….or even months. In this helpful article from Enviro Maids, you are given tips on how to dispose or donate many of these items to remove much of the clutter from your home.


Getting Rid of Your Stuff the Green Way

Whether you need the extra space or you’re just tired of looking at heaps of unused Getting Rid of Your Stuff the Green Wayhousehold items collecting dust, you’ve decided it’s time to rid your home of clutter. While you may be tempted to just toss broken or outdated items in the trash, don’t! We’ll show you the green way to dispose of your clutter with the help of the experts at The Nest and the EPA.

Computers and electronic equipment

The EPA estimates that there’s approximately 2.37 million tons of electronic waste filling landfills and growing each day. The electronic equipment saturating our landfills is only making our environment toxic. Rather than adding to the waste stream, recycle or donate old equipment. If you’re upgrading your computer to a newer model, consider donating your perfectly good computer to a charity. Hundreds of schools or nonprofits will welcome your working computer and put it to much needed use. Many computer, TV, cell phone manufacturers, and electronics retailers will recycle your items for free or offer a buy-back program. The value of your trade-in product can be applied towards the purchase of your new product.

Ink and toner cartridge

Recycling used toner and ink cartridges is easy and profitable. Retailers such as Staples offer a money-back rewards program. Simply bring your old cartridges to any Staples store and receive $2 for each recycled cartridge to be used towards your next Staples purchase.


Gently worn clothing and accessories can be donated to thrift stores or shelters. Professional clothing such as suits and dresses can be donated to Dress for Success, a non-profit organization that provides clothing for low-income women re-entering the job market. Clothing and shoe donation boxes are popping up in many places making giving away your clothing as easy as putting them in a bag and dropping them into a box slot. If you’re looking to make extra money, consignment shops and eBay are popular places to sell high-end clothing.


After watching your favorite HGTV shows, you’ve been inspired to transform your shabby-chic living room into a sleek, modern retreat. What do you do with the furnishings you no longer want? When it comes to your unwanted furniture, you have several options. Before putting them up for sale on eBay or Craigslist, consider upcycling them. Inspiration websites such as Pinterest show you ways to repurpose furniture such as transforming a crib into a bench. If you’re not handy, or can’t sell an item, donate it. Items that are in good condition can be picked up for free by The Salvation Army.


Your old, outdated prescription eyeglasses are serving no purpose sitting in the back of your junk drawer. Many charities accept eyeglasses and distribute them to low-income families and third world countries where the poor are in need of eyeglasses. Search online for charities such as the Lions Club and Unite for Sight for more information.

This is only a tiny list of the many household items that can be recycled, upcycled, or donated. Before you’re about to toss something in the trash think about how that item can be put to greener, better use.

Speed Clean Your Shower curtain

Nobody likes to have a dingy looking shower curtain. Having a nice clean shower curtain can make your bathroom look that much cleaner and nicer. Cleaning that shower curtain doesn’t have to be a major chore either. Here are a few tips from our friends at The Clean Team, on how to speed wash your shower curtain.

Speed Cleaning Your Shower Curtain


Need a good suggestion for speed-cleaning a shower curtain? We have a couple of good ones.


(1) Put the shower curtain in the washing machine. Throw in a couple of towels, and use warm water. Remove it before the spin cycle. (It won’t be hurt if it goes through the spin cycle; it will just be very wrinkled.) 


Warm the curtain only slightly in the dryer (don’t run the full cycle), and it will emerge close to wrinkle free. If you don’t put it in the dryer, wrinkles will slowly disappear after the curtain is rehung.

(2) Buy a beautiful cloth shower curtain of whatever design appeals to you. Line it with the cheapest plain white shower curtain you can find (about $6). If you trim the liner so that its hem falls about halfway between the top and the bottom of the tub, it will stay cleaner longer.


When the liner starts to look dirty (in about six months), recycle it and install a brand new, sparkling-clean liner. Twelve dollars a year seems a small price to pay to us, but if it doesn’t seem that way to you, just wash them as above. 


NOTE:  Use only a white shower liner (or shower curtain if you have no liner) because that is the color of most hard-water spots and soap scum. Clear is the most laborious choice by far.

Tips For A Green Fall

BLOG-FALL2It’s that time of year again, when the leaves are changing and the temperature is dropping. Early Autumn is a good time to get some house cleaning and yard work done. In this article from TLC, you are given 5 tips on how to have a greener fall. There are tips on saving money on your heating bill, to composting and homemade cleaning solutions.

5 Fall Green Cleaning Tips

1. Plug Leaks

As you clean and organize your house, why not take the opportunity to conduct your own home energy audit (or hire a professional service to do it for you)?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, sealing leaks around the house could potentially save you anywhere from 5 to 30 percent in energy costs. Check in places both big and small, from electrical outlets to window frames, baseboards to gaps around pipes. Don’t avoid inspecting the basement and attic, too. Caulk and seal around plumbing and wiring leaks and gaps, and anywhere you feel a draft coming in around windows and doors.

2. Elbow Grease

Before the cold winter season locks you inside, take the time to clean your house from top to bottom. Toss out the conventional cleaners and whip up some of your own, non-toxic eco-friendly versions. For example, a mix of baking soda and warm water can be used as an all-purpose cleaner on everything from countertops to grease spills to laundry.

In fact, keep air pollutants to a minimum all winter long by cleaning with homemade products — baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and water can keep your home clean, germ-free and free of toxic chemicals.

Did You Know?

Boiling vinegar in the microwave is a good way to get rid of that persistent burned-popcorn smell.

3. 120-degrees Fahrenheit

Many water heaters default to 140-degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius) when they ship from the manufacturer, but temps that high pose not only high energy costs but scalding risks to your family. Most water heaters operate just as efficiently at 120-degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius), and the lower temperature could help increase the lifespan of the heater.

For every 10 degrees you lower the water temperature, can save between 3 and 5 percent in utility costs. Additionally, wrapping an insulating blanket around your water heater will help save energy this winter, possibly as much as 4 to 9 percent in water heating costs. Find them in your local hardware store.

4. Start Composting

Autumn is the perfect time to start a compost pile or bin in your backyard (or inside, with a special composting bin). Even if you don’t have a large garden or yard, you can still benefit from composting — it enriches soil and reduces the need for water, fertilizers and pesticides. And if you keep a small garden or containers, those plants will love the extra nutrients, too.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that 24 percent of U.S. municipal solid waste comes from yard and food waste — all of which could be composted. Basically any organic materials can be tossed into your compost pile, including leaves, grass clippings and any other yard waste that piles up as you rake and prepare your yard for winter. Food scraps can be composted as well but not all of it (keep bones, meat and fatty foods out).

The EPA also has a list on their Web site of what not to include in your composting bins — some of them being harmful to the plants you’re trying to help. A few on the list include black walnut tree leaves or twigs, coal or charcoal ash, dairy products, pet waste and any yard trimmings that have been treated with chemical pesticides.

5. Turn Down the Thermostat

When the weather starts to get cooler, we all tend to reach for the thermostat. Instead reach for a sweater, use draft stoppers in doorways and invest in a programmable thermostat — just don’t turn the heat up.

Not only will you save energy you’ll save money. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, heating an “average” house (2,280 square feet) adds up to about 34 percent of a homeowners’ utility bill. For each degree you turn down the thermostat, the EPA estimates you’ll save about 4 percent in monthly utility expenses.

More ways to stay proactive and save money:

  • If your furnace is more than 15 years old, consider replacing it with an energy-efficient model.
  • Have your heating system checked annually by a professional.
  • Replace furnace filters as recommended by the manufacturer (typically every month or two)

Green Cleaning, Ever Evolving

BLOG-GREEN CLEANERSOver the past few decades green cleaning has become much more than many people had expected. Once viewed as nothing more than passing fad or even a joke, green cleaning has evolved into a major movement that is continuously improving our way of life, health, and the environment. From households to large businesses, “going green” has become the norm. In this article from Services, they discuss the evolution of green cleaning, from where it began, to where it is now and where it is going.

The Evolution of Green Cleaning

When the concept of green cleaning began to gain momentum in the 1990s, many people considered it to be a joke. Its proponents were part of a larger cultural wave that sought to curb the hedonistic consumerism of the 1980s with a shift towards more environmentally-conscious consumption. You may recall that the ‘90s is when we saw an increased interest in things like recyclable packaging, natural foods, preserving the rainforests, and protecting endangered species. This is not to say that there wasn’t an interest in health and environmental issues prior to this time, but as the new millennium approached, there was a heightened awareness of the fragility of the environment and a widespread sense that society as a whole needed to take action before it was “too late.” Environmental statistics predicted dire consequences that would befall our planet if we didn’t heed their warnings and continued our destructive habits.




The “green” cleaning products developed in response to this environmental call-to-arms were full of more idealism than efficacy. They didn’t clean well, and their claims of being green were essentially meaningless, since EPA guidelines were notoriously lax. These products were disregarded within the cleaning industry because they simply weren’t effective. Green cleaning was a wellintentioned fad among consumers that companies used as a marketing ploy for their benefit. For many of us, our view of green products and practices is still tainted by this early disillusionment, and we have never fully taken the green cleaning movement seriously since then. Sure, we may support certain practices or products but I believe that, on the whole, we’ve held back from giving the green cleaning movement our full vote of confidence. More importantly, we have not seen evidence that our consumers are taking it seriously. It is marketable, but only to a limited few. Though this caution was certainly justified a decade ago, the green cleaning movement has evolved so far since then that we cannot afford to ignore or belittle it anymore. What has given the green cleaning and the green movement as a whole such staying power?


The Facts of Life


There was a time when people consumed products that were marketed to them without much thought. People assumed that the products they bought were safe. People drank soda, microwaved their food, and bought produce covered in pesticides without much knowledge or care of any negative side effects. This has all changed in recent years as health concerns, such as increasing rates of diabetes, cancer, food allergies, and the like have forced even the most un-“health conscious” among us to reexamine our American lifestyle. People now want to know about the origins of the products they use and consume, and there is a marked difference in their attitude. We have become active, not passive, consumers asking questions they never would’ve thought to ask 10 years ago: “What are all those unpronounceable ingredients listed on this food label?” Ignorance is no longer bliss.


Cleaning and Health


In terms of our industry, one of the most common health concerns are cleaning products and possible links to cancer. Organizations like the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of California estimate that one in six people will develop some form of cancer within their lifetime. These numbers are likely to continue to rise just as they have over the past 20 years. Though there are many factors that contribute to the growing number of cancer diagnoses—improved means of detection, longer life spans, more awareness, etc—the cancers being diagnosed are increasingly associated with environmental toxins (i.e. contaminants in our environment that are harmful to our health). Increasing cancer rates, especially among younger generations, have made consumers wary of the chemicals used around them on a daily basis. Cleaning products are an obvious target for scrutiny, since they comprise some of the most toxic chemicals in any household.


Clean Break


With this heightened awareness of the negative effects of chemicals, consumers are turning their eye to green cleaning as a means to safeguard their health. Within the cleaning industry, many of us are already aware that green cleaning is just as much about using alternative processes as it is about products. Practices, such as team cleaning and recycling, help reduce electricity, water use, and the amount of trash sent to landfills.


While consumers are certainly concerned with environmental health and sustainability, the real momentum behind the rise of green cleaning is rooted in a concern for personal health. People want to know that they aren’t going to be harmed by the chemicals used to clean the buildings they inhabit eight hours per day. If you haven’t had customers cross-question you about the chemicals you use, you will—it’s only a matter of time. There is large movement towards “detoxifying” life on every level. The food industry has thus far borne the brunt of this focus. (In the recent election, for example, California had a proposition on the ballot to require food manufacturers to list all genetically modified ingredients.) Similarly, the spotlight will also continue to intensify on the cleaning industry and its product manufacturers.


Cleaning chemical manufacturers already disclose their product ingredients on material safety data sheets, but this is no longer enough. No customer wants to comb through these tedious documents. What they want from you, and what they will increasingly pressure you to give, is a commitment to using health-conscious products and practices. They want you to assure them that the cleaning agents you use are as natural as possible. If you aren’t able to do this, some of your customers will undoubtedly switch to a company that can. The key to providing exceptional service is the ability to anticipate your customers’ needs before they themselves are fully aware of them. This societal shift is obvious enough that its inevitable impact on the janitorial industry should come as no surprise.


No Excuses

Even without consumer pressure, green cleaning is making more and more sense. Many green products work just as well as their toxic counterparts, not to mention the fact that an established green cleaning program is a prerequisite for LEED certification. Legitimate reasons for resisting green cleaning are steadily dwindling. Some trends within society come and go, while others have enough momentum to permanently alter the cultural landscape. Green cleaning is part of a larger focus on health that is reshaping our society, our lifestyles, and our business.