About the Author

Charles MacPherson

Books by this Author
The Butler Speaks

The Butler Speaks

A Return to Proper Etiquette, Stylish Entertaining, and the Art of Good Housekeeping
also available: Paperback
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The Pocket Butler

The Pocket Butler

A Compact Guide to Modern Manners, Business Etiquette and Everyday Entertaining
tagged : etiquette
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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
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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.)
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 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.
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 Pocket Butler's Guide to Travel

The Pocket Butler's Guide to Travel

Essential Advice for Every Traveller, from Planning and Packing to Making the Most of Your Trip
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I prefer to stay in hotels when possible, and what follows are my tips for making the most of your hotel and its amenities. I like to spend a few minutes first unpacking my suitcase, setting up my toiletries in the bathroom and figuring out how the TV and thermostat work. Once I’ve familiarized myself with my new surroundings, I can truly relax.

Securing the Best Room
Not all hotel rooms are created equal. When your objective is to get the best hotel room available, or possibly an upgrade, keep these tips in mind. And whatever happens, smile and be nice!

   • Join the hotel’s loyalty program to collect points towards upgrades and other benefits. Elite-status members get preferential treatment.
   • Call the hotel directly to book your reservation. Often reservations booked through an online discount site get lower priority and are less likely to be assigned the best rooms.
   • When booking your reservation, request a room that is away from the elevators, ice machines and other noisy, high-traffic areas.
   • Check in early while room selection is good.
   • Inspect the room before you unpack. If you need to change rooms, make the request as soon as possible.
Changing Rooms
If you do need to change rooms, be friendly, respectful and courteous when you are making the request. Have a reasonable explanation, and be specific with details: noise, odd smells or unsuitable bed configurations are reasonable reasons to request a change. Speak with the front desk staff, who will handle your request. Be calm and patient, and manage your expectations: the hotel will be working under the constraints of availability.

The concierge is the hotel’s oracle, knower of all things, and an invaluable resource. The job of the concierge is to make sure hotel guests are well looked after. Among other things, they will happily make reservations, secure tickets, book transportation or offer sightseeing and dining suggestions. Don’t be shy to make unusual requests, as long as they are reasonable and legal. If you can, give the concierge some notice when making your request to increase the likelihood of success.

Butler’s Tip:
Remember to thank the concierge and tip to show your appreciation. Tip well if they have gone above and beyond. I prefer to tip with each request rather than at the end of my stay.

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