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Favorite tips: Household cleaning products

June 2, 2013

At Expedite Group we are always assisting our concierge clients with product research.  If you’re as busy as I am, you may just be rolling around into spring cleaning now that the school year is wrapping up.

Here are a few of our favorite finds related to household chores to inform our loyal readers.  Thanks for visiting, and happy cleaning!

Spring Cleaning

1. What popular vacuum cleaner gets terrible reviews from Consumer Reports?

Dyson.  Yep, you can save your money.  The DC40 and DC24 earn just 45 and 44 out of 100, respectively, with mediocre performance on carpet and total airflow, not to mention noise.  The DC41 Animal does better, earning a 56 with at least 3/5 across scoring categories, but it also costs a cool $600.  And forget the DC26 City Multi floor.  For a price tag of $400 it earned a poor 31 with 0/5 for carpet performance.

I received a Dyson upright as a gift in 2009.  Its under furniture clearance is miserable (I have to detach tools to vacuum underneath a 15-inch-high coffee table?  Really?) and its bare floor performance is lacking.

Better bets: For a bagless upright, Hoover Windtunnel models cost less than $150 and earned scores of 69 (best score was a 70 for the $400 LG Kompressor), receiving Consumer Reports’ “Best Buy” title.  Eureka Airspeed earned a 66 and runs about $120.


2. A vacuum can’t clean stains, though.  What is the best carpet spot cleaner?

Spot Shot.  Occasionally I find coupons in the Sunday paper for this, but this product is not heavily advertised like its main competitors, Resolve and Woolite.  Why not?  Because its performance speaks for itself.   Whatever has gotten onto your carpets or upholstery, no matter how long ago it got there, this is the stuff that gets it out.  Look for the blue can with the orange cap alongside its more recognizable shelf mates.


3. But toxic cleaners scare me.  How can I make my own cleaning products?

Chemistry doesn’t have to involve toxic products.  Natural products contain the power to deodorize, sanitize, and polish your entire home.  Of all the sources out there, this one was the favorite for our testers and clients:

How to Make a Non-Toxic Cleaning Kit

Most modern synthetic cleaning products are based on age-old formulas using natural ingredients that were passed down through the generations because the chemistry was right. Going back to the original naturally derived ingredients is a way to make cleaning products that work, don’t pollute and save you money.

As an added bonus, ounce for ounce homemade cleaning formulas cost about one-tenth the price of their commercial counterparts, even with the costlier essential oil and concentrated, all-purpose detergents for homemade recipes.

Baking soda
Washing soda
White distilled vinegar
A good liquid soap or detergent
Tea tree oil
6 clean spray bottles
2 glass jars

Simply pour about 1/2 cup of baking soda into a bowl, and add enough liquid detergent to make a texture like frosting. Scoop the mixture onto a sponge, and wash the surface. This is the perfect recipe for cleaning the bathtub because it rinses easily and doesn’t leave grit.

Note: Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin to the mixture and store in a sealed glass jar, to keep the product moist. Otherwise just make as much as you need at a time.

1/4-1/2 teaspoon liquid detergent
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups water
Spray bottle

Put all the ingredients into a spray bottle, shake it up a bit, and use as you would a commercial brand. The soap in this recipe is important. It cuts the wax residue from the commercial brands you might have used in the past.

1 cup or more baking soda
A squirt or two of liquid detergent

Sprinkle water generously over the bottom of the oven, then cover the grime with enough baking soda that the surface is totally white. Sprinkle some more water over the top. Let the mixture set overnight. You can easily wipe up the grease the next morning because the grime will have loosened. When you have cleaned up the worst of the mess, dab a bit of liquid detergent or soap on a sponge, and wash the remaining residue from the oven. If this recipe doesn’t work for you, add more baking soda and water.
1/2 teaspoon washing soda
A dab of liquid soap
2 cups hot tap water

Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake until the washing soda has dissolved. Apply and wipe off with a sponge or rag.

1/2 teaspoon oil, such as olive (or jojoba, a liquid wax)
1/4 cup vinegar or fresh lemon juice
Mix the ingredients in a glass jar. Dab a soft rag into the solution and wipe onto wood surfaces. Cover the glass jar and store indefinitely.

Keep a clean spray bottle filled with straight 5 percent vinegar in your kitchen near your cutting board and in your bathroom and use them for cleaning. I often spray the vinegar on our cutting board before going to bed at night, and don’t even rinse but let it set overnight. The smell of vinegar dissipates within a few hours. Straight vinegar is also great for cleaning the toilet rim. Just spray it on and wipe off.


Tea Tree Treasure
Nothing natural works for mold and mildew as well as this spray. I’ve used it successfully on a moldy ceiling from a leaking roof, on a musty bureau, a musty rug, and a moldy shower curtain. Tea tree oil is expensive, but a little goes a very long way. Note that the smell of tea tree oil is very strong, but it will dissipate in a few days.

2 teaspoons tea tree oil
2 cups water

Combine in a spray bottle, shake to blend, and spray on problem areas. Do not rinse. Makes two cups.

Vinegar Spray
Straight vinegar reportedly kills 82 percent of mold. Pour some white distilled vinegar straight into a spray bottle, spray on the moldy area, and let set without rinsing if you can put up with the smell. It will dissipate in a few hours.



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