Why do we Spring Clean? – Atlanta House Cleaning Blog

Posted on April 7, 2016. Filed under: Atlanta House Cleaning | Tags: , , |

why-do-we-spring-clean

 

Swept and dusted sitting-room & kitchen 350 times. Filled lamps 362 times. Swept and dusted chamber & stairs 40 times.
Entry from a housewife’s diary (1864)

The Origins of the Spring Cleaning Tradition

We are a couple of weeks into spring, and many minds are turning towards spring cleaning. Spring cleaning involves cleaning your home thoroughly, from top to bottom. It also helps to throw open your windows afterwards to let in the fresh spring air.

But why do we spring clean? Who started the tradition? There are several opinions.

Inefficient Heating

Before the modern era of efficient heating, spring cleaning made sense.  Homes were closed up tightly in the cold winter months and smelly, dirty fuels from the fireplace, coal burning stoves, and kerosene heaters, would cover everything in the house with smoke and soot. When spring came around the house could be opened up again and walls, woodwork and rugs were given a deep cleaning.

Fortunately today we have much cleaner choices for heating our homes so they do not get nearly as dirty during the colder months. Our homes get less dirty during this time because they are closed up! So because of that we believe Fall is the best time of year for a deep cleaning; the wonderful results will last longer!

Religious or Cultural Traditions

During the Jewish religious holiday of Passover, all traces of food made with yeast (leavened) must be removed from the home. In order to do so, observant Jews would thoroughly clean the house. The night before the Passover holiday, there would be a hunt for leavened bread (chametz) crumbs by candlelight.

It is part of Greek Orthodox tradition to thoroughly clean in the week before or during the first week of Lent. The cleaning would typically take an entire week.

The Persian New Year celebration (Nouroz) occurs at the beginning of Spring. Before Nouroz begins, Persian women traditionally “shake the house.” Called khooneh takouni, this thorough cleaning even involves cleaning the ceilings!

As part of the Chinese tradition, homes must be thoroughly cleaned before the beginning of the Chinese New Year. This cleaning includes throwing out broken household items, and might also include Feng Shui.

So while we may not know exactly why we spring clean – we do know one thing. It makes us feel good!

Want to experience the benefits of spring cleaning without the drudgery? Hire a professional cleaning service like Sponge & Sparkle to handle it for you.

Here’s feedback from a few customers.

Best Deep Cleaning In (Atlanta)

Raina and her crew do a fantastic job. I just knew when I spoke to her that I was working with a pro and they delivered in a big way. My house is not just clean. It sparkles! I would recommend these folks to anyone who seriously wants their house clean. They are the best from start to finish.

Cleaned Every Nook & Cranny

Walking into my house after Sponge & Sparkle had cleaned it was fantastic! They cleaned every nook and cranny, steamed the cabinets, got the cobwebs from our vaulted ceilings – even set my daughters doll on a pillow with a blanket. These folks care about what they do and it shows! They do a fantastic job, are reliable, honest and a pleasure to work with. My house was a mess and they fixed it!

 

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Please click here to get Sponge & Sparkle blog updates via email.

About the author:

Raina Raflo owns Sponge & Sparkle, Atlanta’s oldest and most reputable independent maid and house cleaning service. (404) 633-9652.

Read more Atlanta maid and house cleaning service customer reviews on our site.
Request a cleaning quote.

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Five Ideas for a More Sustainable Home

Posted on January 14, 2016. Filed under: Atlanta House Cleaning, Miscellaneous | Tags: , , |

greenhouse - eco-friendly construction

These days we’re hearing about and experiencing a lot more about climate change-related drought, floods, forest fires, and extreme weather events. While some still doubt it, our modern lifestyles do affect these changes. We also often hear about “Sustainability” and “Sustainable Living.” These terms refer to a range of choices each of us can make in our daily lives to minimize our impact on natural resources and the environment without sacrificing our own comfort or that of future generations. Here are five major ways you can make your home more sustainable:

1. Reduce your Energy Use.

Most of the electricity generated in America is produced by burning fossil fuels, which release greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change. As much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling. Save energy by changing your air filter regularly—ideally every three months. A dirty filter slows down air flow and makes the system work harder. Also have your system tuned up annually to maximize efficiency and comfort. Installing a programmable thermostat is another important way to save energy.

If you need to replace your home’s heating and cooling system, consider installing ENERGY STAR-qualified equipment. The Energy Star program also certifies the most efficient home appliances, lighting, and windows and doors. Visit http://www.energystar.gov for detailed information.

2. Waste Less Food.

Some sources estimate Americans trash as much as 40 percent of our food supply every year. To minimize food waste, start by monitoring what you throw away. When you shop, plan meals, use grocery lists, and avoid impulse buys. Especially in the summer, when fresh produce is readily available and so tempting, wait until perishables are all used up before buying more. When unpacking groceries, move older products to the front of the fridge/freezer/pantry and put new products in the back. This way, you’re more likely to use up the older stuff before it expires. And eat leftovers!

3. Buy and Use Environmentally-Friendly Products.

Consider the environmental impacts of your purchasing decisions. Take your own reusable bags when you go shopping. Look for locally-produced food. Buy in bulk rather than single-serve consumables when feasible to reduce packaging waste. Buy recycled-content products when feasible. For everyday cleaning, use inexpensive and highly effective white vinegar and baking soda rather than harsh chemicals. Use refillables rather than disposables for liquid soap and other similar household products. Use rags rather than paper towel whenever possible. Buy well-made, durable appliances that will last, rather than less expensive versions that will likely need to be replaced soon.

4. Maintain Durable Items and Reuse More.

By properly maintaining household appliances they will last longer and work more efficiently. Whenever possible, fix an item rather than discarding it and buying a replacement. Repurpose used items. For example, use an old shower curtain liner as a tarp for painting, and cut up old towels to use as rags. Use wide-mouth jar lids as under-liners for your plants. Cut up waste paper to use as note pads. Challenge yourself to come up with creative ways to reuse something before discarding it.

5. Use Water Sustainably.

Less water going down the drain means more water available in our lakes, rivers and streams. Replace your shower heads with water-efficient models and switch to the use of water-efficient lawn and landscaping sprinklers. Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, and be frugal when washing dishes by hand. Run full loads in your dish and clothes washers.

If you’re remodeling your bathroom, select water efficient fixtures such as those recommended by the WaterSense program. (http://www.epa.gov/watersense/. Old toilets are by far the main source of water use in the home. They can consume as much as 6 gallons of water per flush. By contrast, water-efficient toilets use 1.28 gallons per flush or less, while still providing equal or superior performance.

And if you’ve been buying bottled drinking water, think twice. Almost half of the 50 billion bottles of water currently consumed in the U.S. actually comes from municipal supplies. Transporting the bottles and keeping them cold, and then collecting and processing them for recycling, also burns fossil fuels. If you’re worried about the quality of your tap water, have it tested. Also consider installing a water filter and use refillable containers.

By adopting these practices you’ll be making your home more sustainable and save money too!

What our Customers Say

Friendly and Efficient

I always love to come home after they’ve been here cleaning. They use natural products that smell good and get the job done.

Sponge and Sparkle House Cleaning Services

I have been using this agency for 3 plus years and have been delighted not just with their good work and professionalism but how personable their employees are at all times. They are able to accommodate emergencies including cancellations which I am sure puts them at a hardship but do so with a smile and with compassion. Please try them and use their detailed cleaning services at least once and you will be in for a treat. More importantly they use environmentally friendly products that is a huge plus for me.

Satisfaction Guaranteed!

I have been using this cleaning service for at least 22 years. their employees don’t come and go but stay with the company, which gives me a great degree of comfort. If anything is not just right, the owner herself will either come out or send someone to redo it. I feel like they are part of our family! Also they are using “green” products more than ever.

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Please click here to get Sponge & Sparkle blog updates via email.

About the author:

Raina Raflo owns Sponge & Sparkle, Atlanta’s oldest and most reputable independent maid and house cleaning service. (404) 633-9652.

Read more Atlanta maid and house cleaning service customer reviews on our site.
Request a cleaning quote.

 

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10 Signs You Should Move to Green Cleaning

Posted on January 7, 2016. Filed under: Atlanta House Cleaning, Green Cleaning | Tags: , , , , |

Carrying Green Cleaning Supplies

According to the Centers for Disease Control, chemicals in and around the home can poison people or pets and can cause long-term health effects. Every 13 seconds, a poison control center in the United States answers a call about a possible poisoning. More than 90 percent of these emergencies occur in the home, and exposure to cleaning products is one of the most common causes.

If one or more of the following signs applies to you, it’s time to seriously think about abandoning the use of chemical household cleaning products in favor of non-toxic products made from natural ingredients:

1. You have children.

Anyone who has a young child knows how innately curious they can be. Sadly, cleaning products are among the most common causes of poisoning among young children. Even ordinary liquid dish soap can be dangerous if swallowed by a child, since many brands contain formaldehyde and ammonia. In addition, children, whose immune systems are still developing, can suffer serious health effects from the hazardous chemicals in conventional products.

2. You have pets.

According to the Pet Poison Helpline, some cleaning products, such as drain cleaners, concentrated dish washing soap, oven cleaners, and toilet cleaners, can be really dangerous to dogs and cats. Your pets could suffer chemical burns if they accidentally lick or are exposed to these chemicals. Of course, we humans are also at risk if we improperly use or handle these products.

3. You have asthma or other breathing issues.

Some cleaners contain compounds that significantly aggravate asthma symptoms. Exposure to these chemicals has even been known to cause otherwise healthy people to develop breathing problems. According to the Environmental Working Group, a highly respected advocacy organization, more than half the cleaning products they tested contain ingredients that can harm the lungs, while 22 percent can cause asthma.

4. You or someone in your household has chemical sensitivities.

Symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, skin rashes, headaches, and more may disappear once you stop using conventional cleaning chemicals, which contain perfumes and dyes, among other chemicals, to which many people have allergic reactions.

5. You care about the quality of the air in your home.

The use of conventional cleaning products can contribute to higher pollution indoors than outdoors. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, many products, especially aerosols, emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that have been associated with a host of health problems including damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system.

6. You care about the environment.

If you care about the Earth’s environment, it’s time to switch to green cleaning. In addition to improving your indoor air quality, you’ll be helping to reduce pollution to our waterways, minimize your impact on ozone depletion and global climate change, reduce waste, and conserve resources. In fact, some products such as toilet bowl cleaners are so caustic that unused product must be disposed of as hazardous household waste in some jurisdictions.

7. You don’t like bacteria.

“Antimicrobial” cleaners actually don’t work any better than regular cleaners. Research reported in Scientific American and elsewhere indicates that some antibacterial products even foster the development of resistant bacteria. For example, after spraying and wiping an antibacterial cleaner over a kitchen counter, active chemicals linger behind and continue to kill bacteria, but not necessarily all of them, and the surviving bacteria develop a tolerance and continue to flourish.

8. You dislike strong chemical odors.

Many household cleaners have added perfumes to disguise the bad odors from their ingredients. The natural ingredients in many green cleaning products are either odor-neutral or have a pleasant odor.

9. You’re budget conscious.

To boost sales, some manufacturers market cleaning products as designed to tackle specific cleaning applications, but the formulations are essentially the same. White vinegar and baking soda are some of the most effective, safe, and least expensive cleaning products around. They can be used to clean bathrooms, kitchens, floors, windows, and more.

10. You want to set a good example.

If you want embrace a healthy, environmentally conscious lifestyle that sets a good example for your family and friends, switch to green cleaning. Your leadership will contribute towards a sustainable future.
Making the switch to green cleaning is easy. Start using eco-friendly products and you’ll soon appreciate how well they work. You won’t regret it.

What our Customers Say

My house is CLEAN!

We have had Sponge & Sparkle for a few years now and I am a fussy homeowner. They do a fantastic job–coming home after a hard week, it is so wonderful to have everything so clean it sparkles. Baseboards, blinds, all the surfaces are spotless. And they come on time every time. Great cleaning service.

These cleaners shine!

Walking into my house after Sponge & Sparkle had cleaned it was fantastic! They cleaned every nook and cranny, steamed the cabinets, got the cobwebs from our vaulted ceilings – even set my daughters doll on a pillow with a blanket. These folks care about what they do and it shows! They do a fantastic job, are reliable, honest and a pleasure to work with. My house was a mess and they fixed it!

A tough job, done well

Due to health issues, I have neglected housecleaning in my apartment for far too long. I found Sponge and Sparkle here on Kudzu.com, made an appointment, and they did an excellent job of a really difficult task.

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Please click here to get Sponge & Sparkle blog updates via email.

About the author:

Raina Raflo owns Sponge & Sparkle, Atlanta’s oldest and most reputable independent maid and house cleaning service. (404) 633-9652.

Read more Atlanta maid and house cleaning service customer reviews on our site.
Request a cleaning quote.

 

 

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Our Approach to Green Cleaning

Posted on September 17, 2015. Filed under: About Sponge & Sparkle, Green Cleaning | Tags: |

Carrying Green Cleaning Supplies

These days we hear a lot about “green” products and services. Since use of the term is not regulated, how do you know if the product or service is really beneficial to the environment?

When it comes to professional cleaning, here’s what we mean by “green:”

  • Our bathroom and kitchen cleaner is made by Seaside Natural and contains natural ingredients including lavender, eucalyptus, tea tree oil, borax, vinegar, and alcohol. These products not only clean and sanitize effectively, but are also environmentally benign.
  • Our products are non-toxic and biodegradable. Many cleaners contain harsh chemicals that can actually burn and injure people if not handled properly. Many conventional cleaners also persist in the environment (that is, they do not biodegrade). Wastewater containing these chemicals contributes to water pollution.
  • Our products contain low or no volatile organic compound (VOCs)—chemicals that are released into the air when a product comes out of the bottle. VOCs are lung and eye irritants and aggravate allergies. Our products improve rather than degrade your indoor air quality.
  • Our products are not tested on animals.
  • Our products are formulated as concentrates and/or come in bulk, which reduces waste from excess packaging.

We are convinced that clean also means green! We make your home sparkle while respecting and protecting the health and beauty of your household and Mother Earth’s too.

What our Customers Say

Satisfaction Guaranteed!

I have been using this cleaning service for at least 22 years. their employees don’t come and go but stay with the company, which gives me a great degree of comfort. If anything is not just right, the owner herself will either come out or send someone to redo it. I feel like they are part of our family! Also they are using “green” products more than ever.

Amazing Service

I have had Sponge & Sparkle once to do the head to toe hourly cleaning, and now I had them a second time for a regular monthly cleaning that I plan to continue indefinitely! The service is the best I’ve ever experienced, and the rate is worth every penny. The staff are so courteous and cheerful, and the work they do is truly stellar.

Sponge and Sparkle House Cleaning Services

I have been using this agency for 3 plus years and have been delighted not just with their good work and professionalism but how personable their employees are at all times. They are able to accommodate emergencies including cancellations which I am sure puts them at a hardship but do so with a smile and with compassion. Please try them and use their detailed cleaning services at least once and you will be in for a treat. More importantly they use environmentally friendly products that is a huge plus for me.

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Please click here to get Sponge & Sparkle blog updates via email.

About the author:

Raina Raflo owns Sponge & Sparkle, Atlanta’s oldest and most reputable independent maid and house cleaning service. (404) 633-9652.

Read more Atlanta maid and house cleaning service customer reviews on our site.
Request a cleaning quote.

 

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Use Vinegar to Clean Your Bathroom and Save Money Too

Posted on April 2, 2015. Filed under: Cleaning Bedroom, Green Cleaning | Tags: , , , |

White vinegar is a natural, inexpensive, and highly effective cleaning and sanitizing agent.  It’s widely available in gallon size jugs in supermarkets and big box stores. The following are among the many ways it can be used to make your bathroom sparkle:

Clean modern bathroom - Atlanta house cleaning blog

  1. Floors: Dilute ¼ cup of white vinegar in a bucket of warm water to clean any type of floor except marble or wood.
  1. Mold or soap scum on walls and shower curtains: Apply white vinegar with a sprayer and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Rinse and let dry.
  1. Shower heads: Pour vinegar into a bag and use rubber bands to tie the bag over the shower head, or remove the shower head.  Let it soak overnight, and rinse.
  1. Windows and mirrors: Mix ¼ cup of vinegar with a tablespoon of Castile soap and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Spray windows and mirrors and wipe with a sheet of newspaper.
  1. Unclog and deodorize drains: The combination of vinegar and baking soda is one of the most effective ways to unclog and deodorize drains. It’s also far gentler on your pipes (and your wallet) than commercial drain cleaners. Use a funnel to pour 1/2 cup baking soda followed by 1 cup vinegar into the drain. When the foaming subsides, flush with hot water. Wait five minutes, and then flush again with cold water. Besides clearing blockages, this technique also washes away odor-causing bacteria.

Why use harsh, expensive chemical products when vinegar can do the same job?  You’ll soon discover many additional uses for this natural, non-toxic cleaning agent that saves money and helps to protect the environment.

What our Customers Say

Awesome Company

These people know their stuff. They perform their work well. timely, great job, live up to the standards and surpass.

Great Service for Busy Family

With time not on our side during the week, we began using Sponge & Sparkle a couple months ago. Read the reviews on Kudzu, after a friend suggested we use them. So far, going great. I only wish we could clean our house as fast as they do, remarkable! Very nice people to work with.

My house is CLEAN!

We have had Sponge & Sparkle for a few years now and I am a fussy homeowner. They do a fantastic job–coming home after a hard week, it is so wonderful to have everything so clean it sparkles. Baseboards, blinds, all the surfaces are spotless. And they come on time every time. Great cleaning service.

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Please click here to get Sponge & Sparkle blog updates via email.

About the author:

Raina Raflo owns Sponge & Sparkle, Atlanta’s oldest and most reputable independent maid and house cleaning service. (404) 633-9652.

Read more Atlanta maid and house cleaning service customer reviews on our site.
Request a cleaning quote.

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How to Get Rid of the Boy Bathroom Smell

Posted on May 14, 2012. Filed under: Cleaning Bedroom, Green Cleaning, Household Tips | Tags: , , , , |

picture of a bathroom

If you have boys you know this is true – even when your bathroom is sparkling clean, the “boy bathroom smell” will linger. Mopping is not enough. You need to eliminate the odor.

Anna Mosely’s blog offers a recipe for getting rid of the boy bathroom smell, once and for all.

There are 3 reasons I like this article.

  • It’s simple. With only 3 ingredients and 3 steps, this is an easy recipe to implement.
  • It’s green.At Sponge & Sparkle, we are committed to using non-toxic cleaning products whenever possible. Vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice – that’s all this cleaning recipe requires.
  • It’s frugal.The ingredients shouldn’t cost you more than $3.

To read the article, click here. You may also want to read the comments for cleaning ideas from other home owners.

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Please click here to get Sponge & Sparkle blog updates via email.

About the author:

Raina Raflo owns Sponge & Sparkle, Atlanta’s oldest and most reputable independent maid and house cleaning service. (404) 633-9652.

Read more Atlanta maid and house cleaning service customer reviews on our site.
Request a cleaning quote.

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Recipe for a Sweet Smelling, Non-Toxic Wood Cleaner

Posted on October 18, 2011. Filed under: Green Cleaning, Safe Cleansers | Tags: , , |

Picture of lady kissing lemon. What not to love about lemon? It smells good and has natural acidic properties that whisk away dirt.

This recipe for a lemony dust cloth (via care2.com) is a winner. It’s frugal, simple (only 2 ingredients) and effective. Give it a try.

If you happen to have more lemons than the cleaning recipe calls for, you can use the surplus to make lemonade or freshen up your glass of water.

A cleaning ingredient you can actually consume? You wouldn’t dare try it with a traditional cleaner, but it’s one of the benefits of green cleaning.

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Please click here to get Sponge & Sparkle blog updates via email.

About the author:

Raina Raflo owns Sponge & Sparkle, Atlanta’s oldest and most reputable independent maid and house cleaning service. (404) 633-9652.

Read more Atlanta maid and house cleaning service customer reviews on our site.
Request a cleaning quote.

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If Cleaning Makes You Sick, It’s Not Just Your Imagination

Posted on October 11, 2011. Filed under: Green Cleaning, Safe Cleansers | Tags: , , |

If you clean with traditional chemicals, wearing a mask may be a good idea.Do you have a headache after a day of cleaning? It may not be because you are not fond of cleaning; the chemicals in the products you use may be making you sick.

This article by Victoria Bender, Are We Cleaning Ourselves to Death, offers some sobering facts on the toxicity of traditional household cleaners.

Did you know:

  • Federal and state government agencies only regulate outdoor air, not indoor air?
  • EPA studies show that indoor air may be 3 to 70 times more toxic than outdoor air?
  • Cleaning products that contain toxins and carcinogens do not have to  list these items on the labels because we don’t consume (eat or drink) them? Evidently, ingesting the fumes through our eyes, skin and sinuses is not considered consuming. That’s quite a loophole!

Knowing these facts makes me glad that Sponge and Sparkle uses non-toxic cleaning products.

Here’s a quote from one of our customers:

Atlanta Maid Services Reviews and Testimonials

I always love to come home after they’ve been here cleaning. They use natural products that smell good and get the job done.

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Please click here to get Sponge & Sparkle blog updates via email.

About the author:

Raina Raflo owns Sponge & Sparkle, Atlanta’s oldest and most reputable independent maid and house cleaning service. (404) 633-9652.

Read more Atlanta maid and house cleaning service customer reviews on our site.
Request a cleaning quote.

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Steam Cleaning – The original non-toxic cleaner

Posted on February 25, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

We recently purchased a steam cleaner and have been using it on many of our detail cleanings. We love it! No chemicals are needed to clean, sanitize and deodorize.

The pressure of the steam reaches in and dislodges dirt out of cracks and crevices where cleaners and other tools can’t reach. The steam cleaner is the original green, non toxic cleaner!

We have had great success with dried-on cat food on floors, dirty baseboards, bathroom and kitchen countertops. It will even kill dust mites from any surface; beds, carpet and upholstery.

Our machine comes with a myriad of tools for all types of jobs making it very versatile. The model that we have is the McCullough Heavy Duty and we got it online from Target for $120.

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