Our Long Island maids provide the greenest home and commercial cleaning throughout the Hamptons, Suffolk and Nassau Counties.

Archive for Back to School Tips

Create your own Chemical Free Cleaning Kit for your college bound kid

DIY Chemical Free Cleaning Kit

Are you sending your “baby” off to college this year? If so, you have probably gone (or will be) shopping for all the dorm must-haves that have been advertised like crazy since July. You have the Hello Kitty lamp and the beanbag chair all ready to send off with your college student but have you considered what  your son or daughter will be using to keep their dorm room or apartment clean? I know it is easy to just run to the store and grab any old bottle of chemicals but  wouldn’t it be a wonderful gift to teach your child how to clean the non-toxic way? Not only will you be keeping them healthy, you will save money in the long run! You can even make this non-toxic cleaning kit as a thoughtful housewarming gift to someone who is just starting out or if you want to help someone who is overcoming a serious illness such as cancer* and needs to eliminate hazardous chemicals from their cleaning routine.

We can build a very complex kit with specialized non-toxic cleaners but today we will stick to the basics and keep it simple to start. Once you get started you will not want to stop! The first thing you want to is view the shopping list below and pick up are your containers, brushes, cloths, etc. What you purchase and how many of each item needed will be up to you and how extensive you would like the kit to be. The beauty of this kit is that it is fully customizable to all budgets and can be as simple or as grande as you make it to be!

  • Spray Bottles
  • Glass Jars with lids
  • Cheese Shaker (for baking soda)
  • Microfiber Cloths
  • Shower Caddy or similar carrying case that can be cleaned
  • Sponges
  • Pumice Stone (use to remove stubborn stains from the inside the toilet bowl)
  • Old toothbrushes
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Foaming Soap Dispenser
  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Salt in a shaker bottle
  • Lemon Juice
  • Borax
  • Tea Tree Oil (found in health food stores)
  • Castile Soap (found in health food stores. Please note: do not mix with anything containing vinegar as the two cancel each other out)
  • Peroxide (in the brown bottle found in drug stores)
  • Liquid Detergent (look for a green one free of phosphates and  nonylphenol ethoxylates)
  • Vegetable Glycerin (found in health food stores)

For  basic cleaning you can simply make a vinegar solution of  1 part vinegar to 2 parts water and use on any non-porous surface. Avoid using vinegar on porous materials like marble as it may pit the surface. Always test your products on an inconspicuous area first before using. For stained or greasy areas and soap scum, sprinkle baking soda on your non-porous countertops, sinks and bathtubs and spray  your simple vinegar solution right on top until you see bubbles. Let it sit for a few minutes and then clean area with a damp microfiber cloth or sponge until all traces of baking soda are gone.  For stubborn areas, repeat process and add a sprinkle or two of salt to baking soda and scrub.No rinsing is necessary!

I actually keep a bottle of vinegar solution in every bathroom for quick cleanups (I have two boys in the midst of potty training and I don’t have to tell you what a mess that can be!) Using only vinegar and homemade cleaning products ensures that I don’t have to worry about chemicals touching sensitive tushies! I also keep a bottle of my vinegar/water solution right by the sink to clean my countertops, disinfect the sink and cutting boards and even use it to clean my fruit and veggies. Just spray on food and rinse well. Please do not re-use an old spray bottle that once contained chemicals if you are going to use this solution on food. 

While baking soda and vinegar work great for most household jobs, sometimes you need a bit more to attack those stubborn stains and deep clean. I have compiled some recipes that will be used for specific areas of the home that might have special needs.

Multipurpose Cleaner:
1/2 cup peroxide (the regular kind in a brown bottle)
1/2 cup  water
1/2 teaspoon castile soap
Mix ingredients in spray bottle, use for cleaning floors, dusting furniture, cleaning toilets and other hard surfaces. This is also a powerful stain cutter and odor pet neutralizer. Make sure to test on an inconspicuous spot before using over a large area of your furniture or carpet. I spray my furniture and carpet without issue, but all fabrics are different. The Sal Suds will cut grease better than a regular castile soap will, that makes it perfect for cleaning windows.

Creamy Soft Scrub:
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. Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin to the mixture and store in a sealed glass jar. This will keep the product moist. If you cannot find the glycerin, they can make the mixture as needed.

Mold and Mildew Spray
2 teaspoons tea tree oil
2 cups water
Combine in a spray bottle, shake to blend, and spray on problem areas. Do not rinse. The strong odor will  dissipate over time. This recipe makes two cups. The tea tree oil is costly but works really well and will last a long time.

Toilet Bowl Cleaners
I have listed three different recipes here because I like choices and I think if you make something that will work best for you, chances are you will use it more. The first recipe is a great method to clean a non-stained toilet and keep it clean. The 2nd and 3rd recipes are good for toilets that need a deeper cleaning.

Vinegar and Baking Soda
1 cup vinegar
1/2 cup baking soda
Pour the vinegar into the toilet bowl and let it sit for at least 30 minute. When complete, dip your brush in the toilet and sprinkle some baking soda onto the brush. Scour the inside of the toilet with the brush until the all baking soda is gone. Repeat as necessary.

Borax and Lemon Juice
1 cup of Borax
1/2 cup of lemon juic
Pour 1 cup of Borax into a small bowl then add 1/2 cup of lemon juice over the Borax and gently stir with a spoon into a paste. Flush the toilet to wet the sides, then rub the paste onto the toilet with a sponge (you might want to wear rubber gloves just to stay clean). Let it sit for 2 hours before scrubbing thoroughly. This is great for removing a stubborn stain, like a toilet bowl ring.

Borax and Vinegar
1 cup of Borax
1/2 cup of vinegar
Flush the toilet to wet the sides of the bowl then sprinkle a cup of Borax around the rim and sides of toilet. Spray 1/2 cup of vinegar over the Borax and allow to sit for several hours or overnight. Scrub thoroughly with a toilet brush until the bowl gleams.Sometimes, hard water just leaves a stubborn ring that no amount of scrubbing or rubbing can eliminate. Use the pumice stone at this point  and rub lightly on the stain.

Window Cleaner
1/4-1/2 teaspoon liquid detergent
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups water
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.

Foaming Soap
This is so easy and inexpensive you wont believe how you managed this long without it! All you need is a foaming dispenser (mine are saved from soap I purchased…once), castile soap and water. Slowly pour castile soap into your empty foaming soap dispenser until there is approx 3/4 to 1 inch of soap on the bottom. The amount of soap will vary depending on the shape of your container so you might have to experiment with the soap amounts. Start at the least amount and add as necessary. After the soap, SLOWLY fill the rest of the dispenser with water, cap and SLOWLY swirl the mixture for about a minute until mixed thoroughly. DO NOT SHAKE! Once mixed, try it out and see if you like how soapy it is. Castile soap is highly concentrated so a little goes a long way.

*If you know someone who is undergoing treatment for cancer and other serious illnesses Cleaning Angels USA would like to help. Cleaning Angels USA  was founded on the belief that returning home to a clean environment helps reduce stress and enhance the recovery process for critically ill patients, while removing the responsibility of home cleaning from their families and caregivers. Our mission is to make home cleaning available, free of charge, to those individuals undergoing treatment for cancer and other serious illnesses.  Teresa’s Family Cleaning services are  chemical free and are ideal for those who are medically fragile and anybody who wants a clean home without sacrificing their health. Give us a call, we’d love to tell you all about what we do!

 

 

 

5 Non-Toxic Back to School Tips

It’s Back to School time!

My son starts kindergarten in a few weeks and I am in the midst of collecting the last few items of the loooong list of school supplies requested. As I shopped for his crayons, glue sticks (btw, kindergarteners use ALOT of glue…I have to send in 20 sticks and 4 four bottles…yikes!) etc. It got me thinking about how many toxic substances he will be exposed to outside of my home now that he is in school most of the day.

Since he was born, I have slowly removed many toxic chemicals out of my home as I have discovered safer, green products I can make at home (saving me a ton of money) Now that he will be at school for a large portion of the day, I want to minimize his exposure to chemicals as much as I can. This can be a daunting task but can be done in small steps and over time so lets start with a few for now. Sound good? Ok, here are a few basics to start with:

1. Safer beverage containers: Send your child to school with filtered water and other beverages in a reusable bottle made from BPA-free plastic, BPA-free aluminum or stainless steel, such as Klean Kanteen. Target and Toys R Us sell adorable stainless steel containers that will keep their drink cold for up to 12 ours without ice! These tend to be more expensive starting at $9.99 but they will last forever and you can buy replacement straws as they wear out.

2. Safer Lunch boxes:  Make sure your child’s lunch box is made from non-toxic materials without lead paint, PVC, BPA and antimicrobial chemicals. BPA-free plastic or unpainted stainless steel is best along with reusable plastic containers  marked with a #1, 2, 4 or 5  on the bottom. Here are some examples of safe lunchboxes. Once again, these might cost more but if you go with a stainless steel lunch box it will last forever!

3. Safer hygiene:  Encourage regular hand washing though out the day using hand soaps without triclosan, triclocarban or fragrance. If you send your child to school with a hand sanitizer choose one that contains ethanol (ethyl alcohol) without fragrance.

4. Safer school supplies:  PVC, is found in many school supplies, including plastic lunchboxes, backpacks, and organizers and is linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and immune system damage. Avoid the number 3 recycling symbol, which signifies a PVC product and choose non-plastic products, organizers with wood or paper covers, and cardboard 3-ring binders. Skip scented markers and pens and opt for the plain old non-scented kind.  If it has a fragrance and you cannot ingest it, most likely there is a toxic chemical behind the scent. Phthalates are commonly found in fragrance, and are linked to reproductive malformations in baby boys, reduced fertility, developmental disorders, asthma, and increased allergic reactions.

5. Safer schools: Encourage your school to adopt Green Cleaning Practices. Not sure how to begin? As outlined here the first step is by starting a local group to work on issues together. The larger the the group, the louder the voice. Join your PTA and bring up your concerns at meetings. A great place to start is by discussing the elimination of toxic products and finding greener solutions to keep our kids schools clean and a non-toxic environment.

These tips are just a starting point but I hope they give you a boost towards making a difference in your children’s health. Once again, educating yourself on the issues is the key to making the healthiest decisions for your children.