freshen up

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Diptyque Scented Ovals

These hang beautifully in any closet and diffuse its perfume for about 3 months. It’s a ceramic circle with a scented center (like soap). Also great in the bathroom, basement or your car.

The Laundress Scented Drawer Sheets
These large sheets are great in a drawer, taped to the side or back of a closet, or the inside top of a trunk (as in a large storage box, though it may work in your car too). Toss one in your empty luggage to keep it fresh between trips. The best part is they’re made in the USA.

Carta D’Armenia Burning Papers
These tiny papers burn like incense to remove odors (staleness, dampness, cooking odors) but they’re also good simply tossed in a drawer or cabinet. They’ve literally been around for hundreds of years so you know they work.

 

favorite cleaning supplies

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I find the people with the most cleaning supplies usually have the dirtiest homes because they think the products do the cleaning when the truth is YOU must do it (sorry!) and you don’t need that many different products to get the job done.

There are fancier ‘green’ products out there that cost 5x as much but I like to keep it simple. I also don’t need added scents which usually just give you a false sense of something being ‘clean’.

Along with these, Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook gives you detailed instructions of how to clean and maintain just about everything in your home. I refer to mine all the time. She also has great tips online.


BAKING SODA
– deodorizer: leave an open box in fridge + freezer, change every 2 month
– deodorizer: sprinkle on carpets and furniture then vacuum
– sprinkle on bottom of burnt pots and pans, add hot water, soak overnight


WHITE VINEGAR – natural disinfectant
– use one cup in bottom of dishwasher before running a cycle to make glasses sparkle
– soak shower head to remove mineral deposits
– spray shower walls and curtains to prevent mildew


BAKING SODA + VINEGAR – a powerful combination to remove stubborn dirt
– pour baking soda into kitchen and bathroom drains, follow with vinegar
   and let the magic happen to prevent clogged drains


BON AMI
 – non abrasive, nontoxic, biodegradable, hypoallergenic power cleanser
– porcelain and stainless steel sinks, tubs, etc
– tub + tiles
– marble (use the original formula)


GOO GONE
citrus based solvent
– removes sticky stuff left over from stickers,
note: remove as much of the paper part of the sticker first
– use the BBQ grill cleaner to easily and safely clean your oven 


MAGIC ERASER like a microderm abrasion for hard to clean surfaces
– scuffs off painted surfaces
– baseboards
– hard to clean plastics

– outside surface of refrigerator (not for stainless steel though!)


BOUNTY PAPER TOWELS

yes, they’re not the most environmentally friendly product, but they’re strong enough to be used more than once. Personally I use them to dry off the sink area after washing dishes then reuse them when cleaning out the cat litter to clean off the scoop, not something you’d want to use a rag to do.


TOOTHBRUSH
– clean hard to reach places and corners
– inside kitchen and bathroom drains (if you have access to drain itself)
– the often overlooked kitchen drain strainer


SEVENTH GENERATION PRODUCTS
personally I love the ‘free and clear’ line that is unscented.
I use dish liquid, laundry detergent, and glass and surface cleaner.

 

caring for cookware

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The NY Times ran a great article on properly caring for cookware. The infographic above hits some highlights of the article*. It’s a good quick read just skip the first few paragraphs to get to the good stuff…

While on the topic of pots and pans, here’s a peak at a recent client’s kitchen. Seeing the expanse of wall to the left, I envisioned a large pegboard. While they were weary at first that the pots and pans would make the space feel smaller and get in the way, they are now feeling the opposite and love it. They painted the boards the same color as the wall which looks fantastic.

We redid all the inside cabinets, moving things around to make everything more accessible and make more sense. Clearing pots and pans out of one of the lower cabinets gave us room to put in this little elfa drawer unit to use a pantry. This is actually a progress shot; there’s a bin coming for over the microwave to hold/conceal the baby’s cups, a colorful runner for the floor, and a long bread basket like this one, for the window sil to hold veggies. 

* Just a health note regarding non-stick pans. Most of them have a Teflon coating that when cooked at high temps, breaks apart and can be breathed in which is harmful to you, young children and deadly to birds (google it). The article mention to only use non-stick pieces for cooking at low temps avoiding the issue. You can decide for yourself…

nyc recycling expansion

Recycling NYC
recycle

Recycling plastic in NYC has been confusing for years. First it only took plastics with certain numbers on the bottom of the container, then, for the last few years, it only took bottle and jugs with the opening smaller than the body, meaning no yogurt or take out containers. BUT NOW: 

“Starting today, if it’s a rigid plastic – any rigid plastic – recycle it,” said Mayor Bloomberg. This doesn’t include plastic grocery bags but those are taken at CVS and most supermarkets. 

For more detailed info, click here. Happy recycling!!

spring cleaning: fabrics

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The amount of dust and dirt that rugs and fabrics hold over time even when regularly vacuumed is quite shocking. Many people have air purifiers but you need to get the dirt OUT of the house instead of just filtering it.

LAUNDER
When was the last time you laundered your pillows and duvet? I toss my down pillows and duvet into the washing machine (I go to a laundry mat that has a large size washing machine) a few times a year. Yes you can launder down. It takes a LONG time to dry but you’ll know it’s dry when that ‘wet dog’ smell is gone.  If your duvet and pillows are old (3 years +) and stained, it may be time for new ones. Dust mites and other disgusting things fill your pillows over time so it’s important to clean them regularly and replace every few years. This includes sofa pillows and cushions. This is why I suggest buying decorative pillows with removable covers so they’re easer to clean. 

Pull down fabric shower curtains, window curtains and shades to be laundered or dry cleaned if they can’t be tossed into the washing machine. Complicated shades like honeycomb or roman shades should be sent out to a reputable cleaner to be professional cleaned.

STEAM CLEANING
Have your carpets and upholstery steam cleaned. I don’t like ScotchGuard or any other kind of fabric stain protectors as they’re usually so toxic. I’d rather have a stain than have that crap in my system. Hand made + wool area rugs should be sent out to be properly cleaned. 

Check out ABC Carpet + Home’s, the best store in NYC, tips for a cleaner home and rug care tips.

 

spring cleaning: wet cleaning

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The simple truth is everything in your home gets dirty, so in addition to running a dry cloth to collect surface dust, you need to use a gentle cleanser to wet clean all surfaces. I like Seventh Generation, Free + Clear Glass + Surface Cleaner. Simple and effective, and it won’t bother you after cleaning for longer periods since it’s non scented.

Here are some areas you may not clean on a regular basis to give a deep cleaning now, and add them to your cleaning schedule (twice a month as needed) moving forward:

  • top, fronts + sides of kitchen cabinets
  • inner shelves of kitchen cabinets, upper + lower
  • top, front + sides of refrigerator
  • inside refrigerator
  • top of the medicine cabinet
  • inner shelves + contents of medicine cabinet
  • inside lower bathroom cabinet
  • bathroom walls + ceiling 
  • inside floor, shelves + hanging rods of closets
  • picture/art frames + glass fronts
  • bookshelves
  • books; vacuum the spines, use damp cloth to wipe paper covers
  • baseboards + trims
  • blinds
  • windows 
  • lighting fixtures (with exception of cloth shades) + ceiling fans

For the top of the kitchen cabinets you may need something stronger to break down the grime from cooking oils. You can use the grill cleaner I posted yesterday, or make your own citrus degreaser

Did I miss anything?

spring cleaning: vacuuming

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The vacuum is not just for carpets. Most of what you can use the vacuum for requires the hose attachment with the brush head which is why I do not like upright vacuums. Yes most of them come with hoses, but they’re uncomfortable and hard to use. I LOVE Miele vacuums. They come in a number of different options based on your needs and budget.

The following should be vacuumed on a monthly basis as needed (those of us in the city, more like a few times a month). For your spring cleaning, give the following things a good vacuuming: 

  • fabric lampshades
  • woven baskets + furniture
  • upholstery + pillows
  • corners of walls
  • molding; doors + picture rails
  • insides of closets; baseboards, shelves, corners + floor
  • blinds, shades, and/or curtains
  • insides of drawers; kitchen, bedroom, office, etc
  • spines of books and magazines
  • mattresses + boxsprings
  • carved wood pieces; credenzas, decorative boxes, headboards, etc 
  • and anything else that needs it!

favorite cleaning products

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Spring time is the time to give your home a deep cleaning.  Open the windows and scrub down before it gets too hot to want to do it!  This week I’ll be sharing some things you can do plus the products I use to clean my home.  I try to stick with natural products over heavy chemicals as I feel they work just as well and I don’t feel sick after cleaning (like I do after being with a client who only has harsh cleaning products as I like to clean as we go). 

The first cleaner is Goo Gone Grill Cleaner which I use to clean my oven. Regular oven cleaners are unbearable, I’ve tried baking soda to no avail, and even tried the basic Goo Gone, but this stuff is really fantastic.  Spray a generous amount in the oven, let set and scrub away. It may take a couple rounds of doing this but it’s so much healthier to breath while doing so.  Found at the hardware store, Bed Bath & Beyond, or Amazon.com.

What do you use to clean your oven??

time for the closet switch

It’s time to switch out the spring/summer wardrobe for the fall/winter. For most of us, 60% of our wardrobe is considered all year round and don’t need to be put away, but there’s no reason for your white linen skirts and thin cotton sweaters to sit in your closet untouched for the next 8 months.

Reasons to do the switch are most importantly:
– clearing room so your clothes aren’t stuffed in the closet making it
impossible to see what you have
– clean your clothes and the closet itself (wiping down the shelves, cleaning the floor, vacuuming the baseboards and molding) to keep moths away
– to re-acquaint yourself with the clothes you have

Someone recently said she’d rather spend time with her kids than spending the hour or two switching out her closet. While I understand the sentiment (I hear it often), I think it’s important to take the time to set up your things, whether it’s your clothes or your kitchen, so the experience of doing everyday things is as easy and enjoyable as possible. Not only for your own sanity, but to show your children that taking care of your things is important.

It’s a lesson I remember my father teaching me, and though I’m not terribly sentimental, I still have the shoe shine box he used to show me how to polish my shoes when I was young. Though I will say thank goodness that not every parent teaches their kids to do this or I wouldn’t have a job ;O)

q + a: open closet = moths?

Danielle asks: ” I used to store my garments on a rack, which was beautiful and very convenient, but then I started to find holes in my clothes! I’ve been told these were definitely caused by silverfish or moths (my home is very clean! I just like fresh air and keep my windows open most of the time). From that point on, I stored my clothes in cheap wardrobes and it’s quite ugly. My question is how do you cope with moths and such? I would be too afraid to ever store my garments outside of the closet without closed doors…”

First, are they holes or tears? Natural fibers tend to break, to tell, grip the fabric to try to ‘close’ the hole by bringing the fabric together. If there’s a piece missing that’s a hole and you may have moths, but you may not. I have tears in several of my pieces but I’ve never had moths. Clothing moths usually create several holes next to each other and you’ll see the cocoons or dead moths that look like sawdust near the holes. Did you see any dead moths or casings on your clothes?

Clothing moths are not like other moths that are attracted to light; they like dark, closed, humid spaces and are attracted to what we leave behind on natural fiber clothing such as our oils, hairs, and skin cells. They love it when we wear something once or twice then put it back in the closet or drawer not to be touched for a while.

Do you have wall to wall carpet? I had a client who’s home was also very clean but had moths living in the carpet. They tend to be near the baseboards where you don’t spend too much time really vacuuming (corner of closets, behind furniture). Another client has a reoccurring problem and we suspect someone in a nearby apartment is infested and they’re coming into her space.

The point is that having your clothes out is not the problem. Keeping your space and clothes clean is the only solution. If you really think you have clothes moths you need to have ALL your clothes cleaned; dry cleaned or laundered as needed. I’m assuming you didn’t clean ALL your clothes when you suspected you had moths. I assume this because most people don’t because it’s annoying and expensive but it’s the only way.

Edit out the pieces you don’t love and wear and make sure you regularly clean the clothes you do have. For most I generally don’t recommend cleaning clothes after every wear, but definitely at the end of the season even if you’ve only worn it once. But for those who have had moths in the past, regular cleaning is a must.

But you may not have moths. People see a hole and they immediately think it’s moths (silverfish leave stains not necessarily holes). Not sure what clothes you have but that can make a difference. My wool and cashmere get tears because I don’t have a lot of clothes so things get worn a lot. Vintage clothing can tear because over time fibers break down. And if you tend towards fast-fashion (like from H&M, Target, Forever 21) the inexpensive synthetic clothing breaks down much faster, usually after a few wearings.

Let me know what you think Danielle, I hope this helps!!