Clean Your Car the Green Way!

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We talk a lot about green house cleaning on this blog. It makes sense, since we are Asheville’s top source for environmentally friendly home cleaning services! We’ve written about green ways to keep your kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, and even your home electronics clean and organized. But there’s one topic we’ve never covered: green ways to clean your car.

It’s not technically part of your house, but your car is, for all intents and purposes, an extension of your home. You rely on it to get you, your family, and your stuff where you need to go, and you probably occupy it every day for at least an hour or two. You pack your groceries into it, you put your gym bag on the floor, and if you have kids, they probably eat French fries in the back seat. Sometimes.

With all that activity taking place in your vehicle, it can get pretty messy. It might even get dirty and smelly. And so of course, you clean it periodically. But are you treating your car with the same care as you do your living spaces when it comes to cleaning? There aren’t many green cleaning products on the market that are specifically made for use in or on automobiles, but it’s just as important to clean your car with non-toxic, environmentally friendly substances as it is your house. Maybe even more important, since everyone in the family spends time there in close quarters.

So here is a brief guide to cleaning your car the green way. You can get your car sparkling clean on the outside and spotlessly fresh on the inside without resorting to toxic chemicals that can harm your health and the environment!

Glass

Use a mixture of white vinegar and water to clean your windshield and windows on the inside of the car.  Mix equal parts in a spray bottle, and if you want, add a little cornstarch, which will scrub off grime without leaving a residue. You can also add a few drops of essential oil to mask the vinegar smell. (If you don’t add essential oils, the vinegar smell will still go away in a couple of hours if you leave the car doors open to allow air circulation.) Spray the solution on the glass surfaces and wait thirty seconds or so before wiping them with a lint-free cloth in a circular motion. This should give you a streak-free clean.

Upholstery and Floors

First, vacuum the floors and upholstery thoroughly. If you have any stains on your fabric upholstery or floor mats, you can tackle them with the same vinegar-and-water solution that you used on the glass surfaces. On leather or vinyl surfaces, toothpaste is a good stain remover.

Vinyl and Plastic Surfaces

Again with the vinegar-and-water mixture? I know, it’s kind of redundant, but vinegar is such a great, green cleaning solution, and it works on so many different types of surfaces. For your dashboard, console, cup holders, etc., use the vinegar spray, but this time instead of spraying it directly on the surface, spray it onto a cloth and then wipe down the surface. This will prevent moisture from seeping into nooks and crannies.

Odors

You have a couple of options when it comes to green solutions for odor control in your car. One is to make your own scented air freshener, using just water and a few drops of your favorite essential oil. You can spray it on the floors and upholstery while you’re cleaning the car, or you can just keep a bottle in the car for regular use. Another method is to sprinkle baking soda on the seats and floor, leave it overnight, and vacuum it up in the morning. The baking soda will absorb any unpleasant odors.

Body

Here’s the fun part. Fill up a few buckets (four ought to do it for a sedan) with warm, soapy water. Use a plant-based soap with no bleach, no harsh additives, and no added enzymes. Apply the soapy water with a sponge made for washing cars, or you can use an old t-shirt. Just make sure that whatever you use is non-abrasive. Get all soapy and wet (don’t forget to get the car soapy and wet, too), and then empty your buckets, fill them again with clear water, and rinse!

Headlights

Toothpaste works great for cleaning dirty, cloudy headlight surfaces. And if you have an old toothbrush lying around, that will make a great abrasive tool to get dirt and gunk and dead insects off the headlights. (Just don’t use the toothbrush on any painted surfaces!)

And that’s it! We hope you found this guide helpful for cleaning your car the green way. We don’t clean cars, but we do clean houses! If you’re looking for a highly efficient, green house cleaning service in the Asheville NC area, drop us a line or give us a call at 828.505.7320.

 

How to Refresh Your Home (and Restore Your Sanity) After the Holidays

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The holidays are a time for family, friends, and merry-making, but with all the rush and bustle, the errands and get-togethers, merriment isn’t the only mind state the season produces. It can also be just a little bit maddening. The weather outside is frightful, and maybe the kids are starting to get stir-crazy. Clutter abounds from all the new Christmas presents. Your refrigerator is stuffed as full as a turkey with leftovers, and there is an honest-to-god tree in your living room.

As December draws to a close with just one last shindig to ring in the New Year, you’re probably ready to restore some order to your home, your life, and your sanity. All of which may seem a bit overwhelming, if you don’t even know where to begin. But fear not! We have compiled a post-holiday checklist to help you re-establish normalcy in your home, so you can get back to enjoying time with your family through the cozy winter months ahead.

  • Pack away (and sort) ornaments. Tackle the decorations on the Christmas tree first. Check the ornaments individually to make sure they are not broken (if they are, toss them!) and if you still want to keep them around for future years of holiday enjoyment (if not, donate them!) Make sure that you wrap or coil your tree lights and bead strings neatly, so you won’t have to deal with an impossible tangled mess next year. Once the tree is denuded, remove and pack away any other holiday ornaments from around the house like Christmas villages, outside lights, and lawn ornaments. Label the boxes clearly and store them where you will be able to find them easily next holiday season.

  • Get the tree out of your house. Christmas trees are lovely to look at, if a bit of an odd tradition. (Seriously, whose idea was it to bring a tree inside the house in the middle of winter, cover it with fire, and stare at it?) But now is the time to restore your home to its normal tree-free state. Pack away your artificial tree carefully and store the box upright. If you have a genuine tree, call your local waste management department to find out the details of their tree disposal program. Or if you have the space outside, you can always put it out in a corner of the yard as a refuge for ground nesting birds.

  • Wrapping paper, bows, and ribbons. If the floor around your Christmas tree is still cluttered with wrapping, clear it away. But save the ribbons and bows for next year!  Once that’s done, your living room floor should be clear enough to vacuum up the pine needles and cookie crumbs.

  • Find homes for gifts. The easiest way to keep a well-organized home is to have a place for everything. Since every member of the family receives a new influx of things at Christmas, it only makes sense to spend some time figuring out where those things are going to live. If you have limited space or a minimalist spirit, you might want to adhere to the “one in, one out” rule: each time you (or a family member) receive a new item, donate one of your older possessions to make space for it.

  • Clean and Pack Away Holiday Attire. Many of us have clothing that only gets used during the holiday seasion. Whether it’s a beautiful party dress or a Santa suit, you’ll want to get these items washed (or dry cleaned) and packed away securely for next year.

  • Finish up the leftovers. Designate one day within the week after festivities as “Leftover Day”. On that day, commit to not cooking anything. If anyone wants to eat, they must heat up Christmas leftovers (and wash the dishes as they go.) This will clear up refrigerator space and ensure that those delicious holiday foods don’t go forgotten and spoil.

  • Deep clean kitchen and bathrooms. These are the rooms that receive the most abuse during the holiday season, especially with guests popping in all month. Devote some time in the first week of the New Year to really making your kitchen and bathrooms sparkle. In the kitchen, clean the inside of the oven, polish the appliance fronts, fixtures, and backsplash, sweep out underneath the toaster oven, and scrub the floor. In addition to your regular bathroom cleaning routine, wash the rugs, dust the toiletry and hair product bottles, and clean the mirror and light switch plates. Dust the baseboards and light fixtures in both rooms, and then sit back and relax. Sanity restored!

P.S. We totally understand if you don’t want to fool around with that deep cleaning part. If you live in the Asheville, NC area and want someone else to take care of that part, our expert post-holiday cleaning elves would be delighted to help. Drop us a line or give us a call at 828.505.7320

Give the Gift of a Clean, Green Christmas!

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You might feel it’s a little early to begin planning meals and get-togethers for Christmas or Hanukkah, what with the turkey and cranberry sauce still taking up fridge space from Thanksgiving, but don’t get too complacent! The winter holidays will be here before you know it.

There will be tons of preparations to attend to, and we all know that December doesn’t care if you still have a job to go to and normal, everyday errands to perform, and biological necessities to take care of, like sleeping. December expects you to pack three months worth of stuff into the first three weeks of the month. Then, after barely one or two days of rest and quality time with the family, December expects you to spend the fourth week of the month cleaning, just to return your home to some semblance of normalcy.

But at least you can give your special someone a bit of relief from the stress and overwhelm of the holiday season with a gift certificate to Green Home Cleaning. Let them warm up by the fire and put their feet up! We’ll take care of sprucing up the house before relatives start pouring in, or giving it a good clean-up afterwards. We’ll make their home sparkle with our green, sustainable cleaning solutions, all without them (or you) lifting a finger.

You’ll be giving the gift that everyone needs—MORE TIME. And you’ll be giving yourself the same gift, because you won’t have to go out driving on icy roads, fight through the crowds at the mall, or stand in a long line to get your gift. All you have to do is give us a call at 828.505.7320 or send us a quick message {LINK}, and we’ll get you all set up. You can even get several names crossed off your list with a single call or email. That’ll free up some time to meet December’s never-ending list of demands, and just maybe, you’ll be able to sneak in a few hours of holiday cheer.

We wish all of our clients and friends a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Yule, and a clean, green, wonderful holiday season!

 

 

 

8 Green Ways to Recycle Halloween Pumpkins!

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After the Halloween parties are over and the trick-or-treating is done, what can you do with those spooky jack-o’lanterns, besides throwing them in the trash? Here are a few ideas to extend the life of your Halloween pumpkins.

  1. Make a pumpkin planter.  Pack some potting soil into the top of your jack-o’lantern and plant autumn-blooming annuals inside. They’ll last about a month, keeping the Halloween spirit alive until Thanksgiving! Be sure to place your pumpkin planters directly on the ground and not on your porch, because as the pumpkin rots, it can leave stains underneath.

  2. Build a biodegradable bird feeder. Just pour some birdseed into your leftover pumpkin and place it somewhere in the yard where you can view it from a window in the house. It will attract birds and other wildlife, giving you and your family lots of opportunity for observing nature from the comfort of your own living room.

  3. Make a therapeutic facial mask. Use this method for pumpkins that haven’t been carved. Scoop out and puree the pulp, then mix it with a few other ingredients to make a pumpkin spa treatment that’s high in nutrients your skin craves! Here are some recipes.

  4. Eat it. Another idea for pumpkins that haven’t been carved! Halloween pumpkins are not the same as pie pumpkins, but they are still edible. There are tons of fun pumpkin recipes to try, like pumpkin bread, pumpkin candy, and pumpkin soup. Even those tiny decorative pumpkins can be made into baked pumpkin pots, which will go over great at Thanksgiving dinner!

  5. Leave it for the deer. If you have deer or wild turkeys in your neighborhood, they would love to eat your leftover pumpkins! Set the pumpkins outside in an edge environment (a place where the woods border a field or meadow) to give these wild animals the best shot at finding them.

  6. Feed it to farm animals. Pigs, in particular, are very fond of pumpkins. If there is a pastured pig farm or potbelly pig rescue in your area, call and offer to donate your pumpkins to them! Chances are, both the farmer and the pigs will be delighted to take them off your hands.

  7. Pickle it. Pickled pumpkin rinds are a thing, and they’re delicious! Check out this recipe.

  8. Preserve it! If one of your family members carved a particularly spooky or funny jack-o’lantern this Halloween, why not keep it around for years to come? Just coat the inside and outside of the pumpkin with clear PVC glue. This will preserve your jack-o’lantern, and will make a great vase or candy jar that can be used next Halloween, too!

 

Should You Clean Before the Cleaning Lady Comes?

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So you’ve hired a professional cleaning service, and your cleaning lady (or gentleman) is coming by this afternoon. Should you tidy up before they arrive? How much? Isn’t it kind of silly to clean for the cleaner? A lot of clients have these questions, but may feel awkward asking. So we decided to devote a blog post to the topic.

It does sound kind of ridiculous to clean up before your cleaning person arrives, and no cleaner expects your house to be spic and span. They are there to clean, after all. But there are a few things you can do to prepare for your cleaning, in order to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Wash the Dishes

The kitchen is usually one of the most labor intensive areas to clean in any house, so you want to leave it in “ready to clean” condition so that your cleaner can work efficiently and move onto other areas of the house. The most important thing you can do is make sure the dishes are washed or loaded into the dishwasher before your cleaning professional arrives.

Put Away Food

Make sure to put away any leftovers, put things like bread and pasta boxes in the pantry, and clear away any food scraps before the cleaner comes. Not only does it allow them to work more efficiently, but you probably don’t want to risk getting cleaning products on your food. That goes double if your cleaning service uses conventional, chemical-laden cleaning products, but even if your they use green, non-toxic products like we do at Green Home Cleaning, a lot of sprays contain essential oils that you probably don’t want to taste on your food!

Declutter

It’s a good idea to remove clutter from counters, tables, and floors so that your cleaning professional won’t have to move stuff around too much in order to clean. It might only take a few seconds to move toothpaste tubes and hairspray cans off the bathroom counter and back on again, but if they have to repeat that process in the kitchen, bedroom, and living areas, those seconds will add up and cut valuable minutes out of the time she could have spent doing deeper cleaning. So do a quick sweep of the living areas, putting away shoes and other items that might have been left on the floor, and clearing items off of tables and other surfaces. Temporarily remove all of your bathroom accessories (toiletries, hair dryers, etc.) from the counter and place them in a drawer or cupboard.

Make the Bed (or Leave Fresh Linens Out)

As your cleaning professional works her way around the bedrooms, it will make her job easier if the bed is already made so that she can focus on dusting, vacuuming, and other bedroom cleaning tasks. If your housecleaning agreement includes making the beds, then make sure to leave fresh linens out so that your cleaner will not have to stop her work to rummage through closets.

And that’s it! If you do just a little preparation for your cleaning by checking off the four items above, your cleaning professional will be able to get more done, and you’ll get more value for your money! 

If you live in the Asheville, NC area and are in need of a great professional home cleaning service, give us a call at 828.505.7320 or get in touch via our contact form today!