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Remove Stains the Green Way

Stains happen, it’s a simple fact. Whether you’re dealing with a grass stain on your child’s pants, a little spilled fruit juice on your carpet, or perhaps your child has used table cloth as the canvas for their latest Crayola masterpiece, you don’t have to reach for the chemical laden stain removers. In fact, there are plenty of “green” solutions for many different stains. This article from Green Cleaning Magazine, has several tips for removing common satins, without having to revert to using chemical stain removers.

Green Your Stain Removers

green stain removal

If you’re like me, you never think about stain removal until a crisis is at hand—red wine on your favorite tablecloth; crayon markings on the wall; blood on the upholstery, lipstick on your collar. Commercial stain removers may work well, but they’re full of harsh synthetic chemicals that have no place in the healthy home. Before reverting to the big guns, try removing stains with plant-based ingredients you probably already have in your cupboard.

The secret to stain removal isn’t all in what you use, however. How you use it matters. Here are some hot tips:

Don’t wait. Treat stains when they’re fresh. A set stain may never come out.

Blot, never rub. Rubbing simply spreads the stain around.

Heat sets many protein-based stains, making them impossible to remove.

Inspect any stain-treated garment before putting it in the dryer. If the stain is still visible after one wash cycle, retreat and re-launder it.

Be patient. It can take a while for a stain to respond to treatment.

Old-Fashioned (and Green) Stain Treatment Recipes

Berries/Fruit Juice Fabric: Pour boiling water directly over the stain. Or treat the stain immediately with fresh lemon juice. If the stain has already set, try blotting with glycerin and letting it sit for 30 minutes, then rinse the fabric clean with warm water and allow to air dry. Launder as usual. (Glycerin is a product of extracted vegetable oils available in grocery stores and at places like Walmart and Walgreens stores).

Upholstery and Carpet: Wipe up any excess residue. Blot with mild laundry detergent and warm water. Rinse the spot with a one-to-one mixture of distilled white vinegar and water (do not soak the spot), blot again with mild detergent and water, then sponge clean with cold water.

Dried Blood Soak freshly stained garments in a mixture of salt (about a handful) and cold water for 30 minutes. If the stain has set, try covering it with a paste of unseasoned meat tenderizer and warm water. Leave it for 15 to 20 minutes; rinse with cold water. Launder as usual. Upholstery and Carpet: Blot a fresh stain continuously with cold water until it disappears. Treat dried stains with a small amount of glycerin. Let stand for 30 minutes; then blot with water.

Crayons Crayons are not water-soluble; you’ll probably need to use some sort of solvent. Crayola™ recommends WD-40, though it’s not a green product. Heat from a blow dryer can help. Scrape off excess crayon with a dull knife, then apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol to the stain and blot. Rinse, apply a small amount of liquid dish soap to the stain and then blot with a damp towel. Launder as usual.

On Walls: Try heating the marks with a blow dryer then wiping off the loosened crayon. Rubbing with a baking soda and water paste works, as well, and is gentle enough to use on most wall coverings and paint.

Grass Do not use ammonia or degreasers—they can make stains permanent. Blot with a little rubbing alcohol, then rinse with water. Apply liquid dish soap to the stain, rinse with water, and allow the garment to air dry. Launder as usual. If discoloration remains, soak the garment in warm water for 30 to 60 minutes. Re-launder in hot water.

Lipstick Lipstick can leave a difficult, oily stain; professional treatment may be necessary.

Upholstery and Carpet: Wipe away any excess lipstick. Wet the stain with a small amount of rubbing alcohol. Blot with a white towel until no stain is transferred to the towel. Treat with a carpet cleaner or spot remover if a blemish remains.

Red Wine

Pour salt on a red wine stain in carpet. Leave it on overnight before vacuuming it up.

Removing Spots from Stainless Flatware

Rub olive oil onto flatware with a soft cloth and then wipe off with a soft cloth dampened with white vinegar.

A Clean Home Is Good for Mind and Body

blog-mind and bodyI think just about everyone would agree that having a clean home is important. Maintaining a clean home has many benefits, such as; making your home look nicer, making it easier to stay organized, and it even has some mental and physical health benefits as well. Here are a few examples of how important having a clean home can be.

“Staying Healthy”- They say that, “the best offense is a good defense”, and that’s definitely the case when trying to keep from getting sick. Dirt, dust, and mold in your home can cause you and your family to get sick. By regularly dusting, sweeping/vacuuming, and keeping moist areas of your home as clean and dry as possible, you’re already playing great “D”.

“Keeping Organized”- Lets face it, everybody can be a little absent-minded at times (I know I can) and forget where they put their keys, or the remote, etc.. Eventually, whatever was missing is usually found and everything is fine. However, in a cluttered home, something like some missing keys can turn into a real treasure hunt. By keeping a clean, organized, clutter free-home, it’ll be easier to find what your looking for.

“Be Prepared for Surprise Guests”- Speaking from experience, nothing is quite as embarrassing as having a friend, neighbor, or family member stop by unexpectedly when your place is a mess. By keeping up with cleaning your home, you can avoid this awkward situation.

“Get a Little Exercise”- Cleaning your home can also be a way to stay physically active. Sweeping, dusting, scrubbing the floors, are all mini workouts. While cleaning may not be the same as lifting weights or running on the treadmill, it’s still a physical activity, which is always good for your body and your mind.

“Stress/Depression”- Living in a dirty or cluttered home can actually cause stress and even depression. So, besides all of the reasons listed above, perhaps the best reason to keep a clean home is to be happier and less stressed. There are plenty of things that can make people stressed and depressed, home shouldn’t be one of them.


Tips fo Pet Owners

If you happen to be a pet owner then you know that your furry little friend can make a mess. Speaking blog-petsas someone who has had several cats and dogs throughout my life, I have an understanding of just how messy your house can become with pets. Sometimes, it seems no matter how often you sweep up their fur or try to brush them there is still fur on the floors, furniture, and even your clothes. Dirty paws can also cause your floors to become messy, even when you think you’ve wiped them off. The good people at Enviro Maids, are also aware of this problem, and have a few tips for you pet owners out there.

Cleaning Tips for Pet Owners

Whether you’re a dog person, cat person, or both, pet owners worldwide can agree that their four-legged furry family members are loyal, lifelong companions that can also be quite messy! If there’s always a ball of fur moving across your floor like a tumbleweed, or you’re constantly wiping up wet paw prints from the floor, we have a few suggestions with the help of housekeeping maven, Martha Stewart, on how to enjoy your family pet while keeping your house clean. It takes a bit of extra work, but the results will be worth it.

An ounce of prevention…

Shedding is inevitable with most dogs and cats. Some animals shed more or less depending on the breed. Some of the most popular dog breeds such as German Shepherds and Gold Retrievers are also some of the heaviest shedders. When it comes to cats, long-haired breeds such as Persians and Maine Coons are known to leave behind unsightly clumps of fur. Shedding is best controlled by regular brushing. The more fur you collect in a brush, the less fur that ends up in the air and on surfaces throughout your home.

Protect your furniture

If your pet’s favorite napping spot is on your upholstered furniture, protect the surface by covering it with a towel or spare sheet. Regularly shake it outside to get rid of most of the fur and wash it as needed.

When it’s too late

Once the damage has already been done and your furniture has gotten a fur-covered “makeover”, the best way to remove it is to use your vacuum’s upholstery attachment. You can also try using a tape roller to roll over the surface to pick up the fur. In a pinch, you can also use mailing tape. The sticky surface quickly and easily removes unwanted fur. The tape roller trick also works great for getting fur off of your clothing.

Grubby Paws

There’s nothing cuter than seeing your puppy frolicking playfully in the snow. Something that’s not so cute is the slushy, wet paw prints your puppy leaves on your floor and carpeting as a reminder of the fun he just had. Stop him in his tracks before it’s too late by keeping a towel by the door and taking a couple of minutes to dry each paw before letting him reenter the home. If your dog will be outside when it’s muddy out, fill a small bowl with tepid water and have it ready by your door. Wash off his mud-covered paws and dry them with a towel.

Accidents Happen

When it comes to pets, bathroom accidents are bound to happen, especially if you have a puppy or kitten. As with many types of stains, bathroom accidents should be cleaned as soon as possible. Cleaning a tile or laminate floor is straightforward. But, when it comes to removing stains and odors from carpets, a little more work is required. Blot the problem area with a white cloth to absorb as much of the moisture as possible. Mix a solution of 1/4 teaspoon liquid dish soap with one cup of warm water; blot with the solution using a clean towel. Rinse by blotting with a towel dampened with warm water. Continue cleaning and rinsing until the stain is gone. For stubborn stains and lingering odors, leave it to the professionals.

Other Handy Tips

Place a towel or washable mat under your pet’s food and water bowl. The towel or mat will help catch any food or water messes.

Before traveling with your dog in your car, cover the back seat with a protective seat cover. You can purchase one of the many that are available, or you can upcycle by using an old comforter or bedspread.

When purchasing furniture, look for pet-friendly fabrics and materials. Top-grain leather, microfiber, and fabrics that are tightly woven hold up better to frequent pet use. Try to match the color of your fabric to the color of your pet’s fur. The similarity in color will help mask fur.

Protect Your Wood Floors

blog-wood floorIf you happen to have wood flooring in your home, the winter months can wreak havoc on them. Wood flooring can be quite expensive, so if you do have it in your home I’m sure you’d like to keep it in the best condition possible. In this article from Enviro Maids, you are given some tips on how to protect those wood floors throughout the winter.

Protecting Your Wood Floors During the Winter

Wood floors are one of the most sought after types of floor covering. With so many choices of colors and styles to choose from, wood floors can complement any house style. Knotty, pine wood floors can add warmth to a cottage, while deep brown or black cherry wood floors can give a modern home a sleek, elegant feel. While durable, wood floors require a bit more care, especially during the winter months. Moisture, salt, and ice melting products can wreak havoc on wood. Here are our tips with the help of Real Simple and the pros at Floors to Your Home for protecting the beauty and integrity of your wood floor during the winter.

Mats, mats, and more mats

Water or moisture is the number one enemy for wood floors. Excess moisture can have many negative effects on your wood, including warping and staining it, causing it to lose its original luster, as well as leading to the growth of mold. The best way to protect your wood floor from the winter elements is to have a “no shoes” policy. While this can be enforced for family members, you may have to forego this rule when guests arrive. The second best way to protect your wood floor is to arm your home with several strategically placed mats or rugs. When it comes to mats, quality and quantity are equally important. The outside rug should be a rugged, bristly one. Use this rug to help dig out mud, dirt, pebbles, and salt from the tread of winter boots. The rug located inside your entryway should be plush and super-absorbent. This rug should be capable enough to dry the bottom of shoes and collect any remaining outdoor debris. A final and precautionary step is using a walking mat. These mats are long and narrow (usually 10 feet long) and ensure that every last trace of moisture is removed.

Pet Problems

You can train your children and spouse to remove their muddy, snowy boots before entering the house, but you’ll run into a problem when it comes to your dog. Unless you routinely put boots on your pup’s paws, you’ll have to contend with wet, dirty paws. Before letting your dog out, have a towel by the door. When your dog is ready to come back inside, wipe his paws dry. For extra muddy paws, have a small basin filled with a bit of warm water on hand by the door. Wash off all traces of mud and grime and dry paws with a towel.


Moisture, salt, and ice-melting products aren’t the only cause of damaged wood floors. In fact, dryness can be just as damaging! Wood is fickle when it comes to shifts in humidity levels. The dry air of indoor heating and lower humidity levels can cause wood to shrink. The telltale sign that dry air has caused your wood to shrink are the gaps between the planks of wood. The opposite effect happens when there’s excess moisture in the air; the higher humidity during the summer months causes the wood to expand. The ideal indoor temperature for wood floors is between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit and a 30 to 50 percent humidity level.

Wet Floors

As careful as you try to be, sometimes moisture, spills, and water get on your wood floors. It’s important to clean up spills immediately with an absorbent towel. Thoroughly dry the floor; no dampness should be left behind.


Is Your Medicine Cabinet Green?

As people are becoming more and more aware of the importance of green cleaning products, reusable products, and just the overall protection of the environment, there may be one place we haven’t looked…….the medicine cabinet. As it turns out, some of the products in that medicine cabinet may in fact be harmful to the environment as well as yourself. To be honest, I never really even thought about it until I saw this little piece from our friends at Seventh Generation.

What’s Lurking in Your Medicine Cabinet?

Chances are you’re very careful about the products you use to clean your home. You know all about VOCs and phosphates and a host of other ingredients. But when was the last time you inventoried the contents of your medicine cabinet?

We challenged our own employees to take a hard look at some of the personal care products they use every day.  With the help of the SkinDeep and GoodGuide sites they were able to look up ingredients and ratings and encouraged to swap out anything of concern for a similar item with a better rating.

It wasn’t long before our “Stuff that used to be in my medicine cabinet” box began to fill with everything from lipstick to body lotion with a tag attached explaining why the product was switched and which alternative product that was chosen.

You can take the challenge yourself! Just identify the 4 or 5 products you use most and look them up on SkinDeep or GoodGuide to see what the overall rating, and the ingredients are. Looking at the ingredients in detail sometimes involves scrolling down to the bottom of the page. If you’re concerned with any of the results you find, whenever possible change the products out for more alternatives with a better rating that you feel are healthier for you.

Enjoy your new products and let us know what you discovered.


Green Alternatives to Salt

blog-shovelingKeeping your walkways and driveways free of snow and ice is an important safety precaution. However, many times shoveling and/or snow-blowing doesn’t fully get the job done. That’s when many people put down salt to melt away any remaining snow or ice which could be hazardous. Unfortunately, that same salt can wind up being hazardous to your pets, lawn, concrete walkway, and even the environment. Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives to salt which can also get the job done. Here are a few examples of some more “green” alternatives for deicing this winter.

“Sand”- Sand can be used to create traction and won’t harm your lawn or pets. However, it will have to be cleaned up after the snow has melted so it doesn’t clog drains or sewers.

“Kitty Litter”- If you happen to have a cat, you can actually use some extra kitty litter to take care of a slippery walkway.

“Urea”- This deicer is safe for your pets and concrete but can do damage to your lawn or garden.

“Coffee Grinds”- Your morning “pick-me-up” can also double as a natural deicer.

“Potassium Acetate”- Extremely effective and biodegradable. This deicer may not harm your plants or pets but your wallet may take a hit, it’s eight times more expensive than salt.



Tips for Keeping Warm

All across the country there has been an arctic chill that has many cities and towns stuck BLOG-FROZEN THERMOMETERwith temperatures in the single digits or lower. Obviously, when it’s that cold outside you have no other option but to turn up the heat, at least for a little while. However, there are other ways to keep yourself warm during this cold streak. Below are just a few ways you can stay warm without cranking the heat all day.

“Toss a Log on the Fire”- If you happen to have a fireplace in your home, turn down your heat, and instead warm up next to a nice fire.

“A Hot Beverage”- You can warm yourself up with a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.

“Cover Drafts”- Block drafts coming into your home through windows and doors with a draft stopper, weather stripping, or even a towel.

“Switch Your Sheets”- If you’re using regular sheets on your bed try switching to flannel. If you’re using a regular comforter try switching to down.

“Let the Sunshine In”- Open your shades during the day and let some sun in your home. Not only will it help warm the place up, but it’s good for the mind.

“Stay Active”- Activities like, exercising or cleaning the house are great ways to stay warm while being productive.


Tips to Help You Keep Your New Years Resolutions

Today is January 3rd, just two days since New Years, and I guarantee their are already a few people who either started to rethink their resolutions or even gave up on them. It’s no secret, keeping New Years resolutions can be tough. And, if you happen to be one of those who don’t think they can keep their resolutions, think again. In this article from Organized Christmas, you are given several tips on how to help you stick with this years resolutions. So, check out some of these tips and hopefully they’ll help you reach your goals.

Keeping New Year’s Resolutions: New Year, New You!

Keep New Year's ResolutionsNew Year’s Eve … a festive beginning to a new year. It’s a good time to take stock and decide to move toward a happier, more organized life.

But too often, what looks so easy as the minute hand approaches midnight falls away in the cold light of January days.

For most of us, New Year’s resolutions die a slow and quiet death. They’re tossed aside, along with the party hats and noisemakers.

As January winds down, so does motivation, energy and desire for change.

New Year’s resolutions wither along with the Christmas poinsettias because they lack strong roots in real life. It’s not the resolution that’s at fault–it’s the follow-through! New Year’s resolutions are easy to make, but much harder to make real in the noisy bustle of everyday chores and concerns.

Stop! Don’t let those resolutions slip away so quickly! Each one represents a longing of the heart, a reach toward better health, happiness, knowledge or wisdom. Try these concepts to revive and strengthen your New Year’s resolutions.

Resolve Globally, Act Locally

This familiar slogan tells a truth about personal change: however lofty the goal, the engine for making changes comes from small, daily steps. Translate each resolution ( I will lose 15 pounds this year, I will teach myself machine knitting.) into specific daily and weekly actions toward the goal.

Those who wish to lose weight? Resolve to eat five servings of fruit and vegetables each day, and attend three aerobics classes each week. The would-be machine knitter will spend one-half hour each day working on the lessons in the machine manual, and take a Saturday seminar twice a month. Both have worked out their resolutions into concrete, specific steps toward a larger goal.

Distinguish between your goal and the acts necessary to reach the goal. It’s the step-by-step changes each day, each week, that carry a New Year’s resolution to fruition.

Add, Don’t Subtract

Humans being what they are, it’s far easier to add new behaviors than to subtract old, established habits. As you put your resolutions into action, frame them in terms of positive changes, not negative ones.

Our dieter, who will eat five servings of fruits and vegetables, isn’t going to tangle with her passion for chocolate–not just yet. Instead, she’ll focus on the good, new added resolution instead of grappling with the old bad habits of a chocoholic. The added fiber and nutrition will go a long way toward reducing hunger, and as her tastes change, she will find the chocolate habit weakened. Only then will she move against the Chocolate Beast, buoyed up by her success.

And even if she never slays the Beast? She’s fed her body the good stuff first!

Write It Down

Often, New Year’s resolutions evaporate because they’re never written down or shared with an accountability partner. Talk’s cheap–and never cheaper than when one is fantasizing about change. Too often, the desire to improve fades away with the sound of the conversation.

Put your resolutions on a body-building plan!

First, harness the power of the pen (or computer or smartphone!). Write out each resolution: the goal, reasons for aspiring to the goal, and the individual steps–daily, weekly, monthly–that you’ll use to reach the goal. Putting a resolution in writing lets you refer to it often, and gives the plan a substance and validity that will help create motivation.

Print a free New Year’s Resolutions form to track your progress!

Planner users review their resolution plan during each day’s planning session. Posting the resolution on the refrigerator door reminds a dieter of his or her goal.

Become Accountable

Best of all, find an accountability partner: a trusted friend, family member or support group who is invested in the success of your resolution. Share your resolution with your accountability partner, and work out a check-in system at least once a week. An accountability partner can celebrate successes, help analyze failures, and provide a hefty dose of motivation on a regular basis.

Tap Tech Support

Online support groups offer instant accountability and support, and can be great motivators as you put New Year’s resolutions into practice. Only one clutterholic can truly understand another clutterholic’s euphoria at clearing a shelf or decluttering a drawer. Best, online groups are available 24 hours a day to listen, advise and share.

Web sites and mobile apps can help bolster New Year’s resolutions with resources and inspiration. Whether it’s tracking exercise and diet, keeping a gratitude list, or working on your reading list, check out tech helpers to promote healthy change.

Get Back Up On The Horse

Don’t let New Year’s resolutions fall victim to the first little slip! Those who study successful self-change know that one indicator for eventual success at changing habits is previous unsuccessful attempts at change.

When you do fall off the plan sit back and figure out why–then work to solve the problem standing between you and your goal. Is that resolution to exercise falling by the wayside in a busy life? Sit down and schedule the gym first each day. Was the new diet sabotaged by fast-food lunches? Decide to set aside an hour each Sunday to assemble a healthier substitute for the week’s lunches.

Then try again! Don’t let a small stumble stand in the way. Learn from each setback, and keep moving forward.

The new year is only just begun. Don’t count those New Year’s resolutions out–just yet! Breath new life into them, and move toward a more organized, healthier, happier life in your organized home. Be it resolved!