Green Cleaning with Dogs

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Keeping a clean house is seldom an easy task, but for canine lovers, cleaning can present some unique challenges. First, how do you prevent shedding and minimize the impact of pet hair on your carpet and furniture? What are some good ways to eliminate that “dog smell” that, while perhaps unnoticeable to the inhabitants of the house, is often quite apparent to guests? And what to do about stains from doggy “accidents”? And, most importantly, how do you take care of all these cleaning conundrums without using toxic chemicals that may be harmful to your pets, not to mention the humans in the house?

In this post, we will try to answer all of these questions and more by providing a few helpful tips for green cleaning with your canine friends in mind.

·      Give Your Pup a Green Clean Massage- Most dogs hate baths. But they LOVE to be petted. Did you know that ordinary baking soda makes a great dry bathing solution for dogs? Just rub the baking soda all over your buddy’s coat to cut down on odor and leave the fur shiny and soft. Your dog will probably really enjoy the massage, as well!

·      Odor Neutralizing Houseplants- One way to cut down on “dog odor” is to keep your air clean and fresh with certain types of plants. All houseplants are capable of helping to keep the air in your home fresh and purified, but they are not all safe for your pets. Check here for a list of dog-friendly houseplants.

·      Scoop Poop Greenly- Do you ever worry about all the plastic going into the landfill when you clean up after your dog on walks? Now there are biodegradable poop bags (link to it) available for purchase online and in major pet supply stores. So you can dispose of your dog’s waste without adding to landfill waste!

·      Pawprints on Furniture?- Dogs’ paws get dirty. It happens. But you don’t want mud and dirt on your bed or sofa. An easy solution to this problem is to use a special blanket or throw for your dog to lounge on. There are special ones available, marketed specifically to dog owners, but there’s no reason you can’t just use a regular old blanket. Or better yet, two of them so you can change them out on laundry day.

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·      Freshen the Dog Bed- Dog beds can get to be pretty smelly pretty quick. But it’s not hard to cut down on the “dog odor”. Just sprinkle baking soda liberally on your dog’s bed or favorite blanket about once a week to eliminate the smell.

·      The Green Way to Clean Up Accidents- If your dog has an accident of the pee variety on your carpet or rug, don’t attack it with dog and human toxic chemical solutions! Just pour club soda over the stain, blot dry, and then shake some baking soda on top and let it sit for at least 12 hours before vacuuming.

·      Cedar Oil- A cedar oil spray can make your home smell nice, and for an added benefit? It kills fleas and their eggs. There are a couple of commercially produced, all natural cedar oil based flea and tick sprays available on the market.

·      Robotic Vacuum- A robotic vacuum is an excellent investment for pet owners. Most of them work on carpet and bare floors, and they clean up after your pet while you are away from home! Plus, you might be able to train your small dog to do what this cat does.

·      Brushing- You don’t have to invest in a robotic vacuum to avoid having all the surfaces in your house covered with dog hair. As with all areas of life, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Brushing your dog at least once every other day will prevent excessive shedding. Make this a daily routine that you do on the porch or in the yard after you take your pooch for a walk. Your dog will probably grow to expect and enjoy the regular groomings.

That’s it! We hope these green tips increase your ability to enjoy your home and your pets! Oh, and here's one last funny dog meme for you. We couldn't resist!
 

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Baby Safe Cleaning for the Green Home

Is your home blessed with a baby or small child? You'll want to know these easy tips for baby safe home cleaning!

Is your home blessed with a baby or small child? You'll want to know these easy tips for baby safe home cleaning!

If you have a baby or small children, or you’re expecting, or even if you have small people coming over to visit, it’s a good idea to take stock of the cleaning products you use in your home. Many (ok, most) commercial cleansers contain harsh, toxic chemicals that can be especially harmful for little ones. These chemicals are not limited to the active ingredients in the cleaning product; they may also include fragrances, color and preserving agents. The toxins may never cause any problems for adults, but can cause eczema, airway and eye irritation, poisoning and a litany of other known and unknown side effects. Certain industrial cleaners commonly used in schools are linked to an increased rate of asthma.

"Parents need to know that there can be a trade-off between a sterilized kitchen and their baby's health," says Sonya Lunder, MPH, a senior analyst at the Environmental Working Group in Washington, D.C. And she’s not the only expert warning parents about the possible harmful side effects of harsh cleaning products. New research shows that developing immune systems are compromised by strict sterilization routines in the home.

So what can you do to ensure your home is a safe, non-toxic environment for infants and young children? First things first: If you do keep any commercial cleaning products in your home that may contain harmful ingredients, make sure they are stored out of reach of little hands. Put them in a high cabinet, or use cabinet locks if they are stored near to the ground. But it is probably a better idea to just ditch all of those products and use safer, and often cheaper, natural alternatives. When you mop the floor with a toxic product, the residue doesn’t really go away. That means crawling and toddling babies are very likely to come into contact with the toxins. So try these homemade cleaning agents instead:

  • Use baking soda and water to make a thick paste to clean grime and residue from your sink and shower. For lighter cleaning, you can just sprinkle a little baking soda on a damp sponge.

  • For toilet bowl cleaning, sprinkle a little baking soda around the inside of the bowl and scrub. Then add a half cup of white vinegar and let sit for a few minutes. (Don’t use too much baking soda, or you’ll get a toilet bowl volcano). After letting sit, scrub again and flush.

  • This vinegar and baking soda mixture is great for a lot of cleaning applications! The chemical reaction creates lots of little tiny bubbles that loosen dirt and other substances from the surface you are trying to clean. Try it on clogged drains as well!

  • For cleaning baby toys, pack-n-plays, high chair trays, etc., make a dilution of 1 part white vinegar to 1 part water and use a spray bottle to mist the target. Let the vinegar water solution sit on the object for ten minutes or so, then wipe with a damp sponge or cloth. The vinegar will kill germs and loosen dirt. (The vinegar smell will evaporate within an hour or two.)

  • Surprise! You can also use vinegar to clean your windows and mirrors!

  • Tea tree oil is antiseptic and antifungal. Use it to tackle mold and mildew in the bathroom!

As you can see, these safe, green cleaning alternatives can be made for just pennies, and will make your home a healthier place for you and your little ones.

How to Keep Your Electronic Devices Clean

 

It’s hard to deny that we live in an age of unprecedented technological wonders. We have devices that can fit in our pockets on which we can store entire music collections, lifetime’s worth of photo albums, and all of our important work documents- not to mention movies, art, games, and other types of entertainment. This fact is beyond amazing, and even though sometimes it can seem like all of our gadgets distract us from what is important in life, we should try not to take them for granted. Especially if you have your treasured family photos and videos, or important work and tax information stored on your devices, you should make it a point to take good care of them in order to prolong their lifetimes. Of course, it’s also important to always keep multiple backups of all your important files- a best practice is to keep one copy on your computer or tablet, one on an external storage device like a hard drive or jump drive, and one copy on the cloud. But this post will deal with tips for keeping your devices clean, to make sure they last you a long time.

 

Dusting

Dust is the archnemesis of your electronics, and it is both pervasive and persistent- settling in the cracks and crevices of a device and eventually choking the fan or another crucial component. So you have to be vigilant in removing it.

Dust your devices well and often. A soft, dry cloth or rag is totally adequate for this purpose, but sometimes you may need to dampen the rag a little to help get dust out of the nooks and crannies. It may be a good idea to also invest in a good air purifier for the room you keep most of your computing equipment in.


Screens

Screens on TVs, computers, laptops and tablets can get really, really grubby over time- even with regular dusting. This is especially true if you have small children!

Some types of screens require specific cleaning solutions, so be sure to consult the instructions that came with the product before attempting to clean the screen beyond a dusting. A lot of screens can be cleaned quite effectively with isopropyl alcohol- the same stuff you keep in your medicine cabinet to clean cuts and scrapes. Pour a small amount on a cotton cloth and test it in a small area to be sure it causes no damage to the screen.

If your manufacturer’s instructions tell you to use a specific type of spray cleaner, be sure to avoid spraying the solution directly on the screen, as this could cause permanent streaks and spots on your screen. Instead, spray the solution on a cloth or paper towel and then use that to clean the screen in long, up-and-down or side-to-side strokes.

   

Keyboards

It can be really frustrating to attempt to clean a keyboard. Keyboards get a lot of abuse- from grimy fingertips, proximity to crumbs and beverages, and just regular old dirt and dust as well.

If you’ve got a sticking key, the best thing to do is remove the key (if possible) from the keyboard and wipe it down with rubbing alcohol, along with its connection point on the keyboard.

If your problem has to do with dust around and under the keys that won’t budge with ordinary dusting, you might want to try spraying the keyboard off with compressed air. It comes in a can, is environmentally friendly, and should be available wherever electronics are sold. The can comes with a little, thin straw to attach to the nozzle. When using the compressed air, make sure the straw is tightly secured and aim it right at the surface or nook you are trying to clean, leaving only about an inch or two of space between the tip of the straw and the cleaning target.

 

Spills

Of course, precautions should always be taken to keep your electronics out of the way of likely spill areas, like kitchen counters or dining tables. But, if the dreaded spill ever does happen, you might be able to save your device if you act quickly. Here’s what to do:

·      Turn off and unplug the device.

·      Wipe up as much of the spill as possible from the device and the surface it sits upon, not worrying yet about cleaning solutions.

·      Once you’ve cleaned it up as much as you can, assess the situation. Did the liquid make it all the way inside the shell of the device? If not, you’re probably ok. Use a damp cloth to finish cleaning the substance off of the device, and use a q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol to get any sticky residue out of the smaller crevices.

·      If the inside of the device was affected by the spill, you might be able to take the device apart, carefully clean the components with rubbing alcohol, and let the parts dry out for 24 hours before reassembling. Your warranty may be voided if you do this yourself, so a better option might be to rush your device to a competent technician ASAP.

 

 

How to Get Your Kids to Help Around the House



 "Why is it always a struggle to get my kids to clean?" If you're like most parents in this crazy realm we call Western Civilization, you've probably asked yourself that very question. More than once.

I remember reading the Little House on the Prairie books to my daughter and thinking to myself, Wow. These kids were up at dawn to milk the cow, help with breakfast and clean up afterwards at the age of five, and they never grumbled or complained about it. How did Ma do it?

Well, for a large part, it comes down to this: it was a different world. Ma's house was tiny. Their belongings were few. They didn't get new stuff every week, just a few necessities once a year. The Ingalls kids only had about two or three toys each. If they got bored with those, they had to use their imaginations to come up with something to entertain themselves. And most importantly, housework was not seen as an annoyance to put up with or something that could be gotten to later. It was a matter of survival in the primitive fronteir life. No refrigeration. No trash pick up. No electric lights. You had to do what needed to be done, and you had to do it while the sun was shining. Your family's health and well being depended upon it.

Contrast that with the pampered lives we live today. If I don't want to wash dishes after breakfast, it's no big deal. I can run hot water out of my faucet any time of day and use my scrubby sponge and liquid dish detergent to effectively get the grease or cooked on food off of pots and pans. Ma Ingalls had no such luxury. Don't feel like doing laundry today? It'll keep. Your washer and dryer will still be there tomorrow.

So the main reason why it's so hard to get kids to help these days is probably that housework is not viewed as essential. The amazing benefits of modern convenience come at a price. Is the price worth it? I think so. The luxury of modern technology doesn't only breed laziness. It also allows us to do more fulfilling work, to follow our inspiration, to live longer and healthier lives, and to have wonderful experiences that the Ingalls would never have dreamed of.

But although housework might not be as important or all consuming as it was in the pioneer days, it is still important for our children to develop a strong work ethic, and for us as parents to not feel like we are carrying all of the day to day responsibilities. So we need to improvise.

Here are three tips for getting your kids to help around the house:

1. Start young. 

Small children love to help with cleaning, sorting and food preparation. When my daughter was little, I too often responded to her eagerness to help with "I don't need any help." In my busy, somewhat stressful life, it just seemed easier to do everything myself than to teach her how to do a task and deal with the cleaning up that would certainly result. Believe me, I paid the price later on!

KIds as young as two can help with wiping down surfaces and sorting socks. Give your toddler a child sized broom and dust pan of his own, so he can "play" at cleaning while you actually clean. This instills a habit in him that cleaning is a pleasant activity. To help you in your quest for age-appropriate chores for children, here is a neat little infographic.




2. Instill a sense of ownership. 

If your child shows a special interest in gardening, let her take care of the lawn and landscaping. If he loves to tinker with things, let him be the handyman of the family and fix broken appliances. Whatever your child is most interested in, find a way to make his household responsibility relevant to that. Ask him for ideas on how to make things run more smoothly and efficiently. It will take a little coaching and priming at first, but if you allow him ownership of that responsibility, he will become capable and confident with it in time.

3. Set the right example. If you don't want your kids to groan and complain about household chores, then you need to avoid groaning and complaining yourself. Sometimes we do it without even realizing it.

"Oh, I wish there wasn't so much laundry!"

"I just cleaned this yesterday, and now look at it!"

"I just spent three hours cleaning this house!"

This kind of statement conveys a negative view of housework, and your kids DO pick up on it. Try to keep a smile on your face when you wash dishes, vacuum or scrub. Listen to music while you are cleaning. Say things like, "Wow, the sink looks so nice!" or "It sure feels good for the whole family to have clean clothes to wear." After awhile, your kids will start to display the same positive attitude about chores.

I hope you found these tips helpful and encouraging. Try putting them to use to get your kids to take more responsibility around the house. And if you live in the Asheville, NC area and your household cleaning needs require a more professional approach, please give us a call!