Friday, April 28, 2017

The Best Way to Clean Wood Floors

IMAGE: Eclectic Domestics

Last week, Some questions came in regarding the best way to clean hardwood floors, so today's post will hopefully give you some answers.

I will start first with what NOT to do: Do NOT mop wood floors! Do NOT use vinegar, bleach, products with de-greasers or harsh cleaners. Standing water and chemicals can seep into the bevels and cracks of the wood, causing it to swell and layers to peel. 

Mopping wood floors with vinegar, chemicals or water is the best way to shorten their life span. The same goes for bamboo and laminate floors. Water from a bucket left on the surface can leave stains and cause peeling and buckling. 

The absolute best way to keep your wood floors clean is to be sure to remove shoes before coming in the house, vacuum or dry mop daily, and avoid spills. But we need to be realistic, and we need to live in our homes.

So the trick is, to use as little water as possible, and to dry washed areas completely.  To accomplish this for our clients, we only use microfiber cloths and mop pads. If the manufacturer recommends a specific floor cleaner, use a small amount diluted in a spray bottle. Spray small area to be cleaned, and be sure to remove any leftover spray as you are washing and dry completely with a clean cloth. 

Keeping these basics in mind, here is our own method, and what we believe is the simplest and most efficient procedure for cleaning your wood floors:

  • Prepare the area to be cleaned by clearing it of any toys, trash cans, shoes, pet bowls, throw rugs, random items and smaller pieces of furniture. (Its a good idea to purchase some furniture pads to move furniture pieces. Pads will not only protect your wood floors from scuffing, but also make it much easier to move furniture.)
  • Vacuum floor entirely, paying special attention to the perimeter, corners, under counters and appliances, and the cracks in between wood planks. It is important to not skip this step. The surface dirt and debris needs to be lifted first or you will just be grinding dirt and particles into your floors when you clean them. We don't recommend using a 'Swiffer' type dry duster for this step as it will not fully pick up sand or dirt that has been tracked in from outside. It also will not pick dirt up
    O-Cedar Flip Mop
    out of cracks. Use the brush attachment and the hose OR a microfiber dust mop such as this one to the right. 
  • Spot clean: Inspect floor for any spills, sticky spots or stains that may need attention first. Using a lightly wet microfiber cloth, by hand, wipe up the spills and spots so that your next steps will be much easier.
  • Damp mop floor part 1: starting in one corner of the room, and going around the perimeter first with a long smooth stoke, and picking up any left dirt at the end with a hand cloth. Use a damp microfiber cloth, attached to a mop or Swiffer with  rubber bands, or a mop with a large microfiber pad. Wet the pad or cloth and wring out until almost dry. Rinse and wring out again once perimeter is finished.
  • Damp mop floor part 2:  Starting again in the same corner, with your cleaned, wrung out mop pad or cloth, working in a small section and going with the grain of the wood, use and "S" motion and long smooth strokes to damp mop across the length of the floor. (We position ourselves to work with a "left to right" motion.) If any standing water is left, use a clean, dry microfiber attached to a Swiffer or other large mop head to dry the area, using the same "S" motion. Rinse mop pad or microfiber, wring out completely and start a new section using the steps above.
  • Buff floor: (Optional) To get rid of any left over streaks, using a clean dry microfiber mop pad or cloth attached to a Swiffer, go back over cleaned area, going with the grain of the wood, across the length of the floor in an "S" motion, and rubbing gently. If you cleaned and dried it thoroughly in the previous steps, you probably can skip this step.
  • Put back Furniture and other items, making sure floor is completely dry.

Sound complicated and involved? Maybe, but a small price we pay for having beautiful wood floors! Of course, you can always call us to clean your wood floors for you-and save yourself about 2-3 hours a week on this particular task!


So now we have a question for our Bucks County PA readers: do you like or dislike wood floors and why? 

Submit your responses below, (you can be as brief or as specific as you like), between April 8 and April 22, and one lucky winner will be selected by random drawing, to win our exclusive floor cleaning package, including our Bathroom/Kitchen Touch up Service, and the O-Cedar Dual-Action Microfiber Flip Mop Damp/Dry All Surface Mop ! Good Luck to all!

For questions, please contact Barbara: 215-257-3193.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Non-Toxic Housecleaning Ingredients: 9 of Our Favorites

IMAGE:Non-Toxic Cleaning 
Spring Cleaning has begun. Many of our clients are requesting "Green" Products this season due to personal illnesses, allergies and in response to information on how chemical compounds can affect us. But are "Green" products really what they claim to be?

"According to research from the American Chemical Society, the truth behind green-cleaning disinfectant products varies wildly, with some of these products found to be loaded with harmful petrochemical ingredients.

The researchers measured the source of ingredients in more than a dozen liquid laundry detergents, hand soaps and dish soaps that advertised claims such as "natural" and "ecofriendly." The plant-based ingredient content in the hand soaps ranged anywhere from 28 to 97 percent; laundry detergent ranged between 28 and 94 percent; and dish washing liquids from 43 to 95 percent. 

While there were a fair number of products whose "green" claims held true, many more still harbored considerable amounts of harmful petroleum-based ingredients, (which carry respiratory irritants and hormone-disrupting chemicals)." ~Rodale's Organic Life

In addition to being potentially toxic, conventional cleaners cost a bit more than those you would make yourself using common household ingredients that most of us keep on hand. We  recommend these top nine ingredients to keep on hand for all of your (non-toxic), pet and people friendly cleaning purposes: 

White Vinegar
This common ingredient contains 5 percent acetic acid, which is effective in killing numerous strains of bacteria, including E. coli. It's also effective in getting rid of odors, mold and fungus.

• Witch Hazel - An excellent stain remover & jewelry cleaner, when mixed with some (white) toothpaste. When mixed with baking soda and lemon juice, it makes a great all-purpose bathroom cleaner that cuts through soap scum, mildew, and stains.

Lemon juice—An easily obtainable, natural de-greaser that also contains antimicrobial properties. Can be used as a deodorizer and laundry booster.

Baking soda—Perfect for jobs that require scrubbing or scouring, such as bathroom tiles & grout. Also can be used as a deodorizer  for carpets, microwaves, refrigerators, washing machines and more. Excellent laundry booster to deodorize whiten and soften clothes.

Washing Soda—Its "washing" power actually comes from the fact that it's sodium carbonate. You can usually find it in the laundry aisle of your local supermarket.

Castile Soap—A plant-based, petroleum-free (liquid or solid) soap found in most natural food stores, drug stores and online.

• Borax—This versatile product is a mineral salt that dissolves easily in water. It is an anti-fungal and a water softening agent and can be used for surface cleaning or as a laundry cleaning booster. It is also contained in some ant and roach killing compounds. 

 Cream of tartar—Can be mixed white vinegar and water to use for stain removal. This ingredient comes in powdered form and can be found in the spice or baking aisle of your local grocery store.

• Essential Oils—Natural essential oils such as Tea Tree, Rosemary, Thyme, Chamomile, Basil, Clove, Sweet Orange, Grapefruit, etc. add an additional disinfecting, antibacterial, anti-fungal quality, while providing a naturally pleasant smell. In this case, a little bit goes a long way-and you usually only need a few drops dissolved in some Vodka or Witch hazel, then added to your home made cleaners to do the trick. Be sure to use pure essential oils and not fragrance oils and do not overdo it! While some may enjoy lightly scented products, others are highly sensitive. 

In addition, be cautious when using any cleaning product, especially vinegar or citrus oils on furniture. It can strip the finish right off. Its best to save these compounds for tile and other non-porous surfaces. Our belief is that "clean" really does not have a smell at all, and the less scent the better when it comes to servicing our more sensitive clients.

Here is a simple recipe for our Heavy Duty All-Purpose Cleaner that can be used on surfaces in the kitchen or bath, inside microwaves and refrigerators, and on minor carpet or fabric stains:

Peacock Power: Lemony-Sage 
All-Purpose Cleaner

2 cups distilled Water
1 cup White Vinegar OR 1/2 cup lemon Juice (pu;p strained out)
1 tsp liquid Castille soap
10 drops of Basil Essential oil
10 drops Sage Essential Oil
15 drops Lemon or Grapefruit Essential oil

  • Stir and blend together vinegar and essential oils.
  • Add distilled water to mixture, stirring constantly to blend.
  • Add castille soap to the mixture, slowly, several drops at a time while stirring, until well blended. (You may notice some thickening or curdling of the soap as you add it to the mixture. This is due to the acids (vinegar/lemon juice) mixing with the soap base and neutralizing or "cancelling" each other out. If this occurs, do not add the rest of the soap.)
  • Place mixture in a clean pump spray bottle, label and store in a dark cool place. Gently invert bottle to re-blend ingredients before each use.