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As it’s World Mental Health Day our latest blog entry is all about how cleanliness can affect your mental health. Whether it’s at home, at work or even in the car, the cleanliness and organisation of the environment you’re in can help shape your mental health.

Being in environments that are cluttered make for easy distractions, which can in turn impair the brain’s ability to process information to the best of its ability and leave you feeling disconcerted. This means that not only does it matter to keep your home clean and tidy, but also keeping your workspace – whether this is a desk, van, classroom or anything in between – clean and tidy as you can be more productive and develop healthy habits at work if you pay more attention to the cleanliness and organisation of your environment. By implementing techniques and habits that will help you to be tidier, you may feel better about yourself and the space in which you work, without having any anxiety about misplacing or losing documents or creating mounds of unfinished business.

A 2010 study[1] on how people described their homes and how this affected mental well-being showed that people who describe their home as “cluttered” or crowded with “unfinished projects” were more likely to be fatigued and depressed. In comparison, those who defined their home as “restful” and “restorative” had higher levels of happiness and mental well-being.

These findings highlight the way in which cluttered and messy environments can make it difficult for us to focus on particular tasks and achieve goals throughout the day and week. But by engaging in a regular cleaning routine, research shows[2] that we feel more optimistic after a failure, as being clean and tidy can help to boost self-esteem and confidence.

So, what can we easily do to make our living and working environments cleaner, so that we can positively affect our mental well-being? We’d recommend the following:

  • Setting a time each day that is dedicated to cleaning, for example arrive ten minutes early to work or leave ten minutes later so that you can ensure that your work space is tidy, ready for the day ahead. You may not want to stay at work longer than you need to, but the mental and productive benefits would be great.
  • Do the same for at home, so that not every job you need to do in the week needs doing all at once on a Sunday afternoon when you should be relaxing!
  • Have organisational office items – stationary holders, letter trays, filing cabinets – to help you file your work more effectively, reducing the amount of tidying that you will need to do when things start to pile up.
  • Split up the jobs that you don’t like doing! Hate doing the vacuuming or the ironing? Then make sure these jobs are on separate days, so you don’t feel down about doing it all at once. Also, if you live with someone, try and make it so that you do the jobs that the other person doesn’t like and vice-versa, meaning that you won’t see your cleaning tasks as as much of a chore.
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, make cleaning fun! Now this might not be easy to do, but you can listen to music or an audio book as you clean to get you through it, or even reward yourself with your favourite treat when you reach cleaning milestones.




Do You Know What’s On A Household Chemical Label?

We all use chemicals to clean at home every day, whether it’s using washing up liquid, all-purpose cleaners, toilet cleaners and everything in between, but do you know what information is on the chemicals you have at home? It’s probably something most of us don’t even think about, we just pick the product up off the shelf and use it, but knowing what’s in our products and how to use them is vital to protect you, your family and your home from harm.

Most chemicals you’ll have at home aren’t dangerous when used correctly, however, some chemicals need to be handled more carefully than others and this is where the labelling on the product comes in, telling you the dangers of the chemical and advising how to use them safely.

Most chemical products will have one of the below symbols on the label, these are the pictograms for the GHS (Globally Harmonised System) Classification of Risk Symbols. These symbols give you an indication straight away of the potential dangers of the chemical you’re about to use if they’re used incorrectly. Some of the more dangerous symbols you can still find on household items, for example, white spirit (turps), a common product used at home, has the Serious Health Hazard symbol on meaning that it can cause serious long-term health problems when used incorrectly.

As well as the classification risk of the product you will also find on the label what it does, for example degreasing, sanitizing or disinfecting, what EN regulations it meets and how to apply the product and how long you should leave the chemical on for before wiping clean. You will also find on the label the ingredients of the product and the environmental information of the chemical, so you can be aware of how harmful the chemicals you are using are to the environment.

So, how can you make sure you’re using hazardous chemicals safely? We’d recommend following these guidelines:

  • Only use as much as you need of the product.
  • Use products when children and pets are not in the area, if possible.
  • Ensure the area in which you are cleaning is properly ventilated.
  • Never leave chemical products unattended, there have been incidents in the past where people have mistaken chemicals for a drink and suffered serious health consequences.
  • Never mix any chemicals with anything else but water, as this can create toxic gases.
  • After using chemicals, make sure you thoroughly wash any part of your skin that came into contact with the product with warm soapy water.

Recycling is an issue that is dominating the world at the moment and rightly so, as in the UK alone over 31 billion tonnes of waste is produced every year, including around 5 billion drinks cans and 13 billion plastic drinks bottles being used, but more than 3 billion of these plastic bottles are not recycled. In an attempt to tackle this, more than 40 companies, including giants Coca-Cola, Asda and Proctor & Gamble, have signed up with the government, trade associations and campaigners to form the UK Plastics Pact.

This comes after the government made the announcement that there will soon be a ban in the UK on the sales of plastic straws and cotton buds, in an attempt to tackle the overuse of plastic. Environmental Secretary Michael Gove also announced that the UK will commit £61m to develop new ways of clearing up plastics.

On the new bans to be introduced, the Environmental Secretary said: “Single-use plastics are a scourge on our seas and lethal to our precious environment and wildlife, so it is vital we act now. We have already banned harmful microbeads and cut plastic bag use, and now we want to take action on straws, stirrers and cotton buds to help protect our marine life.”

Theresa May added: “The UK government is a world leader on this issue, and the British public have shown passion and energy embracing our plastic bag charge and microbead ban, and today we have put forward ambitious plans to further reduce plastic waste from straws, stirrers and cotton buds.”

So, what can we do as consumers to help reduce plastic use and increase recycling rates?

  • Read all packaging labels to know how to recycle our products.
  • Take all glass bottles to the local bottle bank.
  • Take your own cups into coffee shops, rather than using single-use cups.
  • Reuse plastics where possible, e.g. carrier bags, plastic food boxes from the takeaway, water bottles, polystyrene and bubble wrap, to name a few.

Did you know?

  • Recycling a single plastic bottle can conserve enough energy to light a 60W bulb for up to 6 hours.
  • Recycling one aluminium can saves enough energy to run a TV for 2 hours.
  • 6 billion kg of waste is dumped into the ocean every year, with most of this being plastic.
  • Takeout coffee cups are not recyclable, resulting in billions of cups being thrown away as waste every year.

There's never a good time for a clogged toilet. A blockage also runs the risk of violating the HSE's welfare at work recommendations as people should not have to wait for long periods of time to use a toilet. Fortunately, resolving the issue should be a quick and simple job.

Plunging a Toilet

This is likely the method that comes to mind first. Before starting, make sure you've turned off the water supply to the toilet.

If you suspect the toilet is blocked, do not repeatedly flush. Most toilet bowls should safely hold one cistern of water - If you flush again you run the risk of the toilet overflowing.

Making sure you are wearing gloves, ensure the plunger creates a tight seal within the toilet.

Once you've created the seal, start plunging slowly. Maximum pressure will be created if the plunger is fully submerged in water - if not it's possible an air bubble will be pushed through the pipes.

Plunge 5 - 6 times, removing the device on the final pull motion - if the toilet drains you've been successful in unclogging the block. If this hasn't solved the blockage, ensure the plunger is positioned to create a seal in the toilet and repeat.



Back to School Cleaning Tips for Busy Parents

Now that the kids have gone back to school, you may find yourself looking around the house and wondering how on earth you are going clean all the mess, but here at Spectrum Cleaning Solutions we are going to share our own tips from when our children have gone back to school. So, if you’re dreading the big clean now that the kids are back at school, you’re in the right place!



 Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning

As a parent this can seem like one of the most daunting tasks, as no doubt over summer there has been everything from muddy shoes and clothes to spilt food and drink finding their way onto your carpets and upholstery. What we’d recommend is giving your carpets and upholstery a once over with your regular vacuum cleaner, making sure to use all of the attachments and extensions to get into those hard to reach places, then to use a steam cleaner to sanitise the surfaces. A good steam cleaner will clean 99.9% of bacteria and can be used in a range of areas around your home, including on floors, tiles, glass and mirrors.



 Screen Cleaning

After the holidays there’ll no doubt be fingerprints all over the TV, laptop, tablet and phone screens after the use they’ve had over the summer, which not only looks unpleasant but can harbour bacteria that may become harmful to those in your home. The quickest method we would recommend is to go over the screen with a dry or damp microfibre cloth. If using the cloth damp, it should be damp when touched but not so damp that any water can be wrung from it. For a more in depth look at how to clean screens, see our blog post on it.



Getting Fresh Smelling Laundry

Your laundry basket may be overflowing by this point, and those items that have been forgotten about all summer that are at the bottom of the pile may need to be washed on a different setting to those on top to ensure that all clothes are left smelling fresh. Ensuring that your washing machine is running as efficiently as possible is vital to make sure that your washing is always fresh. We would recommend running a cycle once a month with no clothes in on the hottest setting your machine has, along with a washing machine cleaner to ensure that your machine is running as well as possible and stays limescale and mould free.


Outdoor Toy Cleaning

Kids love playing outside, and there’s no easier way of getting them outside than with a paddling pool, a slide, garden sand pits, seesaws etc. but these can also become dirty with their use over summer. It is tempting to just chuck these into the garden shed and forget about them until next summer, but you’ll save yourself a tough job at the start of next summer by giving them a quick wash now. We’d recommend using a pressure washer on them just to blast the muck off and giving them a rinse down with your hose – easy as that!



Doorknobs, Light Switches, Phones and Remotes

DON’T FORGET TO DO THESE! These places are easily forgotten when we clean our homes, we focus on the main areas like the floors, windows, upholstery and clothes but forget the little places where our hands touch the most, meaning that there’s probably a bigger build up of bacteria here than anywhere else in the house! To clean doorknobs you can simply use hot soapy water and a sponge or cloth to clean them, whereas for light switches, phones and remotes you need to be a little more careful as they’re electrical devices. However, it is still easy to do, all we would recommend that you need to do is to spray your normal all-purpose cleaner onto a paper towel and then use this to clean the device – told you it was easy!



I hope you’ve found this blog entry helpful, if there’s anything else you’d like us to cover then please feel free to let us know by using the contact details at the top of the page.