Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Holiday Party Hints

Holiday Party Hints
Cleaning Tips
By Mary Findley copyright @2005

Ah the joys and wonders of the Holiday Season – The brightly decorated homes, warm spiced cider by an inviting fireplace, traditional family festivities, guests coming for the Yuletide party. Wait a minute did someone say guests and party in the same sentence? Oh my, it's getting late and nothing has been done yet about party planning let alone cleaning or preparing for family for the traditional gathering of the clan.  

All the preparation and cleaning must have been the scary things Scrooge dreamt at night. It may be late but Santa does not have sole rights to helpers nor is Rudolph the only one in town with a bright shiny light.  Here are a few holiday guidelines to ensure Scrooge gets a sound night's sleep while you borrow Santa's helpers who happen to have hidden flashlights.

Take Note:  Keep a pad handy to write down the extra items you'll need for a party or Christmas dinner. A second pad keeps a running tab of your "to do" list as they come to mind at three AM. Keep an extra pad in the car as well.

●Weeks before your party, enter each room where people will linger and look around with the eye of Sherlock Holmes. Find a cubby hole for any unnecessary item until after the New Year. The less left out, the less that needs cleaning or can get broken. Remember the fastest way to declutter a room is never leave that room empty handed. Take something with you then put it away. Toss or take to Goodwill any item that passed its usefulness.

Plan Ahead: As you plan for your party or holiday dinner, write down things that your guests can help prepare when they arrive. These might include taking coats, opening wine bottles, mixing drinks, emptying trash, keeping nut dishes filled, arranging fruit, vegetable or cheese platters. Keep the list posted so when guests ask to help, it is easy to refer them to the list. Ask them to mark it off the list once they finish. No more last hour kitchen mayhem directing people on how they can help. Save this list on your computer for other parties as well.

● Carry a clean 1 ½ inch paint brush in your back pocket while you are decorating your home for the holidays. It is within easy reach to whisk away cobwebs around lamps, door hinges or other area we all miss during our regular cleaning. Tuck a barely damp cloth into your other back pocket to wipe down baseboards as you move furniture making room for holiday decorations.

● Purchase additional plastic tablecloths if you have small children or pets coming for visits. Turn them soft side up and place a towel on top of the tablecloth on a bed or sofa where the pets or young children might sleep. The towel catches any accident while the plastic protects the bed, chair or couch. Then place the table cloth under the small fry during meal time to prevent carpet stains. Turn them into a place for children's activities either on a table or the floor to prevent stains, scratches and confine the toys.  

Speed cleaning PhD:

● Let the phone ring

● Put on some fast bouncy music

● Hold off that latte as a reward for getting the cleaning finished not for getting it started.

● Ignore the advice you often read to do laundry etc as you clean – what are they nuts? Your goal is to pick up speed while you are cleaning. Every time you stop what you are doing you loose that speed and it takes 10 minutes to get going again.

● Tuck all your cleaners in a tote tray. Forget the cleaning aprons. They are trouble waiting to happen. Put clean rags in one plastic bag and carry a second for used rags. Then carry a trash bag to discard trash. Gather everything you need before you start. Remember don't stop keep moving.

● Turn your house cleaning into an aerobic exercise. Nearly everything, except vacuuming, is a matter of speed. Get both hands working - one moves objects as the other cleans. Move fast enough to get your heart rate up and put a sweat on your brow. You will love the time savings and your body will love you!

Tricks of the trade include:

● Quickly remove water ring marks in toilets with our Erase It for Bathrooms without scratching the bowl like a pumice stone. Then back the water out of the toilet and dry the bowl. Spray the bowl with our Advantage waterless car wash, wipe it to cover the entire bowl and go clean the shower. Wipe the toilet with a dry towel and allow the water to flow back in. Advantage contains polymers, which makes surfaces slick so "things" don't stick. Oh is post party cleanup a breeze. Then treat your Corian countertops with Advantage as well to add luster and help prevent stains.

● Get rid of all leftovers in the refrigerator, clean the refrigerator tossing any bottle that has not been used for six months.  

Preventive cures:  

● If you burn candles, place them up high or in areas where people won't move them and never place them close to flammable objects or where a child or pet might knock them over. 100% soy candles are best to burn. They emit very little smoke and most do not contain lead wicks. A 16 oz soy candle will burn for 30 to 40 hours. If you light candles at a table or for a special ceremony, make certain the surface is well protected.  

● You might want to decorate window sills to prevent guests from placing glasses on the sills otherwise place three or four coasters and napkins on the sills as well as around all rooms that will be used.

● Remove any antique or valuable furniture. Prevention is wise for any party.

● Replace end tables with folding tray tables setting one or two extra in each room along with a decorative trash can.

● Cover coffee tables first with plastic then a holiday table cloth followed by decorations and snacks if you serve them in that room. Never serve nuts that must be cracked open or snacks that have toothpicks. Both are deadly to carpet and require hours of extra cleaning labor.

● It is permissible to ask guests to remove their shoes before entering your home especially if you live in a rainy or snowy area. One friend had everyone bring colorful Christmas socks to wear. It was a riot with everyone in their holiday dress.

● Allow any mud to dry that does find its way onto your carpet then vacuum it.

Keep it handy:  

● Our Ion-A-Clean, a patented, ionized water that is a remarkable stain remover. Most stains can merely be sprayed and left alone. Ion-A-Clean surrounds both the stain and the carpet fibers negatively charging both surfaces. The stain then releases from the carpet and an hour later or after guests leave is quickly blotted to remove the stain. It does not need to be rinsed.  It works quite well on red wine stains without leaving the sticky residue that white wine or seltzer water leaves behind both of which are more difficult to remove than the red wine and damage carpet fibers.

● Along with the Ion-A-Clean have several dry towels and damp towels ready to tackle those spills. Keep a few dry towels inside a cabinet front if possible in every room where guests will linger. The faster you attend to a stain the less damage the stain will cause.

● Resist the temptation to serve colored punch drinks. If you do keep a spray bottle filled with a 50/50 solution of hydrogen peroxide to water. Immediately spray the spot with the solution. Wait 15 to 20 minutes then blot with a 50/50 solution of white vinegar to water.

● Dampen a towel placing it and a mop just outside the garage door. A towel is much faster to use than any other mop to quickly remove spills from floors.

● Keep a bottle of Bac-Out or Nature's Miracle found at pet stores, close at hand for spills on flooring with grout. Detergents cannot be used on any stone floor. The enzymes in either product "eat" bacteria and will not damage stone flooring.

● A small cordless vacuum comes in quite handy and should be close at hand as well as a pair of pliers and a screw driver with all four heads tucked into the handle. Keep these and a pair of scissors in a kitchen drawer.  

● Copy motels and tuck one or two extra trash bag at the bottom of a trash container before placing the trash bag inside. This prevents rushing around finding replacements when the container needs emptying.

Be sure to watch for Mary's book "The Complete Idiots Guide to Cleaning" coming to her website and bookstores Jan, 2006.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

With the snowy weather settling around already, there are a few winter tips for making life a bit easier. All of you in the southern states can retreat to the patio and bask in the 75º sun with you glass of ice tea. The rest of us are cuddled up around the fireplace in warm blankets.

Speaking of fireplaces have you cleaned the chimney yet? A quick way to clean the glass fronts of a wood burning stove is to carefully scrape it with a single edge razor blade making sure to put plastic down on the floor to prevent stains. Then use our Bi-O-Kleen and Red Scrubbie Pad to remove the rest. Wipe on the Bi-O-Kleen concentrated, wait 30 to 45 minutes then scrub with a dampened Red Scrubbie Pad.

I receive quite a few emails asking for easy ways to clean and dry a dog's feet after he comes inside from the wet, snowy outdoors. Place an old towel on the floor. Then grab a good sturdy bowl adding a small squirt of our Liquid Dish Soap. Fill the bowl part way with warm but not hot water. Your pet will love the warmth on their cold feet. The dish soap, which is safe for pets because it does not contain the usual harmful chemicals of other dish soaps, removes the mud and caked on snow. Then dry with the towel.

The best prevention for winter time blues is to kick your shoes off at the front door! Do this year round to save wear and tear and cleaning bills on your carpet. Yes it is a hard habit to adapt. People who have made the switch have written back with buckets of gratitude. It's worth the effort and will save hours of agony removing carpet stains. The best product I have ever used for cleaning stains is our Ion-A-Clean and that is why I sell it. It is also is wonderful for people with chemical sensitivities. It is an all purpose cleaner as well yet contains no chemicals or harsh cleaners.

Save on your heating bills this winter by keeping the blinds closed in rooms that you don't use often like formal living rooms, dining rooms or bedrooms. The cold air draws the heat out of your home.

This article may only be reprinted giving full credit to Mary Findley and her website at http://www.goclean.com. Copyright @2005 All rights reserved worldwide.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Time is tight, cookies need baking, kids demand attention and your home screams for a thorough cleaning. Where do you start? Make a list and check it twice. Write down your holiday activities including what needs to be baked, cleaned, rearranged, disguarded or ignored. Remember that commitment you silently made to spend more time with your family this holiday season? A good hard look at your list quickly reveals what you can eliminate to free your time this holiday season.

A list also helps prevent those last minute "I forgot to wash the tablecloth" catastrophes. Check off each chore as you complete it. A computer spreadsheet program allows you to quickly rearrange that schedule so priorities or do ahead projects make the top ten. Keep the master copy to use again next year and work from a second copy.

Starting mid November make double meals twice a week. It only takes a few extra minutes to throw together 2 meatloaves or double a casserole or favorite chili recipe. Freeze the second meal for a homemade "fast food" meal. It's faster and healthier than heading to the local drive through.

Now comes the tough but essential part to give you added time during the holidays. Make a commitment to run errands nor more than twice a week. It takes at least 30 to 40 minutes just driving to and from a store. Keep spare rolls of tape, paper, glue, screwdrivers and pliers within easy reach.

This is the time to multitask: if you go to the garage take a load of laundry. When you head out to the store, take out the garbage. Get three days worth of dinner out of the freezer in the garage. Pay attention to the trips you make and do double duty. You'll save a couple hours a week simply by combing trips around your home.

It is impossible to speed clean a cluttered home. Put on some calypso music and start decluttering. Fast moving music takes the burden out of this job. Besides you'll find yourself dancing to the beat and the exercise is wonderful! Small children love to dance so let their imagine run free. Get the entire family involved in decluttering. If the kids want holiday cookies they need to pick up after themselves then let them help.

If you serve finger food rather than a sit down dinner, purchase good sturdy, oversized plates so your guests have plenty of room to place napkins, silverware and their glass on the plate while they walk to a chair. A sturdier plate balances better in a lap as well. Think twice about serving things like chips, popcorn or things that crumble like crackers or cookies. Not only do they leave grease stains in fabric, but they are often dropped and crushed into the carpeting or hard flooring and they find their way into the crevices in furniture, all of which can take hours to clean.

Place extra coasters along window sills etc where people linger to talk and often put down a glass. Keep a look out for glasses left behind and pick them up quickly to prevent spills. Use burning candles sparingly perhaps on the buffet or main dinner table only. Extinguish them right after dinner. Fires often start because a candle is moved during the evening and placed close to a flammable item.

After guests leave, straighten up before retiring for the night. You will spot any stain that might have been missed. Our Ion-A-Clean can be sprayed on a stain and left until the next day. Ion-A-Clean is ionized water and will not cause damage to any surface. The negatively charged ions "peel" away the stain from the fabric making removal easy.

You are welcome to download my free stain removal guide. It does come in handy all year long and especially during the holiday season.

Buy a large size carpet sample to place at your front door. Carpet does a great job cleaning the bottom of shoes. Then put a non rubber backed throw rug just inside the door to catch what the carpet sample missed. Rubber backed throw rugs leave yellow stains on surfaces especially when they get wet. Make sure the throw rug is light in color. Otherwise the dye will seep into your carpet. Hold the throw rug in place with non skid padding you find in most department stores. It should not yellow like the rubbed backing on rugs.

Speed clean your home like a pro: That cup of coffee can wait. You don't have to answer the phone unless you are expecting a call and it won't hurt a thing if the mail gets left in the box for another hour. Stay focused when you clean. You pick up speed while cleaning. Stop to do laundry and you just lost 15 minutes regaining your speed, if you can even do that at all.

Next take a serious walk around your home. If a room isn't to be used during the holidays, thoroughly clean it early in the season then shut the door. It will keep clean for a month until the hustle and bustle pass. Each evening after dinner clean one kitchen counter top, a shelf in the refrigerator, the microwave etc. Go through your refrigerator before the holidays and get rid of anything that has sprouted legs and is doing the two step by the light of a 20 watt bulb.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Holiday Cheer
By Mary Findley copyright@2005 all rights reserved

Please be careful this holiday season of candles. Many contain lead, which emits toxins in your home. The black smoke also plays havoc on walls, which takes hours to clean. All too often I receive an email from someone whose home has received fire damage from a candle sitting too close to a lamp shade, fabric furniture or placed on a holder attached to the wall. Please take extra caution where and how you burn candles. If children of any age are present, keep lit and unlit candles out of their reach.

Look for lead free and smokeless candles. Soy candles are my favorite. They have a long burn time, light scent and don't leave black soot on anything. They are more expensive but your lungs will thank you and if means spending 3 or 4 less hours cleaning walls, your arms will also thank you!

Place a holder under all candles. Candles sweat whether they are burning or not. The dye from the candles stains whatever surface they sit upon, especially wood and it does not come out.

When company comes for dinner or a social gathering, avoid serving foods and particularly drinks with red, purple or orange coloring. For a complete stain removal guide head to www.goclean.com and print out my free stain removal guide.

Here are a few handy tips for holiday parties. Store a dampened mop just outside the door going to your garage. If a spill happens it is ready to clean the spill. Keep a few terry towels in a plastic bag under the sink along with a spray bottle of your all purpose cleaner, a bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide to remove red dye stains (not everyone heeds my warnings,) your liquid dish soap for greasy food stains and foaming shaving cream for most other food stains.

Next have a bottle of seltzer water handy if you serve red wine. Make sure guests use saucers for coffee cups and hand them a large napkin with each glass of wine. Be sure to keep coasters handy on all tables and surfaces and see to it they are used.

It is perfectly fine to ask guests to remove their shoes at the door. Do let them know ahead of time. The mud, slush and so forth carried in on shoes plays havoc on carpeting. The heels of shoes leave scratches in wood floors. Place a neutral colored throw rug just inside the door for shoes. Any color in a rug will transfer to the carpet or linoleum flooring.

If you are expecting small children or guests with pets purchase several plastic table cloths. Turn one upside down on a bed or sofa where the little ones or pets might rest. Then place a terry towel on top of the table cloth. The towel catches any "accidents" and the table cloth prevents the liquid from saturating bedding or furniture. Then place one underneath children's chairs at a meal. Shake the table cloth outside after a meal, the birds will love the leftovers, wipe clean and return to your guests within seconds without the worry of stained carpet.

Look for Mary's book "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cleaning" coming to bookstores in Jan, 2005

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Along with the beauty of the fall colors, comes a yearly winterizing check of your home. Make certain your list includes cleaning and checking the following:


*Fireplaces and wood stoves and pipes

*Furnace filters and ducts (cleaning air ducts is best left to the professionals and is necessary once a year)

*Drain lawnmowers, replace spark plugs etc

*Check car tires, belts, plugs, radiator fluids etc. Make sure your chains are ready and you have a good ice scraper handy.

*Use an augur, drain cleaner or call a plumber to clear your drains before they clog. Winter is a terrible time for overflow problems. It's colder and takes longer for water to dry if a drain overflows giving mold and mildew time to cause structural problems.

*Wash or dry clean stored blankets, bedding, coats and sweaters before you need them.

*Dispose of any and all old paint, varnishes etc. Be sure the cans you do keep are stored away from sources of heat along with any flammable material.

*Check your home for any cracks that might need sealing. Clean windows and framing making sure the drain holes are unplugged.

*Trim bushes back away from the house so they don't hold in the moisture. This helps reduce mold and mildew growth next spring and gives your foundation that breathing space it needs.

*Replace smoke detector batteries.

*Have your fire extinguisher checked to make sure it is working. Do you have the right fire extinguisher? There is a difference. Do you have one conveniently located in each part of your home and not tucked away at the back of a closet?

*Clean outdoor grills. Properly store propane gas.

*Toss out old candles. Replace them with soy candles that burn with very little smoke. Look for ones that burn with natural, not lead, wicks. Your lungs and arms will love you for it. It takes a lot of elbow grease removing soot stains from walls. Breathing that smoke and lead can be a killer – literally.

*Look for natural cleaning products to clean your home. The toxic buildup of chemicals fumes cause a multitude of health problems. This worsens during the winter when windows and doors remain shut. Homes are built to be air tight. They don't let cold air in or fumes out. If you are suffering from headaches, asthma or other health problems it could be caused from the chemicals you use.

*Winter is especially hard on leather, vinyl and wood furniture. The heat from fireplaces and furnaces dries and cracks them. Clean and condition all your furniture.

Reprinted from "Mary Moppins" a free ezine featuring tips, tricks and tools for cleaning just about anything. This article may be reprinted only with proper credit given to Mary Findley, owner of Mary Moppins at http://www.goclean.com/