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Can you believe it’s Halloween already!? Us neither, it’s the time of year that we all just get busier and busier with Christmas around the corner and the last thing we want to be doing is cleaning up after throwing a Halloween get-together. So, we’re going to let you in on some of the spookiest tips and tricks that we know about to make sure your house returns to being clean and sparkling - while hopefully using less time, energy and chemicals as well!

  • A dab of toothpaste and a scrub can clean marker pen stains from wood – a handy trick to have up your sleeve if you’ve got creative kids at your party this year!
  • You’ve got a lot of people coming and going and not all take their shoes off at the door.  Ditch your old, traditional mop and get yourself a microfibre mop. Traditional mop heads will likely stay damp for a while after using, making it a bacteria breeding hot-ground, and nobody wants to be spreading that around their home. Also, microfibre works with just the cloth and water, so you’ll save money on chemicals too!
  • Struggling to vacuum any glitter that has come loose from spooky costumes? Use a lint roller to pick up any remaining pieces that are stubborn and hard to remove.
  • Someone has dropped the jack-o-lantern and you’ve now got an unsightly stain on the carpet. Pick up pulp with paper towels and blot the stain using Nova Spotta. Repeat if necessary! 
  • Did you know blenders clean themselves? Yes, you read that correctly! Once you’ve made some delicious pumpkin soup - fill your blender with warm water and add a few drops of your washing up liquid. Turn the blender on for a few seconds and rinse after. Ta-da!
  • Do you find yourself regularly throwing out washing up sponges because they get dirty? Clean them with this simple trick - Slightly dampen your sponge, pop it in the microwave for 60 seconds on full power, and you’ll reduce the amount of bacterial contamination on it by up to 99 percent, according to research published in the Journal of Environmental Health. Just make sure your sponge doesn’t have a metal scourer part or you’ll be adding “buy a new microwave” to your list of chores. Also make sure the sponge isn’t dry as this can start a fire.
  • Steam clean your microwave – put a bowl of water with a few tablespoons of white vinegar in the microwave for a couple of minutes on the highest setting, then remove the bowl and all dirt that is on the inside surfaces of the microwave should wipe straight off.
  • Hopefully you’re not going to come across any broken eggs this year – but if you do it’s best to clean these when wet with warm water and washing up liquid. If any egg happens to dry, why not try neat Orange Fresh to and a scrubbing brush to remove the marks from windows,  brickwork and paving.

We hope you find these tips and tricks useful, if you’ve got any of your own tips to share please leave them in the comments on our Facebook post!

We hear all the time about how important hand hygiene is and that we should be regularly washing our hands, especially after visits to the bathroom and before eating, but why is hand hygiene so important to our health?

In short, washing your hands properly is one of the main things you can do to prevent the spread of diseases. Good hand hygiene helps to reduce the likeliness of flu, food poisoning and healthcare associated infections being spread from person to person, with nearly 50% of all foodborne illness outbreaks being linked back to improper hand hygiene.   

But it’s not just a case of rinse your hands with water and you’re done, you need to make sure that you’re thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water every time you wash them, to ensure that all germs on your hands are killed. When you are washing your hands, you need to make sure that the tips of your fingers, the palms of your hands, your thumbs and your fingernails are all cleaned. Most people wash the palms of their hands and miss out everything else, when in fact most of the bacteria on our hands is on our fingertips and under fingernails, with bacteria doubling after using the bathroom.

It’s also important to know when you should be washing your hands as well as how, as this is another big contributor in preventing the spread of illnesses. You should be washing your hands after using the bathroom, before prepping and before eating food, when you’ve coughed or sneezed, when your hands are visibly dirty from work or other activities, after touching animals or animal waste, after handing rubbish and before and after visiting a hospital ward or other healthcare facility.

So, how can you ensure that you’re washing your hands correctly? Follow this ten-step method and you’ll be clean as a whistle:

  • Wet hands under warm running water
  • Add soap
  • Rub palms together to create lather
  • Rub the backs of hands vigorously with palms with fingers interlaced
  • Wash between fingers
  • Group fingers together, rub tips in lather on palm of opposite hand
  • Rotational rubbing of left thumb clasped in right palm and vice-versa
  • Rub the right wrist with the left palm and vice-versa
  • Rub backs of fingers against opposite palm
  • Rinse hands to remove all soap and dry hands thoroughly

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.

References:

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19934011

[2] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2476507/How-washing-hands-makes-HAPPIER-Cleaning-boosts-confidence-washes-away-feelings-failure.html

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.