Category Archives: Cleaning products

cleaning products on market and tips on how to use them

Cleaning with pets

cat and dogAnyone that has experience in cleaning a house with pets will tell you the same thing: it is a hard job! No matter how much you clean and vacuum, pet hair seems to appear magically in every corner of the house.

So here is a list of essential tools to win the “fight” against pet hair at home!

  1. Vacuum cleaner. We all know how important it is to have a good hover to get rid of unwanted pet hair. Make sure you keep the vacuum cleaner working at its full potential by emptying the bag after every use and checking the filter regularly. Hovers are good to use on carpeted floors and upholstery. As we have explained in the past, when hovering a carpeted floor, always do several passes with the vacuum on high transit areas.
  2. Electrostatic dust mop. These are best used on hard floor surfaces. They will attract pet hair easily thanks to their static power.
  3. Microfibre cloth. These cloths are the multi-purpose tool in here. They can be attached to a broom and used on hard floor surfaces, in case you do not have an electrostatic dust mop. They can also be used on hard to reach corners on carpeted floors (just damp them a little bit and drag across the area where the carpet meets the skirting boards). They can also be used on upholstery, to get rid of pet hair on sofas or beds.
  4. Rubber gloves/ squeegees/ damp sponges. As an extra, these can always be used on carpeted floors and upholstery.

Get yourself armed to fight your pet hair with these tools, and don’t forget to brush and bath your pet regularly, as that will reduce the amount of hair around your home, making the cleaning process easier.

Do you have any tips on cleaning pet hair? share with us!



Tips on how to use your laundry detergent

Following our last post about cleaning detergents, find some ideas on how to use your laundry detergent, either powder one or liquid.

Let’s start with powder detergents:

  1. Dilute them yourself, to avoid residues on clothes. And also as a way to pre-treat stain on clothes.
  2. Use less than you think you need and that will make it last longer.
  3. When shopping, check for a brand formulated for use with cold water, to save energy.
  4. Put half a cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle to clean pipes from possible detergent residues.

What about liquid detergents?

  1. Buy a brand that comes double concentrated, as they use less water and packaging.
  2. Try to avoid capsules and buy detergent in bottles; this way you can measure the right quantity when doing half loads on the washing machine.

Do you have any other tips on how to use your detergent efficiently? Let us know!

Pros and Cons of liquid and powder laundry detergents

laundry detergents

The average family of four in UK does an average of 250 cycles per year, giving washing machines a ‘life expectancy’ of about only 4 years. Choosing the right laundry detergent will help you increase your washing machine’s life considerably. But, which one is the best?

Currently, the two main types of laundry detergent are powders and liquids. Both share the same active ingredients, but what are the pros and cons of using one or the other?

Here are some of the pros and cons of using liquid soaps for your laundry:

  • Pro: The detergent is already dissolved (so no soap scum inside your washing machine).
  • Pro: It can be used to clean some stains before loading the washing machine.
  • Pro: It dissolves easily in cold water, saving on energy.
  • Con: They usually come on plastic packaging, not very eco-friendly…
  • Con: They are more expensive.

Here are some of the pros and cons of using powdered soaps for your laundry:

  • Pro: They are cheaper than liquid detergents.
  • Pro: They are usually packed in eco-friendly cardboard boxes.
  • Pro: Surfactants (the bit that actually cleans your clothes) are more stable in powders, so these detergents have a longer shelf life (they are more effective than liquid detergents for longer).
  • Con: If you use too much you can find soap residues on your clothes, meaning you will need to have another cycle to wash them off.
  • Con: In some cases they dissolve better in warm water, so no possibility of using a cold cycle, thus higher electricity bills.
  • Con: Sodium sulphate, used as a filler in powder detergents, can destroy septic systems.

Can you think of any more pros or cons? Your choice of detergent will depend on the way you use your washing machine. Keep checking our blog for clever ideas on how to use your laundry detergents!


The use of antibacterial cleaning products

antibacterialWe recently red some news about the possible dangers of using antibacterial soaps. Some recent studies suggest that the overuse of antibacterial soaps may help create drug-resistant germs.

Antibacterial products have been used on the health sector for decades. It has only been recently that antibacterial cleaning products have become “a norm” for private households and families. It has been so extended that almost half of the soaps/chemicals on sale contain antibacterial agents, such as triclosan and triclocarban.


But, apparently, scientists are starting to get worried. They are still unsure whether antibacterial cleaning products work any better than the good old soap and water to keep germs below dangerous levels.

Soapy water wash away germs; antibacterial products kill everything, even bacteria that are helpful to the body because they keep other dangerous bugs at bay, experts say.

Scientists are warning to use antibacterial products just when needed, that is, when taking care of a child or sick person. Indeed, recent research suggests that antibacterial soaps and chemicals my encourage the growth of “super bugs” resistant to antimicrobial agents.

What do you think about the findings? Do you think this “antibacterial fever” on the consumer market is a marketing strategy to sell more products or in fact we need these cleaning products to survive?

pH level of house cleaning products

1193877_clean_home_2A common misconception about cleaning products suggests that a bigger pH means superior cleaning. But this is not always the case. The pH of a cleaning products does not relate to its cleaning performance or strength; it just indicates the concentration of hydrogen or hydroxide ions.

Understanding the importance of pH is essential when choosing cleaning products for a particular job. The pH scale goes from 0-14, 7 being considered neutral. Anything below 7 is considered acidic and anything above 7 is considered alkaline.

Alkaline products are better at cleaning dirt, grease, oils and other organic items. Acid products are better for removing calcium, rust and other mineral non-organic items.

Here is a list of the most common used cleaning products and their pH levels:

– Chlorine bleach (pH 11-13): At the top of the alkaline level, therefore corrosive and to be use with caution and not in all surfaces as these can be damaged.

– Oven cleaner (pH 11-13): The same as bleach, so ideal to cut through grease and grime, but protect the kitchen floor and worktop when using it as they could be damaged.

– Baking soda (pH 8-9): It has enough alkalinity to clean grease and dirt but not enough to label it as a corrosive product, so it is a great option to use at home.

– Washing up liquid (pH 7-8): The neutrality makes this cleaning product ideal for daily cleaning. Most surfaces will not be damaged and it can be used in hundred places around the house, not only to do the washing up.

– Natural stone cleaner (pH 7-10): Most natural stone surfaces can be easily damaged with cleaning products that are too alkaline or too acidic; hence the neutrality on these stone cleaning products.

– Vinegar (pH 3): As a natural product, most would think vinegar is safe to use almost everywhere in the house, but it is not the case. Vinegar is quite acidic so it can damage some delicate surfaces (e.g. wood or limestone). On the other hand, it is great for removing mineral deposits (e.g. lime scale).

– Lemon (pH 3):  Like vinegar, lemon is very acidic. Some surfaces, like drains, will benefit from a good scrub with lemon, but this product can damage other surfaces, so be careful where you use it.

– Toilet bowl cleaner (pH 1-3): Very acidic product, so ideal to remove minerals and other non-organic substances. As it is at  the end of the pH scale, you have to be careful when using it.

So, what cleaning products do you have at home? Have you ever checked their pH level?

The good and the bad of all-purpose cleaning products

all purpose cleanerAll-purpose cleaning products are good; they are so versatile that help us do our cleaning job in less time (and who doesn’t like that!). We all have a favourite all-purpose cleaner that we use for quick “cleaning arounds” in our house.

But there is always good and bad on everything in this world. Let’s have a look at the positives and the negatives of our all-purpose cleaning products.

The positives:

  1. They are ideal for a daily cleaning routine. If you like to sanitize surfaces on a daily basis it is always quick and easy to get the all-purpose spray cleaner and wipe clean.
  2. Most all-purpose cleaners can frequently be used to mop, clean work tops, bathroom surfaces and more. So you can easily clean your house from top to bottom with the same cleaning product!
  3. Easy handling: only one product to worry about (that is a thumbs up for anyone that doesn’t like cleaning!).
  4. Space saving on cupboards.

The negatives:

  1. All-purpose cleaners cannot clean every single surface in your house. Check the label and you will see that certain all-purpose products cannot be use on surfaces such as stainless steel or marble.
  2. All-purpose cleaners cannot clean any type of dirt and grime. You will need more elbow grease for very dirty surfaces and even then, sometimes that will not be sufficient.
  3. They are not as mild as they look like. Them being all-purpose does not mean they are just soapy water; they may contain strong chemicals such as ammonia, so it is better to check the label if you are concerned about this.

Tell us, what is your favourite all-purpose cleaning product?

The best carpet stain remover

I came across a research from Wich? yesterday regarding carpet stain removers. It is quite interesting and it proves that sometimes a little can go quite far.

Experts conducting the research found that in most cases using washing up liquid to clean fresh stains on the carpet works better than any costly cleaning product we have on the market.

Washing up liquid diluted in water proved to be as good as any other cleaning product to remove most of the stains (fresh or dried) except chocolate and coffee, being as effective as 13 out of the 17 products tested by Which?

But if you still put your hands up for specialized cleaning products for your carpet stains you should know that there is no need to spend a fortune on them. The Which? research showed that the best carpet stain removers are the ones from your supermarket brand; so forget about the big brands!

At the end of the day the key on removing stains from a carpet is on the elbow (check our previous article on this).

Do you have any trick to get rid of nasty stains on your carpet? Share with us!

Myths about bleach

1- Bleach is the “miracle” cleaner

The strong smell of bleach and the fact that it can remove all colours from surfaces have made people think that bleach is the cleaning product we can’t live without. But don’t be so quick on your judgement!

Bleach is very effective on killing germs and removing stains, but it doesn’t actually clean; it is not a good product if you want to clean grime and dirt. Bleach is an oxidizer and has no detergent on the ingredients; what it does is change the molecular structure of certain substances making them look lighter, but it doesn’t remove them (it looks clean but it’s not!).

2- Bleach will kill all mould in the world!

Well, stop there. As we said before bleach is not a miracle, so you can clean mould stains (not the actual mould spores) but only on hard non porous surfaces. This means that if you have a mould problem somewhere else, bleach will not be an effective cleaner.

3- Bleach has no expiration date

Believe it or not bleach has an expiry date! It looses up to 50% of its strength and killing power on the first 90 days after manufacturing, even in unused/unopened bottles. So forget about those bleach bottles bought 2 years ago as they won’t have any effectiveness when used.

4- Bleach is a good disinfectant and bacteria killer

OK, this is not completely wrong… as we said before bleach is a good product for killing bacteria. But there are two “ifs” on this sentence: First, bleach looses its power very quickly (see myth 3); if you use a bottle bought long time ago most probably it won’t do the job. Second, bleach works well when in contact with the affected area for 10-15 minutes; if you spray a wall, bleach will immediately run down, so the area won’t be in contact with bleach for more than a second (unless you keep spraying for 10 minutes till you faint due to its vapours, which isn’t a good idea!).

How do you feel about bleach now? We do not want to say that bleach is useless, it is the fact that we need to think twice about what cleaning products we buy and how/where we use them to make the cleaning as effective as possible. Let us know your thoughts!

4 cleaning products to avoid during pregnancy and their substitutes

Pregnancy always make us aware of our surroundings while we try to create a calm and safe environment for the new baby. At the same time as we think about the nursery and the baby safety around the house, we can’t forget about the cleaning. Most of the cleaning products we buy on supermarkets are made of harmfull ingredients that can cause anything from a mild reaction to more severe health problems.

Here are 4 cleaning products that you should avoid if pregnant and what you could use instead:

1- Bathroom cleaners: We tend to use very strong products to clean our bathrooms, specially to get rid of lime scale and dirt in the toilet bowl. These cleaners are made of toxic chemicals that can, apart from damaging your bathroom surfaces, be a danger for your future baby.

What to use: Have a bottle of 50/50 solution of water and vinegar ready to use after your daily shower as a preventative method to avoid lime scale. And use a baking soda paste to clean the surfaces and get rid of mildew.

2- Oven cleaner: There is no mystery on this one. Most of us have felt dizzy while using oven cleaners and ended up with a headache. The chemicals in oven cleaners can cause skin burns, irritation on eyes and lungs and acute poisoning from ingestion.

What to use: Sprinkle baking soda (a lot) all over your oven; then spray water on the baking soda until it starts to make some foam and leave it to work (spray some more water later on if you see that it is getting dry). Wipe the paste and dirt with a sponge.

3- Polish: Chemicals on furniture polish (specially perfum) can cause irritation and allergic reactions.

What to use: A good feather duster or micro fibre cloth and opened windows will do the trick. But if you are looking for a nice odour after doing the dusting, then you can use some scented candles or a home made air freshener like these ones.

4- Window cleaner: A lot of the window cleaners available have ammonia as one of their ingredients. The fumes can cause health problems on lungs and skin.

What to use: Use a spray bottle with a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of washing up liquid. Spray your windows and wipe with a cotton cloth.

Poisoning from house cleaning products is a serious matter and more common than we think. Having some alternatives on hand is always something pregnant mothers should have in mind to protect their health and their new baby’s health.

Weird cleaning tips that work

Here are some cleaning tips to help you around your home:

1- Rub a lemon wedge inside your mug to get rid of tea stains; then wash with soapy water and your cup will be clean as new.

2- White bread will help you clean dirty spots and finger marks on walls and dust on paintings (just make sure that the bread is fresh).

3- Clean your plants with a little bit of mayonnaise or beer to return the shine on them.

4- Strike a match to get rid of all bathroom smells (greener than an air freshener and very effective!).

5- For smelly hands after chopping onion or garlic, just put your hands on running water for 30 seconds without rubbing them and the smell will disappear. Otherwise you can rub your hands on fresh parsley.

6- If you are washing red clothes for the first time, make sure you soak them in white vinegar first; this way you avoid these clothes bleeding all over your other clothes.

7- Put some dry rice onto your salt pot to protect from moisture.

Have you got any funny cleaning tips that work wonders? Let us know!