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Dirty work

For your reading convenients below you will find all the Dirty Work published in 2019

January 2019

Mirror, mirror on the wall.
Hello all, I am excited to be part of this publication for the blind and visually impaired. My hope is to provide you with some tips, suggestions, and techniques for cleaning different rooms and things throughout your home.
You may think it is strange that I begin with cleaning mirrors. Yes, I used to forget to clean them, since I donít use them. However, I have gotten in the routine of cleaning them as I tend to have many friends and family members visiting. Never mind my sister always telling me that my mirrors needed cleaning.
You will notice throughout my articles that I like to use non-commercial cleaners as often as I can. Most of the ingredients I use, you will be able to find right in your pantry, and they are less expensive too! So, the solution I use for cleaning mirrors, as well as glass is 1 part white vinegar to 4 parts of water. For example, Ĺ cup of vinegar to 2 cups water. Pour the solution into a clean spray bottle. You can find spray bottles of different sizes at most dollar stores. You will also need a couple microfiber cloths. These are great as they donít leave lint behind, nor do they scratch.

Note: if your mirror has any grime that has built up on it, you will need cotton pads and rubbing alcohol. To detect if you have any grime, lightly run your fingers over the mirror to feel it. To remove the grime, moisten a cotton pad with the rubbing alcohol and wipe off the grime. You will want to do this quickly, as rubbing alcohol evaporates rapidly.

Ok, now that the grime is gone, letís clean the mirror. Spray your microfiber cloth generously with the cleaner. When cleaning, always start from the top, working your way to the bottom. The best way to wipe the mirror is at the top moving in a left to right motion, moving down and repeating this sequence down to the bottom.

When you have completed cleaning the mirror, you then can buff it. I like to lightly wipe down the mirror, again from top to bottom, with a used dryer sheet, itís a great buffer.

Donít get rid of those used dryer sheets. I will be giving you lots of uses for those next month. If you have any cleaning questions, just write to me at the address provided above. Remember its dirty work, but clean fun!

February 2019

Dryer Sheets

I hope some of you used the cleaning procedures from last monthís article to clean your mirrors. Even if you donít use them, it is nice to keep them clean. I also stated last month not to throw away those used dryer sheets. Why, you may say? Well I have many useful uses for them. I am all about reusing and recycling, as you will read in my articles.

My first use for dryer sheets is one we can all benefit from. How many electronics have we accumulated over the years? Probably a lot, right? Electronics are basically magnets for dust, since they are electrically charged. Use a dryer sheet to wipe them clean, and the static will be counteracted, meaning less dust will be attracted to them in the future.

Here is a use for dryer sheets that I use quite often. If you have a guide dog or a furry pet, these sheets are great for picking up pet hair. Simply wipe a dryer sheet over areas littered with pet hair to effortlessly lift it and leave your home looking spotless. It especially works well along the baseboards and the corners of rooms where the hair seems to accumulate.

Dryer sheets work in the bathroom too! Wet the sheet and wipe off soap scum build up from the shower. I used to use this technique to clean the sinks in the high school bathrooms.

I learned this next use from the high school art teacher. Put a dryer sheet in a container of hot water with paintbrushes to soak, and it will help lift paint from them. Who knew?

The texturized surface of dryer sheets is perfect for polishing away marks on stainless steel and chrome fixtures. Just use a dry sheet in circular motions to get surfaces shining again!

When its very cold outside, those outdoor rodents may want to take up residence in your home for the winter. To avoid that from happening, place dryer sheets in garden sheds, in your garage and anywhere else you have an issue to ward off mice, squirrels, and rats. This may not be a specific cleaning usage, but if you get those critters in your house, youíll be cleaning up after them!

Here is one more use, cleaning up dry spills. How many of you have spilled flour and tried cleaning it up with a wet sponge or cloth, only to make a bigger mess? A dryer sheetís slightly texturized surface and fibers will lift and hold dry particles in place to make cleanup a breeze.

So, donít throw away those used dryer sheets as they have many more uses! Remember itís dirty work, but clean fun!

March 2019

From Superbowl to Toilet Bowl

As a resident of California, I was hoping for a Rams win. Well, we all know how that ended up. While I was listening to that slow moving superbowl, it gave me the idea for this monthís cleaning article, that being, toilet bowl cleaning.

As a former janitor of a fairly large high school, I had my share of cleaning toilets. I have tried many different cleaning products, but here are a few homemade recipes I like to use.

Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner

You will need:
Glass bowl (essential oils react to stainless steel and plastic bowls)
Wooden spoon
2 cups baking soda (acts as a deodorizer and scours clean)
1 teaspoon (100 drops) essential oil (use one or a combination of these disinfecting essential oils; tea tree*, lavender, citrus, peppermint, or pine)
*Tea tree oil has antibacterial, antiviral, and even antifungal properties.
2 cups distilled vinegar (mild acid that deodorizes and disinfects)

Making the cleaner:
Add the baking soda to the glass bowl, and then add the essential oil.
Using the wooden spoon, mix the baking soda and essential oil, breaking up any clumps that form.

Transfer powder into an air tight glass container. Store in a dry place, not in the bathroom as the moisture will ruin the powder.

You should have enough powder for about thirty uses.

Cleaning the toilet:
Step 1: Drop 1 tablespoon of the powder into the toilet. Also sprinkle additional powder onto the walls of the bowl. Use your toilet brush to spread the powder around.
Step 2: Pour the 2 cups of vinegar into the bowl. The vinegar will react with the baking soda by causing fizzing in the water. Note: if there is no fizzing the baking soda may be too old, or the water is diluting the powder. In the latter case, add another tablespoon of the powder.
Step 3: Once the fizzing takes place, use the toilet brush to scrub the bowl clean, being sure to get under the rim.
Step 4: Let the remaining powder sit for 15 minutes, then flush.

No Fuss Cleaning

To freshen up the toilet, or for a quick cleaning:
Keep a spray bottle of vinegar and a shaker top of baking soda in the bathroom. Spritz the toilet, inside and out with vinegar and allow to sit for several minutes. Sprinkle baking soda inside the bowl and scrub clean with the toilet brush. When done scrubbing, flush. Be sure to wipe down the outside of the toilet with a clean cloth.

Remember its dirty work, but clean fun!

April 2019

Many of us gather into the kitchen not only to cook, but to socialize. So, this month, and next month too, I am moving into the kitchen for your cleaning needs. Again, I am sharing homemade cleaners that are free of chemicals and toxins, but will get rid of bacteria and germs too!

Before I begin, I received an email from Lindy from Australia who wanted to know what is the best way to measure drops of essential oils. Great question, and I should have addressed this last time. As I told Lindy, the essential oils I use now come from my local arts & crafts store. The bottles are glass, and quite small. The drops are little, so my sister says. She counted them into a teaspoon and roughly counted to 100. I think the better way of measuring is to use a small eye dropper (ask your local pharmacist for one). Fill that up about three times and add it to your homemade cleaner. Or, you can use just enough to smell it in the cleaner. Essential oils can be pricy, so you don't want to spill any.

We are going to use our basic ingredients for most of these homemade cleaners, with a few new ones added in.
White vinegar: mild acid that deodorizes and disinfects, and is effective against bacteria and mold
Baking Soda: acts as a deodorizer and scours clean
Essential Oils: act as disinfectants, lemon has antiviral and antiseptic qualities, and tea tree has antibacterial, antiviral, and even antifungal properties
Distilled Water
Kosher Salt
Dr. Bronnerís: liquid Castile soap, all natural, made from plant oils
Olive Oil: acts as a cleaner and polisher
Dr. Bronnerís Sal Suds: biodegradable concentrated cleaner made from plants and oils

All Purpose Cleaner
For countertops and sink.
Note: Do not use vinegar if your countertops and sink are made of granite, marble or stone. The vinegar is too acidic, instead use rubbing alcohol.
Pour Ĺ cup white vinegar into a full-sized spray bottle. Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Fill the bottle with warm water and shake well. Add some drops of essential oil (one dropperful), such as tea tree, eucalyptus, or a citrus oil.

To use, spray counters, let stand a minute or two, then wipe with a clean cloth.

Soft Scrub Cleaner
For use on countertops, sinks, and ceramic surfaces, not on granite.
Measure 1 Ĺ cups of baking soda into a mixing bowl. Add Ĺ cup of Dr. Bronnerís Castile Soap. Stir vigorously to combine into a paste. Add enough water to make it into a smooth liquid paste, maybe ľ cup. Add some drops of essential oils, (half eye dropperful) like tea tree, rosemary, or lavender.

Store soft scrub in a clean shampoo, dish soap, or ketchup squirt bottle. If the mixture begins to dry out, simply add a small amount of water and shake well.

To use, squirt a small amount on a damp sponge and massage into surface. Add more as needed. Rinse well with warm water.

Liquid Dish Soap
In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup distilled water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon kosher salt, until salt dissolves. In a bowl, mix 1 cup white vinegar, 1 cup Dr. Bronnerís Sal Suds and 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Add this mixture to the salt water mixture, and stir until it thickens. You can add 10 to 15 drops of your favorite essential oil for scent and disinfectant properties.

Pour mixture into a recycled dish soap container for storage.
Note: The soap may thicken more over time, if so, add a bit more water.

Liquid Hand Soap
Here is an added recipe for a nurturing and moisturizing soap that wonít dry out your hands. Using a recycled foaming soap dispenser, fill it with bottled or distilled water to within about 1 inch of the top. Add at least 2 Tablespoons of Dr. Bronnerís Castile Soap. Add Ĺ tsp olive oil and a drop or two of essential oil for scent.

Close bottle and gently shake to mix.

I will continue sharing additional cleaners for the kitchen next month. We will be making our own disinfectant wipes. If you want to be ahead of the game, you will need an empty container; the baby wipe container works great. You will also need 20 to 25 rectangle pieces of clean scrap fabric; such as old t shirts or dish cloths.

Until next time, remember itís dirty work, but clean fun!

Editor's Note: Wow, these are great. I have already made the dish soap and the soft scrub. I tried the softscrub on my glass top stove, and it's cleaner than its ever been!
I also wanted to share this link to these super absorbint microfiber cloths from Amazon. They are the best for cleaning. Thanks to reader, Judy for sharing this link.

May 2019

Does anyone have spring fever, or for those in the southern hemisphere, fall fever? And, maybe along with that, a bit of cleaning fever? Ok, maybe not that last one, but if so, I am sure those cleaning solutions I shared last month can help with that, as well as with everyday cleaning.

Did you remember to save a container, like a baby wipe container, and cut 20 Ė 25 pieces of clean fabric scraps, for making our own wipes? Letís get busy!

Disinfectant Wipes:
Again, for this one, youíll need to start with an empty wipe type of container. You may also use a large mason jar. Place your 20 - 25 square pieces of scrap fabric (old t-shirts or dish towels, work well) into your chosen container.

The Cleaning Solution:
In a bowl, combine 1 cup of water, ľ cup white vinegar, and a small dropperful (8drops) each of tea tree oil, eucalyptus essential oil, and lemon essential oil. Pour this solution over the cloth scraps in the container, where they will soak in, and be ready when needed.

I wash these small pieces of cloths with my other rags and/ or towels.

Editorís Note: After reading Mannyís article last month, I purchased a six pack of essential oils from Amazon. It contains the following types of oils; eucalyptus, lavender, lemon grass, orange, peppermint, and tea tree. Here is the Amazon link: Oils

Here are a couple more uses for my favorite trio; white vinegar, baking soda, and water.

Oven Cleaner:
I know many ovens have a self-cleaning button these days. However, if you want to, or have to do it by yourself, here is a simple way.

Mix Ĺ cup of baking soda with 2 - 3 tablespoons of water. Adjust the amount of water to create a spreadable paste. Then with a clean cloth, spread the paste all over the walls and bottom of the oven. For areas that have grease build up or food residue, rub in the paste for a scrubbing effect.

Let the mixture rest there overnight.

In the morning, Fill a spray bottle with vinegar. Spray the walls and bottom, this will create a foaming reaction. Wipe with a clean damp cloth, repeating until smooth and clean.

Note: this is not the same as the soft scrub cleaner I wrote about last month.

Drain Cleaner:
This is for those times when your sink may be smelly or slow to drain. Sprinkle a heaping ľ cup full of baking soda down the drain. Follow that with a ľ cup of white vinegar. Again, the combination of baking soda and vinegar will create a foaming/ fizzing reaction. Leave the bubbling mixture to sit for an hour or so. Then rinse it clean and clear with boiling water.

Depending on how smelly or clogged the drain is, you may need to repeat the process again. Once you do it regularly, youíll find that one time usually takes care of it!

Note: If you have a garbage disposal you can put Ĺ lemon or orange down there and chop it up, and it will smell better too!

Until next time, remember dirty work is clean fun!

June 2019

Hi All,
Hope you are trying out some of my cleaning recipes. I would like to hear your thoughts, good or bad. And, if you have any tried and true recipes of your own, why not share them with me.
This month I am sharing two carpet recipes; a freshener and stain removers.

Homemade Carpet Freshener:
A carpet freshener does not clean a carpet, it helps to neutralize the odors trapped within the carpetís fibers.
This is so easy and inexpensive, there is no need to purchase any commercially made brands that generally have added chemicals.? And, yes, this is pet safe too!

What you need:
Mason jar with lid Glass bowl (do not use metal)
2 cups baking soda
10-20 drops of essential oils (use clear or light-colored ones such as lemon, grapefruit, or tea tree)

Before you begin, hammer holes into the top of the mason jar.
Pour 2 cups of baking soda into a glass bowl.
Add your choice of essential oils to the baking soda.
Mix well, and break up any clumps.
Pour mixture into the mason jar and tightly screw on lid.

To use:
Sprinkle carpet freshener mixture lightly on carpets and rugs. Remember, a little goes a long way.
Allow Carpet Freshener to sit for at least 20 minutes.
Vacuum mixture slowly from carpet to ensure your vacuum has time to suction up the carpet freshener.

Recommended use:
I tend to use this once a month, as a build up of baking soda can seep through the carpet and get under its padding.

Homemade Carpet Stain Remover:
Step 1: Sprinkle the stain with baking soda and let it sit for about 10 minutes, then vacuum it up.
Step 2: Mix 1 tablespoon Dawn dish soap, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, and 2 cups of warm water.
Sponge this onto the stain and blot with dry cloth, repeating until stain disappears.

Here are some stain remover solutions for specific types of stains:

Coffee and tea stains: pour a bit of beer onto the stain, lightly rub the beer into the carpet, and the stain should disappear. You may need to repeat this process a few times, till completely gone.

Light carpet stains: Dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in 1/2 cup white vinegar. Rub salt mixture onto light stain. Once dry, vacuum.

Ground in dirt and tough stains: Make a paste of 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Using a dry cloth, rub paste into the stain. Let it sit for two days, then vacuum.

Spilled paint: Make a solution of 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons laundry detergent, and two cups water. Sponge away the paint before it sets in and rinse with cold water.

Fruit and fruit juice stains: Mix 1 tablespoon laundry detergent with 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar and combine with two cups of water. Work the solution into the stain and blot with clean dry cloth.

I know as blind/ visually impaired people we donít see any stains that may be on our carpet, but it is a good idea to ask someone close to you to check out your carpets from time to time. The sooner you can attack a stain, the better chance of getting rid of it!
Until next month, remember dirty work is clean fun!

July 2019

Hey readers!
I donít know about you, but when itís summer, I tend to be outside way more than any other time. Yes, even here in California! But, as we all know, the cleaning needs to get done at some point. So, for this month I have three common household products, all of course, homemade!

Homemade Air Freshener
12 Ė 15 drops of essential oil (grapefruit, lemon, orange, and lavender are my favorites)
Ĺ cup white vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
Spray bottle

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well.

To use:
Spray to freshen the room!
Note: Shake before each use.
You can experiment with higher vinegar to water ratios, and increase the essential oil if this is not strong enough for your liking.

Homemade Dusting Spray
1 tablespoon castile soap
15 drops lemon essential oil
2 cups water
Spray bottle

Add ingredients to spray bottle, and shake to combine.

To use:
Spray onto a clean cloth and then wipe the surface.

Homemade Wood Polishing Spray
ĺ cup olive oil
ľ cup white vinegar
30 drops essential oil (Optional; I like lemon, orange, or lavender best)
Spray bottle

Combine ingredients in the spray bottle and shake vigorously.

To use:
Spray directly on wood furniture and buff with a clean, dry cloth.
Note: Shake before each use.
Until next month, remember dirty work is clean fun!

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