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.

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.

One step ahead: caring for your floors

Goodbye, snow and slush. Hello, water and muck. Your floors never¬†get a break, no matter the season. Whether you’ve got¬†hardwood, ceramic or vinyl underfoot,¬†follow these tips to¬†keep your floors properly maintained year-round. (Too busy to clean your floors?¬†Goldstar Cleaning can help with all your floor-care needs.) Stripping and waxing
Your floor puts up with a lot, from dirt to pet hair. Make sure to return the favour by cleaning your floor regularly.
Floors with a wax finish¬†should have the wax stripped and then reapplied at least once a year to maintain their shine and protect¬†the floor¬†from damage. There are different kinds of wax strippers for hardwood, vinyl and masonry (ceramic or stone)¬†flooring; check with your local cleaning supply store to find the right kind for you. (Note: wax strippers¬†are toxic and give off fumes. Be sure to use wax stripper in a well-ventilated area, and¬†wear rubber gloves when handling.) To strip wax, apply a layer¬†of stripper to a small area of floor, then wipe the area with a¬†scrubbing pad to remove¬†the waxy buildup.¬†Use a¬†scrub brush or a toothbrush to remove wax from corners and hard-to-reach areas. Use a putty knife to remove large wax deposits. Once the old wax has been removed,¬†it’s time to apply a new layer. Apply the¬†wax sparingly directly on the floor, and spread it into a very thin coat using long, straight strokes with a wax applicator or sponge mop. Open windows, and let dry to a shine. Apply¬†two or three¬†thin layers of fresh wax, being sure to allow each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next. Buff¬†your floor¬†between wax applications to remove scratches and keep the surface looking radiant. Vacuuming, mopping and sweeping Regular vacuuming or¬†sweeping will remove¬†surface¬†dirt from your floor. It also¬†makes mopping and waxing less arduous. In addition to vacuuming, you should¬†wipe¬†your floor with a rag mop¬†once a week to clear away¬†surface stains.¬†For vinyl, laminate¬†and masonry floors, try¬†a mixture of one part water, one part¬†alcohol, one¬†part¬†vinegar and a few drops of dish washing liquid. Fill a spray bottle with the mixture spray, the floor, and mop. The alcohol sanitizes and helps dry the floor quickly, while¬†the vinegar and dish washing liquid cuts through the dirt and grease with ease. Daily care for your floor Floors can be divided into two varieties: those that you can get wet, and those that you can’t. A wax finish does not make your hardwood floor water-proof.¬†Wipe spills with damp paper towels as soon as they hit the floor, and buff the area with a soft, dry cloth. Avoid dragging¬†furniture across your floor, which can scratch the surface. Attach felt or nylon glides to the legs of heavy furniture items, and check the glides occasionally for dirt, which can also scratch. Use area rugs or mats in high traffic areas like vestibules.

5 must-have cleaning products for your backyard

The Grillbot is a single-button-operated, automated grill cleaner that takes the ick out of scrubbing your gas or charcoal BBQ. (Photo courtesy
  I know, it’s hard to imagine right now. But some day soon, all that snow will disappear, leaving you with a backyard’s worth of cleaning jobs. Luckily, technology can step in to fill the enthusiasm gap.¬†Add these five outdoor cleaning products to your arsenal, and you’ll be ready for¬†your first¬†backyard patio party¬†in no time. The Grillbot (photo above): The brainchild of former real estate agent Ethan Woods, the Grillbot is a single-button-operated, automated grill cleaner¬†that takes the ick out of scrubbing your gas or¬†charcoal BBQ. The Grillbot’s¬†three motorized scouring brushes¬†are powered by¬†rechargeable battery pack, and its¬†“smart¬†CPU” brain¬†allows it to navigate¬†grills with¬†ease. Now if only we could teach it¬†to¬†cook the perfect steak…¬†(US$69,95 basic model,¬†US$99.95 premium model, available starting June¬†2013,¬† Quickie Bulldozer Super Stiff Broom: Appearances can be deceiving; the Quickie Bulldozer is designed to look like indoor kitchen broom, but its industrial grade steel handle and super-stiff polypropylene fiber bristles can sweep up crushed brick, block, rebar, landscape stones and other punishing objects with ease. ($8.88, available at Home Depot)   CLR¬†Outdoor Furniture Cleaner: CLR’s non-abrasive, biodegradable formula is perfect for cleaning your patio furniture after a long winter break. But don’t stop there; CLR is safe to use on a variety of surfaces, from wrought iron to plastic to canvas, so go nuts. ($6.99 for 26 oz., available at Canadian Tire)   Craftsman/mD 22″, 190cc B&S 725 Platinum Series Rear Wheel Drive Lawn Mower: Adjustable self-propelled drive system? Check. Easy push-button start? Check. Simplified bag removal system with full bag indicator? Check. This gas-powered mover by Craftsman is the total lawn care package.¬† ($549.88, available at Sears)   Jackson Clog-Free Rake: When is a rake more than a rake? When it’s designed to prevent debris from getting stuck between the tines, that’s when. The Jackson Clog-Free Rake comes with a lifetime warranty – because you know the leaves will never stop falling. ($24.99, available at Canadian Tire)

The Five Scariest Cleaning Jobs in Your House

There’s nothing Hollywood loves more than a creepy “home-alone” horror movie, with potential danger lurking behind every corner. In real life, these often-neglected corners of your house could be hiding some very scary surprises. 1. Attic or crawlspace These storage spaces can attract real-life creepy crawlies, from pests to mold and mildew, which can damage your home and cause health problems if left unchecked. You should examine your attic or crawlspace every six months, looking for droppings, nesting materials or other signs of pests. If you find evidence of an infestation, call an exterminator immediately. You should also be on the lookout for dampness or foul odours, which can signal that water is getting in to the house. Be sure to wear a face mask when cleaning the space, especially if you have exposed insulation. If you’re using the attic or crawlspace to store items, be sure to put them in airtight plastic or rubber containers. 2. Under furniture Who knows what horrors lurk beneath the Chesterfield? Seriously, though, dust and pet hair¬†accumulating under furniture can be a real nightmare for allergy sufferers. To clean under furniture on hardwood floors or linoleum, use an extension handle duster (the kind made for sweeping the tops of ceiling fans). Carpeted rooms require a bit more work. If you’re going to move the furniture out, consider giving the whole space a good steam cleaning –¬†will keep you from having to perform this unpleasant chore again for some time. 3. The closet If I’ve learned anything from horror movies, it’s that closets usually contain one of three things: a monster, an axe murderer or clutter –¬†and most people would rather deal with the first two. The key to organizing a closet is to divide and conquer. Take everything out of the closet and divide it into three categories: keep, dump or donate. Be ruthless; dump anything that’s damaged and donate anything you haven’t worn in a year or longer, doesn’t fit you or no longer suits your style. Once your closet is uncluttered,¬†plan to keep it that way: install double rods and shelves to increase your storage capacity, store small items in containers and use the back of the door for a hanging shoe organizer. 4. The Fridge Scarier than the Blob, a dirty¬†refrigerator is a potential breeding ground for bacteria and food-borne pathogens. And like the Blob, you should tackle this chore¬†before it becomes too big to¬†handle – about once a month. Clear your shelves, making sure to toss anything that’s spoiled or expired. If possible, remove the shelves and drawers¬†from the fridge.¬†Wipe down¬†the shelves, drawers¬†and the interior with a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda¬†to one quart of¬†hot water (avoid chemical cleaners, which¬†can leave behind¬†a scent¬†that can be absorbed by the food.) You can place a tray of baking soda or cat litter in the fridge to eliminate lingering odours. Once a season, you should¬†also unplug your fridge and vacuum the coils at the back of the fridge. 5. The Shower Psycho, anyone? You likely won’t meet a grisly end in the bathroom (as long as you have non-slip mats, of course). But it’s difficult to stay clean when your shower is dirtier than you are. Over time, your shower head can accumulate mineral deposits that will block the flow of water. To clean your shower head, immerse it in a pot of distilled white vinegar, then heat the pot on medium-low heat and rinse. Scrub down your shower walls with a¬†mildew-busting¬†solution of 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 cup ammonia, 1/4 baking soda and 3 litres of hot water.¬†Wipe down¬†glass shower doors clean with white vinegar for a crystal clear clean. Most shower curtains can be tossed in the washing machine; add half a load’s worth of detergent and 1/2 cup of baking soda during the wash cycle, then 1/2 cup of vinegar during the rinse cycle. Hang to dry.