Thursday, December 9, 2010

Another round - some new favorite cleaning products

These days I've been almost too busy to think, let alone write. But, since it's what I do for a living, I do find time to clean. Plenty of time. Because I'm not made of money I don't test drive a whole lot of products. I really hate buying things and finding out I've just wasted my hard earned money on junk. But, every so often the planets line up in just such a way that I end up trying something new. Over the last year I've come across a handful of new products I can add to my list of Things I Hope I Won't Ever Have to Do Without. And, to make up for the recent shortage of soul fodder here, I'll dish up my latest recommendations free of charge.*

First off, Orange Pledge.

In my last list of products recommendations I featured Endust. I will not take back what I said. It is a great product. But Orange Pledge has taken its place in my heart. Anyone who's ever asked knows that I can't stand Lemon Pledge. It's waxy and leaves a build-up. So when I took on a new client a few months back who told me her former cleaner used it for her marble counters I was dubious. But then I looked at her counters. Like glass! Beautiful, with the smooth protected feel of a car that's been recently waxed. So, I ran with it. It is not only great for marble and/or granite counters, but, like Endust, it leaves a silky, like-new finish on stainless steel sinks and appliances. And then, of course, you can use it on even the most reflective wood furniture surfaces. (Yes, it is a furniture polish after all.) Add to all this the really pleasant smell and you have a uniquely versatile product for a much more reasonable price than all those specialty products.


My next pick is a big-ticket item. My favorite vacuum cleaner. Now, to be fair, I have not worked with all the other high-end brands and so am not comparing this to those. I'll leave that up to you. I read and searched when it came time to select a new vacuum. For two decades my family used an old 1970's model Hoover. When, in the 90's, it finally went the way of all the earth I thought, "Hoover's always been good to me. Look at how long this old gal worked!" Then off I went to pick up a new Hoover. What I didn't realize is that the vacuum industry, Hoover included, had changed a few things over the years - first and foremost the quality of their vacuums. Apparently they decided that vacuums should be like razors - disposable. I was horribly disappointed and went through three of them in a decade.

Another change that came along while I was still happily dancing with my old Hoover was that remarkable invention known as the "bagless" vacuum. The industry was overrun by them, so I assumed they must be good and I must have one. Goodness knows I always hated having to buy those bags every year or so - a huge inconvenience, right? So I made the switch. Three bagless vacs (of my own, not to mention a dozen or so client vacs) later I realized I'd been duped. (Now, I know many will disagree with me on this. Please don't bother to try to change my mind. I do this for a living. I know from vacuums. If you love your bagless I give you permission to keep on loving it.) I vowed never to own another bagless machine. In case you're interested in my reasons I'll list them.

  • Wimpy - they just aren't as powerful. In a vacuum, sucking is a good thing.
  • Messy - nothing like cleaning a house to a lovely shine then going to empty the vacuum cup and having dust billow up and over all the surfaces within three feet, as well as all over the vacuum. And then there are the filters. They have to be cleaned and/or replaced very frequently. Far more frequently than a bag needs to be replaced.
  • Touchy - I've found almost every bagless I've used to be prone to clogging and overheating. One was so bad that I could never finish a whole house even one time without it overheating.
  • Fragile - Vacuums are very simple mechanical items. A child should be able to take one apart and put it back together easily, possibly even without tools, but at the very least with just a screwdriver. Belts should be easy to replace, and all other routine maintenance - even removing clogs should be simple. This has seldom been the case with any bagless I've owned. I've found many of them will clog in a place that is inaccessible. Another thing is, I have no patience for plastic parts that break. I've gotten really tired of the clips that hold attachments breaking off. I should not have to handle a vacuum with kid gloves.
  • Time wasting - The cup on a bagless has to be emptied at least once, and often several times in the middle of just one vacuum job. My friends, this is ridiculous. Some homes I clean require me to empty it THREE times in one visit - each time scattering more dust. Someone told me once that it was because they pick up more than the ones with the bag, but that is not the case. The truth is, the bag compacts the dirt. A full bag weighs a lot. A full cup weighs next to nothing. In my own home I can vacuum many times, possibly a dozen or more (I've never counted) with one bag. With a bagless I had to empty it twice each time and then clean the cup and the filters. I do not want a cleaning machine than I have to spend 15 minutes cleaning when I'm done using it.
Okay, so I've got a strong opinion. Take it for what it's worth.

Anyway, back to my choice: a Riccar. Two of my clients have vacuums that have lasted more than five years. Believe it or not, this has become the exception, not the rule. Both of them were Riccars. I thought back over the years I've used them and could recall no problems with them, ever. I considered the several hundreds of dollars I've wasted on vacuums over the last decade and did the math. I settled for a mid-priced Riccar. I've used it for a full year before bringing this glowing report.** It has given me no trouble except one clog. And that clog was refreshingly easy to correct. The belt can be changed without tools, though I haven't had to change mine yet. It is wildly powerful. It's cord is very long and nicely flexible. (I hate those stiff vacuum cords.) The attachments are easy to use. After a whole year not a single piece has broken. I'm ridiculously happy with my Riccar vacuum.

Next, I am happy to report I've found something I like even better than my trusty Bio-Clean water spot remover. It's much cheaper and requires much less product to get the job done. Purchased when I was in a pinch and my supplier was closed for an obscure holiday, here it is:

Bruce's GSR, Glass Water Spot & Stain Remover - Heavy Duty Brown.

I tried this the other day on a dingy patch in an otherwise lovely porcelain sink - a patch that even a razor wouldn't scrape off. I was flummoxed. A small smear of this on a scrubby sponge polished it off in a few seconds and left the whole sink looking like new - a thing of beauty. I love when that happens! Bruce's GSR, where have you been all my life?

(As with any product, test in an inconspicuous area first.)

Finally, this may be old news to some of you, but so what. I only just tried my first microfiber cleaning cloth a few weeks ago, and only because they had a 12-pack of them on sale at Cash & Carry for only $7. For that price I figured they were worth trying out. I wasn't even sure, really, what they were for, and I still haven't tried them out on everything yet. I'll say right now, though, that they were worth the money for use as dust cloths alone. A single cloth can dust an entire house, and then some, with no other product necessary. Great for pianos and other highly reflective surfaces as well as cloth surfaces like lampshades. The only downside is that touching them with my bare skin makes my hair stand on end, almost literally. My daughter calls fabrics like this "hangnail material". Perfect description. I'm trying to work past the aversion to the feel of them gradually, wearing gloves when I just can't stand it anymore.  (Tip: do not use fabric softener when washing or drying these cloths. You will defeat the whole purpose.)

So, there's my gift to all of you my friends. I know how much you all enjoy my unsolicited advice!


*Please note, I do not now and never have received any compensation for featuring products on my blog. If I did or ever do, I will let you know.

** UPDATE:  I have now been using this same vacuum for over four years and remain delighted with it!  Go buy yourself a Riccar!

6 comments:

WhiteStone said...

This is a great post, Laurie! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Laurie.

My history with vacuums has been frustrating and expensive. I just may give this a try. I will definitely be looking at it.

Thank you.

Dulce

Laurie M. said...

Dulce,
My vac came with a warranty, three years I think. We have a dealer in our town who can do the annual maintenance (I think I'm a month overdue). I'm still on the original belt, btw, and the original package of bags that came with my purchase. They also offer a more expensive special allergen protect bag, which I haven't tried yet.

Finally, the vacuums are not cheap but they do come in a range of prices. I found mine on sale and opted for a mid-grade rather than the cheapest model because the plate at the bottom and the beater-bar are metal rather than plastic (I avoid as much plastic as possible because it becomes brittle over time and snaps). Also the wheels are rubber. I think it cost about $400, but I'd spent much more than that already on my collection of failed vacuums, not to mention the frustration every time I vacuumed.

I overheated my new machine one time (I think pine needles were the culprit, as they usually are.)and it was totally my fault. I had not read the manual to recognize that the red light coming on meant I had an obstruction. I ignored the red light for several minutes. It shut itself off. I unclogged the machine, then I had to read further to learn there is a re-set button to get it going after a shut down. I haven't had a problem since.

Hydriotaphia said...

Hi Laurie!

Having posted a comment at the guy's blog I just couldn't leave the ladies out!

Here in Norfolk UK we're the home of the inventor of the Dyson hoover,it's brilliant, I use no other, but whether cleanliness is always next to godliness, not so sure.

At the risk of being considered presumptuous to add to your reading of Browne, I'd still value your theological thought on this latitudinarian commonplace notebook entry which is in Religio Medici somewhere as well-

The learned Gaspar Schottus dedicates his Thaumaturgus Mathematicus unto his tutelary or Guardian Angel. Now though we must not lose God in good Angels or, because their presence is always supposed about us, hold less memory of the onminprescency of God in our prayers and addresses for his care and protection over us; yet they who do assert such spirits do find something out of Scripture and Antiquity for them. But whether the Angel which wrestled with Jacob were Esaus good angel; whether our Saviour on earth had one deputed unto him, or whether that was his good angel which appeared and strengthened him before his passion; whether Anti-Christ shall have any,whether all men have one, some more; whether these Angels do guard successively and distinctly unto one person after another or whether but once and singly but one person at all; whether we are under the care of our mothers good Angel in the womb or whether that spirit undertakes us when the stars are thought to concern us, that is at our nativities, men have a liberty and latitude to opinion.

I'm in slight awe you've ploughed through the first nine sections of R.M. for many Brit's literary prowess stumbles and abandons ship bwith them!

Laurie M. said...

Hello, Kevin!

Fancy meeting you here! I will find a way to return a comment to you on that portion of Religio Medici when I get to it. My work week has just begun so my reading time will be cut back.

As for the reading itself, I really don't feel like I'm ploughing. It's only a matter of catching on to his writing style. After that it's fascinating and worth every sentence thereafter which I may have to read twice to sort out the syntax.

As to your hoover, I'm amused to be reminded that in America Hoover represents a specific brand name for a vacuum machine but that in the UK the title has lost capital letter. Your Dysons are quite popular here, and quite expensive. They fall under what I categorize as "high end". I've never used one and know no one personally who owns one, so I can not compare. I've little doubt it would be better than any of the disasters I've previously owned or used.

christov10 said...

Caution-Lady and I read through your cleaning product posts and enjoyed them - also found the information helpful.