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Who would have thought that using OIL on your carpet would deodorize it! Well it does. And it actually works REALLY well. But its not straight oil that you put on the carpet. Before I give you the details, let me explain how I discovered this awesome little tip:

You see, potty training hasnt been going too well and my daughter has accidents on the floor pretty often if I let her go diaperless. So after a while her room was starting to smell pretty awful. I'd recently received an introductory kit of DoTerra Essential Oils from my mom and thought I would see if there was anything they could do for me. As it turns out Lemon oil is a powerful disinfectant (shocking, right?!) as well as being a powerful aromatic that boosts the mood and focuses the mind. Peppermint also does a great job of cleansing as well as smelling good and is known for being calming as well as energizing. And Lavender is most commonly known for being calming and healing as well as smelling wonderful.

So you cant just put oil on your carpet, you have to use a carrier agent, otherwise you'll end up with leopard print carpet. I remembered that boxes of baking soda are often left in the fridge to absorb odors! AWESOME! Just what I need! So here's the recpie:

2+ cups Baking Soda
2 drops Essential oil(s)of your choosing (Citrus oils, Clove, or Cinnamon are great cleansers)

For small rooms use 2 cups baking soda and add 2 drops of each oil. Mix well. For larger rooms you'll need to double, maybe even triple the recipe. You'll sprinkle the baking soda over the carpet and allow it to set for at least 30 minutes. To remove stronger odors, leave it to set over night. Vaccum as usual. 

You should notice an immediate difference in the smell. In my daughter's room it smelled amazing right away and the fresh clean scent lasted almost a week, but even after the good smell faded the bad smell was still gone. Thats because Lemon is a natural deodorizer. It doesnt just smell good, it kills the bacteria that cause foul odors! So as long as the carpet stays clean, the smell will never return. How awesome is that?! 

 
 
So stains happen. And they happen a lot when you have children, or even if you just have a husband. Those men can be just as messy as any child can. So its best to keep a few things on hand to help get stains out.
Good House Keeping has a great little resource that you can use to look up the best stain removal process for specific stains. You can use this link to check it out  http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/stain-buster/ . But here are some methods I like to use that I find to be quite effective.

**NOTE**
When treating ANY stain be sure to use cool water. Warm or hot water opens the fibers and can make the stain set deeper. Once the fabric has been pretreated you can wash the garment on the highest heat setting the fabric will tolerate. This is recommended because the detergent and agitation from the washer will help rinse the stain free of the fibers. 

Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar
This is quite possibly the best and cheapest option out on the market. Its only $0.97 at Wal-Mart. It will get out chocolate, blood, fruit stains, greasy stains like ring around the collar, oil, and many many others. I have even had some success removing ink too, it takes multiple treatments but its slowly lightening the stain (this is one that has been washed and dried into the fabric many times so its pretty well set in. You might have better success if the stain is fresh.) For colored stains its best to treat it as soon as possible, but I have used Fels on stains that are years old and have seen some come up completely or have been dramatically reduced. Fels is color safe, wont bleach, and I love the smell. Fels actually is the soap I recommend for making your own laundry soap, but that's not enough to lift certain stains so I would still recommend pre-treating it.

White Vinegar and Ammonia
Straight white vinegar can be used on old greasy stains and Ammonia can be used on fresh greasy stains. It might be necessary to treat the stain a few times. Allow the stain to dry completely before treating it again.

Cornstarch, Potato or Rice Flour
This treatment is best used on fresh grease or oil stains but can also be used on liquid stains to help soak up some of the fluid before using another stain treatment. Sprinkle the powder over the stain and allow it to sit till it begins to cake up. Then brush or shake it off and reapply until the powder stops caking. This should remove the majority of the oil or grease. Then pretreat the stain with some other stain remover like Fels- Naptha.

Dish Soap
Dish soap applied to a fresh stain can be a really effective way to remove most food stains. Dab some directly on the stain and rub. Allow to sit a few minutes before rinsing or washing.

Bleach
This is generally a last resort for me, but when I do I only use a non-chlorine, color safe bleach. And even then I am still terrified of what it will do to the fabric. Bleach usually doesnt work well on grease stains but does well against juice

 
 
Ok, so dust is nasty, icky, gross. And a lot of people nowadays are allergic to it. Even if you arent allergic, its still gross and can irritate your breathing. Now, I know most of you HATE dusting. Its a common thing to dislike. Why? Because dusting usually just kicks the dust up into the air where it gets in your eyes, nose and throat. Not fun. Especially when you consider what dust is made of... dead skin cells, pet dander, hair, dust mite carcasses and feces, dirt, pollen, plant fibers, old spider webs and a whole host of other yucky things. Dust can also be a carrier of chemicals that are harmful to the lungs, liver and thyroid that can ultimately lead to neurological defects in unborn children.

So how do you get rid of dust? Well, there really isn't any easy answer for it. And you can never completely rid your home of dust... unless you're willing to deep clean everything, get rid of anything that is made of plant fiber, then hermetically seal the house and never live in it... But that's a little unreasonable. Considering that option...it doesn't seem so burdensome to do the number one thing to cut down on dust. And that is to dust your house regularly.


Dusting

Equipment
I know, you're thinking duh Jacquie, anyone could tell you that. But, how many of you know the right way to dust? Or how to do a good job? Or have ever even done a thorough dusting job? The answer probably is not many of you. So enlighten me, you might be thinking. Ok, first things first. Choose appropriate dusting tools. Those Swiffer duster things are pretty cool and do a great job, so I would recommend those. The only issue is that they are a little pricey and you have to be sure to switch them out frequently to make sure you're picking up the dust rather than just spreading it around. Barring that or an ostrich feather duster, these are great because they pick up static really easy to attract and hold onto dust, you should use a soft cloth that is slightly damp with your chosen cleaning agent. This helps grab the dust and cut through any greasy residue that might make dusting difficult (this is particularly important when dusting fans and the kitchen). A vinegar solution is great. It cuts grease pretty nicely and also, as I have been told, helps repel dust. I don't have any idea how that might work but that's what I have been told. It might be an old wives tale but it might be true, who knows. But fact is that vinegar as a cleaning solution is a great idea, see the article about homemade cleaners in Home Remedies under Home Care for more information on it.

Top to Bottom
Next, you need to know how and where to dust. You want to dust top to bottom. So start with air vents, ceiling fans, tops of shelves and cabinets, tops of large appliances like the fridge and work your way down. This helps prevent dust from getting kicked back up onto surfaces you already cleaned. This also means that all that dust is eventually going to settle into anything that is soft or cloth covered, and on the floor. So immediately after dusting be sure to vacuum all carpets. For hard floors be sure to mop thoroughly WITHOUT sweeping. If you have a dust mop, use that first, but DO NOT use a broom. A broom will move the dust around, sending some of it flying back into the air. So DONT sweep. Mop the floor a few times to remove the dirt, or use a dust mop first to cut down on how many times you have to mop. Also, an don't forget this, vacuum off the couches, throw pillows and blankets. Wash all bedding too if you were dusting in the bedrooms. Cloth holds on to dust really well, and when you sit down on it or move it, that dust gets sent back out into the air. So be sure to wash or vacuum those things regularly. Also, be sure to dust under appliances and furniture. Dust LOVES to collect there, along with many other things ranging from toys to food.


Cut Down on Dust

Air Filters
I know what you're thinking, dusting is a really hard, really annoying job. You also don't want to have to do this very often, maybe once or twice a year at the most. So how can you cut down on how much dust accumulates in your home? The first and most important thing to do is make sure you have a high quality, preferably HEPA, air filter in your home air system. A good filter can really help cut down on dust in the home. Be sure to replace the filter as frequently as the packaging states it should be. Trust me, you don't want to skimp on your air filter. If you buy a cheap one you can guarantee that your house will be dusty. Also, make sure your vacuum has a good filter in it too. Most new vacuums have a HEPA filter in it, Dyson in particular is a good one for cutting down on dust. Old vacuums, especially those that work on a bag system, catch a lot of dirt and debris when you vacuum but the finer dust particles don't get trapped and just end up back in the air. If you find yourself coughing a lot after vacuuming, chances are your vacuum is contributing to the problem or you need to wash or replace its filter.

Air Ducts
If your house is old, or you have never had this done, you might want to get the air ducts cleaned, especially if you have noticed that air vents in your house collect dust. This is a sure sign that your duct work is dirty. You can vacuum these out yourself but its worth it to have it professionally done. 

Upholstery, Bedding, Clothes and Rugs
Wash all bedding once a week and steam clean, or at least vacuum, upholstered furniture once a month. As stated above, fabrics hold on to dust and easily re-introduce it into the air when its moved. So try to keep clothes off the floor too, hampers not only keep unsightly piles of clothes off the floor, it also helps cut down on places dust can hide. Keep up on your laundry too. Whatever dirt, allergens or skin cells are on your clothes can add to the dust in your home, so be sure to not let it pile up. Also, when shaking out slip covers, blankets, or rugs, be sure to do this outside. If you've ever shook out a slip cover in the house, you've probably already learned your lesson. If you don't know what I am talking about you will when you make that mistake. It's messy. Also, whenever possible, eliminate carpeting. Carpet collects the majority of the dust in your home and every step you take sends dust back up into the air. If you do have carpet in your home, or would like to KEEP the carpet, be sure to vacuum regularly. Once a day is ideal, but once every other day will do just fine too. 

Clean and Organize
Keep your house organized and clutter free. The more surface area there is in your house, the more places dust has to settle. A tidy home is the enemy of dust.

Pets
You may not have thought about this but your pet actually contributed quite a lot to the dust in your home. If they aren't tracking dirt in from outside then they are contributing to the dust in your home by shedding and adding dander. Be sure to regularly wash and groom your pet to help cut down on how much they are adding to the dust in your home. If possible, keep a rug or cushion in front of whatever entrance they use to go in and out of the house to help collect some of the dirt they track in. Wash pet beds and vacuum cat trees regularly.
 
 
So Elsa, my 18 month old ball of awesomeness, drew on the wall for the first time today. I had hoped we would be able to avoid this stage but apparently I am not going to be so lucky. I caught her pretty early into her masterpiece but it was already about the size of a regular sized sheet of paper. 

So after the initial shock of 'WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!' Elsa walked off started drawing on the paper that I taped to the coffee table for her. I then set about the task of trying to clean these pen marks off the wall. A damp washcloth took off some of the surface ink that had not dried yet but there was still an awful lot of it left on the wall. I then tried using a little soap and when that did little to take it off I rinsed the rag and switched to a dilution of bleach. That helped a little but not as much as I would have liked. Next I tried a little chunk of one of those Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. It worked, but dont be fooled. Its no where near as easy as they make it look on the commercials. After about 5 minutes or so of hard scrubbing the eraser was reduced to little white ribbons on the floor and the ink was almost completely gone. Maybe its just that I know what the spot looked like before that it bothers me that there are still some small black specks still on the wall, but maybe John wont notice it. This is why its so important to keep a little bit of paint in the garage, in case of emergencies, whenever you put up a new wall color. 

Now to see if the Magic Eraser will take pen marks off of little girls....

Side Note: Egg shell or semi-gloss paints are the best choice for interior paints when you have children. The less porous the surface is the easier it will be to clean. I do not recommend gloss, or high gloss finishes on interior walls because its ugly, despite being easiest to clean. If there is a particular spot on the wall that your child is fond of doodling on you might try buying black board paint, if the spot is convenient for doing so. Black board paint gives the wall the texture of a black board and allows for the use of chalk for decorative purposes...this pain comes in a couple different colors I believe, so you don't have to worry about being stuck with a black square on the wall. If you dont like the idea of letting your child doodle on the wall then you might try buying your child an easel or redirecting them to a coloring book. 
 
 
When we came home from vacation we discovered a fruit fly infestation in our kitchen. I thought I had cleaned adequately before we left but apparently one item had be left to soak in the sink and it had bred hundreds of the awful pests.

My immediate response was to get rid of the offending dish and pour boiling water down both sinks. Slow draining pipes or sinks are prime breeding ground for fruit flies. So I sent a couple dozen adults, along with who knows how many larvae and eggs to a swirling, boiling, watery grave. Muahahahahaaaa.....

But the infestation persists...
 
 
So while we were in Az I spent a little time watching my mother in law's cleaning habits. As a young wife and mother I have difficulty managing the daily mess in my house. I have a husband, a 1.5yr old, and a 29yr old roommate to contend with when tackling the monster that is my house. But Mary, my MIL, seems to always manage to keep her house neat and tidy regardless of how many people are there or what is going on...