Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Top 5 tips for a fresh smelling home over the holidays

Season's greetings and wishing you a happy and healthy home.

This morning I was thinking about a phone call I had yesterday and thought it was a good time for holiday reminder.

During the winter months and especially during the holidays, we close our houses and add lots of fragrances. A home has smells, it is part of living. Close up your house and those smells become a little more obvious. Of course, you don't want your house to smell like dirty socks or your cat box so what do you do? If you listen to the TV, you might choose the options of: spraying disinfectants and deodorizers, lighting scented candles, using plug ins, or misting fragrances.

What happened? Your home no longer smells like socks but pumpkin spice, misty mountain and cider apple. All good stuff right? Our sense of smell is very powerful, but our ability to guess what is giving us a headache, sinus infection, stuffy nose, or watery eyes may be harder to distinguish. If you or a family member is sensitive to fragrances, these added smells may be giving you more than you hoped for.

While your home is closed for the winter, be mindful of what you are adding back to your air. Sometimes the fragrances we add may not be so festive!

Top 5 tips for a fresh smelling and healthy home:

1. Open up your windows as often as possible
2. Keep your home clean- especially well vacuumed and dusted
3. Run you vents and fans during: showers, cooking and laundry
( make sure your vents, vent directly outside)
4. Remove the source of the odor, don't cover it up
5. Introduce healthy and yummy smells
Roast chestnuts:)
Bake cookies
Put a little fresh cinnamon and cloves on the stove

A clean home, a fresh home, and a loved home usually smell pretty good.

From our house to yours- Happy Holidays,
Denise and Dallas Frakes

Monday, November 22, 2010

Preventing and putting out kitchen fires

Last summer I had one of those days. My grandpa had made me a cutting board, which I hang over our stove top. On one crazy summer day it fell. Did you know a heavy cutting board dropping approximately 10 inches can shatter a glass cook top? It was also news to me...

After, a quick shopping trip, a bit of luck and a handy husband by evening, I was back in cooking business. As I was going through the paperwork for my new cook top, I came across this handout for safer cooking. It is all about preventing and putting out a fire in your kitchen. As the holidays are literally right around the corner, I though you might like a refresher on fire safety in the kitchen. Wishing all a very happy and safe holiday season.

The follow comes from the Association of Home Appliance Manufactures: Recipe for Safer Cooking:

To prevent a cooking fire in your kitchen:
Keep an eye on your cooking and stay in the kitchen. Unattended cooking is the #1 cause of cooking fires!!
Wear short or close fitting sleeves. Loose clothing can catch fire
Watch children closely. When old enough, teach children to cook safely.
Clean cooking surfaces to prevent food and grease build-up.
Keep curtains, towels and pot holders away from hot surfaces, and store solvents and flammable cleaners away from heart sources. Never keep gasoline in the house.
Turn pan handles inward to prevent food spills.

To Put out a cooking fire in your kitchen:
Call the fire department immediately in many cases, dialing 911 will give you Emergency Services
Slide a pan lid over flames to smother a grease or oil fire, then turn off the heat and leave the lid in place until the pan cools. Never carry the pan outside.
Extinguish other food fires with baking soda. Never use water or flour on cooking fires.
Keep the over door shut and turn off the heat to smother an oven or broiler fire.
Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Make sure you have the right type and training.
Keep a working smoke detector in your home and test it monthly.

Here's to safe cooking,

Blue Sky Services
Natural stone and tile care
Preventative maintenance and in this case fire prevention in our cooking!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hair and leaves falling like rain!

The leaves aren't the only thing falling this season. Our dog's hair is dropping just as fast. Keeping the soil out of your house is the number one way to keep it clean. But what if the soil/dirt/hair comes from inside???

Apparently, fall is the season for dogs to shed- at least ours. I used to think dogs only shed in the spring but I was very, very wrong. My dogs are loosing their summer coat at an alarming pace.

In cleaning, your best bet is always to remove the source of the soil first. Not to worry, I'm not getting rid of my dogs, but I am putting a little more time into brushing Sally and Reggy.

Over the years, the owner at my local Splish Splash dog wash, has introduced me to some incredible dog care tools. At our house, we need two different tools. Our dogs have completely different coats. Reggy has long hair, Sally short has short hair. If you aren't already in possession of these tools, I recommend you stop by your local pet store or dog wash place.
Wishing you a healthy and happy home,

Blue Sky Services
Stone, tile care
Preventative home care

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Not to exceed

It seems our culture is always trying to exceed expectations. I think this is critical in business service but exceeding your quoted price is not so cool. If you look at our quotes usually they have a little statement over our price that says "not to exceed".

We hope to always exceed your service expectations but exceeding our quoted price is not where we excel. Not only do we stay below our quoted price, sometimes we can also go below that price. It is so hard to tell the exact details of a job until you are deep within. A job may go a little easier than expected in which case our invoices reflect the ease.

Of course, when additional services are requested and we are already on your job, it may to have exceed the quoted price, but you will know that up front. Many times we have added a service or two but the bottom line still stays the same. I think being a company that doesn't not exceed may be even better than one that over exceeds- especially where the bottom line is concerned!!

We are able give your this benefit because you are always working directly with owners. Blue Sky Services isn't just another pretty company it is also a company with a lot of TLC. Thanks for your business, please feel free to call anytime.

Wishing you a healthy and happy home.
Blue Sky Services: stone, tile and grout care
Preventative maintenance consulting and very effective tools!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

An ounce of thanks

Is there any better time to say thank you than the present moment? Over the past 19 years of our business, I have been amazed over and over at the generosity and kindness of our customers. With a tough economy and lots of other great businesses out there, our phone continues to ring and business flows.

It is always a good time to remember to say thank you. For without you where would we be? In return we hope you feel confident knowing we are always just a phone call away. Ours is not a big company but what it lacks in size we make up in heart. We take our work personally, we do our very best to help out, even if it means referring you to another company. Having happy customers and the satisfaction of a job well done is pretty much what we shoot for.

Currently, I'm taking a online class from South Seattle Community College on Online business. My class assignment was to find our business a tag line. Do you think 'thanks" would work? As I was contemplating tag lines, here are the words that came to mind: confidence, honestly, relaxed, personal, experience, gratitude, fun and helpful. It's not a tag line but maybe those words that come to mind are what keeps us in business. We may not have the best web presence, I don't even write to you for web presence. Our business is more like conversations between friends. I hope remembering to say thanks is always part of those conversations!

with our deepest gratitude, we wish you a happy and healthy home,

Blue Sky Services

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tis the season to clean and clean out!!!

I know spring cleaning is the popular time for the big clean but Autumn cleaning makes more sense. Before you close up the house for the season, before the holidays arrive and before the new year resolutions start accumulating - clean out your cob webs.

It actually makes sense. Your cleaning efforts will last longer when your house tucked in for the season. You don't have as much foot traffic coming in and out, probably less dust with the windows closed and you will feel like a million bucks to have your home clean before company and the holidays arrive at your door.

Besides the obvious benefits there are also some hidden benefits. Clean and organized just plain feel better. I can't explain it so much as I know it. With 20 years of professional cleaning experieince, a life of personal home cleaning and zillions of chats with family and friends here is my verdict: Clean and organized feel good. I'm not talking perfect here, just refreshed and rejuvenated.

There is something almost magical about a home that has been deep cleaned. It comes with a deep breath and big cleansing-relaxing-letting go exhale! If you don't believe me, next time you catch yourself feeling overwhelmed and stressed stop and clean a closet or bookshelf. The act of quiet simple act of cleaning is also good for the soul!

May you breath deeply and have a healthy and happy home,

Thursday, September 2, 2010

4 Steps to Healthier Air

Today, I was pondering which topic to visit about for the health of your home. There are so many but the one that has the strongest effect on my own health is fragrance.
That is our topic today: Fragrance and how it affects the health of your home

The over abundance of fragrances in a home, can be a hidden irritant to you and your families health. Almost everything and anything can have a fragrance added. Even, get this, unscented and natural products! To find an scent free product look for products listed as fragrance free.

Where do these fragrances come from...everywhere! A typical home can easily contain the following fragrance filled products: candles, plug ins, shampoos and cream rinces, cleaners, furniture polish, body deodorizer, body lotions and soaps, air freshener, disinfectant sprays, and perfume. Get the picture? They are everywhere and in almost everything.

Why is this unhealthy to your home? Because those fragrances are what you breath. Besides just being unhealthy in general, a lot of people, like me, are sensitive to different fragrances.

From the American Lung Association, here is a quote from Facts about Perfumes, Fragrances and Scented Products:
"People with asthma or allergies can have their respiratory problems triggered by perfumes. Small children, babies and the elderly are especially susceptible to these effects. People who are sensitive to perfumes sometimes notice headaches, problems breathing, watery eyes, nausea, fatigue and other symtoms."

For me, I get watery eyes, my throat gets all flemmy and my sinuses start giving me fits-how lovely is that!. Headaches and fatique are sneaky side affects of fragrance sensitivities that give many unsuspecting family members troubles.

What can you do?

4 Steps to Healthier Air
1) Start by becoming aware of the scented products in your home.
2) Notice how you or other members of your family feel around fragrances.
3) When you buy new products, look products listed as fragrance free.
4) Open up your windows, turn on your vents and consider getting a good air HEPA filter
in your home.

A home should be a place of health not the source of unhealth. Consider taking a deeper look at the fragrances and perfumes that may be lurking in your home and car.

If you have any questions, you are always welcome to call on us. I am not only the co-owner of Blue Sky Services but I'm also a Master Home Enviromentalist volunteer from the American Lung Association.

As always, we wish you a healthy and happy home,
Denise Frakes
Blue Sky Services

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Labels Labels Labels......It is a big deal

On your moments of free time what do you do? Do you read the labels of your cleaning products? I'm guessing no. And really why would you? If you are like most families, you may not have oodles and oodles of free time. Why in the world would you add reading your cleaning labels to your list of a million and one to do's?
I can give you two very good reasons why you may want to re-think your free time priorities...

Reading the labels of your cleaners before using can...
1. Protect you and your family from harm
2. It can save you thousands of $$$$$$
Labels are not perfect, but they do give you enough information to be incredibly helpful.
For you and your families protection please at least read:

This little section will help you know if the product you are cleaning with is dangerous.
It will give safety tips such as: fatal if swallowed; avoid eye contact; do not mix with bleach, mildew removers or any other household chemicals as hazardous gases may be released!!!!!
This is great info to have before you start cleaning!!!!

2) Directions
It is always a good idea to follow directions- enough said.

3) For use on or not to be used on...
You may have to hunt for this one but trust me it is soooo worth your time. The wrong cleaner can do thousands of dollars of damage. Just this week, I visited with the nicest lady who had just etched her travertine floors with an acidic cleaner. This happens all the time! Sometimes the label will be clear: Do not use on such and such, but sometimes you have to dig a little deeper.

A good hint is... if the cleaner says it removes hard water buildup, calcium and lime stains or rust stains it is most likely an acid. An acid will etch acid sensitive surfaces such as marble, travertine, onyx, limestone and grout.

I would love to say labels have all the information we need, but they are far from perfect. However and this is a big however, they do give you enough info to help protect you and your home. When in doubt call the 1-800 on the bottom of your product, look up the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) or call a professional before you clean.
Also, keep in mind some cleaners such as vinegar are considered food and do not have cleaning instructions. Vinegar is an acid, it may be pretty safe for you but it may still do big $$$$ damage.
If you ever have any questions, please feel free to call us or the manufacture of your cleaners. Today's blog is precisely where our blog site got it's name...
An Ounce of Prevention.

Wishing you a healthy and happy home.
Denise Frakes
Blue Sky Services: Stone and Tile Care

Saturday, August 21, 2010

7 clues you may need a nap

A healthy home is also a happy home. There is more to life than being serious and working all the time. Sometimes a good nap is in order.
In November of 2008, I wrote the 7 Clues You May Need a Nap. Today, feels like a good day to re-write that list (this afternoon I needed a nap)

1) If your friends and family's IQ's mysteriously plummet... you may need a nap.
2) If you accidental ask for a pillow instead of a double espresso... you may need a nap.
3) If you can't think of one thing that makes you happy, but can easily come up with 5 things that make you miserable... you may need a nap.
4) If the thought of going to bed early sounds better chocolate... you may need a nap.
5) If you find yourself nodding off at a stop light... you may need a nap.
6) If you start snapping at your pets just because they need to pee... you may need a nap.
7) An finally, if the last time you remember taking a nap was in kindergarten... you may need a nap.
A nap may not create world peace... but it sure can't hurt. May your naps feel as good as our cat Penny's naps.
Wishing you a healthy and happyhome,
Denise Frakes

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cleaners are not food or air

Yesterday, I wrote about noticing the huge overuse of cleaners in a home. Today, I thought I would explain why I think this is detrimental to the health of all those living in that home.

Please picture this with me. As you clean, say your shower walls, what do you do? Spray cleaner right? Where does that cleaner go? Most of it goes on your walls, but some of it goes in the air and you breath it, some of it lands on you and maybe some on the adjacent shower glass door. What if your next step is to clean the shower glass doors? Here is where this gets a little sticky!!! Now your spray the glass shower door. The cleaners go on you, in the air and on the shower. If your shower cleaner contains bleach and your glass cleaner contains ammonia you just created a toxic gas!!!!!

This accidental mixture and reaction of cleaners happens all the time. Toilet cleaners mixed with glass cleaners or all purpose cleaners is another unfortunate but very common mixture.
Your home should be a place you and your family can relax and rejuvenate, your home should not be the source of your un-health or stress.

Cleaners are often left behind in the cleaning process. This shows up as re-soiling but the unseen part of this is there are unintentional chemicals left around your home- every where!!!!!

Cleaners are not food, they should not be left on countertops. They aren't air, they shouldn't be put in our air and of course they are not something we want on our skin!

Here are some easy solutions-
Do not spray cleaner over your head
Apply cleaner directly to a microfiber or towel and then apply to surface
Always rinse and dry surface after using a cleaner

Wishing you a healthy and happy home,

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Don't fall for the spray and destroy method of cleaning

One of the scariest constants I have seen over my last 20 years has been the over use of cleaners.
There is a billion dollar industry out there trying to help us decide to buy their cleaners because we need their cleaners. Help and need are the key words. Help is actually a huge marketing plan to convince us that we can not live with out their products. Need is truly in the eye of the seller. If you listen to commercials you would think your life will come to an end if you don't disinfect your mirrors, wipe up any germs that dare enter your home and remove any trace of living from your home.
The fact is you do not need 15 different cleaners in your home. Most cleaners you pick up at the grocery store are what I would call restorative cleaners. They are meant to spray and destroy. The spray and destroy method is not healthy for your home or your surfaces.
For the next couple of months, we are going to help show you a new way to have a healthy home, a clean home and a long lasting home. We are not a billion dollar industry and we do not recommend the spray and destroy method, what you will find is a very passionate company trying to help prevent damage- to you and your home. Stay tuned!!
Wishing you a healthy and happy home,

Monday, August 16, 2010

The value of a good designer

This morning I made a decision to focus the next 2 months on helping you have a healthy home. Why in the world would my first writing be on the value of a good designer? My answer to that is two part: First of all, tomorrow night I'm speaking at an association meeting of NWSID or Northwest Society of Interior Designers, so designers are kind of on my mind. The second reason is that I have had the privilege of working with multiple clients of these designers. What I find is, the clients of a good designer seem happier and more relaxed.

The bottom line is, when your home is in transition it is easy to become overwhelmed with chaos. Your stuff is everywhere, decisions must be made daily, finances get stretched and pulled, you wonder who you can trust, deadlines are extended and on and on it goes. A good designer can help you remember what your passions are, put them on paper and then into reality. A good designer can help you maneuver around land mines and costly mistakes, put you in contact with great contractors and subcontractors. A good designer will know which surfaces will fit your lifestyle and the ones that function better on paper than in reality.

A healthy home is a relaxed home. A home filled with stress is detrimental to you and your families health. Sometimes your best decision is the decision to ask for help and then relax. If you are considering taking on a major remodel or even just changing your paint colors, consider working with a good designer. The time and stress saved will be well worth the cost.

An effective way to find a good designer is to contact the Northwest Society of Interior Designers or NWSID.

Wishing you a healthy and happy home,

Monday, August 9, 2010

The decision to walk 60 miles

This past weekend I spent it with a good friend on Whidbey Island. We were at a camp to walk 38 miles in 3 days. This was in preparation of the upcoming walk my friend will be doing. You may have heard of it... Susan G Komen 3 day for the cure.
I went to this camp to support my friend.
During the 3 days of rain, water bottles, mole skin, pee stops, hugs, pink pom poms, two ducks, one large bale of hay, laughing, sound views, old houses, camp fires, fields of hubbard squash, lots of hugs and smiles, 38 miles of walking and camping in the rain we became a team.
A team that will go on together and walk the 60 miles on Sept 24 here in Seattle. I realized when you are in pain a friend close by makes the pain so much less. Spontaneous laughter and lots of chatting also helps keeps your mind off your soar feet.
Everyone I know seemed to already know I would go on to do the 60 mile walk. I'm always the last to know what is obvious to everyone else. Dallas is incredibly supportive as he always is. As I was walking this weekend, he was working on a big job. He knows this will take a lot of time and effort and he didn't even waver, he just supported me and our friend. He didn't even wince when I told him I need to raise $2,300.00 in 6 weeks. Now that is a good husband!!
My friend is walking in memory of her friend who passed away on Sept 24th last year from breast cancer. I am walking to support my friend who went through breast cancer treatments this spring. If she can walk after what she has been through I can most certainly walk and raise $2,300 in 6 weeks.
I'll be writing more about this later but this is a long over due blog. In my view, cancer can hopefully be prevented but if it can't be prevented then let it at least be diagnosed as early as possible.
May you and your families be happy and healthy,

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Best in Travertine Floor Care

I was getting our travertine care info ready for a client and decided to share it with you as well. Here is our maintenance care info for your Travertine floors. Have a great day.

Characteristics of Travertine:
A neutral colored stone
Has small holes in the stone, which can either be left open or filled
Tends to be scratch sensitive and acid sensitive

Preventative Care for Travertine Floors
* Use a good and clean entryway mat at every entrance to your home or business
These mats act like filters to your home: Keep them clean
* Vacuum or sweep your floors often
Use a vacuum that is made for hard surface only
Frequent vacuuming or dusting is more better for your floors than frequent wet cleaning
* Wipe up spills quickly
Travertine is usually acid sensitive. Acids can etch your stone leaving dull marks
Common acids: cleaners, vinegar, vomit, urine, personal care products, toilet cleaners...
* Use felt pads on all furniture and chair legs, replace felt pads when then get dirty or worn
For chairs with rollers. Put chair casters on with a soft rubber wheel
These are the same you would use for hardwood floors
* Be careful with high heel shoes. Keep your shoes in good condition
* Keep your dog's nails trimmed. This will help prevent scratches.

Cleaning: Maintenance Care for Travertine Floors:
* Use a neutral cleaner made specifically for natural stone daily maintenance
General house hold cleaners can be high alkaline and acids- stay with neutral cleaners
* Leave your floors residue free.
If you leave soap/cleaner behind this can attract more soil.
If you leave water behind you can attract extra dust and leave mineral deposits behind.
* Whenever possible clean, rinse and dry floors for best long term beauty and care
* Protect your travertine floors with a high quality impregnating sealer
Please do not put coatings or finishes on travertine floors-
you know, the sealers that make your floor look shiny
* Penetrating sealers will not prevent scratches or acid etches so still be careful

Polishing, Repairing and Resealing your travertine floors
* Don't panic if your floors get an etch or scratched they can always be re-polished
* This also goes for the fill in travertine floors. It sometimes comes out -
but not to worry it can be refilled
* Periodically you may want to have your floors professionally cleaned and resealed. Stone can hold amazing amounts of soil. If your stone starts looking kind of grey or if water starts penetrating into your stone give us a call for a professional cleaning and resealing.

Hope this info helps but if you have Questions give us a call...
Blue Sky Services: stone and tile care 253-946-2056
New construction sealing, professional tools and techniques for residue free cleaning
Filling, resealing and deep cleaning

Wishing you a healthy, happy and beautiful home,

Friday, July 2, 2010

Dirty floors got you down?

Why do floors get so dirty so fast? Drips, spills, dirt, dust and sometimes slobber spots (if you have dogs) may be to blame, but there may be something else causing your floors to quickly re-soil.

It might just be your own cleaning causing the trouble. I know that sounds backwards - cleaning is causing dirt- but cleaning is exactly what causes a huge portion of floors to soil and then re-soil.

Consider this: How do you wash your windows, TV screens and mirrors? Would you ever consider taking your mop and smearing your windows and then just leaving them to dry on their own? You can imaging the soil, the wipes, the water spots, the soil! Oh my! Now think how those poor windows, TV screens and mirrors would look if you mopped them every week. Can you see where I'm headed with this? Mopping is not really cleaning, it is smearing.

If you currently mop your floors- not to worry. We can help. It's called residue free cleaning. Residue free cleaning is cleaning without leaving anything behind- soap or moisture. Residue free cleaning-with the right tools and techniques is fast and very effective. Plus, you won't have scrub off your own cleaners.

Residue free cleaning can help extend the life of your floors, keeping them looking great and as an added bonus... drum roll please... you are not leaving unwanted cleaner/chemicals behind on your floors. This is a big bonus to homes with pets and children.

At Blue Sky Services we practice and teach residue free cleaning- it is the only way to go. If you have any questions just give us a jingle. We are always here to help.

Wishing you a happy and healthy home,

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The great laundry secret

If one glug of cleaner is good, two glugs must be better, right? Not!!! Not is the key word here. Not, is what suppliers, manufactures, technical support, cleaning instructors and Blue Sky Services teach. The tendency of adding too much cleaner is as common as rain in the northwest. For some reason, and I can't really tell you why, the tendency of more is better seems to be ingrained in our every cell.

This weekend, my step mom gave me an article she had saved for me from the Wall Street Journal about laundry and over soap application.

The article is called "The Great American Soap Overdose" by Ellen Byron. " 1-27-10
Here is a quote I though summarized the article.
"Detergent "overpouring" creates a high, foamy tide inside the machine, lifting solid and lint above the water level so it isn't rinsed away. That leaves residue on clothing that fades colors and attracts more dirt, they say. Inside the machine, detergent buildup encourages odor and bacteria growth, and leads in time to wear and tear that will require professional attention, washer manufactures say."

Over application of cleaner not only applies to cleaning your floors, countertops and showers, it also applies to your dishes, laundry, windows and pretty much everything we use a cleaner on.

What to do...
-Always read your labels and follow directions.
There is more to cleaning than just the cleaning chemicals.
-Cleaning is a science which includes many factors such as:
Inspection/testing, time, heat, agitation, water, cleaner, dry soil removal,
rinsing and drying Cleaning is not just using chemicals or cleaners
-Consider applying the cleaning philosophies of:
Less is more - more is often worse not better
Practice residue free cleaning - where no soap is left behind

Cleaning with less may be weird at first and you may not believe your clothes or dishes are as clean, but trust me they will be cleaner! If you have a spot on your clothes treat the spot and then use less cleaner.

Have you ever been in a hot tub where there is foam and bubbles everywhere? This is left over soap that gets reactivated with heat and water. Lots and lots of soap is left behind.

If you have concerns or questions about your laundry or dishes my best recommendation is to call the manufacture of your equipment and ask for technical support. Ask for their recommendations and suggestions on using their equipment the best way to achieve the very best results.

Wishing you a healthy and residue free home,

Friday, June 4, 2010

the big 5 surface sensitivities

This morning I was pondering all the things that can damage a surface. Every surface has sensitivities. Some surfaces have lots of sensitivities, others just a few and some are tough as nails- but keep in mind nails can be melted. Knowing what, when and how is priceless...

I whittled my list of sensitivities down to 5 and drum roll please..... here is my list.

1. Moisture/water
2. Chemicals/cleaners
3. Abrasives/dirt
4. Heat
5. Sunshine

I know there are more, but as a general rule these are the 5 things that your surfaces are most sensitive to. Keep in mind each surface may have levels of sensitivities. Take granite, it is generally acid resistant but can be etched with hydrofloric acid. Carpet can be cleaned with water but if flooded over time can de-laminate. A little abrasion is sometimes needed to break surface tension but scrub too hard on pretty much anything and walla... damage.

Examples of normal sensitivities:
marble is sensitive to abrasives and acids
carpet is sensitive to abrasives and bleaches
wood is sensitive to abrasives and water/moisture
laminate is sensitive to abrasives and heat
upholstery is sensitive to sunshine and bleach
grout is sensitive to abrasives and acids
Of course for any general rule there are always exceptions.

For an effective maintenance program it is essential to know the sensitivities of your surfaces and the exceptions. With good sensitivity knowledge, you can prevent and minimize damage thus extending the life and beauty of your surfaces.
If you have questions, give us a call, cleaning, teaching and minimizing damage is our business.

Wishing you a happy and healthy home,

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cleaning: rich ground for a practice

Fast food and frozen dinners are the first things that come to mind when I think of the convenience of food. Aggressive cleaners, loads of product and paper towels are what comes to mind in the convenience of cleaning. Neither of these conveniences are necessarily good for our health. Just like much of our culture, convenience has powerfully invaded our homes. Maybe it is time to take our homes and health back, turning cleaning into the practice of cleaning for health.

As a culture, we don't always value cleaning our homes, nor do we value the person doing the cleaning. So often it is shoved into nooks and crannies of a busy life, a kind of low man on the totem pole philosophy. I say it is time to let the true value of cleaning rise to the top. Not only is cleaning an essential element to a healthy home, when done with the skills and intent of cleaning for health, it also extends the life and value of your home. Cleaning is one of the guiding forces behind a great feeling, beautiful and smoothly run home. But beyond the obvious benefits of cleaning for health, cleaning for health also give us a rich time to practice mindful living.

Cleaning for health as a practice gives you time to do nothing but wash your dishes while breathing and relaxing your shoulders. A time to open up the windows, smell the fresh air and methodically vacuum your floors for the health of your home and not just to remove some fuzz before company comes. A moment each morning to quietly dry your showers walls with nothing in mind but watching the water absorb into the towel. Does this sound slow? On the contrary, slowing down and being mindful gives you time and as an added benefit, a healthy more relaxed home.

Wishing you all a relaxed, healthy and happy home,

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How to avoid using a coating on your natural stone

One of the more frustrating calls we get is from someone who needs a coating removed from a brand new surface. Sometimes these coatings were improperly applied, applied to a non recommended surface, or the wet plastic look was not what was intended. Complete removal of a coating is expensive and in the case of a new surface not necessary and avoidable!

There are defiantly coating supporters out there but we spend much of our time inspecting coatings that have uglied out, looking at coatings that were improperly applied and removing coatings for multiple reasons. For us putting a coating on is the last option not the first.

How to avoid using a coating...

1. Pick the surface that has the look & characteristics you want from the start.
Don't select and try to alter the stone or tile after the installation

2. Have your stone and tile professionally cleaned after installation. So often a
surface will look dull and not at all what you remembered in the showroom. A lot of the
time, this is because it is dirty from travel, installation, grout haze and construction soil.
Have it cleaned and watch its true beauty emerge.

3. Don't fall for the "wet look". In the installation process, the stone will get wet,
we tend ooh and aah over the dark stones. Don't make any decisions now.
Wait until the stone is clean and dry. A shiny stone looses the natural essence of stone.
The texture, the color ranges and the true beauty can be hidden from the "wet look".

4. Before sealing, do your research. There are 3 basic types of sealers.
Impregnating sealers, enhancing impregnating sealers and coatings
These 3 sealers are all very different.
Make sure you know what type of sealer is being used, its maintenance and wear
characteristics and if it is even recommended for your surface.
If you want to change the look of your surface do multiple samples and then try to damage
those samples to see what may happen in the real world.

5. When in doubt please call us first.
Not only do we professionally seal but we can also help you make an informed decision.

Wishing you a happy and stress free home,

Monday, April 26, 2010

Entrance rugs are better than ice cream!

A little bit goes a long way. Don't you love it when you get a big bang for your money and time? This week we put in new entrance rugs at our home. I know, I know I should have had better ones years ago but like the rest of the world we aren't perfect, but peddling the best we can.

Talk about a multitude of great reasons for high quality entrance rugs. Did you know 75-80% of the soil that comes in your home or business comes from the outside- mainly through your front door, garage door, back door and any other door you have and use. It gets tracked on feet, paws and the wind. My philosophy is, if you can prevent it from happening then by all means do!

Here is the low down and benefits of effective entrance rugs.

1. #1 cause of damage to floors is tracked in soil that acts like sand paper on your floors
Entrance rugs minimize soil tracked in your home

2. The soil that we track in isn't just dirt... it can also be:
lead, pesticides, allergens, sand, road dust, tire fragments, mold spores, plants....
the list is long and sometimes a little scary.
Entrance rugs minimize the contaminates tracked into your home.

3. What doesn't come in doesn't have to be dusted, vacuumed and removed!
Entrance rugs minimize over all soil- which means less to remove.

Entrance rugs are so helpful in the health of your home, reduction of dirt and extending the life of your surfaces. It is one of those almost to good to be true products.

When shopping for entrance rugs call us. We offer tons of high quality, multiple sizes and beautiful colors. The bigger, better and cleaner the entrance rug the better it will serve you.
Keep in mind- your entrance rugs are like filters to your home and business. Keep them clean!

Wishing you a healthy and happy home.
Blue Sky Services

Thursday, April 22, 2010

That evasive little thing called... balance

This morning as I catch my breath from a very busy week, the topic of balance seems a good place to start. Balance is that blissful place we find ourselves in when life is running smooth. Out of balance is something we kind of stumble into where it feels like we are driving down a bumpy road -holding on for dear life.

Cleaning and maintenance of our homes is all about finding balance. The balance between perfect and chaos, between under cleaning and over cleaning, between being too concerned about your home and not even caring. On and on it goes. I teach a lot of prevention in my home care classes but of course there is still a balance to over prevention and under prevention.

My basic philosophy is: Our homes should be a place where we can be healthy and regain our health; A place to feel safe and to relax; A place for families and joyful gatherings; A place to unwind and kick back; A place where your creative juices have fertile ground. What our homes shouldn't be is the source of our un-health and stress.

My suggestions of home care are just that- suggestions. Will they help keep your home clean and healthier? Absolutely. Will they help your surfaces last longer and look better in the the process? Yes. If overdone can they become irksome and frustrating? You bet. My goal is always to help you find that balance in your home so it serves you and you can enjoy living with less stress and dust.

Our lives and homes have a kind of flow, some weeks they are fast and furious and others slow and methodical. (I would guess most homes have more fast and furious). No matter the speed of your home, always keep in mind, what you want from your home. That is your foundation. What I teach are tools to help you achieve that foundation.

Wishing you effortless balance,

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A little rug treasure found in Seattle

Craftsmanship is not lost in Seattle. Repairing and reweaving Oriental and specialty rugs is not your ordinary profession but one that takes great skill. Today, I got to meet Julie and Em of
DA Burns. Em is pictured above and Julie just below. These lovely and amazing ladies can restore your rug treasures.
Being green has been a very popular topic. I was moved today to see the value of this skill in keeping our rug treasures in our homes and out of the landfills. What a tragedy to have heirloom, antique or just beautiful rugs thrown away because you didn't realize they could be restored. One of our favorite pastimes is restoring beautiful stone & tile verses someone having to tear it out and have it replaced. Natural stone and Oriental rugs are meant to last a long, long time.
I didn't ask how long it took Julie and Em to learn this trade of reweaving and repairing Oriental and speciality rugs. But considering how many countries these rugs can come from, how much they can cost and the span of ages made, I would guess this wasn't a weekend training course! They did restore a rug at the Frye Art Musium -way cool!
Before you consider dumping an old love give these amazing ladies a call. They can be found at DA Burns 206-782-2268
Wishing you a healthy and happy home.
Blue Sky Services
Natural stone, tile and grout- cleaning and sealing
Sustainable, healthy and beautiful homes

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My emotional tie leads to dangerous product use

Apparently, no one is immune from emotions.
Last night at my Master Home Environmentalist class I was in for a surprise....
Maybe I should go back a bit. When I was little, my grandparents made furniture for us kids. In my house, I have beautiful wooden tables, dressers and book cases. All made by hand and each with amazing love from my grandparents. They meticulously hand sanded and hand oiled each piece over and over until the color was rich and the finish smooth. They used Old English furniture polish and so I have used Old English furniture polish to care for their/my furniture ever since.
I love my grandparents, unfortunately they are no longer with me except in my memories. Each week as I clean, especially when I clean the things they made me, I always feel a little closer to them and appreciate their gifts more and more as time goes.
What does this have to do with my class or with dangerous products? Everything! Because of my love, respect and use of a product over decades, I didn't read the label. I didn't even question this product- which is so unlike me. The odors were familiar and the product handed down from people I love and greatly admire. To turn my back on their wisdom and question was not even in my field of vision.
Until last night..... If you read the back of the Old English Lemon Oil furniture polish it says and I quote "Keep out of reach of Children. DANGER: Harmful or fatal if swallowed. May cause eye irritation. DO NOT ingest. Avoid contact with eyes. Contains petroleum distillates greater than 10%..." It continues on, but I think you get the main point. I was using a product with the key word danger, which is the equivalent of poison on the key words rating scale.
You know, I talk about this very thing. How easy it is for us to be emotionally attached to a smell, a cleaner and method. Bleach, pine sol, disinfectants, pesticides, lemon deodorizers, fragrances... the list goes on and on. What we sometimes don't realized is the product is just the product. It is either safe or not. It is our emotional ties to our past, to family members we love and respect that can put blinders on us. Last night I felt like I had cold water thrown in my face. Apparently, I am just has emotionally connected to my cleaners as everyone else.
I will continue to love my grandparents and cherish their wisdom and think of them as I clean.
But from now, on I just wont be using a poisonous product to do it with.
Wishing you all a happy and healthy home from one very surprised and humbled cleaner. Who I might add is a little sad this morning-from the loss of a cleaner and the emotion that connect. wow!
Denise Frakes
Blue Sky Services

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Color- irksome or love???

What can color do for you? Yellow paint in your bathroom brightens your day, a red bench in your entry way gives you a secret joy, a little orange tea pot makes you smile.
Color is powerful.
Color can also be a bit irksome. Who knew?
This week we came across a couple uses of dark brown and black surfaces- already irksome and potentially irksome for our customers.
Black pebbles with black grout in a shower, in an area with lots of hard water deposits... irksome. Dark brown hard wood floors in a house with lots of life and pets...irksome.
In the showroom, there is no hard water deposits, no dog hair or paw prints and a much lower chance of unexpected messes. Consider your soils, your lifestyle, location and how much time you want to spend keeping this specific look, looking showroom pretty.
It could be that your love is so strong it is worth the extras that will be needed to maintain. But if your love is just momentary or average, consider using another color so you can create loves and passions elsewhere in your home.
If you ever have any questions, give us a call. In our business, we have the rare opportunity to see and visit with homeowners about what happens... after the new wears off.
Wishing you a happy and healthy home,
Blue Sky Services

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A commercial gets my goat...

Last night Dallas and I were watching the finals of the NCAA tournament. Great game. I was cheering for Butler but I like Duke so it was still good when Duke one. Still, its hard not to feel for any team who as given such a gallant effort and not quite made it to the top. As interesting as the game was, it is not what I wanted to visit with you about this morning. It was a commercial we saw while watching the game that made me sit back and wonder...
I'm not going to mention any names but the commercial came from one of our main box stores that starts with the letter L. The whole commercial was about buying pesticides! Like everyone should do it, it is normal and perfectly safe. The commercial focused on dandelions and ants. My last blog was about minimizing and preventing the use of pesticides and here it was big bold and in full color.
At our home we have 2 dogs and a cat- Reggie, Sally and Penny. They eat grass every time they get a chance, run and roll everywhere and then lick their paws after they come inside. I'll come clean- we have dandelions on our property. I just think a little yellow flower isn't as dangerous as using a product that kills. I love my pets and I have no intention of bringing pesticides into my home. Plus they aren't good for our environment. I realize this is a total soap box moment but I just couldn't help myself.
Years ago, one of our chemical suppliers, who provided us with a disinfectant to be used after a flood, gave us an interesting perspective. Disinfectants and pesticides kill organics... we are organic... as is our pets, kids, bees, lady bugs, birds, fish... always use with extreme caution.
Just a thought to ponder on..
Wishing you a healthy and happy home.
Blue Sky Services- Natural stone, tile and grout care plus a whole lot more...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Dirt - can be a dirty little word...

Dirt: we use to play in it, its natural, it is everywhere, we plant in it. Dirt is as natural as apple pie... right? What if your apple pie is a highly processed imitation?

I just got in from planting beets and carrots in my "dirt". In our master home environmentalist program, one of this week's topics is on dust. A lot of our "dirt" becomes our dust.

Volcanic ash, quartz, sand... this is in your dirt. It is the number one thing that damages your floors. Getting tracked in from outside, dirt acts like sandpaper on the bottom of your shoes scraping and wearing out your floors.

This is what we often think of when we think of our dust, we think of our dirt. But maybe what is in our dirt is not just "dirt". The indoor air quality of most homes is pretty poor. A big factor in the health of our homes is in the dirt we track in - or don't track in.

So just what is in our dirt anyway? Besides the stuff that damages your floors, there is a ton of other possibilities including: lead, pesticides, bacteria, pollen, road/street dust, and other toxic substances from air pollution. All this and more can end up in our "dirt".

So what is a family to do? Not to panic, there are 3 simple prevention steps you can take.

1. Install great entrance rugs at every entrance to your home. Think of these rugs as filters to your home. Get good quality commercial rugs, keep them clean, and get them as big as you can. In our home, we usually come through the garage. This is a perfect place for a long commercial grade runner.

2. Take off your shoes. This is huge in keeping contaminates out.

3. Minimize pesticide use. Many weed and feed type products for our lawns also contain pesticides. It's often the stuff you spray to remove ants, wasps, dandelions and other little annoying plants and critters. Outside, these pesticides may get broken down a little, - although many end up in our water. But inside, we don't have rain, sunshine or wind and those pesticides and herbicides come into our stay.

There are lots of other tips for dirt control but this is a great place to start. Not only will your homes and families be healthier, you won't have as much to clean and remove and your floors will last longer. Not a bad days work! I'll be giving you some dust prevention and containment tips later this month, but dirt prevention is a good place to start.

Wishing you and your family a healthy and happy home,
Denise Frakes
Blue Sky Services
More info for:
natural yard care:
healthy homes

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Master Home Environmentalist Volunteer Program

Today, will be my third class from the American Lung Association's Master Home Environmentalist volunteer program or MHE. I learned of this program about 3 years ago and have been looking forward to attending this 10 week training program ever since.

I joined this program for many reasons, one of which is the training I could gain to help others improve the health of their homes. We have been working to increase the health of your homes for years, this training will expand our knowledge and resources.

So far I love the program, of course I am a bit of a learning nerd, but that aside the MHE is a fantastic program. Tonight, our classes will be on Toxicology and Lead- very interesting! Last week we were learning about biological pollutants and moisture. You can see why this is all so much fun-seriously!

In the coming weeks, I hope to give you additional tips and ideas for your own homes. If you would like to learn more about this program check out

Hope you are all loving rain, we sure got a lot yesterday!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A long overdue desicion- no training wheels.

This spring, Dallas and I are taking our training wheels off our business. Most of you know 90%+ of our business comes from word of mouth, return customers or just people who meet us along the way. Our phone book adds maybe give us 3-4% of our work. Every month we send a check to a company in Iowa for that add. The folks in Iowa don't know anything about us, our business or even our community.

Why do we keep the phone book adds? I know it seems crazy. I guess it's because that's what most businesses do. Each year when we meet with the add companies it feels like no one will ever call if we don't have an add. You would think after 19 years with our great clients/referrals we would know better, but still it seems like we are jumping without a net.

This year we decided we are not going to renew any more phone book adds. We'll stay listed in case you need to find us. But we are going to focus on our strengths, making our business as personal as it is.

It feels a little like peddling your bike for the first time without training wheels. Once you get over the panic of no little wheels to hold you up, its kind of exciting and exhilarating. We might as well have fun and take a little risk-which is probably no risk at all. This is just a decision long over due.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

3 ways cleaning can make our homes unhealthy

Why do we clean? I know this probably sounds like a stupid question, but ask yourself why you clean.

I know our days are filled with a million things- thinking about why we clean is not exactly on top of our to do list. It's not that I think you should just sit around dreaming of cleaning or the philosophy of cleaning but here are three little thoughts that might be worth a minute or two.

3 ways cleaning can make our homes unhealthy

1) Using too much cleaner and accidental leaving behind cleaner residue...
        Over cleaning, spraying your cleaners and not rinsing leaves chemical residue everywhere-
        This residue can mix with other cleaners, get on our pets and kids and become our dust...

2) Using too harsh, toxic or aggressive cleaners in normal cleaning
       These restorative cleaners can be dangerous to our health and the health of our surfaces
       Most cleaners sold are more of what I would consider a restorative cleaner
      When we expect fast results- we get restoration cleaners

3) We are so rushed for time or focused on the task we may not notice how we are feeling
      Scratchy throats, sinus pressure, stiff backs, strong fumes, tight shoulders...
      These little tell tale signs often go unnoticed- until...

I believe our primary focus of cleaning should be health:
     The health of our families and pets
     The health of our surfaces
    The health of whoever is doing the cleaning

Cleaning is important and vital to the health and well being of our families and homes. Maybe spending hours thinking about cleaning is out of the questions, but consider giving it at least a moments thought.

Wishing you a healthy and happy home,

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Top 4 pet tips in designing and caring for your home

Yesterday, I was watching Reggie. He is our 16 year old English Shepard Dog-with very arthritic back legs. He was trying to stand on the hardwood floors in our bedroom. Reggy's back legs were shaking and sliding out from under him.
He reminded me about the importance of our pets as we design and care for our homes.

Here are my top 3 pet tips:

1) Consider your pets when you pick your flooring. Too slick of surfaces may be hard for your pet to get footing. This lack of traction is hard on old hips.

2) Don't leave cleaning residue behind on your floors.
Pets walk on floors and later lick their paws.
On occasion- I have even seen ours licking the floor.

3) Be aware of any pesticide or herbicide used outdoors.
These chemicals often get tracked back indoors.
As your pets run around outside they may nibble on the grass and later lick their paws.
4) Be careful with your toilet cleaning. Dogs love to drink the cool water out of our toilets. Unfortunately, most toilet cleaners are pretty toxic. Use safe cleaners, rinse completely and leave the toilet seat down!

Thankfully, most of our home flooring is slate. Reggie has no problem with the slate floors.
We also don't leave cleaning residue behind and our gardening and lawn care is organic. Now, we just have to take care when he comes back to say hi in our bedrooms with the hardwood floors.

p.s. this info also applicable to our whole family not just our four legged members.

Wishing you and your pets a healthy and happy home.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Spring cleaning: taking a deep breath, smiling and relaxing

Is it just me or does it feel like spring is springing? As I write this today, it is raining but we just finished a week of amazing sunshine. I even have a few soar muscles from playing in our yard -maybe a bit over zealously. There is something about spring that just energizer you. It is also the traditional time to do your spring cleaning.

Did you know spring cleaning started a long time ago when we had oil lamps, wood fireplaces and stoves? By spring the house was getting mighty sooty. Spring is also when bugs start having babies. If you have ever heard stories of bed bugs and the horror they cause, nipping these little critters in the bud before they multiply was highly motivating.

Last spring, I was visiting with my Aunt Velma and grandma and grandpa, they gave me vivid stories of bed bugs gone bad and the ingenuity they used to control those bugs.

Anyway, on the first nice sunny days of the year, families used to remove most items from their home and give both the inside and the furniture outside a thorough cleaning!

Thankfully, we no longer have to go to such extremes to keep our houses clean and bed bug free but still a thorough cleaning feels mighty good. Dallas and I have known for years, after cleaning stone floors, tile and grout, carpets, showers etc. After, all the soil and residue is removed there is a noticeable change in how a home feels. It feels fresher and lighter. You have the feeling of taking a big breath in and then just relaxing and smiling. That is what spring cleaning does for you.

If you are ready for a breath of fresh air and a chance to relax and enjoy your home, just give us a call we are experts in creating clean, fresh and residue free homes!!

Wishing you a clean and healthy home,

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Don't let vacuuming be irksome- top 7 tips

As I was vacuuming our home this morning, I thought of something I do as I vacuum you might find helpful in your own home.

Vacuuming in one of the very most important cleaning tasks you can do in your home. Dry soil is the number one thing that can cause damage to your floors. The airborne dry particulates can also cause havic with your indoor air quality. Vacuuming is essential for a healthy home and long lasting floors.

That said, it can also be a bit irksome to your body. As you vacuum, you are twisting and extending in ways you don't normally move during the rest of your week. This can cause shoulder and back strain.

Here are my top tips for healthy and effective vacuuming

1. Vacuum with great posture. I bend my knees slightly, stand up tall- lifting my chest up with my neck slightly tucked. As I vacuum, I also tuck my behind a little and relax my shoulders.

2. Move with mindful ease. When I vacuum, I breath in as I push the vacuum away and breath out as I bring it back towards me. This keeps me present as to what I am doing. As I vacuum I also switch arms as I move back and fourth accross a room. I let my legs and core muscles do the work, not my arms and back.

3. Vacuum slowly. No only is vacuuming slowly easier on your body- it is much more effective over fast vacuuming. When we had our carpet cleaning company, I rememeber reading- One slow vacuum stroke is better than 5 fast. Slow vacuuming, also helps keep you from running into your walls and furnature.

4. Use your legs to lift. If you need to move furniture or unplug your cord, bend down with your legs and not with your back. Keep your posture healthy and your head up.

5. Get a good vacuum. Vacuuming is essential for a healthy home and long lasting floors. Do not try to use an old, heavy, cumbersome, ineffient vacuum. This is a good place to spend your money wisely. Get a vacuum that is easy and effective to use, has a good filtration system- like a HEPA filter. I like a cord over 30 feet. If you have a large home- get one with a large head. Trust me a 17 inch head will save you hours and hours of vacuuming time.

6. Use the right vacuum head for your different floors. If you have hard surfaces, use a vacuum that has a hard surface head. For carpet, use a vacuum with a beater bar.

7. Keep your vacuum in good working order. Make sure you keep your filters in good working condition and your beater bar clean. The belts on the beater bar will expand over time making your vacuum less effecient. Make sure your bag isn't too full- your vacuum will not be near as effective with a full bag.

During the time we had our carpet cleaning company I must have vacuumed miles and miles of carpet. I can safely say I have perfected the art of vacuuming- effectively and safely. Don't let this helpful task cause you discomfort. If you have any questions just give us a jingle.

Happy vacuuming! Denise

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Is it time for a cleaning system overhaul??

The purpose of cleaning is to maintain and create a home of health and happiness. If cleaning is detrimental to your health or happiness then it is time to give your cleaning system an overhaul.

If your cleaning gives you soar throats, burning eyes, tired feet, back aches, grumpy thoughts or feelings of irritation ,then you might be in need of a cleaning overhaul.

If when you clean you get up before the roosters, if you have bulging scrubbing muscles, if you own more that 20 different kinds of cleaners- and you are not a professional cleaner- you might need a cleaning overhaul.

If you panic when the dog runs in your home with muddy feet, if your life rotates around your cleaning schedule, if you spend more time with your vacuum than your family, then you might need a cleaning system overhaul.

Cleaning should serve you and your family. It is a gift you give your family. It is very valuable but usually goes unnoticed. In our culture, we don't always value cleaning. I don't agree with this general feeling. For 19 years I have seen the benefits of cleaning. Cleaning and caring for your home is a gift- the gift of health and happiness to your family. Not to mention, done well, it extends the life and value of your home.

If cleaning is not benefiting you, call us. We think what you do is very important. Let us help you also be happy, healthy and effective in the process.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Steam cleaners for your hardwood floors????

This past week, I've had a lot of questions concerning steam cleaners on hardwood floors. In case you are in a hurry, here is the condensed version of this blog:

I do not recommend steam cleaners on hardwood floors!
We have used vapor technology for about 11 years in our business. Our vapor machines are the commercial version of the residential steam cleaner. Not only are we experienced in the use of vapor machines, we actually took a 2 day course on vapor cleaning and techniques.
For natural stone, tile, concrete and grout I think steam cleaning for floors is a great alternative to mopping- when used with proper and effective techniques. Matter of a fact, there are lots of fantastic uses of steam/vapor cleaning.
However, for hardwood floors, I do not recommend using steam cleaning. Why, you ask? Because water and wood do not mix. I wouldn't use our professional steam/vapor machines on hardwood. The heat and water could be very detrimental to your hardwood floors. I know there are some steam cleaners that are advertising for hardwood floor cleaning but I would be very, very cautious if I were you.
If you don't believe me, and that's OK, please call the manufacture of your floors and ask them before you proceed. If for some odd reason, your manufacture says yes, then please call us first so at least we can give you some tips for the best use of steam cleaning. And just so you know, I might try to talk you out of using that method.
If you have already purchased your steam cleaner, don't fret, they can be a helpful part of your home care -for other surfaces besides your wood. We use our vapor/steam techniques all the time but not on water or heat sensitive surfaces. Don't forget you can always call us for cleaning tips and consultations.
Wishing you a happy and healthy home.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The great debate between mild vs safe

Mild vs Safe, on the surface, these sound like the same thing. In my opinion, they are worlds apart. In cleaning, I believe, safe means it is not dangerous or detrimental to people, pets and the environment.

To me safe means, if my dog Sally accidentally gets the cleaner spilled on her, drinks it or licks it off the window it will have no detrimental effect to her. It is safe. She is just as healthy after the incident as she was before. There will be no long term or short term ill effects.

Mild sounds safe but there is a difference. To me, mild means it will not damage the surface you are cleaning. There are many products that say they are safe. Safe for you. Vinegar is usually considered a very safe product. Although, spill it on an open wound and you might disagree- it burns, right? It is a food, you can eat it and it is fairly safe if we eat it. But is it mild??? This is the question of the day. Is safe and mild the same thing. I say no!

To me, safe won't damage you, mild won't damage your surfaces. Going back to vinegar. Most consider it a safe product and therefore it must be mild. I beg to differ. I get about a call a week from this "safe" product causing damage to your surfaces. Vinegar is a food, but it is also an acid. An acid with a pH of around 3. If you have an acid sensitive surface such as marble, travertine, or grout this product will etch and cause damage. Not so safe for your surfaces!

This little equation goes both ways. I was searching for a mild product when I found a great example. I neutral disinfectant that was "mild" on natural stone. This meant it would not damage the stone. I looked up its Material Safety Data Sheet. This little mild product that would not damage your stone but was definitely not so safe for you. It has a toxicity level or rating of 3! The scale on an MSDS sheet is between 0-4. 0 being non toxic and 4 being poison, 3 is considered very dangerous.

As you clean and care for your home, I always recommend you start with the most mild and safe means possible . You can always work up from here but this is the best place to start and stay as long as you can. Make sure your cleaners and proceedures are mild for your surfaces and safe for you and your family.

You are always welcome to call on us to help you .

Wishing you a healthy and happy home,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Learning to pause

Cleaning isn't just getting the dirt off the floors, it also has the potential to become a life enhancing practice. Cleaning is the prefect time to practice.

For me, the two hardest parts of this practice is remembering to practice in the first place and then trying to staying focused on my practice for an extended period of time.

My solution: learning to pause. To take a moment to stop, breath, smile and relax. To notice where I am, what I'm doing and how I feel. It's like a super-mini vacation in your day. With the pause I can then intentionally decide on my next practice and how long it will be.

This morning I discovered this quote out of one of my books,

"In the middle of my morning's work I break for blessings: a deep breath, a glance out the window, a graceful stretch, a remembrance of God, a brief reflection of the nobility of work, an encouraging word, a grateful thought, a smile, a short prayer, a remembrance of who I am, a sip of freshly brewed coffee. I honor the wisdom of pausing. The day, still bright with potential, when I have the wisdom to step away from work momentarily, I am able to see it as a gift for the entire world."

Macrina Wiederkehr
The Seven Sacred Pauses
Page 71

Isn't this quote as delicious as a cup of hot chocolate?

Wishing you a day filled with pauses,

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Practicing is more fun than work.

Cleaning is a practice or maybe I should say, cleaning can be a practice. Practicing sounds better than house work. When I practice, I'm really experimenting with observation combined with activity. When I do house work I am merely completing a to do list quickly and because I feel I have to.

In highschool and college I ran track and cross-country. I did a lot of practicing, there was little work involved. Somedays we had meets, but that was just a test to see how well our practice was coming along. Some of my practices were painful and not very effective but it was just practice. Practice makes sense. To practice you are trying to improve. House work alone is just a never ending battle.

When cleaning your home, cooking dinner or going shopping think of it not as part of your to do list or house work but as a way to practice. What you practice is up to you.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Natural is not always neutral!!!!

You will have the floor for 2 hours!! This is what Lori said yesterday, when we were talking about the upcoming class I'm teaching at Marlene's Market. I don't know what I was thinking but I figured I would have around 30 minutes to talk. 1-2 hours holy cow! Of course, I did what I normally do when given a challenge of this magnitude-I panicked-a little.

Just a little, because within a few minutes I had a call. An anxious and frustrated homeowner called because she had used a natural and safe cleaning product on her marble floors. I knew what she was going to say before she even finished her sentence. "there is cleaner and damage on the floor that won't come up" I could hear the stress in her voice. She was afraid she had ruined her beautiful marble floors. I felt compassion for her. She was trying to be safe for her family and damaged her surfaces in the process. Unfortunately, this happens all the time.

She hadn't ruined the floors but I'm sure she probably etched the marble, which will need to be polished. Her safe and natural cleaner was most likely also an acid. A little known fact with cleaners is: Natural and neutral do not mean the same thing. You can have a cleaner that is natural such as vinegar or citris but that does not make it safe on acid sensitive surfaces- such as marble, travertine, limestone, onyx and grout.

Thankfully, her floor can be repaired. But sometimes the damage is done to our health in the cleaning process. This may be a little harder to repair. Once I got over myself and the panic of talking for 1-2 hours I realized this class is sooooo needed. I helped our caller but she helped me more. She gave me back my confidence. What I know is highly beneficial to share. Do I know everything- heavens no! But what I do know is great and can be life changing-seriously!

On January 21st, I will be teaching a class at Marlene's Market. You are invited to come. And don't worry 1-2 hours will not be boring but fun and inspirational. I will not only be teaching on how to not damage your surfaces but how to clean to for health. There will be a bonus on how to turn your daily chores into a creative practice. And I might even tell a story about a chicken. For more information call us at 253-946-2056 or visit Marlene's Market's web site:

Wishing you a happy and healthy home- hope to see you on the 21st at 7:00pm in Federal Way.