Easier Faster Safer Cheaper

Cleaning Easy As ABC

October 03, 2009 By: NB Category: Clean Principles, Cleaning 101

easy as abc

easy as abc

Here’s a tip that will make cleaning as easy as ABC…

well, actually S2W2 – that’s the acronym I remember this methodology with.  S2W2 stands for sweep, soak, wait and wipe and it’s really that simple!

You can apply this method to many different surfaces, from counter-tops, appliances, kitchen tables and floors, to porches, decks, patios, walkways, bathroom fixtures, and outdoor furniture. The cleanser might change with the application as well as the tool (cloth, mop, or squeege) used for the final step – but these four simple steps will handle most cleaning tasks. Here are the basics:

  1. sweep the surface clean of loose debris;
  2. saturate the surface with the appropriate cleanser;
  3. wait for the cleanser to dissolved the dirt and/or grime;
  4. wipe the mess up rinsing as needed.
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Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils.


October 03, 2009 By: NB Category: Clean Chemistry, UnSafe Cleaning Agents

oil well

oil well

Naphtha is a hyrdocarbon distillate left over from the process of refining petroleum or coal tar. It is a complex mixture of chemicals which is broken down into other chemicals through steam cracking or catalytic reforming. Some of the chemicals resulting from these processes are ethylene/ethene, propylene/propene, benzine, xylene, and toluene. These chemicals are used in many applications such as producing plastics, synthentic fibers, paints and finishes, solvents and strippers, waxes and polishes, camp stove fuels and to increase the octane rating of gasoline, just to name a few.

Naphtha was first used in cleaning in the mid-19th century when it was discovered that kerosene, paraffin or benzine would remove stains and soil from fabrics. This marked the advent of the dry cleaning industry. In the mid-1890s a process was developed that fixed a naphtha or petroleum benzine into laundry soap – which, during this period of history, came in bars that were shaved or melted in hot water for home laundry use. The first such soap commercially available was Fels-Naptha Soap which is today owned by the Dial Corporation and still on the market. Proctor & Gamble, at one time, produced White Naptha Soap but it is no longer manufactured.

This residue of petroleum refining and all it’s derivatives, all together refered to as “naphthas”, are volatile, flammable, insoluble in water, and incompatible with strong oxidizers. Many hydrocarbons are posionous by inhalation, and some by skin contact. Benzene is a known carcinogen. Naphthas, in general, could cause headache, dizziness, and performance speed reductions, as well as apnea or cardiac arrest as a result of acute exposure. In small amounts naphtha decays rapidly in the environment but can still affect air, water, and soil quality.

Given the possible health consequences, especially for susceptable or sensitive populations, and the possible environmental consequences, I feel that naphtha is not a safe ingredient in cleaning products. Even if it were safe, being a petroleum by-product, it is most definitely NOT a sustainable ingredient. For more in-depth information about naphtha download our special report On The History And Use Of Naptha In Soap in the Resources section.

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Make Your Own Scouring Cleanser

September 29, 2009 By: NB Category: Basic Formulas, Clean Formulas

scouring cleanser

scouring cleanser

As a general rule I don’t recommend scrubbing or scouring surfaces on a regular basis – it does eventually damage the material.  But there are occasions when it must be used if we are to rescue the surface in question.

For those times I like this cheap and easy creme scouring cleanser which is safe for a multitude of materials including glass, enamel, fiberglass, plastic, wood, stone, and metal with one exception.  This scouring cleanser contains baking soda.  NEVER use baking soda on aluminum surfaces. It attacks the thin unreactive protective oxide layer of this otherwise very reactive metal and the finish will oxidize and become cloudy and whitish.

1/4 cup liquid soap

1 Tbsp borax

3 Tbsp baking soda

3/4 cup very warm water.

Mix the water and liquid soap.  Add the dry ingredients and stir until grainy.  The shelf-life of this scouring cleanser is 3-4 months.  Remember to clearly label your container and keep out of the reach of children and pets.

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The Easiest Cleaning Secret Ever

September 28, 2009 By: NB Category: Clean Basics, Cleaning 101

work less

work less

Sometimes, we, as human beings, limit ourselves by a view that something we know is situational rather than adapting what we already know to a different set of circumstances.  Even though we already know the principle we fail to apply it in other areas.  The easiest cleaning secret ever is just that.  In fact, it’s not a secret at all.  You already know this secret and most likely apply it in at least one set of circumstances – but probably not in many more circumstances where it’s use would make cleaning far less work than we make it.

So, in the interest of helping us as humans develop our adaptive knowledge and ability to apply solutions across domains, I’m not going to just tell you what the secret is.  I’m going to use a literary technique that will lead you to the discovery of the secret for yourself.  I’d like to introduce you to a couple of women who will demonstrate for you the concept of the easiest cleaning secret ever – Lea Schure and Ima Zausted.

Lea and Ima are neighbors.  They both have a son who is active in a scouting organization.  In fact, both of their sons are in the same troup and Lea and Ima quite often volunteer to assist the scout leader with activities.  On this particular Saturday morning both Lea and Ima had a dozen boys each at their homes for a pancake breakfast before a day of fund-raising.  After getting everyone full of pancakes and loaded on the activity bus Lea and Ima both faced the task of putting their disheveled kitchens back in order.

Ima begins with the dishes.  She scrapes any left overs into the trash, including as much syrup as she can, but it’s been a couple of hours and the syrup has already begun drying on the plates.  So she stands at the sink scrubbing all the sticky syrup off each plate before putting it in the dishwasher.  There are 12 plates, plus 3 more where she, her husband, and her daughter also ate, as well as 15 glasses, the batter bowl, griddle and utensils.  It takes Ima 2 minutes to get the gunk off of each plate – so she spends a minimum of 30 minutes just getting enough syrup off that the dishwasher can get them clean.

Next Ima tackles the batter and syrup splattered counter.  She wets a nylon scrubber and sprinkles a little scouring powder on it and begins scrubbing at the dried on splatters.  After a few minutes she has successfully loosened the mess in a small area and walks back to the sink to rinse the scrubber and apply more scouring powder.  Ima repeats this process until the counter is clean and follows the same procedure on the kitchen table and then the stove-top.  Another 45 minutes has elapsed.

Finally, Ima sweeps the kitchen floor and disposes of the loose debris in the trash can.  She gets out the bucket and mop and fills the bucket with hot soapy water.  She proceeds to mop and scrub the kitchen floor with the scrubber strip on the mop as she finds mess stuck on the floor.  After each 2 foot area Ima rinses the mop in the bucket.  Halfway through the floor she empties the dirty and now “unsoapy” water in the bucket and gets fresh soapy water.  Another 35 minutes gone.  At last, Ima finishes the floor and empties the mop water, wipes down the other appliances and washes down the sink – then she collapses into the nearest kitchen chair after the nearly 2 hour ordeal to sort out her kitchen.

Lea begins with the dishes as well.  She also scrapes any leftovers into the trash but Lea doesn’t try to scrape the sticky syrup off.  Lea runs a sink full of hot soapy water and submerges the utensils and glasses and fills the batter bowl with hot soapy water as well.  In the other side of her double sink she runs a half a sink full of hot water to which she adds 2 tablespoons of white vinegar.  It takes Lea 5 minutes to scrape the dishes and run the water.   For the next 3 minutes Lea sweeps any loose particles off the counter, table, stove, and finally the floor, disposing of the refuse in the trash.  Lea washes each of the 15 glasses which takes about 30 seconds each after soaking in the hot soapy water for three minutes.  She rinses each glass in the sink of plain water and vinegar before putting it in the drainer.  Then Lea sets the stack of sticky plates in the sink of hot soapy water.  So far, 20 minutes have elapsed.

Next, Lea takes her dish cloth and spreads hot soapy water from the sink onto the counter, table and stove-top – it takes her about 3 minutes.  By now the hot soapy water has softened and loosened the gunked up syrup on the plates and it washes off easily.  She washes each of the 15 plates and rinses (again about 30 seconds each) and then the utensils (another 2 minutes).  The batter bowl, which has been sitting with hot soapy water in it,  is clean and rinsed in 1 minute and Lea puts the griddle in the wash side of the sink.  Another 13 and 1/2 minutes has elapsed.

Now Lea takes her wrung out dish cloth and wipes down the counter, table, and stove-top – all the dried-on, stuck-on batter and syrup has dissolved into mush and simply wipes away.  She rinses her cloth in the soapy side of the sink as needed and it takes her 5 minutes to clean those three surfaces.  Lea washes and rinses the griddle (1 minute).  Then she takes her mop and  spreads water on the floor from the wash side of the sink, lightly, not huge puddles, but paying particular attention to splatters or spills (about 3 minutes).  Lea lets the water out of the wash side of the sink and puts away the glasses, plates and utensils (another 3 minutes).  Lastly, Lea mops up the water and any gunk on the floor – which wipes up as easily as it did on the counter, rinsing her mop in the rinse water from the dishes after each 4 foot square.  This last process takes another 3 minutes for a total of 15 minutes since she finished the dishes.  Lea pours her self a cup of tea and absconds to the patio to do some reading since it only took her 48 and 1/2 minutes to clean her kitchen.

So what is the secret?  What was it that allowed Lea to clean her equally dirty kitchen in only 48 and 1/2 minutes when it took poor Ima 1 hour and 50 minutes?  You see it, I know you do – but maybe you can’t find the words to describe the concept.  So here is the secret – in a short, easy-to-remember phrase:  Let your products do the work.  Quit wearing yourself out scrubbing and scouring and let the solvents (water), surfactants (soap), grease-cutting and disinfecting (lemon juice) agents do what they do best – cleaning.  And, you know, you’re not only wearing yourself out by scrubbing and scouring – you’re wearing out the surfaces of the items you are scrubbing and scouring as well.  So relax. Let your cleaners clean.  Less really is more.

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Make Your Own Disinfectant

September 28, 2009 By: NB Category: Basic Formulas, Clean Formulas

disinfectant spray

disinfectant spray

This is a much safer disinfectant that the commercial brands both safer for you and your family while you are using it and safer for the environment.  Remember, lemon juice (technically it’s the d-limonene in the lemons) kills a whole host of bacteria, viruses and fungi.

The shelf-life on this disinfectant spray cleaner is about 9 months.  Remember to label your containers.  And even though these are much safer than commercial products ALWAYS keep cleaning supplies out of the reach of children and pets.

1/2 cup liquid soap

4 Tbsp. lemon juice

3 cups warm water

Mix the ingredients in a clean, empty spray bottle and shake well.  Use your disinfectant regularly on surfaces people touch a lot, like faucet handles, door knobs, etc. – ESPECIALLY during cold and flu season!

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