How to tackle grass stains on clothing

You can be sure these clothes are going to have grass stains on them by the end of the day (
You can be certain this kid’s outfit is going to have grass stains on it by the end of the day. (

If you enjoy spending time outdoors in the summer, you know that nature inevitably leaves its mark on your clothes in the form of unsightly, hard-to-clean grass stains.

You can blame chlorophyll, the chemical that gives plants their green hue, for ruining your favourite pair of jeans. In addition to being a strong dye, chlorophyll binds well with natural fibres, making it notoriously difficult to remove.

While delicate materials like silk or wool should always be handled by a professional dry cleaner, denim and cotton clothes can benefit from grass cleaning solutions you can make at home. The basic steps are similar in each case:

Note: Some cleaners can fade or discolour clothing. Always “spot test” cleaners on an inconspicuous location before applying it to the stain.

Step 1: Give the stain a hot water bath. Run the stain under hot water, preferably using a high-pressure nozzle. This will remove any solid grass pieces and loosen the stain. For best results, you should clean the stain as soon as possible to keep it from setting.

Step 2: Scrub the stain with detergent. Any liquid detergent will do. Use a scrub brush or a toothbrush and thoroughly scrub the affected area, then rinse.

Step 3. Apply a cleaning agent. There are literally dozens of products that claim to remove grass stains, but the simplest and most cost-effective home remedy is a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar. Sprinkle baking soda on the stain, then pour the vinegar over top and scrub the mixture while it fizzes.

Step 4: Launder in warm or hot water. Most denim clothing can handle your washer’s hot water cycle, while cotton clothes can be washed in warm water. Just in case, you should always follow the washing instructions on the label. Wash with detergent as normal.

If the stain persists after step 4, don’t put the clothing in the dryer – this will cause the stain  to set. Instead, repeat steps 3 and 4 using “harsher” cleaners, starting with rubbing alcohol and then progressing to chlorine bleach. You can also try natural digestive enzymes, which are available at most health food stores. Mix the contents of several enzyme capsules in lukewarm water until you get a mixture with the consistency of toothpaste. Scrub the mixture into the stain and let it sit for 20 minutes, then repeat step 4.

Cleaning up after your dog or cat

9.16dog-sittingFor millions of dog and cat owners, Fido and Fluffy aren’t just pets – they’re part of the family. But as much as we love our four-legged friends, they sure can make a mess of things: shedding fur, tracking mud and dirt into the house, and occasionally having an accident on that freshly-cleaned carpet. That’s why we’ve put together some simple tips to help make your pet clean-up easier and more effective.   Prevention While it’s impossible to stop some pets from shedding, there are a few tricks you can use to keep pet hair from rolling freely across your home like tumbleweeds in a Western movie. Brushing your cat or dog regularly will help to minimize shedding, which makes your job easier. You can also limit the areas where your pets travel, by keeping closet doors closed. This will greatly reduce the time you spend cleaning up after your pet. Hairy Business Regular vacuuming will help the minimize the spread of pet hair and pet odor. For best results, use a vacuum with HEPA filters and motorized brushes on your carpet. You can also use your vacuum hose to clean furniture and pet beds. If pet smells have seeped into your carpet, sprinkle some baking soda on the carpet and let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes before vacuuming. Don’t forget a pet owner’s best friend: the lint roller! Keep one of these handy to quickly clean up pet hair on clothes and furniture. Oops, I did it again! Speed is your friend when it comes to cleaning up after your pet’s accidents. Start by blotting the affected area with a dry towel (never scrub a wet stain; this will only push the stain deeper into the carpet). Keep changing towels and continue soaking up the stain until the area is dry. For more stubborn stains, mix up a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar into a spray bottle. Spray the solution on the stain and let it sit for five minutes, then blot the area dry the area with some clean towels. Finally, cover the area in baking soda and let it sit for a few minutes. The baking soda will soak up any leftover moisture, and will also help neutralize the smell. Vacuum up the baking soda once you’re done. If you have hardwood flooring, linoleum or tile, cleaning up accidents can be a little easier. Just make sure to use an antibacterial product, which will help disinfect the area and neutralize potential odors.

Choosing the right office: 6 things to consider

Choosing the right office space for your company can pay dividends in the form of increased productivity, better workplace morale and more customers. (istockphoto)
Choosing the right office space for your company can pay dividends in the form of increased productivity, better workplace morale and more customers. (istockphoto)
It’s not a stretch to say that choosing an office is one of the most important decisions your company will ever make. It’s easy to see why; even in an age of telecommuting and e-work, day-to-day productivity at most companies is still heavily influenced by how employees interact with their working environment. Does the space make workers feel energized, or fatigued? Does the layout of the office encourage productivity, or stifle it? When searching for an office to rent or lease, it’s important to ask the right questions. Here are some things to consider before your company sets down roots. How much space do I need (and how much will I need in the future)? This is a bit of balancing act. On the one hand, you don’t want pay for more space than you need. On the other hand, you don’t want to feel trapped in a confined space as your company grows. An industry standard  to provide between 150 and 250 square feet of office space per employee. Expansion options in your lease agreement can help your company address the need for additional space down the road. Is the location right for my customers and employees? For some businesses, setting up shop in an out-of-the-way location is perfectly fine, while other businesses will want to be easily accessible to their clients. Leasing an office in a bustling downtown neighbourhood may bring in more customers, but is also likely to cost more than an office in the suburbs. You should also make sure your employees can easily get to the office, whether that means being accessible by public transit or ensuring there’s adequate parking. What are the hidden costs? Moving is an expensive proposition. Costs like utilities, renovations, cleaning services and loss of productivity during the move should all be factored in to your rental budget. Down the road, a landlord might increase your rate when re-negotiating your rental agreement. A real estate broker can provide advice and help you plan for the transition. Is the space flexible enough to my company’s needs? With the ability to work wirelessly, many companies are eschewing walled-off offices and cubicles in favour of multi-purpose workstations, shared common areas and glass dividers (or no dividers at all). The benefit of an open-concept office is that it encourages collaboration among employees and can be easily re-arranged to suit the changing needs of your company. Of course, an office stills need to have some private spaces to host meetings, or for when a worker just needs some quiet time to focus. Does the space promote the health and well-being of my employees? Nothing saps the energy out of an office faster than bad lighting, poor air circulation or unhygienic conditions. Make sure your office is well-lit, has good ventilation and is scent-free (potted plants are one cheap way of improving air quality in a building).  If your lease doesn’t come with a cleaning services contract, get one. The decision will pay dividends down the road with clean floors, squeaky clean bathrooms and happy workers. Does the space allow for both work and play? Every office should make room for fun. Depending on your office environment, you could set up a coffee bar station, a games room, a relaxation space or a lounging area for co-workers to chat. Socialization encourages collaboration and the sharing of ideas, decreases stress and generally makes people feel good about coming to work.

Spring Clean Challenge winner announced

For demonstrating a stubborn commitment to cleanliness by tackling a month’s worth of daily chores, Amy will receive 3 months of bi-weekly residential cleaning services from Goldstar. (That’s quite a return on investment!) “It was just a perfect prize to win,” Amy tells Goldstar. “The 31 day challenge was definitely a good motivator to get things done.” Amy, a travel agent who works from home, estimates that she and her husband completed three-quarters of the assigned tasks during the Spring Clean Challenge. Amy says she also worked hard to keep the house clean, despite the best efforts of her two-and-a-half-year-old twins. “Often, they’ll get something dirty while you’re in the middle of cleaning it,” she jokes. In her application, Amy stated that her least-favourite household chore was “dusting and cleaning the walls in my house.” “I live in a round dome house, and my walls don’t often get dusted, ” Amy explains. We’ll be sure to tackle that unpleasant chore first! Goldstar will begin cleaning Amy’s house later this week, so stay tuned. Thank you to all the participants in the Spring Clean Challenge. Due to an overwhelming response, we will be hosting the challenge again next year. In the meantime, stay tuned for the 2nd Annual Goldstar Extreme Makeover: Clean Home Edition, coming this fall.

Goldstar Cleaning proud to be “Cleaning for a Reason”

Cleaning for a Reason logo courtesy
Cleaning for a Reason logo courtesy
This article originally appeared in the June 7, 2013 issue of The Free Press. An estimated 91,400 Canadian women will be diagnosed with cancer this year, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. For many women, the battle against cancer is an all-consuming one, impacting every aspect of their lives. “A lot of your life gets put on hold. It becomes all about the cancer,” says Violet Minifie, 83, a Fernie resident who was diagnosed with ovarian and colon cancer in 2010. Minifie, who worked as a supervisor for the clerical department at a social services agency for more than 40 years, continues to lead an active lifestyle in spite of her diagnosis. She’s an avid reader and enjoys knitting and cooking. On Saturdays, she drives her 1985 Honda Civic down the street to pick up her 89-year-old neighbour. Together, the two will head out for a night on the town, attending Mass and having dinner at the local A&W. In other areas, Minifie’s family stepped in to help. Her grandson moved in with her to assist with daily chores, while Minifie’s three daughters took turns driving her back and forth to Calgary for cancer treatments. But Minifie drew the line at having her family clean up after her. “My family has been so supportive of me already, you just can’t imagine,” she says. “I didn’t want them to be responsible for cleaning my house, too.” Last April, Minifie’s family turned to Cleaning for a Reason, a North American non-profit organization that partners with maid services to provide free cleaning for women affected by cancer. In response, Fernie-based Goldstar Cleaning Services sent their team of cleaning professionals to Minifie’s home four times over six weeks for a thorough spring cleaning. “They did pretty much everything,” Minifie recalls. “They scrubbed the cupboards and fridge and cleaned the carpets. I’ll never forget it.” Goldstar has been a proud supporter of Cleaning for a Reason since 2011. Barclay says her company’s support for Cleaning for a Reason is about more than keeping homes tidy. “We want to encourage women to go on with their lives, in spite of the fear and uncertainty a diagnosis of cancer can bring,” she explains. Since it was founded in 2006, Texas-based Cleaning for a Reason has partnered with more than 1,000 maid services across Canada and the U.S. and helped more than 13,000 women affected by cancer. Talk show host Oprah Winfrey even featured the organization on a segment aired on WFAA Channel 8 in Dallas, TX, on February 13, 2009. Any woman 19 years of age or older who is undergoing treatment for cancer is welcome to apply for support through Cleaning for a Reason’s website. Goldstar is also committed to helping women affected by cancer outside the Cleaning for a Reason program. In November 2012, Goldstar awarded its Extreme Makeover: Clean Home Edition contest grand prize to George Torresani and Rochelle Simmons. The married couple had been living apart since last summer after their eldest daughter Brooke, 17, relocated to Vancouver to undergo treatment for lung cancer. When Rochelle and Brooke returned home for the holidays, Goldstar made sure their house was ready for them, sending a team of nine professional cleaners to give George and Rochelle’s home an extreme makeover. “One of the reasons we felt good about choosing this particular family is because they had been separated for so long,” Barclay explained at the time. “This way, they’ll have this time to spend together rather than worry about tedious chores. We will be starting to accept nominations for this year’s Extreme Makeover in October.”  

Natural ways to keep your home smelling fresh

Herbs like lavender and thyme are natural air fresheners for your home (istockphoto)
Herbs like lavender and thyme are natural air fresheners for your home (istockphoto)
Spring cleaning isn’t just about getting rid of clutter and scrubbing floors. After a winter on lockdown, your home could probably use a good airing out. Spring is a time of rebirth in the natural world, so why not take a page from Mother Nature’s playbook when combatting funky smells? These natural remedies will bring the fresh scent of spring to your home in no time flat. -A chemical wunderkind, baking soda has near endless applications when it comes to combatting household odours. A scoop of baking soda poured down the drain with warm water will quickly neutralize smells coming from your sink or garbage disposal. To de-odorize carpets, sprinkle on a half a cup of baking soda for every square foot of carpet, wait fifteen minutes, then vacuum the carpet. Put baking soda in the fridge to remove food odours. It can be even be used on stinky sneakers! -Tired of buying air fresheners that promise a “fresh” scent but actually smell like chemicals? Consider using herbs and spices instead.  Natural lavender species come in a variety of smells which are less overpowering than pure lavender oil. To clear out a smelly kitchen, put some cinnamon sticks in a pot of water and bring to a boil on the stove. Hang bundles of fresh or dried thyme, rosemary, and mint throughout of  your home for some natural aromatherapy. Ivy in flowerpot-There’s also some solid research to suggest house plants can improve air quality in your home. Back in 1989, NASA tested a number of house plants as part of its clean air study, which researched ways to augment air filtration systems in space stations. Certain plants not only removed carbon dioxide and provide oxygen, they also removed harmful chemicals like benzene (found in petrochemicals) and trichloroethylene (used in industrial solvents) from the surrounding environment. Among the top performers were snake plant, pot mum, peace lily, Boston fern and English Ivy. For best results, the NASA study recommends using 15 to 18 good-sized houseplants in six- to eight-inch diameter containers in a 1,800-square-foot house. –Coffee grinds can do more than help you stay awake – they can also soak up the stink from vomit, urine and other nasty accidents on clothes and upholstery. Place two or three layers of old dryer sheets over a stinky stain, then sprinkle coffee grinds over the sheets. The odour will be absorbed in the grinds overnight.  

8 time-saving spring cleaning tips

There’s no way around it – spring cleaning takes work. But if you’ve been following our 31-day Spring Clean Challenge, you know that the most effective way to tackle a big job is to turn it into several smaller jobs. Well, here are eight more time-saving tips to help you along.
Put together a cleaning caddy to keep your cleaning supplies close by (istockphoto)
Put together a cleaning caddy to keep your cleaning supplies close by (istockphoto)
Make a cleaning caddy You can find these handy organizing buckets at most hardware stores. Fill the caddy with multipurpose cleaners, microfiber cloths and dish soap. That way, you’ll always have your basic cleaning tools on hand as you move about the house. Find a place for everything Tackle large piles of clutter by subdividing the task into smaller pieces. Label a set of Rubbermaid containers with general areas in your home – kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, bedroom, office, garbage etc. Before you begin cleaning a room, place clutter into the appropriate box and place the box it in the room where the items belong. Once you’ve finished your cleaning for the day, sort through each box and find a home for your stuff. Repeat as necessary. (This is also a good way to sort through items when planning a garage sale.) Move your furniture and appliances just enough to clean around them Unless you’re steam cleaning the carpets, there’s no need to clear a room of all furniture before you start. When vacuuming, simply move those big items a little to the left or to the right, vacuum the area previously occupied by the furniture and then move it back into place. As an additional task: check the pads on the feet of your chairs and couches, and replace any that are dirty to prevent scratching your floors.
A squeegee is your best friend when it comes to washing windows (istockphoto)
A squeegee is your best friend when it comes to washing windows (istockphoto)
Use all the tools in your cleaning armada Do you use the attachments that came your vacuum cleaner? You should. The upholstery brush attachment is perfect for cleaning cushions and drapes, while the crevice attachment can get into tight spots with ease. You can also use an extending rod to clean up high. And when cleaning windows outside, save time (and a small fortune in paper towels) by using a squeegee with a pole attachment. Let water do your work Metal and plastic blinds can be removed from the window and cleaned outside. Scrub down the blinds with soapy water, then spray them clean with a garden hose. Lay the blinds flat on a towel to dry in the sun. Garbage cans, plastic furniture and toys can also be hosed down. Doing the work work outside will prevent you from accidentally bringing dirt and grime back in your house. Make a lost and found box Don’t waste time fretting about where to put that orphaned sock or how to neatly arrange your collection of extra shirt buttons. Instead, set aside a container for items that have no obvious home. Then you can resume your cleaning duties and worry about the little details later. Identify and eliminate clutter hotspots My personal hotspot is right next to the microwave on the kitchen counter. It’s a magnet for pieces of mail, flyers, old receipts and other documents I’m too lazy to sort. The trick to keeping such spaces clean is to remove the temptation; once you’ve cleared a hotspot, put something in its place – a lamp, a vase with some flowers or an art object – to block the clutter from re-appearing Get rid of dust at the source A lot of the dust in your house gets recirculated by dirty air filters, vents and fan blades.  Remove dust and dirt from ceiling fans and air-conditioner vents with a cloth and a vacuum with a soft nozzle attachment. Replace your air filters regularly, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Take the Spring Clean Challenge and Win!

We could all use a little motivation to get the chores done. Goldstar has 31 days’ worth. Starting May 1, Goldstar Cleaning Services is launching its Spring Clean Challenge,  a 31-day regiment designed to take your home from drab to fab in time for summer. “The Spring Clean Challenge focuses on what people can do individually, each day, to de-clutter and clean up,” explains Goldstar owner Jill Barclay. “Each task is small, but over the course of the month, it adds up to a clean home.” And there’s an added bonus: those who participate in the challenge will be entered into a draw for three months of bi-weekly residential cleaning from Goldstar’s professional cleaning staff. Here’s how to enter: -Go to Goldstar’s Facebook page  (Goldstar Cleaning Services Ltd.) and click “Like” -Follow the daily tasks posted on Goldstar’s wall. (Don’t worry, the tasks will be simple, like cleaning out from underneath the kitchen sink, or sorting through the medicine cabinet.) -Register at Post your feedback when you’ve completed a task. You can also post photos or personal testimonies. Goldstar will also be posting cleaning tips throughout the month, to help you along. -At the end of the month, all registered participants will be entered in the draw. The more tasks you complete, the more chances you have to win!
Good luck, and be sure to follow Goldstar’s Facebook page throughout the month of May to finish as much of the Spring Clean Challenge as possible!

4 cool spring cleaning traditions from around the world

An elephant ridden by a mahout sprays water at crowds attenting the Songkran Festival in Ayuttaya Province, Thailand. (istockphoto)
Westerners aren’t the only ones who take advantage of the warm weather to clean shop. In fact, spring cleaning is pretty much an international holiday, judging from these four holidays that put de-cluttering on the agenda. Songkran: This annual holiday of is a wet and wild celebration of the South Asian New Year, celebrated on April 13. It’s also known as the “water festival” because the religiously inclined pour water over themselves to wash away their sins. In some cities, particularly the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, this tradition has turned into an epic two-day water fight that attracts tourists from around the world. But there’s a softer side to Songkram – many households take the opportunity to clean their homes (particularly any religious icons, like Buddha statues) and to visit elderly relatives. Khane-Tekani: The Persian New Year of Nowruz falls on the first day of spring, between March 19 and March 22. Tradition has it that the spirits of deceased family members come to visit on that day. In preparation, Persian families undertake Khane-Tekani – literally “house shaking” – to welcome them. They also fill their homes with fresh flowers, usually hyacinth and narcissus, and burn incense made from the esfand plant. Chinese New Year: Massive parades and fireworks aside, the most important day on the Chinese Lunisolar calendar is also an opportunity to quietly contemplate the previous year and hope for a better tomorrow. Based on the Cantonese saying “Wash away the dirt on ninyabaat [the 28th day of the 12 month],” Chinese households undertake a rigorous cleaning regiment, sweeping dust out of their homes (to remove bad luck), fixing anything that’s broken and tidying up doors and entrance ways. Then, during the first few days of the New Year, brooms and dust pans are tucked away to avoid accidentally sweeping away the newly-arrived good fortune. Passover: In Jewish households, spring cleaning is motivated by Passover, the 8-day holiday marking the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. According to the story of Passover, after Moses obtained a promise from the Pharaoh to free the Hebrew slaves, Moses and his people were forced to leave so quickly, they didn’t have time to let their bread rise (or leaven). So, Passover tradition states that all traces of chametz (leavened bread) must be removed from the home before the first day of Passover. In Orthodox Jewish households, the process for removing chametz can be very rigorous and includes thoroughly cleaning all dishes, “kashering” (pouring boiling water over) cleaning surfaces and appliances, cleaning out the fridge and freezer, scrubbing and washing floors and scouring the sink.

Cleaning blogs: Online help for your spring cleaning plans

Here at Goldstar, we try as much as possible to provide you with experience-based tips and tricks to make cleaning easier. But we know we’re not the only game in town – in fact, there are a staggering number of online blogs dedicated to house cleaning, organizing and decorating. Most are written by ordinary folks, just like you. So, if you’re looking for some DIY inspiration for spring cleaning, check out these four outstanding blogs: The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking: How does a mother of six find time to blog, craft and keep an immaculate house? Follow Kelly as she dispenses pearls of wisdom on everything from child-friendly art projects to simply delicious cooking. ( Check out: Free Printable Spring Cleaning ChecklistA Million Great Uses For Binder Clips   iHeartOrganizing: Jennifer Jones has a place for everything. Her blog, iHeartOrganizing, was recently featured on HGTV’s Clean Freaks, but Jones wants to make clear that you don’t have to go crazy to have an organized space. In fact, her tips may bring some serenity back into your house. ( Check out: Quick tips for getting your garage summer ready, An organized cleaning caddy   Spring Cleaning 365: People encourage us to take life one day at a time; why not cleaning, too? This comprehensive blog provides daily, step-by-step instructions for every conceivable spring cleaning chore, from washing the windows to organizing the nightstands. The blog also reminds you to perform regular “habits”; little chores that make housework easier. Check out: Spring cleaning windows, Cleaning window frames   A Slob Comes Clean: Let’s face it: we all fall short of our Martha Stewart-esque dreams for keeping an immaculate house. That’s what makes Dana White, aka Nony’s blog so refreshing. A Slob Comes Clean holds nothing back while chronicling Nony’s continuing battle to de-clutter her family’s home – the good, the bad and the grungy. She also has several e-books available. Check out: Dishwashing Rhythm – And My Lack of Cleaning Intuition, Simplifying My Bathroom Counter