Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Handling Crystal Stemware

Fine crystal stemware immediately adds a touch of class and elegance to any dinner table, and leaves your dinner party guests long admiring your fine taste. There is no doubt crystal and other fine stemware pieces are beautiful; but they are also are extremely fragile and delicate. With every wash and rinse, they must be handled with care in order to keep them looking as beautiful as the day you first got them—and first showed them off to your friends and family members.

With a little patience, and a little preparation, you can keep your fine pieces of stemware looking their best long into the future. And it’s not too hard. Here's how you do it.

Cleaning must be done carefully, preferably one piece at a time. Remember, the less you handle the piece the better, as most damage occurs when cleaning and moving. It’s also a best practice to wash crystal stemware by hand.

Line the bottom of your sink with a dish towel or paper towels as a buffer in case one is dropped.

Using a very small amount of mild dish soap, a soft cloth and warm (not hot) water, gently wash each glass individually. You only need a drop of soap smaller than a dime to get three to four glasses clean.

Rinse each piece thoroughly in a separate bowl of warm water (temperature changes can cause breakage and hot water can fade hand-painted pieces).

Dry with a cotton or lint free towel while the glass is still warm. Be careful not turn the stemware against the stem while drying, as the weakest part of the glass is where the stem connects to the bowl.

Place right side up to cool before storing.

Store crystal stemware in either a stemware storage box (available online, or at most home goods retailers) or hang in a glass-rack.

A couple more tips:

For glasses that are particularly tough to clean, hold over a pot of boiling water, allowing the stemware to fog up from the steam. Then take a soft, clean, lint-free cloth and gently wipe.

To prevent hard water spots from leaving their mark, add a couple of drops of vinegar to the cloth or sponge when cleaning.

If you must use a dishwasher, be extremely careful, especially if the crystal is hand-blown. Make sure the glasses are secure and that they do not touch each other. Always wash on a “short” and delicate cycle.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Caring for Fine China

If you're like many busy, modern families today, mealtime doesn't get the care and attention it once did. If you're not eating your dinner out of disposable containers or take-out wrappers, you're more than likely eating off of paper plates, or on plates or bowls from a mismatched, hodgepodge collection you have handy for everyday use. Needless to say, you're grandmother's passed-down fine china, or that pricey Lenox collection you received as wedding gift, is probably not coming out of the china cabinet—or their boxes—more than once, maybe twice, a year.

But when you do finally break them out, whether for a holiday or a special dinner, you want them looking their best.

A cherished family keepsake or simply you're special occasion splurge, fine china is an investment. In order to help your set retain value, beauty and luster for years to come, it’s important that you take good, careful care of each piece, both during and after its use. Read on for some helpful tips on how to best care for your fine china.


Never scrape your china with metal silverware to remove the remnants of your meal; instead, use a rubber spatula, which will prevent scratches.

Avoid stacking your china on top of each other in the sink and wash one piece at a time.

Be sure to at least rinse fine dinnerware shortly after you’ve finished eating to prevent food from sticking.

When washing, be sure to use only mild detergents and soft sponges.

Wash with warm water—not with hot water, especially if the china is adorned with metal.

Hand dry.

If you dinnerware is stained, put a small amount of baking soda, salt, cream of tartar or toothpaste on the area and rub with a soft cloth.

Prevent stains by cleaning with a solution made of one part hydrogen peroxide, three parts water and a drop of ammonia. Rinse thoroughly with warm water.

General Care and Storage:

Avoid exposing fine china from extreme temperature to prevent cracks and breaks.

If you plan to serve hot food, run the china under warm water first to bring its temperature up.

Repair tiny surface cracks by placing the piece in milk for 30 minutes.

Store your fine china in a closed cupboard or china cabinet, placing foam or cloth between plates, bowls and saucers to prevent scratching. Hang cups on small cup hooks or stack those two deep, one inside the other. Turn the lids of coffee, teapots and serving pieces upside down inside the piece itself, to protect the lid handles.

Do not store fine china sets in an attic or basement.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cleaning Up—The Do’s and Don’ts when Tackling a Messy Kids Room

Keeping your kids room clean is almost as hard as getting them to clean it in the first place, but for a number of health and safety reasons, it’s an important chore to add to your weekly cleaning routine—and better yet, teach your children to do themselves as part of their weekly cleaning responsibilities.

When children are young, often the biggest obstacle between you and a clean room is their toys. On holidays, for birthdays, when grandparents visit, for good behavior, it seems as though kids are always accumulating new toys—but where do you put them all! And what do you do with all
of their old toys? With a little organization, creativity and discipline, you can not only clean up that messy kid’s room, but also teach your kids that clean-up can be fun and rewarding. Follow this great to-do list—and pay careful attention to the -don’t list—and be on your way to a clean and organized home.


• De-organize. To get your bearings and know exactly what you’re working with, start by setting out all the toys on the floor.

• Categorize. Group toys by type (board games, books, stuffed animals) and then by size.

• Donate or toss. Anything that is not played with or that your kids have outgrown, donate to a local charity. Anything that is broken or missing pieces, throw away.

• Purchase storage containers. Best practice is to purchase a variety of sizes and styles depending on the size of the room. For small spaces, stackable containers, or containers that slide under the bed are great options. Bookshelves, baskets, shoe organizers and shoe boxes also come in handy. Neatly put toys away in each container.

• Get your kids involved. Have your kids help you pick out their containers, then together, decorate them with stickers, paint and labels, so that the content of each container is easily identifiable by their artwork.

• Be encouraging. Make cleaning up fun, by turning it into a game and playing it with them—who can clean up the floor fastest, of stack the books in order of size.


• Get caught off guard. Messy toys, such as markers and paint, play dough and other major mess causing toys, should be kept on higher shelves, out of reach.

• Forget the small stuff. Barbie shoes, action figure accessories, Lego, marbles and other small toys can be organized in their own clear plastic jars and Tupperware containers with tightly fitting lids. Not only will this help prevents pieces from being lost, it is also reduces the choking hazard if your supervision is needed when playing with those toys.

• Be all play and no work. Schoolwork and materials used for completing school work should be kept neatly organized as well. It’s a good idea to designate as small work area in their room, to encourage quiet time and focusing on their on their work.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Cleaning the Refrigerator—Tips to Get it Done Right, and Get Done Fast

There not too many worse smells than that of a refrigerator that hasn’t been cleaned out and sanitized in a while. Sure the Chinese food you ordered two weeks ago was really great at the time, and all those fresh veggies you meant to cook already were on sale when you bought them; but now, something has started to grow on them, and despite how much you would love it to be a set of legs so they can walk out of your fridge and into the trash on their own, chances are its just mold and bacteria, and the main cause of that pungent odor that has started to permeate your kitchen. It’s time to clean out the fridge.

So while maybe not the most pleasant of chores, cleaning and sanitizing your refrigerator doesn’t have to be the most daunting on your cleaning checklist. With a little patience, a little elbow grease, and of course, a little baking soda, you can once again have a clean and sanitized fridge that you and your family no longer dread to open. Just follow these easy steps.

• Empty it out—and this means everything, including the drawers themselves.

• Check all expatriation dates and throw away anything outdated.

• Sprinkle the empty fridge with baking soda, and with a wet sponge or cloth, clean all of the shelves, the walls, the doors and the drawers, using a circular motion.

• For really tough smells and stains, sanitize with bleach and water solution.

• While you’re doing this, it’s a good idea to have a bowl filled with boiled water and sliced lemons on the top shelf to add freshness.

• With a clean sponge or cloth and a bucket of warm water, thoroughly wipe down the inside of the fridge, to remove the baking soda residue. If using bleach, be sure to rinse the refrigerator very thoroughly with clean water.

• Wipe down all items that are still in-date with a damp cloth and put them back neatly in their place.

• After the fruit and vegetable bins have dried, sprinkle each with a small amount of baking soda and line with a paper towel.

• On the top shelf, toward the back, place an open box of baking soda to absorb odors. Change this box once every three months.

• Be sure to wipe the top and all four sides, and remove the dust from underneath and by the fan.

This routine, performed twice a month, plus weekly maintenance to assure you’re getting rid of spoiled and expired items before they start to leave their mark, will help you to keep your refrigerator clean and sanitary!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How to Keep Home Sweet Home Smelling the Same—Tips for Eliminating Household Odors

Odors in the home are a lot like…bills…everyone has them, and they all stink!

All jokes aside, household odors can leave your home feeling dirty and unpleasant, and can be a real problem for you and your family—not to mention your friends and neighbors if they have the misfortune of stopping by in between cleanings. The fouls smells often found in the usual places—like the kitchen, the bathroom and the basement—are made much worse when you factor in your pets’ favorite spot on the rug, your grandfather’s old recliner and the bedroom of your teenage son…

Though the prospect of an odor free home smells so sweet—we all know it’s not quite the reality. But there are many ways that you can not only cover unpleasant odors, but also remove them. Here are some tips to cut some of the toughest and common household smells.

Kitchen and Food Odors.

In the fridge, the trash can, the garbage disposal, the drains, and sometime lingering in the air from what was cooked, as delicious as food can be when freshly prepared, it can downright putrid when left around too long. Combat food odors by:

* Empty and clean your refrigerator often to prevent odors and place an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator and freezers to catch them as they arise.
* To remove odorous food smells from counter tops, clean with equal parts of vinegar and water.
* Flush your garbage disposal and drains with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to cleanse, and follow with citrus juice to freshen.
* Clean garbage cans with a bleach and water solution once a week.

Fabric and Carpet Odors.

Whether from your pet or years of wear and tear, upholstery and carpets are hot beds for bad home odors. With lots of products on the market to mask the smell and freshen the room, try these tricks to remove the odor:

* Sprinkle baking soda on a smelly carpet or upholstery, wait an hour (or more), then vacuum the powder and the odor away. Baking soda absorbs moisture that can cause odor build-up.
* Steam clean the fabrics and carpets, adding ¼ of a cup of lemon juice or one cup of vinegar to the water.
* Set small decorative bowls full of vinegar around the house. Not only will the vinegar absorb the odor in the room, it will also add a fresh smell. (this tip is also great for removing cigarette smells)

Clothes and Bedroom Odors

At the end of a long day, your bedroom should be the place to which you retreat. Unfortunately, stale odors can leave bedrooms room smelling more like a gym locker than a relaxing oasis. Bring peace back in to your room by:

* Your browser may not support display of this image. Deodorizing your closet and dresser drawers by tucking a few unused fabric softener or dryer sheets into the corners
* Hammer pieces of cedar wood onto the back wall of your closets to prevent musty odor from building up in your closet. Your browser may not support display of this image.
* Sprinkle the insoles of stinky shoes with baking soda and leave sit overnight. Also throw dirty sneakers in a the washing machine then wash with laundry detergent and bleach (if color free)
* Be sure you’re washing you bed linens—including duvet coves, pillow shams, dust ruffles and bed spreads—regularly.

As a rule-- baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and vinegar are great odor eliminators.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Keeping Dust at Bay

Keeping your home free of unsightly and harmful dust is no easy task, especially when you learn all of the ways dust particles and mites can enter—and then live very comfortably—in your home.

Caused by carpets, furniture, heating ducts, ventilation systems and even your pets, the fact is…dust is a fact of life! Even for the tidiest of housekeepers, dust is a real problem. But getting your dust problem under control is important.

Along with sand, dirt, pollen grains, lead, and arsenic, household dust also contains dust mites, fibers from your fabrics and upholstery, parts from dead insects, human and animal hair, mold spores, bacteria and human an animal dead skin cells. Gross, right? Sure it’s a hassle to have to remove the dust from your household surfaces multiple times a week, but think about the havoc that concoction can wreak in your lungs, especially if you or a member of your family is an allergy or asthma sufferer. And if this applies to you, you have to be particularly careful when cleaning the home, as you can easily stir up the particles and worsen the reaction.

Though there is no practical way to completely remove all dust from your home, there are many steps you can take to get it under control. Here are few to keep in mind.

* Because dust can get trapped deep down inside carpet as its walked on, be sure to vacuum carpets, area rugs and floors at least once a week. For allergy and asthma sufferers in particular, its best to use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
* Never sweep a carpet for a quick cleaning job—this will just stir up the dust particles.
* Vacuum and clean cloth and fabric upholstered furniture at least once a month.
* Steam clean draperies or dry clean window treatments each season. Keep blinds dusted and dirt-free.
* Polish wood furniture and hard surfaces weekly, with a clean, disposable cloth. Be sure to polish all surfaces, included decorative hanging, pictures, books, candle holders, etc.
* Your browser may not support display of this image. Wash bed linens, including dust ruffle, pillow shams and sheets, at least once a month. If they can’t be washed, at least fluff them in the dryer to remove dust.
* Toss old pillows – including old throw pillows– unless the items can be washed.
* Repair cracks in the walls and seal openings in baseboards.
* Regularly wash stuffed animals and other fabric toys for children.
* Don’t forget to dust ceiling fans and heating and cooling registers, as they are great receptacles for spread dust.
* Regularly clean pet bedding.
* Keep major appliances free from dust—including the top and bottom of the refrigerator, behind the stove, and around the washer and dryer.
* Keep air filters in your heating and air system clean, and replace them yearly at least. Consider investing in HEPA filters.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Removing Grease from Your Kitchen Cabinets

Keeping your kitchen cabinets clean and free of the grease and grime that can accumulate from everyday cooking is must in order to preserve their quality and keep them looking their best. But grease can be a tough opponent, and its removal often requires the use of chemicals that can damage the finish of your wood cabinetry, not to mention a lot of scrubbing, which can be equally as harmful to delicate or porous surfaces.

The reason grease is so tough to eliminate is that its water resistant, so cleaning with your average water-based cleaners usually won't even scratch the surface. But after time, built up grease can cause a foul odor and leave your surfaces feeling gritty and slimy.

Follow these easy home recipes to remove the grease without causing damage to your wood, or breaking your back—or your bank, since you probably already have them hidden somewhere behind those greasy cabinets doors. As always when working with any new cleaning product on the surfaces of your home, a best practice is to perform a small test on an area out of view before treating the entire surface.

Recipe 1 – Vinegar and Baking Soda
Vinegar and baking soda will not only remove the grease, it will also adsorb the odor grease causes.

You'll need:
o A spray bottle
o A rag or paper towels
o White vinegar
o Baking soda
o Hot water

1. Start by pouring the vinegar into the spray bottle, and misting the cabinets.
2. Let sit for a minute, then wipe it off, removing all of the dirt and some of the grease.
3. Next, wet a new rag or paper towel and sprinkle it with the baking soda.
4. Scrub the grease spots with the baking soda covered rag. Baking soda is abrasive enough to cut through the grease, but won't scratch the cabinet's surface.
5. After your finished, once again spray the cabinets with your vinegar and wipe down.
6. Finally, wipe the cabinets down with warm water to remove any vinegar or baking soda residue.

Recipe 2 – Dishwashing Detergent
Dishwashing detergent has powerful grease-cutting properties, yet is gentle enough that it is safe on skin and surfaces.

You'll need:
o Dishwashing detergent
o Two rags
o Hot water
o A bucket
o Wax based furniture polish

1. Start by mixing enough dishwashing detergent with hot water in your bucket to create a very soapy, sudsy mixture.
2. Dip your rag in only the foam and gently wipe the surface.
3. Rinse the area thoroughly with a separate rag, wet with clean warm water.
4. To avoid leaving a residue or dull finish, polish with your furniture polish.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Candle Wax--Shedding Light on How to Remove Wax from your Carpets and Upholstery

Candles are a great addition to any decor, adding ambiance and a sense of festivity and romance to your room, and even promoting your health and wellness through relaxation enhancing fragrances. Today, with an estimated market of over 2 billion dollars, it's probably safe to guess you have at least a few of them accenting your home. But anyone who has ever been tasked with removing spilled wax from carpets and upholstery knows that it can be quite stressful—regardless of how therapeutic they're promised to be!

The best way to tackle wax removal is to act quickly, before it's had the chance to harden around or dye the fibers in you fabric or carpet. But when that isn't option—and before you consider replacing the rugs or rearrange the furniture to cover any unsightly spots—read on for a very effective method of removing wax and eliminating stains.

Though a little time consuming, one of the most effective ways to remove candle wax that has hardened on fabric or carpet, is with an electric iron. For this, you'll need heavy duty absorbent white paper towels (a brown bag also works well) and an electric iron. Here's what you do:

1. Start by using a brush or your hands to pick away at any of the excess wax, using care to not unravel the pile or tear the fibers.

2. Next plug in the iron in and turn it on to the lowest setting possible.

3. After the iron heats up, take a paper towel and place it over the spot and lightly apply the warm iron to the paper towel. As the wax begins to melt and liquefy, the paper towel will absorb it and its color.

For thicker or more textured carpets, like Berber, you may have to press down harder with the iron. But be sure you do not raise the temperature of the iron to any higher than the warm setting, or you'll risk singeing or melting the carpets or upholstery's synthetic fibers. Also be especially careful not to pull on any fibers or loops, which can cause running much like panty hose, and ruin the carpet.

4. This may take some time, so have patience as you continue working the iron and rearranging the towel until all of the wax is absorbed. It may require several paper towels.

This method should work to remove all of the wax. But if you have a particularly large spill or stubborn stain, and you're still noticing a wax residue even after you're finished, try using an ice cube to re-harden the wax, and once again use your fingers or a brush to pick it away, and repeat the steps above. Patience is key, of course, if all else fails, call on the services of Grime Solvers.