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Green Laundry

March 28, 2014 picture of laundry

Can't find or decide upon a consistently reliable laundry detergent at your local supermarket?

Domestic cleaning is more fun without the presence of artificial scent detergents, especially when such fragrances can start to dominate smaller areas. As pleasant as they might be initially, they can affect fresh air circulation, especially following a wash with too generous an amount applied. Instead, next time you're at your local supermarket, purchase the largest possible bottle of lemon juice. You may have to go to a particularly large supermarket in order to find a large enough helping of lemon juice under one lid, but anything around the 443 ml mark is good. Buying more will save you trips to the supermarket while your dollar will be put to good use over time when you apply the following method across each wash.

1 - Separate your colours from whites As per usual, go about making two separate piles across coloured clothing and whites. The application techniques that follow vary slightly across the two categories.

2 - Dilute the lemon juice To help neutralise the citric acid from the lemon juice, simply apply two cap-fulls of room temperature water with every one cap-full of lemon juice - so you operate from a 2/1 ratio. Don't exceed this ratio however in favour of water dilution as you will compromise the potency of the lemon juice. This will also mean you save money since your bottle of squeezed lemon juice will last longer.

3 - Wash colours first Open your washing machine's pull out tray and apply the 2/1 ratio across the respective slots. Proceed to set your washing machine to your preferred settings, only don't use water of high temperatures as it will again compromise the effectiveness of the lemon juice as an abrasive cleaning agent.

4 - Rinse washing machine out Once your colours wash has finished, remove the clothes and place them in your designated in-transit laundry tray or basket. Before you do anything else, maximise time by setting your now empty washing machine to rinse mode. This shouldn't take any longer than 40 minutes, so be sure to set the correct mode necessary in flushing away any residual dye left from the colours.

5 - Hang colours to dry indoors While it pays to dry all clothes in sunlight, direct outdoor exposure to ultra-violet rays can cause your colours to fade. This is where you'll use your window's glass as a type of shield. Most standard windows are thick enough to protect your clothes from the sheer potency of UV rays so they are out of harm's way. Not convinced? Simply think of how humans sitting indoors against a sun-filled window don't get sunburnt. The science is the same here.

6 - Wash whites Repeat steps 1-5 with whites, only make two exceptions: firstly, add a sprinkle of salt to each slot of your tray in step 3, while doing the opposite of step 5 in this time hanging whites outdoors in order to take full advantage of the sun's brightening capacity.

Finally, it's important to realise the science behind adding the salt to whites only - in short, it speeds up dissolution since it's a chloride, so your white wash will benefit from quicker, and therefore more broad, distribution of lemon juice. The reason salt isn't applied to colours however is because it can stain. Take the example of salt stained shoes, following attempts at salt cleaning, and you will see.

Another useful and organic approach to home cleaning, make the most of those toxin-flushing properties found in lemons. If you're not convinced by the above, use lemon juice on pancakes tomorrow morning before realising how good you feel in the days immediately afterwards. Your clothes are no different, so look after them.

Office Cleaning: Environmental Awareness

March 28, 2014

pic of wrong person doing the cleaning

Many businesses these days are trying to reduce their impact on the environment. With the state of modern ecology, and growing concerns about global warming, it is now more important than ever to think about the environment in all walks of life. This includes your business, and trying to find more environmentally friendly ways in which to enjoy a clean office are increasingly important. As such, take the time to follow the below steps and prepare to do your utmost in order to ensure that not only is your office clean, but that you are doing your best to help the planet.

The most obvious way people begin to become more environmentally conscious is via recycling. With so many options for recycling now available to wider society, there is no reason for you not to incorporate this into your office cleaning regime. By splitting waste into designated categories, you van allow for the impact of plastic packaging to be minimised and for any metal cans to be recycled. There is a great deal of information available from the government and charitable companies in order to ensure that you can educate the workplace and help drive an office-wide move to towards a more conscious approach to cleaning. Rather than having one big bin for general waste, splitting your items into designated receptacles can be hugely helpful. Many cleaning companies are now able to incorporate environmental concerns and issues into their service, so make sure that any cleaning company you hire is able to provide the right recycling services to suit you and the environment.

One of the biggest impacts you can have when it comes to office cleaning and the environment relates to the chemicals which you use to do your cleaning. In an office space, very little attention is paid to the particulars and the manner of the cleaning chemicals used. This can often see damaging bleach products poured into the wrong places or used in inappropriate areas. Not only are these kinds of chemicals more harmful to the environment and those around them, but their misuse can often be a huge concern. By supplying a number of industrial grade cleaners to those who might not have the training to use them properly, many workplaces find that these destructive chemicals are used incorrectly and can lead to an even greater environmental impact than might have been expected. As such, make sure to leave any complicated chemical and cleaning procedures to designated experts in order to ensure that every chemical (if it does have to be used) is used correctly.

One of the less obvious options available to business who wish to become more aware of their impact on the planet can relate to their employees productivity. When you try to cut corners by leaving office cleaning up to staff members, it can often result not only in the misuse of harmful chemicals, but in those employees becoming less efficient. If your business is to thrive, increasing productivity and efficiency is often one of the key concerns. As such, it often pays to ensure that employees are conducting the business which they are best at. Whilst it may seem counter intuitive to hire a professional cleaner to save money, it can often mean that cleaning chores are accomplished in a quicker and easier fashion, with less waste and less distraction. This is not only of a benefit to the environment, but to your business as well. If you are looking of ways to reduce your carbon footprint and impact on your planet, whilst at the same time improving your business, hiring the right help might just be what you have been looking for.

Know somebody with Cancer?

May 20, 2013

Do you know somebody who has cancer? You probably are answering, "Yes". Currently ONE in FOUR people are expected to get it during their lifetime. Its not just that diagnosis of cancer is improving, the number and proportion of people getting cancer is going up.

The focus in the battle with cancer is often MISPLACED (or intentionaly misdirected by corporations). The focus should not be on curing cancer, but on preventing it. Yes, we know that many things in the environment cause cancer. Not naturally occuring things, but poisons that we put there. Here is where the real focus should be: To stop putting known carcinogens in our food and our environment. That also, by the way, includes the carcinogens in rug cleaners.

What do the BP Oil Spill, Natural Gas Fracking
and Carpet Cleaning have in Common ?

April 30, 2013

Answer: 2-butoxyethanol

This is a carcinogen found in many commercial carpet cleaning solutions in use today.

It is also the main ingredient in "Corexit", the chemical that was used in million-gallon quantities to disperse oil in the BP Gulf Oil Spill. See here. Natural gas hydrolic fracturing or "fracking" uses this as part of the mix that it pumps into the ground to fracture shale rock and release natural gas. See here.

At green homes carpet cleaing, we don't use this stuff.

Do You Drink What You Put on Your Lawn ?

April 24, 2013

Yes you do!   See Beyond Pesticides

Did you know that the majority of pesticides and herbicides that you put on your lawn make it into your local groundwater, and therefore your drinking water? The next time you go into your local big box hardware store, look at the tens of thousands of pounds of lawn chemicals stacked up in giant sacks in the lawn and garden section of the store. A major portion of that is leaching into your drinking water. Why is this allowed? Because the companies selling these chemicals make money on them, and we who buy the stuff, don't know or don't care.

Green Microwave Tip

February 24, 2013

microwave oven cover

If you're like most homeowners, you have a hard crust of junk on the inside surfaces of your microwave oven. This is quite chore to clean, and it can require strong (and sometimes toxic) cleaners. But there is a better solution: Don't clean it.

That's right. Don't clean it. Instead, keep your oven from getting dirty in the first place. There is an accessory that you can buy now at most big box department stores that works really well to contain all the food particles that pop and fly off of your food as it cooks in the microwave. Its a simple plastic microwave cover. We put it over anything that we cook in the microwave, and you can see from the picture that ours is almost spotless. It hasn't been cleaned in months. All that's necessary now is to put the glass turntable in the diswasher now and then.

There is one caveat. Plastic in a microwave can drip cancer causing solvents onto your food. This true anytime you microwave something in a plastic container, whether its tupper ware or the plastic container that your ready made meal came packaged in. So the solution here is to transfer your food into ceramic or glass before cooking. As for the plastic cover, in most cases it will not touch your food, so its ok. If you are using the new cover that I am recommending, when microwaving something where steam will condense on the plastic lid, and then and then drip back onto your food, cover the food with a slightly damp paper towel, between the food and the plastic cover. That should protect you.

Replacing Your Carpet?

January 10, 2013

A question that I DON'T get asked often enough is: What do I recommend for carpets? If your carpets are past the 20 year mark, or just plain worn out, what should you replace them with?

First, don't get white carpets. I know, I service a lot of you folks with white carpets. But unless you are super talented, you are not going to avoid staining these. And yes, white carpets are a lot harder to clean.

Second, don't get the large loop berber carpets. These are a favorite with home building contractors becasue they are cheap, and the contractor style off-white color satisfies most everybody.

Most berber is made with olefin, the most delicate and fastest wearing fiber. Berber compresses easily and permanently in high traffic areas. Furniture impressions in berber do not recover. Berber unravels if you catch a thread in your vacuum cleaner. Berber is course under the feet. Finally, berber is most susceptible to "wickback" stain reappearance after cleaning.

I recommend nylon pile carpets. These withstand traffic for twenty years and don't easily stain. They can also be very soft.

My carpet salesman/installer friend claims that a new dupont fiber carpet made from corn oil (yes, corn oil) has even better wear characteristics than nylon. Being based on corn oil doesn't necessarily make it greener than nylon, however, because radical chemical treatments are needed to make the oil polymerize into fibers. I have seen and cleaned the corn oil carpets. They look and feel great.

Taking Care of the Pet Takes Care of the Carpet

September 4, 2012

We have encountered a lot of pet urine in carpets during our 4 years in business. We have seen enough to notice a consistent pattern. The pattern says something about carpet care in particular and pet care in general.

The most consistent pattern is the correlation between the concentration of urine and the difficulty in removing it. Concentrated urine smells bad and makes a permanent stain. In some cases we saw urine so highly concentrated that it formed large visible urea crystals on the rug after it dried, and the crystals would not dissolve upon washing. On the other hand, dilute urine almost always seems to wash out easily. Urine composition and concentration varies widely in the same animal according to their health, what they eat and drink, and their age. Highly concentrated urine is usually a sign of ill health and/or insufficient water intake.

Its very important, especially in hot Summer months to give your pet free and constant access to fresh, clean water, all day long. Dogs especially should not be forced to stay in hot rooms, and NEVER in a hot car. There is no acceptable way to keep a dog in a hot room or car. Unfortunately we have seen and heard of owners unaware of this, and pets are made to suffer cruely.

Its seems counter intuitive, but limiting access to water is NEVER a good way to control urination problems. This can only make matters worse. If your dog or cat is peeing in the house, continue to give full access to water. The constant peeing indicates a health or training problem that needs to be addressed in another way.

Dogs and cats should not be expected to stay in a crate or in the house for more than 4-6 hours without a chance to urinate. There are dozens of local pet sitting services that can come and let your pet outside during the day for very little money. Your accident prone pet may simply need to go more often than you are allowing. This is especially true for sick or ageing pets.

If your accident prone pet is fully hydrated when he/she pees on the rug, it will be dilute, and we will have a better chance to wash it out! Keeping your pet well hydrated is better for your pet and for your rugs!!

Water Test Failed - Snake Oil

July 22, 2012

So, we bought a small batch ionizer and produced several gallons of strongly ionized water, at pH 11. The results were not encouraging. It turns out, that in order to get a high pH, one must add NaCl or table salt to the water during ionization. Then Na+ and OH- ions are produced, in other words, sodium hydroxide (main ingredient of drain cleaner). The ions produced are so weakly buffered, however, that one cannot measure them with normal pH paper. A special low-ion paper is required, or the test paper overwhelms the very very weakly buffered ionized water.

Needless to say, your dirty rug will neutralize the water even more easily then test paper. So in the end, we would be cleaning your rug with just plain water.

We did clean a few area rugs with this water, and found that it removed some dirt.

Soapy water removes a lot more dirt, however. In our estimation, ionized water is bunk.

We will not be cleaning with it, and we suggest that you be wary of manufacturers selling water ionizers for drinking or cleaning. The only research that seems to support claims that very weakly buffered ionized water has any remarkable properties comes from the sellers of the water ionizers, and their claims go against basic chemistry.

It's the latest incarnation of snake oil.

Can Carpets Be Cleaned with Plain Water?

March 2, 2012

Well of course, but you won't get much dirt out. This question is referring, of course, to cleaning with IONIZED water. Ionized water is plain water with a twist. If you run plain water over specially electrified metal plates, you can separate water into an alkaline component, plus an acidic component. Collecting the alkaline component, which is still plain water, will provide you with a cleaning agent. A very few carpet cleaning companies are starting to offer cleaning with alkaline water.

Green Homes Carpet Cleaning is not using ionized water for cleaning, but you can be sure we will start experiment with it to see whether this is a credible cleaning method.

Basically water in a glass consists mostly of H20. A small part of it will be in the form of just H+ and also OH- . Its possible to split more of the H2O into H+ and OH- by running it over electrified plates. Now one can collect a portion of water that has artifically increased H+ (acid) or artificially increased OH- (alkaline or base).

The stability of ionized water produced this way is in question, however. We have seen claims that the FDA has certified that alkaline water is an effective disinfectant. We have also seen claims that the FDA has made no such endorsement.

Stay tuned.

Do-it-Yourself Carpet Cleaning

Feb 3, 2012

cleaning man working hard Can I clean my own carpets?
Can I save money by doing it myself?
How good a job can I expect to do?

The answers are yes, a little, and acceptable.

But it all depends.... Just like with carpentry, plumbing and electrical work, you can do this yourself. The quality of the job will depend on how much effort you put in, what kind of equipment you use, and whether you know any tricks of the trade. Like carpentry, carpet cleaning is not easy or quick. A reputable carpet cleaning company will to spend 30 to 90 minutes per room on your wall-to-wall carpeting, depending on size and soiling. Are you prepared to do the same?

Most purchased or rented equipment available to consumers is either of the extractor, or steamer/extractor type. In both cases, soapy water will be injected into your rug and sucked out. Billions of carpets have been cleaned this way. It works, but you end up with very wet carpets. If you make too many passes with the machine, you will soak the carpet padding, and the floor underneath.

Advice for do-it-yourselfers:
  • If you are doing a whole house, you need a whole day to do it right.
  • Rent the best equipment you can find at a "rental center". The national brand equipment available in your supermarket leaves much to be desired. The same is true for carpet cleaning machines available to consumers at deparment stores.
  • Carpet cleaning solution supplied with the rental equipment is not necessarily green. Look on the internet for "green" carpet cleaning reagents.
  • DO use the anti-foamer found with the supermarket equipment, or the machine will overflow onto your floor.
  • Always vacuum before doing the wet wash.
  • Spot treat stubborn spots by hand with a small scrub brush before doing the main cleaning.
  • Never replace wooden or metal furniture feet back on the wet carpet without putting foil or plastic between the feet and the carpet. Failure to do this will leave permanent rust or furniture dye marks in your carpet.
  • Don't try random cleaners on your carpet, and especially not bleach. You will get permanent bleach marks for your troubles.
  • The best way to speed carpet drying is to turn up the heat in your house to dehumidify. Also turn on fans. If it's hot outside, turn on the air conditioner to dehumidify.
  • If you want to get dark edges (if you have them) clean, you cannot do it with a machine. You need a long thin hand brush. (The green colored angular grout brush at Home Depot is perfect.) Make a solution of your green cleaner at 2x strength, get on your hands and knees, and scrub around the edges of all your walls, closets and doors.

Can Oranges Clean Carpets?

January 26, 2012

cleaning a rug with an orangeYes they can! You may have seen one of the many "citrus" cleaners at a local store being sold for everything from paint removal, to cleaning toilets, and yes, cleaning carpets.

Reputably made citrus cleaners actually do work. The active ingredient is d-limonene which comes from the peel of any citrus fruit. This chemical smells like oranges, and the usual commercial source of the chemical is the leftover orange peels from the orange juice industry (ie. orange oil).

D-limonene belongs to a class of compounds called terpenes, and it is a powerful solvent for dirt and especially grease.

Limonene is considered by some to be a good dietary anti-cancer tool (Wikipedia), and it is completely biodegradable.

Green Homes Carpet Cleaning's favorite cleaner contains d-limonene among other cleaners. The orange smell is faint, however, and often our customers don't smell the cleaner at all, let-alone the orange smell.

On the Road with Green Homes Carpet Cleaning

January 5, 2012

clean carpet with baking soda We get some unique stories from the road now and then, and they are worth sharing. We found this once when we were cleaning a handmade Persian rug, and again recently on a wall-to-wall carpet.

With the Persian rug, somebody had tried to clean it with baking soda, a perfectly reasonable thing to do. But to clean a 9x11 rug with ten pounds of baking soda, that's not recommended. Needless to say, we had to get all that powder out.

Recently with a wall-to-wall carpet, we saw the same thing, but this time there was more like 15 pounds of powder in one bedroom rug.

We had to get all the powder out, or the rug cleaning job would not be a success. If we just got the visible powder off the top, it would look ok that day, but not a few days later.

There was nothing special about what we did. We vacuumed the rugs slowly, over and over again for about one hour each. The powder kept coming and coming like there was an infinite supply.

Here's the trick. We knew when to stop vacuuming when the rate at which the powder filled the vacuum cleaner slowed drastically. The powder never stopped coming, but it did slow down suddenly and drastically. We monitored the rate at which our vacuum cleaner filled, and when it slowed down, we knew we had just about reached the end of the powder. That was at about the one hour mark.

Oriental Rug Cleaning

December 29, 2011

There are two acceptable ways to do Oriental rug cleaning or Persian rug cleaning. One way is to have them picked up and brought to a factory, where they will do a full immersion rug cleaning. This is the best method for these rugs, but it is also very expensive. A small 5x8 rug can cost $150 to clean in this way.

The second way to get a good Oriental rug shampoo is to have an expert clean it in your home right where it lies. If your service company knows how to shampoo a Persian rug, the results are almost as good. In your home, however, the cost may only be about $40 for the same 5x8 rug.

In your home, Green Homes Carpet Cleaning will vacuum all sides of the rug, pad, and floor. We also do a "dusting out" which simulates hanging the rug and beating it, although we have found that dusting out works even better. Then we shampoo with special rug soaps made for wool and/or delicate dies as appropriate. Our low-moisture rug shampoo uses NO STEAM, and only trace amounts of water. The result is a beautiful fresh rug with brightened colors that can be used later the same day.

Carpet Cleaning Tip #1

December 14, 2011

Aside from vacuuming your carpets regularly (especially the corners and edges), what else can you do to keep the carpet cleaning man away from your home?

That would be getting out the unsightly spills and spots that eventually cause you to pick up the phone and drop another $200 on professional carpet cleaning.

This requires a combination of two things, speed and technique. By speed, we mean get the spill up as soon as it happens, or as soon as possible thereafter. By technique we mean get the spill up. Emphasis here is on the word "up". That's a vertical direction.

So often we find homeowners who have spread a spill around horizontally instead of moving it in the skyward direction, towards the zenith. To do that, you need a wet-dry vac (available at almost any big box or local hardware store), or something very absorbent, like a terry cloth, to lift the spill up and out. Blotting lifts, and scrubbing spreads. If you act soon, and lift the stain up and out, you will get out many more stains than you would otherwise, and keep more of your household budget in the bank.

What does Green Mean?

December 6, 2011

Here's what green is not: Global warming, plummeting fish numbers, changing weather patterns, melting glaciers, dying coral reefs exctinction of polar bears, skyrocketing cancer rates, asthma, kidney failure, mood disorders, fumes, irritation, illness, skyrocketing infertility rates.

What we mean by green is that a cleaning product should not be toxic, cause cancer, damage your organs, create irritating fumes, have a noxious smell, have any sort of negative health effect after prolonged exposure in any concentration, or damage the environment inside of your house or out. It sounds like a no-brainer, but traditional carpet cleaning cannot meet this standard. Not by a long shot.

To achieve "greenness", we use all-natural or bio-based cleaning agents along with a low-moisture cleaning technique. We will show you the labels and safety data sheets for anything we are using when we come to your house or business. We have alternative cleaners for you to choose from if you don't like our regular recommended green favorite.

Similar Name, Different Company!

December 1, 2011

To make a long story short, there is a company called "Green Homes Carpet Cleaning and Restoration" based in California. We are not that company, and we have the federal trademark for "Green Homes Carpet Cleaning". We are in Massachusetts.

Their links, recommendations and reviews are getting mixed up with ours. If you are posting any information about them, please do not link us to it!! Check the spelling of your link URL!

Should carpets be cleaned in Winter?

November 25, 2011

winter carpet cleaning Well... don't clean them if you don't want to, but from the carpet cleaners perspective, there is no reason not to. Winter is a great time to clean carpets! The carpet cleaning business is slow during winter in the North, so you'll have your choice of appointment days. Also carpets dry MUCH faster in the dessicated indoor winter air. The only caveat is that folks shouldn't walk into the house with muddy, slushy boots and wear them right onto the carpets. To be honest, in the vast majority of houses that Green Homes Carpet Cleaning visits, shoes come off at the door, so its not an issue.

Are you a germ-a-phobic?

November 23, 2011

germs in a dirty carpetThere are times to fear germs and times not to. Fear them when they can get into your body, and then, only fear the harmful ones. Your hands, your food preparation areas, your restrooms and your door knobs and telephones are places not to have germs... especially in flu season.

Foremost, keep them clean with good old soap and water. There is no need to buy special products "guaranteed to kill 99% of germs" etc., unless you are a surgeon. Often those are toxins that you needn't expose yourself to. If you really feel that you need to kill those baddies, that simply washing them away isn't enough, then use 50/50 diluted white vinegar.

Does green carpet cleaning work as well as conventional carpet cleaning?

November 21, 2011

It works better, because you get the same clean without harmful chemicals. But this answer comes with a BIG exception. It depends on who performs your green cleaning and whether they have a good strategy. A quick one-pass job will not produce a good result. Every dark spot needs pretreatment with a green spot cleaner plus some manual effort. The technician needs to keep at it until whole the room is clean. All of the different professional cleaning methods work. To be successful, the person performing the job has to have some experience, have a good toolkit, and be motivated to work to a high standard.

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Green Homes Carpet Cleaning is a registered trademark.