5 Quick Recipes for Natural Cleaners

natural cleanersWe recently wrote about the toxicity and harmful side effects of harsh chemical cleaning products used in the home and the dangers they present to children and pets. Instead of keeping a chemical lab in your broom closet, did you know that there are lots of healthier alternatives?

Not only are natural cleaners less harmful to your family, they improve indoor air quality and are so easy to make and much easier on your wallet. Plus, you probably already have most of the required ingredients to whip up at least 5 natural cleaners — and what you don’t already have is inexpensive and easily sourced. Below are some quick recipes.

Let’s start with the basics of natural cleaners

The backbone of just about all natural cleaning recipes is baking soda and white vinegar.

This combo can clean just about anything, as you’ll soon discover.  It’s used in pretty much every quick natural cleaner formula.

#1 – General All-Purpose Cleaner

This all-purpose cleaner is terrific for all kinds of hard surfaces, like counters, sinks and walls.

In a clean spray bottle (12 oz.), mix the vinegar and essential oils (lavender, tea tree or lemon, etc.) first. The oils add a nicer smell and have disinfectant properties. Add the baking powder and slowly top up with water, the baking powder will make it fizz up a bit. Gently shake the bottle and spray where and as required, wipe with a clean cloth and allow the surface to dry.

#2  – Oven Cleaner

This combo is so effective that you’ll wonder why you bought those super toxic cleaners before.

In a small bowl pour in ½ cup of baking soda and stir in 3 to 4 tablespoons of water to make a spreadable paste, add water as required. Spread the mixture on the walls and floor of your oven, rub it in a bit, especially on the tougher spots.

Let it rest overnight. Next day, spritz vinegar wherever you see the baking soda mixture, it’ll foam up. Wipe clean with a damp cloth until – presto! The job’s done.

#3 – Drain Cleaner

It couldn’t be easier to clear a clogged or smelly drain, which proves what we said at the beginning – baking soda and vinegar can fix just about any cleaning problem.

Sprinkle ¼ to ½ a cup of baking soda into the clogged drain, then pour about ¼ cup of white vinegar down, it’ll bubble up and settle, let it sit for about an hour. Then pour a kettle full of boiling hot water down the drain. If the problem isn’t fixed right away, repeat the process, but usually it only takes the one time.

#4 – Furniture Polish

This is a super easy and economical alternative to commercial furniture polishing products.

Take 1 tablespoon of Castile Soap, 15 drops of essential lemon oil and 2 cups of water, pour into spray bottle and mix by gently shaking. Use as you would any  furniture polish. Spray and wipe with a clean cloth. (Test on a small area first to make sure it doesn’t stain or leave a mark.)

#5 – Carpet Freshener

This combination of ingredients will leave your carpeted areas smelling clean and fresh, as well as killing moths, fleas and flea eggs. It also acts as a deterrent against rodents.

Mix the ingredients thoroughly in a bowl. Sprinkle over the carpet and let sit for about an hour or so, then vacuum it up and it’s good as new. You can store the unused mixture in an airtight container and use it again.

We’ve only just begun

These are just a few of the many quick recipes for natural cleaners that can be easily made, saving you not only a lot of money but also the health of your family and furry friends.

At Allcare we care about you and your family’s well being and, of course… we care about clean.

Why not give us a shout to find out more about how green cleaning practices can improve the health — and the bottom line — of your organization?

 

 

 

 

The Invisible Army: why it may be time to re-think your cleaning staff

cleaning staff

 

When they do it nobody notices, and when they don’t, everyone does. But just who are “they” and what do they do?

Your cleaning staff is the invisible army that sweeps in and cleans your workplace when you’re not there so the following day can begin smoothly and efficiently. Just imagine if there were no cleaners. What would your plant or office look, smell and feel like?

These nighttime ninjas are dedicated employees who take pride in their work, often for many years at the same location, unknown and unrecognized by the 9-to-5 inhabitants of the places they clean.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T  (just a little bit)

Not only are cleaners generally invisible to staff because they work at night, many staff members don’t even give them a second thought. But keeping your cleaning staff in mind isn’t just nice, it actually creates efficiency so you can get more for your janitorial buck.

Consider for a moment: when an employee leaves a messy work space, it’s sort of like your teen leaving their dirty laundry all over the place and expecting you to pick it up before you get down to the vacuuming and dusting. Frustrating, right?

Leaving a neat desk or work space at the end of the day helps your cleaners be more effective by allowing them to spend more time on the deep-cleaning jobs that keep your office super-spiffy, fresh-smelling and germ-free.

Over and above

In addition to their regular duties, your cleaners do a lot of things that aren’t technically in their job description.

They’re a Lost and Found department for stray wallets, jewellery and smartphones. They monitor the coffee machine that everyone forgets to turn off. They lock the doors, set the alarm system, and switch off lights when the last employee leaves the building. Your cleaners also alert office and plant managers to after-hour emergencies like flooding, electrical problems and other facility issues.

And because cleaning staff mainly work at night, they’re like de facto security guards for many companies.

Allcare founder Chris Kandelas illustrates the point: “We had a cleaner at a building that was working after hours and there was a female staff member working late. She was the only one in the building besides the cleaning crew. The cleaner took it upon himself to keep an eye on her while she got safely to her car in the dark parking lot. As the customer later said, ‘That was over and above what they’re here to do.'”

Your cleaning staff is part of the team

Human nature being what it is, cleaning staff are sometimes blamed when things go missing or something is broken. It’s easy to point the finger at someone from outside the company rather than take the time to find a plausible explanation. But remember: just like you and your co-workers, your cleaners never want to jeopardize their jobs by doing something unethical.

We really are a part of your team — whether you see us or not.

—–

“We care about clean” is Allcare’s motto. It reflects our philosophy and provides the direction for everything we do. Whether it’s our approach to cleaning or the way our clients and employees are treated, it’s all about caring.

And so far, it’s been a successful approach. Naturally.

Get in touch today for your no-obligation quote.

 

Harmful Cleaning Products: How to Keep Your Kids and Pets Safe

kids pets keep safe harmful cleaning products

Detergents, window cleaners, furniture polish, disinfectants, floor cleaners, bleach – you’ve probably got a variety of jugs and spray bottles in your cleaning arsenal. And if you think about it, all those harmful cleaning products practically turn your broom closet into somewhat of a chemical lab.

But remember those safety precautions you learned in high school chemistry class? They’ll keep you and your family safe, too.

Read that label

As we go about our household chores, it’s easy to forget that we may be working with some pretty heavy-duty chemicals. That’s why it’s important to pay close attention to the labels on your cleaning products.

If you see “Caution,” “Poison,” “Warning,” “Toxic” or “Danger,” be extra careful when storing these items. Never remove labels from cleaning products, as they usually have important information about how to deal with accidental exposure or ingestion.

And never pour cleaning products into unlabelled bottles or beverage containers — it could mean the difference between life and death.

Storing cleaning products

Each year in Canada, an estimated 900 children under 14 are hospitalized due to unintentional poisonings. Roughly 70% of all child poisonings occur between the ages of one and five. Most of these incidents are caused by unsafe storage practices.

Harmful cleaning products, medications and chemicals should be stored out of the reach of children and pets. That’s a no-brainer, right? But consider that dishwashing detergent — which most of us store under the kitchen sink for quick access — accounts for more than any other accidental poisoning.

Those newfangled detergent pods present even more of a danger since they look like a sweet treat to a toddler. So, make sure those products are up on a shelf, too, or install childproof latches on low cupboard doors to keep your pre-schoolers and fur babies out of harm’s way.

And if you keep seriously hazardous materials in the house, such as pesticides, it’s best keep them locked up.

Safety rules for cleaning supplies
  • Always ensure that harmful cleaning products are properly closed and stored safely
  • Keep laundry and dish detergents stored on high shelves, out of the reach of children and pets
  • Install childproof latches on under–the-sink cabinets where cleaning materials may be stored
  • When finished cleaning, always dispose of rags, paper towels and scrubbing utensils properly
  • Read the instructions on the label of the product for what to do in case of an emergency
  • Keep a First-Aid kit handy that includes the emergency numbers for your doctor, nearest hospital and poison control centre
  • Think twice about what you’re pouring down the sink — it gets into the environment eventually

Most importantly, it may be time to take stock of your harmful cleaning products and choose greener, less toxic alternatives.

Contact us today to find our how your organization can benefit from green cleaning and sustainable practices. We care about clean — and your safety.

 

 

Keep a lid on it: Why you need to pay attention to roof maintenance

roof maintenance

Sometimes it feels like there’s an endless to-do list when maintaining a building or a house. Some of the upkeep can be put off until later. But roof maintenance is one of the tasks that needs to be top priority — especially with our Canadian climate.

Heavy snowfalls, spring thaws and rain, scorching summer heat and leaf-clogged eaves troughs in autumn can wreak havoc on any roof if you’re not paying attention.

So, what’s the big deal?

Your roof may be out of sight but keep it top of mind when thinking about risk management. What may not seem like a big deal can rapidly escalate into a major headache and cause significant business disruption, as well as health issues for your staff and customers.

Don’t wait until you see water dripping inside your facility. You can avoid costly repair bills by taking a pro-active approach toward your building’s exterior surfaces.

What to look for

First off, let’s talk about puddles – fun for kids to splash in, but a warning sign on a flat commercial rooftop. An adequate drainage system to eliminate puddles after a storm or winter thaw is crucial. While some puddling may occur naturally, any pooling that persists for more than a few days is a potential problem.

Each square foot of puddling adds about 5 lbs. of weight per square inch. Also watch for damaged flashing that seals the roof where angles meet and along the seams.

On pitched roofs, the water won’t puddle but extreme weather events can damage the shingles, eaves troughs and flashing which will compromise your building’s “exterior envelope”.

Health issues from mold and mildew

Mold and mildew caused by water damage from roof leaks can create serious health issues for your staff and customers. Many people are sensitive to mold, which can cause throat irritation, stuffiness, difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing and eye irritation. Those with asthma or compromised immune systems are particularly vulnerable to mold exposure.

Once mold has contaminated a facility, extreme care must be taken to clean it and prevent further growth.

Roof maintenance – check regularly and act quickly

As part of your building’s maintenance routine, be sure to have a roof maintenance professional inspect the roof at least twice a year, particularly in the spring and fall.

In the spring, identify any damage that may have occurred during the winter from snow and ice. Be sure to have the repairs done immediately before heavy spring rains cause more deterioration.

Inspect the roof in the fall to make sure it’s in good condition to handle the harsh winter months.

Tip Sheet
  • keep gutters and drains clear of debris
  • trim back overhanging branches
  • keep the roof clear of snow (if possible)
  • schedule regular roof inspections, especially after severe weather events
  • inspect the perimeter, especially the flashing
  • check for loose shingles – or on a flat roof, cracks in the membrane
  • observe the seals around pipes and other roof openings
  • repair any roof damage as soon as possible

Making small repairs to prevent roof leaks is one of the best ways to extend the life of your roof and protect your facility’s interior.  A financial investment now will save a lot of money later on and will ensure that the building — and the people inside it — stay safe and sound.

Get in touch

We care about clean — and about your health and safety.

Top 5 Germ-Laden Things You Touch Every Day

We all get up every day and go about our business. We have things to do, places to go and people to see. Most of us do all of this without thinking too much about the germ-laden things we come into contact with – until we encounter a gritty park bench or a greasy handrail on public transit.

But, surprisingly, some of the creepiest crawliest things are in our homes and workplaces – and some are even right there in our pockets and purses.

So, without further ado, let’s pull back the curtain and take a look at what we deal with every day. Ready?

#5 Sponge Bob is Not Your Friend

Your kitchen is a hot spot for cross-contamination of many different types of bacteria, and guess what interacts with just about all of them? That’s right, your kitchen sponge — one the dirtiest things in your house. Sponges are very effective for cleaning pots and dishes because they’re full of tiny holes that hold soap and water. Those warm, damp crevices are also the perfect environment for germs to propagate. So let your sponges dry out — germs hate dryness — and wash or replace them regularly.

#4 On the Throne

Let’s face it, when ya gotta go, ya gotta go — and there’s probably nothing grosser than a public bathroom toilet seat. Roughly half of all North American women won’t sit on a toilet seat in a public bathroom. But covering the seat with a barrier of toilet paper isn’t the answer either and, in fact, might actually be worse. Toilet seats are designed to repel germs, (hard plastic deflects bacteria and germs). Adding a layer of absorbent paper can soak up those nasty microbes and pass them to your body much more efficiently. Bottom line, pun intended, your best bet is to always wash yours hands with soap after you’re done.

#3 Talk Dirty to Me

By now everyone knows that cell phones are not the cleanest things in the world. To put that into clearer perspective, your toilet seat is actually cleaner. In fact, every square inch of your phone has about 10 times the number of germs than your toilet seat has. Bacteria thrive in warm places, the phone itself generates heat and so do your hands. It’s no wonder that smartphones are prime breeding grounds for microbes. Think about that the next time you’re texting at the dinner table.

#2 Let There be Light

It’s something we do every day, at home and at work we turn on the light. And light switches are one of those rarely thought-about germ-laden hideaways. They’re often overlooked when cleaning. Recently researchers did a study of hotel rooms, looking for hidden germ locations. They discovered that light switches, especially on bedside lamps, are crawling with bacteria. So the next time you’re cleaning a room, flip the switch – then clean it.

#1 Money Laundering

Talk about dirty money. The stuff is rife with germs… and cocaine, especially American money. Which is one of the reasons the UK and Canada have switched to plastic-based notes. Plastic acts to repel bacteria and is easily wiped clean. Paper money has tiny crevices that allow bacteria to grow — it can even transfer a live flu virus for up to 17 days. Just like our cell phones, money has more germs  than an average toilet seat, including staphylococcus aureus — the bacteria that causes staph infections. Again, always wash your hands after handling money… or send it to us.

Don’t Freak Out

In the end, it’s best not to obsess too much about the germ-laden things around us every day. But with a few simple changes to your routine, you can keep yourself, your family and your staff healthy and safe from harmful bacteria and viruses.

Get in touch today to find out how we can keep your workspace not only looking clean, but also healthy and germ-free using eco-friendly cleaning products and practices.

We care about clean.

Don’t be S.A.D.: How to beat the Winter Blues with some simple hacks

Yes, the Winter Blues are an actual thing

It used to be called simply the “winter blues” but in 1984 mental health researchers first described Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and made the link between reduced sunlight exposure and mood disruptions. If you find you’re feeling depressed starting in late fall and throughout the winter, you may just be SAD. Symptoms include difficulty with concentration, decreased libido, anxiety, lethargy and even carbohydrate cravings. So, savour those yummy Christmas cookies but be mindful: weight gain is another SAD symptom.

There’s plenty you can do to beat Seasonal Affective Disorder

The good news is that there are a few easy lifestyle tweaks that can help ease the symptoms of this seasonal syndrome.

The first order of business is to make sure you optimize your vitamin D levels. A simple blood test will let you know whether or not you’re deficient. If you are – and those of us living in cold, northern climes are prone to deficiency, especially during winter – you can supplement with vitamin D3 to raise your levels to the optimal range.

An added benefit of ensuring you have enough of the so-called “sunshine vitamin” is that recent studies indicate, in addition to the known benefits of helping maintain healthy teeth and bones, D may have a protective effect against cold and flu viruses, as well as some cancers.

The sunshine prescription

Of course, nothing brightens the mood like sunshine itself. Take time for yourself to go for a brisk walk when the sun is shining, preferably around noon when you’ll get the most benefit from the sun’s rays.

If you can manage to get away to a tropical place in winter, you’ll store up enough vitamin D to help get you through to spring. It’s estimated that just 30 minutes of full body sun exposure around mid-day generates about 10,000-20,000 IUs of vitamin D.

Staying active — a little bit of exercise for 30 minutes at least 3 times a week — can lift your mood and relieve anxiety and stress. And be sure to get enough sleep, but not too much — it’s easy to hide under the covers when you’re depressed.

Whether you work from home, in an office or an industrial environment, in addition to helping alleviate the winter blues, proper lighting makes work easier and more efficient.

Poor lighting conditions, such as low, glaring or shadow-casting light can cause headaches and eye fatigue, which can lead to more serious consequences like workplace accidents. Proper lighting reduces stress and increases productivity by allowing you to concentrate better on the task at hand.

Chase away the Winter Blues with a light box

Light therapy, in the form of a full-spectrum light box, has been used for decades to effectively combat seasonal affective disorder. SAD sufferers use the specially-calibrated table-top light in the morning for just 30 minutes a day. It’s simple and easy – just turn it on while you’re catching up on the news or scrolling through your social media feeds.

So, if you’re feeling SAD, no need to suffer in the dark. The best way to beat the winter blues, to work more efficiently and to have a healthier, happier life is to live in the light.

We care about clean — and your health

Get in touch with us today for your no-obligation Healthy Space assessment.

Is Washing Your Hands Really Necessary?

hand-washing

When you were a kid you were taught to wash your hands — before every meal, after using the bathroom and after coming in from outside. But now you’re an adult and you know all about hand-washing. And if you don’t wash them occasionally, it’s not the end of the world, right?

In 2015, Initial Washroom Hygiene conducted a massive survey of 100,000 people about their hand-washing habits. According to the survey, a staggering 62% of men and 40% of women didn’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. So, is this just another harmless oversight or does it have real health consequences?

The average person has about 1,500 bacteria per square centimetre on their hands, so good hand hygiene is crucial in reducing the spread of germs and controlling disease. Germs, such as bacteria and viruses are invisible and everywhere. They’re on everything you touch, cellphones, hand rails, shopping carts, even your toothbrush. Germs can spread rapidly after handling raw meat, by using the toilet or by coughing and sneezing.

As mentioned above, you should be washing your hands throughout the course of your day, but let’s get real and talk about the bathroom. Bathrooms are where bacteria really like to hang out and plot their next attack.

Properly washing your hands, especially after using the bathroom, prevents the spread of germs and keeps you and the environment around you clean. Proper hand-washing reduces the risk of getting diarrhea by about one-third and reduces the risk of contracting respiratory illness by up to 20%.

So, what’s the right way to wash your hands? Follow the five steps below to wash your hands the right way every time.

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air-dry them.

This video can also help you learn how to wash your hands the right way.

We care about clean – hands.

Get in touch. We’d love to help you banish the bacteria in your organization.

Preventing the Growth of Moulds in the Workplace

The public has increasingly become aware of the health effects and symptoms of exposure to mould. For instance, it’s not uncommon to hear about schools closing when mould growth is discovered. Mountainview Elementary School in Howie Centre, Nova Scotia was the latest to close.

An indoor mould growth
Indoor mould can impact the health of a building and those who live or work in the space.

Mould is a serious issue that needs to be addressed to prevent human exposure and further damage to building materials and furnishings. Every Allcare cleaner pays close attention to moulds, making sure to check janitor rooms, window sills, washrooms, and elsewhere for the first signs of mould growth.

In this post, we’ll explain how mould develops and what your workplace can do to eliminate a mould problem.

What do Moulds Need to Grow?

Moulds need moisture and nutrients to grow, so keeping a dry and clean environment is an essential step to prevent them from growing.

It’s also important to note that different kinds of moulds grow on different materials. Certain kinds of moulds like an extremely wet environment. Other kinds of moulds may be growing even if no water can be seen. Even dampness can give certain kinds of moulds enough moisture to grow.

Sources of Moisture

Moisture can enter the workplace in various ways. It could be from leaks in the floor, walls, or roof, or through plumbing leaks, poor drainage and window condensation.

Dampness and moisture can also build up in a workplace throughout the day from activities like washing or cooking. Moisture also accumulates when there is not enough ventilation to expel that moisture.

In your workplace, you should constantly be aware of musty odours, condensation, and discoloration, which are signs of moisture problems, water damage, and mould growth. And take action once you suspect a mould problem is developing.

Removing Mould

When dealing with mould, you should always limit your exposure by wearing a dust mask and rubber gloves.

Small areas of mould can be cleaned by scrubbing the area with detergent, then sponge with a clean, wet rag and dry quickly and thoroughly. Large areas of mould should be cleaned by professionals.

Simply killing mould with is typically not enough since people can react to particles present even in dead mould. Removing mould entirely is usually necessary.

Extra attention should be paid to porous materials like wood that moulds can infiltrate from the inside out, and grow on or in. These materials that are wet and have mould growing in them usually have to be removed and replaced.

And remember…

Unless the root cause of the moisture and water accumulation is corrected, mould will continue to come back time and again.

H1N1 Flu Virus: Things you can do to prepare

Is your business at risk in the event of a catastrophic event, whether related to terrorism, power supply, natural disaster or a pandemic influenza outbreak?

H1N1 virus

With the H1N1 outbreak upon us, we need to ensure we all know the methods of protecting ourselves and the symptoms associated with the flu virus.

Does your company have a “Pandemic Plan” and a “Business Continuity” Plan? Is your business at risk in the event of a catastrophic event, whether related to terrorism, power supply, natural disaster or a pandemic influenza outbreak such as H1N1?

Ways to protect yourself

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes nose and mouth
  • Cough and sneeze into your arm and not your hands
  • Get your H1N1 flu shot (personal choice, not endorsed by Allcare)
  • Keep common surfaces areas clean and disinfected.
  • If you’re sick, stay home!

Symptoms Associated with H1N1

  • Almost always: sudden onset of cough and fever
  • Common: fatigue, muscle aches, sore throat, headache, decreased appetite, runny nose
  • Sometimes: vomiting, nausea, diarrhea

Severity Indicators:

  • Shortness of breath, rapid or difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Bluish or grey skin colour
  • Change in mucous/spit colour
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • High fever for more than 3 days
  • Low blood pressure.

For more information visit:

www.fightflu.ca
www.hc-sc.gc.ca
www.who.int/en
www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

Are you prepared for the H1N1 virus?
Is your company prepared?
Are your employees protected?

To learn more about how to develop a plan and become prepared, contact us.