A great mix of elegance and functionality, stainless steel appliances are beautiful as long as you take care of those pesky little spots that appear over time. We have some useful advice for doing just that!
Stainless steel surfaces can be frustrating to clean, especially on infrequently used appliances like your dishwasher, fridge, microwave and oven. Although polish is a great finishing touch, it often leaves behind the spots.
To remove these spots, simply use a high quality glass cleaner or soapy water before polishing with stainless steel cleaner. The glass cleaner or soap removes stains caused by splashes and spills more effectively. Finish by wiping with a microfiber rag to leave your dishwasher, fridge, oven and microwave stain-free.
Is stainless steel worth all the trouble? Yes. The stainless steel sink demonstrates the material’s durability. Unlike white porcelain or plastic, stainless steel sinks retain their shine for years even after washing countless dishes, pots and pans.
Hard surfaces like pianos, natural stone and glass surfaces add beauty to our homes. Avoid mistakenly scratching or dulling these surfaces by cleaning too rigorously. Here are some tips so to help protect common surfaces.
Use a soft cloth to clean pianos, natural stone and glass.
A piano finish as well as other instruments and home decor are often made up of lacquer or polyester. Water or a small amount of Murphy’s oil soap is recommended for cleaning and polishing pianos. Always go with the grain, to prevent circular scrapes later on.
Natural stone doesn’t do well with all-purpose or acidic cleaners. The calcium carbonate deposits found in marble and stone react to acids, such as, vinegar and citrus. All-purpose cleaners are usually too alkaline. Especially for marble floors, dust with a microfiber mop often to prevent the sandpaper effect. Use a pH-balanced or pH neutral cleaner for special stone.
For glass shower doors use a bio cloth or sponge to scrub hard water stains. If using the rough end of the sponge, make certain it is clean or the doors may scratch.
The Science of Scratches
As a general rule for all three surfaces, use a clean cloth that has not been washed with dirty clothes. This ensures particles of dirt, ash or plant matter do not make their way into fibers. Particles lodged in the cloth from previous use may be made up of a harder stone than the surface being cleaned, damaging the softer surface.
With the help of a German mineralogist by the name of Moh, the “scratch test” serves as a frame of reference.The Moh Scale measures softness and hardness of surfaces.
My friend cooks the best homemade pizza from scratch using cast iron. She once pointed to her pan and told me, “cast iron is great because you never have to clean it.” She held up a pan that had been through the heating and reheating process far too many times. It was covered with crusty garlic, oil and spices. Here’s an easy way to refresh your favorite cast iron pan.
Heat up ⅓ cup of water in the pan.
Scrub with ½ cup of coarse sea salt using a kitchen towel.
Dry immediately with a clean kitchen towel.
Using flax seed is a great way to season the newly cleaned pan. Not only is it nutritious, it’s great for your heart. Grind it up and toss it on!
Quick Tip: If you’re ever in need of an egg when baking, consider using flax seed as a substitute. Combine 1 part flax seed with 3 parts water and then mix until it resembles a frothy egg.
As kids head back to school after the holiday break, take a moment to appreciate your school janitors who work hard day after day to keep classrooms and common areas clean.
We recognize and appreciate our janitors by highlighting 5 ways they contribute to a healthy learning environment.
While school kids are enjoying their summer vacation, janitors are working hard. They use this time to prepare for the new school year. Janitors are busy with maintenance including deep cleaning and refinishing floors.
Throughout the year, most students use their gym. Janitors sweep and mop every day, preparing for the next round of athletic events, concerts and assemblies.
1,000 students will track in 24 pounds of soil during a 3 week period. Janitors strategically position large matts in front of every building entrance to capture up to 40% of this massive amount of dirt before it spreads throughout the school.
Cleaning technology is continually changing. Using industry best practices ensures maximum germ removal and efficiency. Janitors clean cafeterias and hallway floors with microfiber cleaning cloths, removing 99.9% of germs and reducing cross contamination.
Properly maintained carpets can last up to 10 years longer. Janitors use powerful hot water extraction methods to restore classroom carpets, removing dirt from the day.
Cleanliness encourages learning through health and a more enjoyable atmosphere. Thanks to janitorial staff and all individuals who contribute to making our schools conducive to learning and growing!
With a damp rag wipe touch points. Focus on handles, sink faucets, door knobs, light switches, cabinets, sliding doors, keyboards, etc.
Wash your throw rugs and towels from your kitchen and bathroom. These are the main culprits in causing germs and odor in your bathroom. Remember the toilet cover and any rug covers on top of the toilet.
Shine and buff kitchen countertops with disinfectant. Germs are not allowed anywhere food is prepared or consumed!
When you service the vacuum cleaner, go outside with a trash bag so you don’t spread more dust and germs.
Cleaning your hardwood floor using the hardwood floor setting on your vacuum instead of sweeping. Sucking up the dust is better than spreading more of it around.
Old, centrally located churches become community centers for youth and families to meet for feast day celebrations, retreats and dancing. Many genres of dancing, like the waltz, salsa and contra involve stiletto heels or steel-toed boots pounding the floor.
Friction, metal and sand work their way into the finish, which creates wear and tear. Churches often get used 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
Preserving the church floor requires more than sweeping up dirt regularly. To keep the floor intact for many more years of community fun, have a professional recommend how often to have it resealed.
A vacuum is used hundreds of times over the course of the carpet lifetime. A well-designed machine should effectively pick up fine soils without tearing into the carpet fibers. High quality vacuums, especially for commercial use, are designed and tested to retain original texture.
2. HEPA Filter that Retains Soil
A HEPA filter (high-efficiency particulate air) is made up of fine mesh that traps tiny particles like pollen, dust and dander. Often found in air purifiers, it prevents air contamination so the machine cleans to the fullest extent. Third parties test vacuums to their standards. For example, in order to use the CRI Seal of Approval, they use a NASA-enhanced x-ray fluorescence technology to measure the amount of debris picked up.
3. Easy to Maintain
A well- designed and easy to maintain vacuum can be obtained for only a couple hundred dollars. Design that enables easy access to belt and brush roll, attachments and bag replacement are ideal. If its not easy to un-attach the hose to edge, it may not be done.
Pushing and pulling a vacuum that is heavy can cause back and shoulder problems. Light weight and easy to maneuver is best.
5. Power Cable in Compliance
Electronic products are sometimes built with harmful substances, such as lead, cadmium and mercury. If high amounts of lead are used for cable sheathing, the law requires consumers be informed.
Ultra Pro Vacuums
First Choice uses the Ultra-Pro MC-GG529 Panasonic Vacuum because the hose is designed for dusting ceilings to edging, the parts are easily maintained and the HEPA filter prevents recontamination. To learn more about this machine visit Panasonic.
The dishwasher needs basic maintenance a few times a year. Most people find this out after finding specks stuck to plates or residue in mugs. Like any appliance, gunk builds up over time, requiring dismantling of parts to get a deep clean.
You will need a headlamp, vinegar, dish soap, a tough sponge, a screwdriver and kabob sticks. First, remove everything from inside the dishwasher, including:
The drain is bolted down, so you may need to hunt down the correct tool to undo it from the bottom. This is when you will find what is causing problems. Take the kabob and begin chipping away at the big stuff; food scraps, silverware and soap scum may be hiding. Get in there with your headlamp! Next, scrub with the sponge and hot soapy water, getting all the cracks that still have residue around them.
Last, run the dishwasher on hot with one cup of vinegar instead of dishwasher soap. You also might want to check the racks and spinner to ensure they are working properly and wiped down if needed.
A clogged dryer can lead to an easily preventable fire. Therefore, dryer vent cleaning is incredibly important. Learn how to clean out the vent and lint screen below.
You will need soap, a face mask, vacuum (preferably shop vac), and a screwdriver or tool to loosen the clamp.
First, empty the lint screen from the dryer, pick off all lint possible and soak it in hot water. It is important to use water when cleaning the lint screen. It will get the fine particles that are flammable.
While the lint screen is soaking, unplug the dryer from both gas and electric power sources. Gain access to the vent and use a screwdriver to loosen the clamp from the vent.
Once the vent slides off, clean lint buildup immediately. Use a face mask if you are sensitive to air-born dust. Vacuum all nooks and dust bunnies inside. If the buildup is immense, find a long tool such as a dull-ended coat hanger. Be careful not to puncture the vent.
Thoroughly check the vent outside of the house to make sure there is no buildup there.
Go back to the lint screen and rub with gentle circles to get fine particles loose. Dry with a towel and set out to air dry as you reassemble the clamp, vent, etc.
When the lint screen is dry, put it back in. Run the dryer on air fluff for 10 minutes. This will allow the last of the loose particles to dislodge.
Your puppy’s actions can be as exciting and unpredictable as Christmas morning when she joined the family. To fully house train a puppy can take 4-6 months! In the meantime, taking care of the mess shouldn’t take away from enjoying that cute face.
Make sure to blot the area with your cleaning solution, don’t scrub. This protects the carpet fibers. Do this until the carpet is as dry as possible. Then repeat with your preferred solution or a warm, gentle soap and water solution.
For cleaning up dog poop do not use vinegar or ammonia. These substances smell similar to urine and could encourage more eliminating in that region.
Before using any solution, test carpet first. Mix a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, one tablespoon laundry soap and one tablespoon of baking soda. It should neutralize as well as get out the stain.
Read the manufacturer recommendation prior to spot cleaning. Mixed or bought, chemicals that are tough on stains may also take out some of the color in the carpet.
Helpful Carpet Cleaning Tips
Blood, food dyes, berries, chocolate, coffee.
Hydrogen Peroxide bleaches these stains without breaking down carpet dyes.Mix: Buy 3 percent solution at a drugstore and use full strength. Let sit. Avoid warm water.
Crayon, ink, makeup, tar, grease, oil and wax.
Rubbing alcohol is safer than other solvents.Warning: it will eat through carpet backing.
Toilet and drain cleaner, bleach, dye.
Call a professional to remove the stain or patch the carpet.
It’s that time. Making a new year’s resolution doesn’t have to be hard!
First, throw out your old products and buy a new caddy, gloves and great smelling, all-purpose cleaner. Here are some fun recommendations for what to include that you might not think of. A new cleaning kit can easily cost under $20 and it is exciting to use new products to spruce up the house.
Now, make a small goal that you will completely master. A healthy habit in one area often leads to another. Here a few sample new year’s resolutions that have potential to change the bigger picture as well .
If you are a Netflix 22-minute episode binge watcher, use one episode per week to clean or shine an item in the house. Another option is to do this while talking on the phone with a hands free device. This type of multitasking can even be a stress reliever, both through beautifying your home and catching up with old friends.
Think outside the box and incorporate cleaning into your daily rituals. Morning people and night owls alike, have a deeply embedded routine that is familiar. If an aspect of cleaning is not being taken care of, befriend it and invite it to have a place in the daily grind. If you are hyped and full of energy after the gym, this is the best time to throw a load in the laundry, unload the dishwasher and wash the floor before taking a shower. Call it a cool down.
Associate cleaning with something you value. If you have a child, see our Cleaning with Your Child post . If you have dogs, incorporate vacuuming into brushing their coat. If you enjoy doing tasks with others, invite a friend over for a glass of wine to talk about what your goals are. Friends are the best accountability partners and doing tasks together enriches life.
First Choice Cleaning Services is located in Wilmington, Delaware.
High use areas like the kitchen and bathrooms get dirty fast! Proteins in food, soap scum and general messes build up. Obstinate messes like scum, water stains, mold and heavy dust require strong cleaners.
Other areas of the house only need light dustings like the living room, bedrooms and home office.
Then there are areas and surfaces that require special treatment. Electronics, wood and leather surfaces are easier to maintain with proper care.
Knowing proper care is the key to easily cleaning all of these very different areas of the house. The pH scale is more then a scientific tool. It can be a helpful reference point when cleaning.
A Reference Tool
The pH scale is a great reference tool to ensure strong cleaners are used for tough areas and gentle cleaners are used on sensitive areas. Check out this resource and explore how a pH scale relates to cleaning products.
Where to Use Cleaners in Your Home
Below is a chart of general substances used in household cleaners, where they fall on the pH Scale, and what areas of the house they will be most effective .
Vinegar (2.8) Lemon (2.2)
Water (7) Coconut Oil (7.5)
Bleach (12.6) Ammonia (11.5) Baking Soda (8.4)
Toilet Bowl CleanerTub and Tile Cleaner
“Neutral Cleaners”or“PH Balanced”
All-Purpose CleanerLaundry DetergentHand Soap
What it Cleans
Improves functionality by removing buildup and debris.
Water is the universal solvent. It mixes with concentrated solutes to create a solution.
Removes protein, fats and oil buildup.
Where it Cleans
Calcium buildup in shower, clogged pipes and other mineral deposits.
Dampen a microfiber cloth for electronics, musical instruments, sensitive decor and soft stone.
Soap scum in the shower. Protein buildup in the kitchen.
The combination that will remove even the toughest stain:
These three keys to cleaning; heat, agitation and chemical energy, work together to loosen soil, stains, oil, grease, proteins and fat.
Combine for Results
Examples of these energies working together are in everyday house cleaning tasks.
When cleaning dishes, the dishwasher uses hot and pressurized water (heat and agitation) along with soap (chemical) to rid dishes of grease. In the washing machine, hot water is jostled by the wand, adding heat and agitation. Degreasers in the detergent provide chemical energy to break bonds between soil and clothing. When you shower the pressure and loofa, heat and soap make up the three keys that thoroughly wash the body.
Next time you come across a stain that just won’t budge, try combining heat and agitation with chemical energy. Use the following table for a quick reference guide.
Rubber Gloves Disposable Gloves
Hot water bucket
Grout Brush Scrub Brush
All-Purpose Terry Rags
Closed Toed Shoes
The Science of Chemical Energy
Degreasing structures known as surfactants consist of hydrocarbon chains that have two ends. One end is attracted to water, the other, grease. When washing clothes, surfactants in detergent interact with soiled clothing, pulling stains out of the clothing and into the water solution.
Everyone knows to be careful when using strong house cleaning chemicals like bleach, household lye and drain cleaner. It’s also important to properly handle seemingly gentle substances with care including vinegar, citrus and baking soda.
House cleaning products can be harmful if used improperly. Before using any cleaning product, read the label thoroughly for the proper intended use.
Vinegar, generally thought of as a great all-purpose, non-toxic cleaner, reacts dangerously with ammonia found in pet urine. This is an example of mixing a strong alkaline with a strong acid. Highly concentrated substances are often meant to be diluted in water, not mixed together.
Instead, soak the stained carpet with water and spot clean with a towel. After the urine is diluted, vinegar will be less toxic and can then be used safely.
Read all product labels for proper use
Label and date all homemade solutions
Safely store chemicals according to the original product label
A good house plant adds beauty and style to your living space. Some common house plants that fill our bathrooms, living rooms and common areas are variegated heartleaf, rubber tree, spider plant, split leaf, and ficus tree.
Plants are commonly forgotten when dusting and spring cleaning. However, they need to be cared for as much, if not more, than furniture and decor. Dust can limit the ability of plants to take in light and grow. This lessens the helpful role of plants in providing oxygen and beauty.
Research has shown spider plants are known to make the air less toxic. Take good care of your plant and it will give back!
A few simple ways to clean your plants:
use a microfiber to dust leaves (use a wet cotton cloth with warm water for rubber trees, a little bit of organic soap will help remove firm dust)
spray water on plant with a small spray bottle, then take a paper towel and let it absorb dust and water
Cleaning improves quality of life and makes the home safe and orderly.
Its important to make good decisions about what substances are used in the home. So that you aren’t stuck with cabinets packed full of random products that are overly priced, expired, or without labels. We have just the solution for you.
In our upcoming series we will answer common questions about household products and chemicals like; “What chemicals should I use?” and “Which surfaces do I use them on?”
We will discuss and reframe chemical use, safely storing and mixing solutions, and of course, make recommendations for your cleaning cabinet.
If you’ve ever been unsure what chemicals to use on certain surfaces in your house, stay tuned!
High-touch surfaces in your home and workspaces are covered with germs. Targeted cleaning on a regular basis goes a long way to reduce contamination from sticky little fingers and regular handling.
Research conducted in healthcare facilities, particularly susceptible to the spread of disease, recommends disinfecting surface areas as a primary way to combat the spread of disease.
Studies have shown that contaminated surfaces in healthcare facilities contribute to the transmission of infectious pathogens and that the cleaning and disinfection of these high-touch surfaces can be greatly improved.
Particular attention should also be paid to surfaces in homes and businesses. Pay particular attention to the following problem areas:
Microorganisms are often transferred between high-touch surfaces on hands, making regular hand washing just as important as disinfecting surfaces. In our recent blog post: Washing Hands Starts at Home, we listed tips to encourage regular hand washing.
How fast contamination spreads via surfaces depends on how the building is used, what type of organisms thrive in the climate, the type of surface, and how many people are in the space. Some microorganisms die out quickly while others live for weeks, it just depends.
Having a comprehensive cleaning plan allows prevention and peace of mind. Make sure to focus on highly touched surfaces and use appropriate cleaning solution to drastically decrease the to spread of disease.
Teaching children effective hand washing begins at home. Here are some tips to encourage healthy habits for everyone.
Make your wash basin an inviting space. People will be more likely to stop and clean their hand instead of hurrying past. Non-porous, sleek sinks are best for maintaining a clean look as well as actual sanitation.
Invest in hand soap that leaves hands feeling and smelling great. Industrial options might do the job but making a chore pleasurable will encourage a more thorough clean.
Last, make your bathroom is a well-lit space, where people can see faces in the mirror and hands in the sink. When dirt under nails and on hands is visible, a more intensive cleaning is more likely and ultimately more satisfying!
What is the type of finish on your hardwood floor? Here are some options:
Every finish has specific care requirements. Here’re some considerations and general treatment tips to get you started.
Test your wood floor to see how fast it absorbs water. This will gauge how worn the seal has become and how you should treat it.
An easy method for cleaning modern, sealed floors is a steam cleaner such as a Sharc, Monster, or Eureka brands. A steamer will sanitize the floor without using chemicals, is maneuverable, and covers a large area in little time.
Gentle cleaning methods are required depending on the type of authentic wood floors and modern seals. For example, a common flooring that should not be steam cleaned is Pergo. Although a resilient floor, it is not sealed and should be mopped using a Swiffer, bona mop, or damp micro-fiber sweeper.
Maintenance cleaning and restoring wood through treatment is the key to preserving the wood year after year.
In the summer heat, fans are a welcome relief but kick up dust and pollen that has been laying dormant all through winter and spring.
Do you wonder where all your dust comes from? Household dust is often made up of paper products, lint, skin cells, insects, and other organic material. While fans cool they also create a tornado of potentially harmful particles.
A couple simple steps go a long way to reduce the dust in your home. Use a high quality microfiber rag and possibly a dusting product like Pledge. Use a hand held vacuum to help reach the corners. Open curtains and turn on all the lights while cleaning to expose dust that is otherwise hidden.
Pay special attention to high surfaces: exposed cabinet tops, beams and ceiling fans. We recommend dusting decor as well, and even plants like the rubber tree!
Make your house more beautiful and teach your child a life skill with this little trick.
First, get a few terry cloths and two spray bottles. Have glass cleaner in one, and pure water or glass cleaner (depending on your child’s age) in the other.
Then ask your child, niece, or nephew, if they want to play a game.
With glass cleaner in hand, ask how many shiny things can be wiped off so their reflection can be seen.
The faucets, towel hangers, coat hangers, the tea kettle. Glass tables count. Whatever is shiny is fair game. See what funny shapes and sizes your child’s reflection becomes depending on the object being cleaned. It can be a delightful activity.
When the mold starts growing a small civilization in the bathroom corner, it is time for spring cleaning. Distilled white vinegar is an eco-friendly, tough, but gentle solution. Most appliances or spaces in your home that endure heavy use can be conquered by vinegar. The acidity is tough on mold, stains, plastic, chrome and metals, while safe enough to consume!
Vinegar fights the mineral build up on things you use almost daily.
dish and shower drains
Use vinegar on all these areas and appliances, giving your home a truly deep, seasonal cleaning.
Disclaimer: Don’t use vinegar on wax, porous surfaces, cast iron or with bleach. It’s a strong acidic cleaner but not a catch-all.