Cleaning & Caretaking

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The Declutter Challenge: A Guided Journal for Getting your Home Organized in 30 Quick Steps

The Declutter Challenge: A Guided Journal for Getting your Home Organized in 30 Quick Steps

(Home Organization and Storage Guided Journal for Making Space Clutter-Free)
edition:Paperback
tagged : happiness
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The Pocket Butler's Guide to Good Housekeeping

The Pocket Butler's Guide to Good Housekeeping

Expert Advice on Cleaning, Laundry and Home Maintenance
edition:Hardcover
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Excerpt

Commercial cleaning products—those you find readily available on grocery and hardware store shelves—are very much a product of our time. Before World War II, most households used common ingredients, like baking soda and soap, to meet their cleaning needs. Today, there are thousands of cleaning products avail- able, a different one for every surface imaginable, but the same basic results can be achieved with a much simpler arsenal of cleaning supplies.

Before you start throwing all of your products out, though, let’s understand the different types of products available, and the best uses for them.

Cleaning products can be grouped into three basic types:
· All-Purpose Cleaners: These can be used on any surface. An example of an all-purpose cleaner would be a pH-neutral dish soap and water.

· Multi-Purpose Cleaners: These can be used on multiple different surfaces, but not on all. This category might include a cream cleaner, which is good on ceramic, on most plastics and on tile, but not on wood, marble, or other natural stone surfaces.

· Specific-Purpose Cleaners: These are intended for one type of use only. For example, a silver cleaner should be used only for silver.

The following list includes a variety of multi-purpose and all-purpose household cleaning products that I find useful in day-to-day cleaning. You might already have them in your home. While many of them are safer alternatives to commercial cleaning products, always take time to read the labels and use them with care! And, of course, test cleaners in a small, inconspicuous area before applying them to a larger surface. (For a complete list of materials to stock in your cleaning caddy, see page 41.)
Alcohol
Isopropyl alcohol sanitizes surfaces and can be used on telephone handsets and remote controls. Wear gloves when using isopropyl alcohol, and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
 
 
Ammonia
Ammonia is often used straight as a multi-purpose cleaner, and it can also be added to commercial cleaning products. Ammonia is known for providing an excellent “streak-free” finish so it is often used to clean glass, porcelain and stainless steel. It is also frequently used for cleaning ovens and soak- ing items to loosen baked-on grime. NEVER mix it with bleach, though, because that will create toxic fumes!
Baking Soda
Baking soda is one of the most useful common household products. A mild abrasive, it can be used when any gentle scouring is required. Baking soda is safe to use in sinks, bathtubs, showers and pretty much everywhere. Combine it with a little water and a drop of pH-neutral dish soap for a great mildly abrasive cleaner.
Bleach
Chlorine bleach is a harsh but effective chemical for sanitizing and disinfecting. Handle it with care, and follow the instructions on the label. NEVER mix bleach with ammonia or vinegar; the combination will create toxic fumes.
Compressed air
A compressed air duster is the safest and least invasive way to remove dust from electronic components like computer keyboards and audiovisual equipment.
Cream Cleaner
A cream cleaner does not harm most surfaces. It is great for porcelain, stainless steel and ceramic surfaces, among others. I think a good cream cleaner is necessary in every cleaning caddy.
Dish Soap
One of my very favorite cleaning products is ordinary dish soap! Since it is pH-neutral, it does not harm your hands or most surfaces. It is also great at removing grease. Try to get the clear variety to avoid any unnecessary dyes.
Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a safer and gentler alternative to chlorine bleach, and it’s effective in sanitizing surfaces. You might not need it in your everyday cleaning caddy, but it should be on hand in your household.
White vinegar
White distilled vinegar is a popular multi-purpose household cleaner. You can use it straight on stainless steel and porcelain surfaces, and diluted with water on most other surfaces, such as glass, mirrors and plastic. Do not use vinegar on marble, granite or other natural stone surfaces, or on wood.
 

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The Inviting Life

The Inviting Life

An Inspirational Guide to Homemaking, Hosting and Opening the Door to Happiness
edition:Hardcover
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Excerpt

A Digestif

It’s a given that when we host a party, or attend one, we’re expected to put our best face forward: we’re at ease, we look good, we’re smiling and welcoming, we’re showing genuine interest in other people’s comfort, and we’re being generous and helpful. It’s not realistic to maintain these levels of grace and charm around the clock, day in and day out, but it isn’t a bad notion to have that ideal in our minds as a guide and at least to strive for that, not just at a black-tie event or a community barbeque, but everywhere—at the office, on public transport, in an overcrowded shopping mall. For one thing, it’s a good way to snap ourselves out of being grouch almighty or from acting like a sulky opera heroine whenever we find ourselves in situations that push our buttons, say in a traffic jam or dealing with a customer-service rep over the telephone.

I suppose every era has the same complaint (at least somewhere on the planet), but I have to say that in my lifetime, the world has never felt more uncivil or full of hatred, violence, and fear. The Middle East is a disaster; much of Africa is in strife; Europe is straining at the seams; the states of America feel about as united as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle spilled out of their box onto the floor; the World Wide Web is a perpetual warzone of differing opinions and standards of behaviour. Not that anyone ever said life was all roses, the world one giant, fragrant garden of justice and kindness. Evil is always with us, jerks always among us, and every era has its reasons for getting up in arms.

Thomas Hobbes famously wrote, “No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” If you want to get depressed, it doesn’t take much. It’s overwhelming, too, because when the world is in so much trouble all at once, those of us who care can feel powerless and wonder how we can begin to try to fix it.

I’m hoping that the answer is “little by little.” Our tiny, so-called insignificant daily acts—helping someone across the street, watering a flower, making a good soup—are cracks in the gloom that let in light. The more rays we allow through, perhaps the sooner the skies may clear. “That best portion of a man’s life, his little nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love,” as Wordsworth phrased it, is, at the end of the day, what’s at the heart of hosting and making home.
These are the thoughts and actions that can flip the coin from hostility to hospitality side up. These oft-dismissed activities in fact can be important leadership roles, major civilizing forces vital to the health of society and an essential place to start taking back power and changing the world.

Ten Ways to Make Life More Inviting Right Now
1. Get in touch with someone you haven’t seen in a while and find out how they are (especially if it’s to heal an old wound).
2. Cook something delicious and invite someone over to eat it, even if it’s just a baked potato.
3. Clean something dirty, even if it’s just a doorknob.
4. Fix something broken, even if it’s just a fingernail.
5. Make something ugly or banal into something beautiful, even if it’s just your thoughts.
6. Say something nice, even if it’s just a whisper to yourself.
7. Do something kind, even if it’s just to smile at a stranger.
8. Give a thoughtful gift, even if it’s just a wildflower.
9. Lend a hand, even if it’s just holding open a door.
10. Write down ten more ways to make life inviting, and start making them happen right now.

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Office Zen

Office Zen

101 Ways to Make Your Work Space Calm, Happy, and Productive
edition:Hardcover
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Clean My Space

Clean My Space

The Secret to Cleaning Better, Faster--and Loving Your Home Every Day
edition:Hardcover
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The Home Decluttering Diet

Organize Your Way to a Clean and Lean House
edition:Paperback
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