Kids create a lot of mess. It can be overwhelming and feel like it’s impossible to manage. If you need to learn how to declutter your home, follow the simple 1-thing-a-day rule or play the minimalism game.
How to Declutter Your Home Is It Possible With Kids?
We know it’s hard. Children have the potential to create a lot of mess, which you try to clean up…. But it can be never-ending, overwhelming, you’re exhausted and the prospect of cleaning is completely unappealing.
We understand it might seem impossible to declutter your home. Research shows that decluttering your home actually decreases cortisol levels (that’s the chemical in your body that makes you feel stressed). A cluttered house can also make you feel like you don’t have everything under control.
Worryingly, crowded homes may contribute to children’s inability to regulate their emotions and behaviour. But you know this, because it affects you too.
So is there a trick to easily learn how to declutter your home?
Declutter one day at a time
This isn’t a project you can do in one day. While you can make a dent in it with a big effort, this is really a long term project. There are a couple of strategies- one is that you throw/ recycle/ give away one thing a day for as long as required. Another one is the ‘Minimalism Game’, where you remove one thing on day one of the month, and add one thing a day, so that by the 31st, you’ll remove 31 things…. That’s 496 things!
Involve the kids
Get your children involved. Ask them to contribute the things they don’t play with/ fit/ use any more. Even better, tell them that you’ll donate the goods to your local op-shop, so that their old stuff goes to someone in need. You’ll be surprised by how giving children can be (and also, how resistant they may be to removing some fairly innocuous things from their lives).
Imagine how accomplished you will feel
To be able to open your wardrobe and see clothes you actually wear, hanging tidily. Easily opening and closing drawers that aren’t packed to overflowing with t-shirts, or broken kitchen implements or dead batteries. Going into the garage and being able to access all your car doors easily.
This kind of clutter takes up space in your brain and it’s tremendously empowering to remove it. It gives you more energy and it makes you feel like you’ve achieved something. So if you’ve been putting off decluttering your home, start today, with just one object (maybe even start with your plastic cupboard). Even a flood starts with a single drop of rain.
Winter is miserable enough without a damp, cold house affecting your health. Remove mould effectively, keep your heatpump running efficiently, and you’ll house will be a warmer, healthier place.
Winter brings a whole set of maintenance and cleaning issues that aren’t a problem in summer. Luckily, there are simple fixes to remove mould, make your heatpump run more effectively, and clean up slippery decks and pathways.
Karcher Water Vac
As a child, I remember being sent around the house with a rag and being made to wipe up the condensation from the windows. I hated it because my hands got cold and wet. The new Karcher Window Vac sucks all the water inside the machine without having to touch the window yourself, saving your hands the chilblain-inducing experience. It also gets ALL the water, keeping your home drier and stopping mould from forming.
Clean Your Heatpump or HRV system
If your heatpump is struggling to heat your home, it could be due to blocked filters. Next time you vacuum, remove the filters and gently give them a good clean. Also, vacuum the entire unit to suck up any stray dust. Pop outside and brush any cobwebs or leaves away that have accumulated around the unit. You might even need to trim back some branches.
Making sure the unit is clean makes the heatpump work more efficiently and will save you money on your electricity bill, as the unit doesn’t have to work as hard to do its job. A heatpump also helps to remove dampness in the air and acts as a dehumidifier, great for reducing mould and mildew inside.
Your HRV system needs a service every two years in order to work optimally, give your local service provider a call.
Remove Mould and Mildew
The worst thing about winter is that mould and mildew form, sometimes no matter how much you open your windows and clean. If you find mould appearing, do NOT use bleach or bleach-based products. They simply bleach the mould, making it look like it’s gone… while the roots remain alive. Kill the entire plant using white vinegar. If you don’t like the smell of vinegar, use our stain-remover. While it still has the natural bacteria-and-mould killing power of vinegar, it has a lovely scent.
Blast Your Deck & Paths
In winter, the dampness and lack of sunlight encourages moss growth outside. It can make paths and decks treacherous if left unchecked. It’s tremendously satisfying to use a water blaster to clean away the build-up of dirt and slime on surfaces outside, and usually a good weekend task that makes you appreciate your outdoor area again, while making the walk to the washing line easier.
If you spend any time on the internet, you’ll know there’s always a new cleaning hack. This time, it’s a Kmart cleaning hack… but does it work?
Kmart Cleaning Hacks & Using Steam to Clean
Kmart has inspired a cult-like following, with its excellent range of plastic ware, cheap shoes and surprisingly wearable clothing. On its hallowed shelves, you might find the answers to all your cleaning problems!
First There Was the $99 Kmart Cleaning Vacuum
In 2017 following a wave of positive social media, the $99 upright Kmart vacuum shot to home-cleaning fame, sucking up more dirt and dust than its pricey counterparts. Despite the short cord, lack of manoeuvrability and extra weight, this vacuum became an overnight sensation (strangely enough, people get excited about vacuuming).
Now, Behold, The Steam Cleaner
It’s happened again. This time, a woman has reported that her Kmart steam cleaner has cleaned her stained stainless steel cooktop using its magical steamy powers. Her results have been replicated by some, and not be others. So why has it worked for some people, and not for others?
How Steam Helps to Clean
Steam helps to clean in two ways.
So What is The Best Way To Clean Your Stove?
Experts say that you should wipe down your cooktop straight after you’ve used it. A quick wipe down with surface cleaner keeps it clean with very little effort. If you have burnt food, or a build-up, then create a baking soda paste. Leave on for a bit and then use a damp cloth to rub away the dirt, the abrasiveness of the soda helps to take off set stains. You can use scrapers on glass cooktops.
If you want to invest in the $30 hand steamer, it might make your life a bit easier, or, it might not. Just be aware that a trip to buy Kmart cleaning gear results in many things sneaking into your trolley so this is another gateway to Kmart overdose!
Cleaning is Not a Dirty Word (But the Cleaning Industry Is)
The cleaning industry has a dirty secret. All those products you see at the supermarket that tell you they are free from ‘nasty’ chemicals or that they are environmentally friendly cleaners… are not necessarily true. So how can you tell what is genuinely eco-friendly and safe?
Reading Labels Doesn’t Always Work
NZ’s labelling laws on cleaning products aren’t that strict. The manufacturer can claim their product’s ingredients are good for the environment, yet not include a list of all ingredients, meaning you have no way of verifying their claims. A well-known international brand claims that their product is 100% recyclable, using natural orange oil… yet the label doesn’t list all the ingredients, nor the percentage of ‘natural orange oil’.
Environmental Claims are a Marketing Ploy
Those ‘natural’ cleaning products you buy, with lovely earth- coloured labels and claims of being ‘green’ and ‘natural’… have incomplete label information. They absolutely do not back up any of their claims of being ammonia/ phosphate/ chlorine free. These labels are created to make you buy their product.
NZ’s Labelling Standards for Environmentally Friendly Cleaners are Lax
NZ has an ‘ecolabel’ brand that you’ll all be familiar with. The tick shows you’re making an environmentally friendly choice. But these standards allow use of palm oil, and manufactured fragrances (although they do not allow nitromusk or polycyclic musk compounds).
Why Is This So Important?
Because bleach and ammonia can cause respiratory diseases such as COPD. Artificial fragrances have been found to be endocrine disruptors and possibly carcinogenic. The lack of labelling requirements mean that almost anything can have claims to be ‘natural’ or good for the environment, yet but potentially toxic and harmful.
Our products are honest. Our packaging lists our ingredients and we say what we mean (and mean what we say). We don’t use artificial fragrances. We don’t use palm oil. But our products are effective, smell great, and are eco-positive.
If You Have a Grey Water System You Need to Read This
Grey water tanks are increasingly becoming a solution for homeowners wanting a way to decrease their water use. There are a number of things to take into consideration before investing in a new grey water system.
What Is a Grey Water System?
Grey water is ‘gently used’ water that is sent to a tank and then dispersed on your property rather than sent to the sewage system. This is an excellent way to reduce load on sewage systems, reduce your household water use, and recycle water when there are restrictions and shortages in place.
To make the system work well, there are some things a household has to do so that the system works faultlessly.
Be Careful What You Wash Down the Sink
Whatever you put down the sink will end up distributed throughout your property. So minimise washing grease and oils down the sink, food waste, and harsh chemicals. Use eco-positive cleaners and avoid harmful chemicals such as bleach. This goes for kitchen and bathroom cleaners, whatever products you use in the shower, and also clothes washing chemicals.
In particular, avoid boron and salts that can harm plants.
Don’t Use Greywater to Water Your Carrots and Potatoes
You need soil to filter the water and remove the impurities. A good rule of thumb is that you should never use greywater directly on the edible part of a fruit or vegetable. So avoid watering your leafy greens, your potatoes and carrots, and your strawberries. Ornamentals, fruit trees, and shrubs such as raspberries are all ideal candidates for greywater use. Lawns can be watered provided they are done so through underground drip tubing.
Use the Water Straight Away
If the water in your grey system sits for more than 24 hours, it turns black and becomes odorous due to bacteria growth. Prompt use of the water ensures this won’t happen.
With eco-friendly ingredients, our cleaning products offer benefits that most supermarket cleaners don’t. Want to kill mould naturally? Deodorise your home without harmful fake scents? We have the cleaning hacks to help.
Cleaning Hacks for Stubborn, Messy, Smelly Problems
Every cleaning product on the market seems to offer a range of benefits, but do they deliver? Our range of products have eco-friendly ingredients. Combined with these cleaning tricks, will make your life cleaner, and better!
Get Chrome and Stainless Steel that Sparkles
Sticky hands, dust and wear and tear can make chrome and stainless steel dirty. If you’re the slightly obsessive type, trying to rid your fridge of fingerprints will make you rue the day you ever decided to have anything other than a plain white finish. Luckily, we have a cleaner that wipes away greasy dusty marks easily. Try our stain and mould surface cleaner, with the power of white vinegar but not the unpleasant smell!
Banish Smelly Microwaves & Fridges
Places where food spatters fester can end up being pretty stinky. When you next wipe down your microwave or fridge, use this cleaning hack. Use a little of our lemongrass and lime surface cleaner. Lemongrass is an amazing deodoriser and will leave your appliances smelling fresh and clean for a long time to come.
How to Clean Fly Spots from the Ceiling
Cleaning fly spots off walls, ceilings, and windows is an onerous, boring task. If you scrub too hard, you will damage the paint surface too, hastening that next round of home renovations. Use our fly off surface cleaner, which not only easily removes fly spots, but also repels the flies from returning. Sounds like a miracle? Our customers think it is amazing!
Cleaning Hacks for Filthy Windowsills and Tracks
Window tracks accumulate dirt and dust, and in winter can be prone to mould. Use our stain and mould surface cleaner, and use an old toothbrush to get into awkward crevices and cracks. The vinegar is naturally antifungal so mould doesn’t re-grow, perfect for keeping windows looking cleaner for longer.
Stain Removal from Clothes
If you’ve tried everything to remove greasy stains from your favourite top with no success, try the grease-removing capabilities of our pine and orange dishwashing liquid. Pump a little on the stain, rub it in, wash as normal.
Which Cleaning Products are Safe to Use in a Septic Tank?
You must avoid using certain cleaners in your septic tanks. Using harsh chemicals can poison your septic system. Some cleaners kill the beneficial bacteria in the system, which can stop the septic tank from working properly.
A septic tank is required if your home is not connected to a main sewage system. It processes sewage on site, and requires a bit of extra care to make sure it works properly.
How Does a Septic Tank Work?
A septic tank works by using time and gravity to separate the wastewater from your house into three layers. The top layer called scum, a middle layer of liquid, and the solid/ sludge layer which sinks to the base of the tank.
The liquid layer is treated in the tank by naturally occurring bacteria, and the liquid is then drained into a disposal field where it soaks into the ground.
Every three years or so, a contractor is required to pump the sludge out of the tank.
Septic Tank Maintenance
Think of your tank as a living digestive system. You don’t want to feed it too much, and you want to minimise any contamination. Making sure you scrape your plates before washing them, don’t use an Insinkerator, don’t wash excess chemicals and oils down the drain, and don’t flush anything other than human waste and toilet paper.
Choosing Cleaning Products Safe to Use in a Septic Tank
Part of looking after your septic tank system is using the correct cleaning products. Chemicals such as bleach kill the good bacteria in the system. That means your wastewater won’t be treated properly. This results in a very strong unpleasant odour and means your liquid that is drained into the disposal field may still contain harmful bacteria.
To avoid these problems, use cleaning products sparingly. Avoid anti-bacterial products, caustic solutions sure as drain and oven cleaners, and ammonia based cleaners. Consider changing and using environmentally- positive products. Our products use essential oils as a natural scent, and even our harshest mold-killing cleaner uses white vinegar as a base. Dream Eco Products are cleaning products safe to use in a septic tank systems and yet still effective household cleaners.
The kids are screaming, your book is up to an exciting bit, or maybe George Clooney popped by- and you burned dinner. To a cinder. Follow our simple steps to clean burnt pots without loads of effort.
We’ve all wandered off when cooking, gotten distracted by cat videos on the internet, and ended up burning pots. We’ve put our brightest minds onto how to clean burnt pots without damaging the pot, or our sanity.
Not one product will clean everything, and not one solution is appropriate for all pot surfaces. We’ve compiled a list of the best options to clean everything from the easy, to the down-right cindered, solid mass. The first thing to do is to stop it burning further, which means cooling it (slowly, don’t plunge it into cold water as this damages the pot). After that, it depends on the product. There are some fairly deep science explanations regarding the chemical composition of the burnt food but for those of us that aren’t scientists…
Burned something sweet? Things like caramel can burn in seconds- but luckily, they are simple to clean. Fill the pot with water and a squirt of dishwashing liquid. Leave to sit and the sugar dissolves all by itself.
Whether it’s potatoes, noodles, or milk, it’s the same advice. Cover the burned area with water, add a squirt of dishwashing liquid, and return the pot to the stove top. Bring the water to a gentle simmer, and leave for up to a few hours. Then, let cool overnight and it should easily scrub off the following day.
You can also use baking soda to clean burnt pots instead of dishwashing liquid.
If baking soda or dishwashing liquid is unsuccessful, try using a light acid based product such as vinegar, this may work if the alkaline products have not helped.
Cleaning Cast Iron Pans
You can’t use metallic abrasives or harsh scouring chemicals on cast iron as it removes the pan seasoning. Le Creuset advise using a plastic brush to remove what is possible in the first instance. Then heating the pan with water inside, and using nylon or soft abrasive pads to remove any other burnt food.
Are you faced with a plastic tsunami every time you open your drawers or cupboards? Not sure how to start organising your plastic food storage containers? We’ve got some simple tips for you.
Make Your Life Easier by Organising Your Plastic Food Storage Containers
It’s easy to procrastinate from organising your plastic food storage containers. Your plastic drawer or cupboard can be a nightmare. We’ve all opened a cupboard to a waterfall of loose plastic, or spent 20 minutes looking for the right matching lid! The good news is that it doesn’t actually have to be a drama to clean it up and it doesn’t take much effort to maintain.
Empty the Plastics Drawer or Cupboard
Take everything out and wipe out the drawer. Now to solve the puzzle- find a lid for each container. Throw out the lids or containers that don’t have a mate. Containers that are cracked are often harbouring germs in the crack, and melted lids don’t offer an airtight seal, so it’s time to throw them out too. They are just taking up space. You might have to accept that your favourite Tupperware container with the slightly melted lid is past its use-by date.
If your plastics are stained, this is a good time to clean them. Depending on the stain, different things may work. If tomato or turmeric based food has been microwaved in the container, then that stain is likely set and cannot be removed. Try soaking in vinegar, or you can make a paste from baking soda and let it sit overnight. Rub the plastic with lemon and let sit in the sun to activate the natural bleaching properties of lemon. However, don’t use bleach is it can be absorbed into the plastic.
Set Up a System for Your Plastics Drawer
Your system has to work for you so that your system for organising your plastic food storage containers works long term. Do you store the containers with the lids attached? This will take up a lot of room but makes it easy to see what’s available so next time you’re trying to find the right-sized container for the leftovers, it’s simple to see what size you need.
The other option is having a container to store the lids in separately from the bases. That way you have a line-up of lids. The bases you can stack into each other in descending sizes. This is the best option for those short on space. If you have an old dish rack or magazine boxes, these are ideal to use to stack the lids in.
Did You Know Your Chopping Board Has More Bacteria than a Toilet Seat?
40% of food poisoning is caused by poor hygiene in the home. Chopping boards are one of the most contaminated items, containing up to 200% more bacteria than your average toilet seat! Dr Lisa Ackerley, a food hygiene expert and representative of the Global Hygiene Council, advises that if you have raw chicken in your home, you will have Campylobacter bacteria too, which causes many food poisoning cases in NZ. Luckily, it’s a simple task to effectively clean your chopping board to avoid the risk of contracting food-borne illness.
How to Clean Your Chopping Board
While advice does differ depending on the type of material the board is made from, there is some generic advice. Clean your board frequently, between different ingredients. Rinse and wash with dishwashing liquid- don’t let the food particles dry and harden.
Stains can be removed using baking soda or salt as an abrasive. Simply rub a little on with some water to make a paste, and the stain will rub off. Once your board is clean, dry thoroughly. This is imperative to stop growth of bacteria. Drying the board in the sun also helps to kill bacteria too.
If your cutting board is starting to smell, rubbing a cut lemon on it will help to deodorize it, or use our lemongrass & lime dishwashing liquid.
How to Clean a Plastic Chopping Board
If you are concerned about microbes still remaining, use vinegar to spray the board and soak for a few minutes. The acid is a natural germ-killer. The easiest way to clean a plastic chopping board is by simply putting it through the dishwasher on the hottest cycle.
How to Clean a Wooden Chopping Board
Wooden chopping boards aren’t quite as easy to clean as plastic ones, but a little bit of TLC will ensure your board is clean and healthy to use. Unlike plastic boards, don’t put it in the dishwasher. The timber will absorb water, swell and cause cracking. The cracks are where germs congregate and will also cause your board to fall apart. Instead of the dishwasher, you can spray vinegar and let penetrate before washing off using hot water and dishwashing liquid.
Dry thoroughly, and then one a month, apply a food-safe oil such as linseed, or beeswax. This protects the timber and will keep your board looking good for longer.