Sunday, May 6, 2012

Reggie's Five Favorites: Household Cleaning Products

Back when I first started this blog, I wrote that I would do a series called Reggie's Five Favorites in which I would share with you, Dear Reader, five favorites of mine within a particular category.  The first—and only—installment that I wrote focused on cookware.  Well, more than two years later, I am finally posting the second installment in the series, this time focused on my five favorite commercially available household cleaning products.

Laundry day at Darlington House

I am fortunate to write that I am not responsible for most of the cleaning and laundering that takes place at Darlington House and in our city apartment.  There are others in our employ who ably take on such responsibilities for us.  However, Reggie is no stranger to rolling up his sleeves, donning a bib apron, and tackling such mundane tasks as scrubbing the surface of a stove or doing a load or two of laundry.  That is because there are times when I am not entirely satisfied with the jobs done by those who do them for us.  As the saying goes, "If you want it done right, [there are occasionally times when] you have to do it yourself."

Herewith, Dear Reader, are the top five commercially available household products that I use when engaging in such tasks:

1. Caldrea® Mandarin Vetiver Dish Soap Liquid

There are any number of attractively packaged and pleasantly scented dishwashing liquid soaps available today, unlike when I was a lad, when all of them came in uniformly ugly plastic bottles and had cheerily artificial smells.  One certainly no longer must decant one's dishwashing liquid into a discrete and "tasteful" bottle the way Martha Stewart taught us to do twenty or more years ago.


My favorite dishwashing soap is Caldrea®'s Mandarin Vetiver Dish Soap Liquid.  Not only is it highly effective in cleaning dishes and utensils, but its scent is marvelous.  It is a delicious combination of blood orange, grapefruit, and wood-bark essences.  Heaven!

2. Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day® Lemon Verbena Countertop Spray

Where would we be today without Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day® household products?  Handsomely packaged and readily available, Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day® aromatherapeutic household cleaners are staples in our house and apartment.  I particularly like the company's light and citrusy lemon verbena scented countertop spray.


According to the products' labels, "Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day® provides hard-working, naturally occurring ingredients and essential oils that are tough on dirt and grime, yet gentle on your home & the earth."  They are also biodegradable and cruelty-free.  What's not to like about that?  Also, who doesn't love the fact that they are named after the reassuringly homey Mrs. Meyer, an actual Iowa homemaker and mother of nine whose daughter founded the company and named it after her?  Do check out the company's website, where there are several quite charming videos, including one of an interview with the one and only Mrs. Meyer.  Who knew?

3. Bar Keepers Friend® Cleanser & Polish

I tell you, Dear Reader, this is a miracle product.  Bar Keepers Friend® (ungrammatical as it may be) is a gentle scouring powder known as "The Can-Do Cleanser."  It has been made since 1882.  According to its old-fashioned label, it can be used to clean stainless steel, chrome, fiberglass, porcelain, ceramic cooktops, copper, tile, and brass.


I use it to scour our stainless steel sinks and stove tops, and when I do, the gleaming results verge on astonishing!  I have found nothing better to remove the residual, sticky, stubbornly baked-on goo from the surface of our stainless steel stoves.  Barkeepers Friend® is both strong enough and gentle enough at the same time for me to use it to polish our copper cookware, where it does an admirable job of brightening up the metal's surfaces in a jiffy.  In my house, Barkeepers Friend® truly lives up to its motto of "Once Tried, Always Used."

4. 'All'® Free Clear Laundry Detergent

I don't know about you, but I cannot stand perfumed laundry detergents, and I find the scent and residue of fabric softeners revolting.



We use 'all'® free clear liquid laundry detergent to wash our laundry, both at Darlington and in the City, because it is free of perfumes and clear of dyes, and it is biodegradable and free of phosphates, too.  My sister Camilla introduced me to 'all'® free clear several years ago, and we've used nothing else ever since.  Thank you, dear Sister.

5. Oxi-Clean®

This is another miracle product.  Oxi-Clean® is a versatile, oxygen-based stain fighter that's chlorine-free and color-safe.  I use it to clean and whiten yellowed or stained white clothing and linens, instead of relying on harsh chlorine bleach.


I have found nothing better to restore and revive tired linens and return them to their original whiteness than Oxi-Clean®.  Here's how I do it: I fill the washing machine with water, pour in three to five heaping scoops of Oxi-Clean® powder (depending on the size of the load and how soiled it is) and also a regular dose of 'all'® free clear laundry detergent.  I let the water agitate so the Oxi-Clean® and detergent are completely dissolved and dispersed, add the sorted laundry, and let it all soak overnight, and sometimes longer, up to 24 hours.  I then run the machine for a long cycle, and double (and sometimes triple) rinse it when completed.  The clothes come out stain-free and as white as possible.  Oh, and of course I only use the scent- and dye-free variety.  And yes, I really do decant the powder from the ugly box it comes in, and I use my own metal scoop instead of the flimsy plastic one provided.

Lastly, if you really want to get your whites "whiter than white," I suggest that you hang them to dry in the sun, as we sometimes do at Darlington, as shown in the photograph at the beginning of this post.

Tell me, Dear Reader, are there commercially available household products that you use and that you would recommend?

Please note: Reggie has received nothing in return for these recommendations, nor does he expect to.  He is sharing them with his readers solely for their pleasure and enjoyment, which is why he writes this blog in the first place.

Photographs by Boy Fenwick

92 comments:

  1. I have my favorites as well and like you, Barkeepers Friend is a must -- I'm a Tide girl but I may have to try All.

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    1. Hello Martha, Thanks -- do try 'all,' it is a great product! RD

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  2. I use the bar Keep's Friend to clean all of my copper cookware. It works brilliantly, although I am not fond of their soft scrub.

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    1. I don't like the soft scrub at all, either. I tried it once and vowed, never again!

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  3. Zud is far better for cleaning copper and brass. It is oxialic acid which is a toxic substance, but rubber gloves takes care of that.

    It comes in powdered form--the same as Bartender's with sprinkle top.

    Might take some hunting, but it is well worth it.

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    1. I've used Zud to remove stains from dripping faucets, and also lime buildup. I've not seen the powder form, only the liquid. Must look for it! Thanks, Reggie

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  4. Reggie,
    I share many of your favorites, and will definitely be putting the mandarin scent Caldrea dish soap on my list-Thanks! I recently put all the glass soap pumps from Caldrea in our bathrooms. I do wish Bar Keeper's Friend could work as hard without smelling so bad!

    I like the Method brand Eucalyptus Mint scented products, My absolute favorite glass cleaner is Sprayway. It gets glassware and mirrors super clean and smells fabulously fresh, you'll love it!

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    1. I must check out the Method brand products you mention, plus Sprayway -- have never heard of that one! Thanks! RD

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  5. I just have one tip for using oxiclean. My grandmother collected antique textiles, and she taught me to soak the fabric in clean water first to open the fibers.
    I also love Dr. Bronner's soap. It gets bloodstains out without a trace. You can also use it for almost anything, from shampoo to dishes to laundry. I've even heard of it being used as toothpaste, though I've never been tried it personally. We always keep some on hand for detergent emergancies!

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    1. Soaking in water (plus Oxi-Clean) is, indeed, one's friend! I must check out the good Doctor, as you suggest! Thank you, RD

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  6. Mrs. Meyer's Lavender Laundry Detergent is our favorite. It leaves a bare hint of lavender on the wash we hang, and none at all when we have to resort to the dryer! If toilet paper counts as a household item, Seventh Generation recycled is great, and almost as soft as that made from chlorine-bleached trees. Great list, Reggie - I'm going to get a can of Bar Keepers Friend, though I might have to add an apostrophe with white-out or something.

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    1. We have any number of Mrs. Meyer's products in our house, and love them. I, like you, find the Barkeepers Friend's lack of an apostrophe maddening! (But the marvelous product more than makes up for it...) RD

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  7. Hello Reggie

    Thank you for sharing your products. I will certainly check out "All",Caldrea and Bar Keeper's friend.

    We use Mrs. Murphy's original oil soap when washing hardwood floors and Mexican tile floors.
    I wash cashmere and fine wool in cold water, by hand, with Zero which has been diluted in the water before adding the sweaters.

    Helen

    I love hearing about product that has been tried and tested.

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    1. Murphy's Soap is a staple in our house, too. Not familiar with Zero, which I must look in to. Thanks for the suggestion! RD

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  8. Bar Keeper's Friend keeps my copper kitchen countertops looking lovely--as well as other metals and ceramics in the kitchen. Murphy's Oil soap (well diluted) is a favorite to use on baseboards and other wood surfaces (except furniture). And I always put a few drops of lemongrass essential oil in the vacuum bag--lemon smells so clean. Lemon oil on certain pieces of thirsty furniture a few times a year. White vinegar in my dog's laundry to remove the doggy smell, and for washing glass surfaces/windows. Baking soda mixed with water or white vinegar for the sinks and tubs.

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    1. Where would we be without white vinegar and baking soda? I agree with you, both are essentials to a clean and green household! RD

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  9. I'm going to give the "all" a try, Reggie. I am devoted to Barkeeper's Friend, Oxi-Clean, and Caldrea Citron-Ginger dish detergent. Plain old Arm & Hammer baking soda and Clorox are must-haves, also!

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    1. Do try 'all,' as I think it is a great product. Not surprised we share many of these other favorites, T&CM! I always keep Clorox on hand, but have to keep it under lock and key as my housekeeper would use it with every load if she could. RD

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  10. Oxy Clean is my Miracle Worker! Bar Keepers Friend I cannot do without! The Caldrea Mandarin Dish Soap wonderful. I love several of the Caldrea products and their scented candles.

    xoxo
    Karena

    Art by Karena

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  11. Barkeeper's Friend is one of my all time favourites too. It keeps the brass furniture on my front door sparkling without making my hands black - magic stuff.

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    1. Rosemary, I haven't tried Barkeepers on brass yet, but it does such a marvelous job on copper, that -- based on your comment -- I am now planning on seeing how it works on cleaning brass, too. Thank you!

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  12. Thanks for the tips Reggie! Any friend of the Barkeep is a friend of mine.

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  13. reggie thanks for your household cleaning ideas-will surely try bar keepers and oxi-


    my suggestions would be Fels naptha soap for items washed in sink and woolite for hand wash of wool socks .
    enjoying your posts

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    Replies
    1. Haven't heard of Fels Naptha since I was a tyke. Must look into it. Thanks!

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  14. My last trip to the US I brought back several bottles of unscented All; I am in strong favor of anything without perfume. I also agree with you about the dryer sheets--I can't understand why anyone would want them.

    Returning from collecting forays, Goo-Gone is my first line of defense for removing stickers and old residue. When that doesn't work, I like to keep on hand an array of plain solvents, such as alcohol, acetone or naphtha. Nothing is worse than when people ruin a good object by placing a sticker on a delicate or painted surface, or by leaving the sticker on so lon that it leaves a permanent mark.

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    1. Parnassas, It was a close call as to whether Goo-Gone was going to appear o this list. If I had six favorites instead of five, it would have surely. Thanks!

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  15. Wonderful posting! And I do concur about the wonders of Barkeepers!

    I can highly recommend "Williamsville Wax" -- a totally natural beeswax and lemon oil (non-toxic and non-hazardous) furniture polish! Made here in the U.S. -- by a small firm H.F. Staples & Co. Inc. -- based in Merrimack, N.H. Lovely stuff and brings out a soft glow on the wood!

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    1. Anon, I am not familiar with Williamsville, must look into it. Thank you.

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  16. With a few exceptions, I let the housekeepers buy whatever they want and feel works best.

    The exceptions:

    1) Miele Dishwasher Tabs. Indispensable and irreplaceable. (Truth be told, you probably only need to use half a tab for a full load of dishes.)

    2) Persil laundry detergent. (When you care enough to buy the very best. Some people also use Persil's various supplements. I haven't bothered.) http://www.amazon.com/Persil-Laundry-Detergent-Loads-Three/dp/B000AV1YMW

    3) "The Original Beeswax Polish." (I buy it by the case.) http://www.beeswaxpolish.com/

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    1. Thank you, Ancient. I first learned of Barkeepers from our city housekeeper, who introduced me to it, to my undying gratitude. Will certainly look into the products you cite, as I know you to be spot-on accurate in all matters! Thank you.

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    2. I'm past forgetful -- there is one other item on my list.

      People who live in the country often have problems with their water supply, causing rings and other stains to appear in the toilets.

      There is a simple solution:

      http://www.amazon.com/Pumie-Toilet-Bowl-Remover-TBR-6/dp/B000BPRDCW/ref=pd_bxgy_hg_text_c

      (Follow the easy directions and the rings will disappear. But follow the directions.)

      Another, related country water product -- for weekly maintenance of same -- comes from these people:

      http://limeaway.com/

      Caveat: If you have help cleaning your house, make absolutely sure they know how to use the first-mentioned product. (It's really easy to do it right. Explain it. Show them, even.)

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    3. Dearest Ancient, what a great recommendation, as we DO have problems such as you describe at Darlington. Must look into this!

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  17. Reggie Darling,
    I just left you a comment on facebook, but I shall cover bases and leave it here. I adore Clean Peace (blogger Reverie-Daydream told me about it) as it arrives in glass bottles and smells so heavenly. Love mixing water, white vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda.
    My Mother taught me that one does not have to have money to be clean.
    pve

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    1. Thank you, PVE. I am not familiar with Clean Peace. Must look into it.

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  18. Caldrea is fabulous. I apply the Basil Blue Sage (Fragrance #14) hand lotion before leaving the house each morning. And anything containing vetiver wins my heartiest approval. I wear Vetiver men's cologne by Guerlain because I can't seem to find a woman's scent sufficiently redolent of vetiver. Best wishes.

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  19. An old fabric conservator in New Orleans told me about using a fairly strong solution of half Clorox 2 and half Ivory Snow in hot water for linens and cottons- let it soak, and she swore it would take the spots out of a leopard- I've tried it on small things- napkins and old hankies works like a charm- Haven't tried it on my leopard though- Don't forget Polident for cleaning decanters

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    1. This sounds like a great tip. Will most certainly give it a try. Thanks.

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  20. I love Mrs Meyer's cleaning products!

    I also love White Wizard Spot Remover for spills and accidents on carpets and rugs.

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    1. I'm not familiar with White Wizard. Thanks for the suggestion!

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  21. even your clothes line looks chic! Adding a few of these products to our list this week, thank you for sharing

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    1. Thank you, Jennifer. That clothes line is known as "Reggie's Folly," as I insisted we have a period-appropriate clothesline added to our property (it drove me nuts that we didn't have a clothesline), and our architectural consultant designed this and had it made for me. I love it!

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  22. Thank you for the great advice. As Oscar Wilde once said, "The best thing to do with good advice is pass it on"... My cleaning lady is here tomorrow. Do you have the spanish translations perhaps? ;)

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    1. Mr. Wilde is such a delightful source of wickedly spot-on quotes, isn't he? I wish that I had taken Spanish in school instead of German, as it would be so much more useful (well, actully useful) living in the increasingly dual-lingual USA that we do today.

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  23. I blundered the quote... the correct one is... “The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.”

    -Oscar Wilde

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    1. Ah, now it has his trademark amusingness!

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  24. I don't know what I did before Mrs. Meyer's.

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  25. Unfortunately we dont have the products you mentioned in our shops, the names alone make them worth trying.

    My favourite is Gumption, multi purpose cleanser. For detergents, the Earth Choice range, Australian owned and made according to the bottle!

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    1. Thank you for the Aussie perspective here, much appreciated!

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    2. I would love you and Boy to visit us !

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    3. That would be a dream come true! Thank you.

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  26. Weiman candle wax remover is a wonderful thing. I've never used it to get up candle wax (been lucky with the many candlesticks we have and use), but it's the best when trying to get stickers off of store and auction purchases AND oil paint off of hands. It works better than goo-gone and smells like sassafras.
    Best -
    - Mike

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    1. Hello Mike, I am not familiar with Weiman's. Thanks for the suggestion, as our drawing room chandelier's candles sputtered and spewed wax on our carpet several months ago, and I have been non-plussed as to how to get it up. I must try this!

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  27. Hooray. Great post! Every product you chose is first class, environmentally friendly and so effective. I like Murphy's Oil Soap for the wood floors. N.G.

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    1. Murphy's is a staple in our house, too. Thanks!

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  28. I love Mrs. Meyer's entire Clean Day line. The dish soap (lemon verbena) and the detergent (lavender). And Oxi-Clean? I never leave home without it (literally).

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  29. Dear Mr. Darling,

    Could there be a more elegant washing line in all of the country? How wonderful to see you included an urn finial to crown such a utilitarian device as a humble washing line. Beautiful!

    My top household cleaning products include

    1) Good old-fashioned baking soda to scour the Belfast sink

    2) Ecover ecological dish washing liquid, gently scented (and I do mean gently as there is nothing more revolting than the overpowering fumes of scented dishes) with grapefruit and green tea

    3) Town Talk Polish Co. Ltd. Furniture Wax, which is made of a blend of pure beeswax and carnauba wax (oh, and who can help but like their charming tin too)

    4) Common household ammonia - which is, I know, disgusting, but I've found nothing better to effortlessly clean the removable enamel cook top pans (just do it outside in a safe area with a large plastic bag that can be sealed, line the pan tops with paper towels, soak the towels in ammonia, place the pans in a sealed plastic bag over night and the following morning, wipe clean and rinse them off - no scrubbing involved and they will be shiny and clean). I believe this method also works on stainless steel too.

    5) After all that horrid cleaning with ammonia, there is nothing nicer than washing one's hands with Elizabeth W Hand Wash in their divine Citrus Vervain scent (aromas of lemons, grapefruits, and mandarins).

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    1. Hello LizaE, I am not familiar with most of the products you mention, so thank you. I, too, am a fan of old-fashioned ammonia. It is most useful in cleaning gilt-bronze, I find (but don't leave it to soak!). I also use it to strip paint from metal. Soaking paint-covered metal bits (hinges/door hardware/etc.) in a bath of it for a week or more makes paint removal effortless.

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    2. Hello Reggie,

      Thank you for the pointer in cleaning gilt-bronze. I'll have to try it on some ormalu decorations that have been looking a little worse for wear lately. I wish I had known about the effects of ammonia on door hinges last year when I was busy slaving away, quite frustratingly, to remove 85 years of paint with not so great results.

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    3. When cleaning gilt bronze, be sure to dilute the ammonia with equal parts (or more) or water, and do not let it sit too long before rinsing.

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    4. The would be equal parts OF water, not OR...

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  30. While I am not qualified to comment on the cleaning products, I must say that clothes line post is very stylish.

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    1. TDC, thank you, I am rather proud of my clothesline.

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  31. Even your clothes line has a period finial - Brilliant!

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  32. Thank you, Lord Cowell. The finial is, indeed, period. Nineteenth century zinc metal, affixed atop the modern post. Not sure what its original use was, but I am thrilled to have it!

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  33. I do love Mrs. Meyer's countertop spray but prefer the geranium scent in which they seem to use rose geranium essential oil. I make use of more than a few "magic erasers" around the house. Sometimes, when disinfecting is not an issue, they work with nothing more than water. I have always used Bon Ami cleanser but wondered about Bar Keeper's.

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    1. Hello Kerry, I've tried the geranium scented Mrs Meyer's, but found it a bit "girly" for me. I imagine for a "real girl" such as yourself, they are quite wonderful (and appropriate!). I've been curious about those magic erasers, and will now try one, based on your suggestion. Thank you! Reggie

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    2. Reggie... we used a magic eraser to clean the 1850's marble floors at the house where i work. the magic erasers are melamine, which acts like a micro sandpaper. so you have to be somewhat careful with them. i have gentlemen friends who use the magic eraser to buff their white bucks.

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    3. I have never used these magic erasers, must look into them. Thanks for the suggestion!

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  34. I am a big fan of Borax. I grew up using Boraxo and keep and antique dispenser in my studio. Borax is already a major component in washing products but you can buy it on its own and between Borax, washing soda, and some Oxi-Clean you have all you need for laundry. Fels-Naptha i admit I first bought because of its old fashioned label but it's an amazing detergent and stain remover.
    I also love Murphy's oil soap for my hardwood floors, and the Method line of products are very nice as well as eco-safe.

    PS would love to know where to find a long white apron like the one wafting on your clothes line.

    PPS I don't have space for a proper clothes line so I have this amazing handmade Amish wooden drying rack: http://www.amishhomeplace.com

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    1. Hello Lynne, Thank you for your comment. We found our white bib aprons at Dean & Deluca, and they can be ordered from them online. Not sure if they are the same as the ones we bought from them more than ten years ago (and I admit need to be replaced!). We also use a wooden drying rack indoors, and I can't imagine laundering without it. RD

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  35. Thanks, Reggie, for the recommendations. I look forward to trying the Caldrea dish soap.

    I prefer the clear, fragrance-free Tide to All.

    I have always used the liquid Oxi-Clean assuming it dissolves better. Do you or your readers have a reason for preferring the granular?

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    1. No reason for prefering the powder to the liquid. Wasn't actually aware there WAS a liquid version! (Unlike Bar Keepers Friend, where I am adamantly n favor of the powder versus the soft scrub!)

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  36. Hello Reggie, I've been out of my Bar Keepers Friend for almost two weeks and it has been most distressing. I must go get some today, I have to drive to the next town over to find it, but so worth it!
    Your favorite products are also mine, with the exception of the Caldrea which I have not been able to find in Canada thus far. I am also revolted by the smell of fragranced laundry products, hideous fabric softener in particular.
    Gorgeous and soothingly clean looking photos!

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    1. Hello Dani: Caldrea is available directly from the company, online. Also, I like Williams Sonoma's Pink Grapefruit scented dishwashing liquid, too. Reggie

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    2. You can also order Caldrea from Amazon, at amazingly low prices...

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  37. Reggie, wonderful post.A word of caution, I too used to soak my linens overnight or two. The result bright white linens, but eventually the drain holes started to rust (guess the enamel is thin there) and started noticing small rust spots if not diligent about removing the spun clothes immediately! I now have a new washer

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    1. Oh dear! That is a "word of caution." Perhaps it is best to soak the linens in a washtub or sink, and then transfer to one's washing machine when ready to put through a cycle.

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  38. I had to scroll down and find out about your favorite cleaning products. Bar Keepers friend is the best ever. Let me know if I can use it on antique copper.
    Best,
    Liz

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    1. Hello DD, I do use it on my antique copper pots and pans. Gentle enough that it doesn't scratch the surfaces, and cleans/polishes in an instant!

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    2. I agree... I have a ton of copper and use the BKF on it all of the time. It is soft enough that it doesn't scratch and it does a great job. Use the powder, not the liquid though.

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  39. You would love Charlie's Soap laundry powder. It's non toxic biodegradable all that kind of stuff. It's unscented; the label says if you want flowers buy some! When you open the washer this wonderful wet linen-y smell of clean greets you. Though I've never tried your all free so maybe it smells that good too. Also if anyone has a problem with front loader machine smell, there's a product called smelly washer which works wonders.

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  40. I don't think there is anything better than the smell of line-dried sheets. Thursday nights - after my Thursday cleaning and laundry - are the best at our house because we crawl into a bed that smells like sunshine.

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  41. I use Mrs. Stewart's Liquid Bluing in the rinse for whites. It gives them such a sheen! It can be used for a host of other things as well: http://www.mrsstewart.com/pages/otheruses.htm
    Jen

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  42. The blog is quite awesome that has provided me the best knowledge. Nordiktackle

    ReplyDelete
  43. Wow this blog is so amazing so real, thanks for posting!

    Laundry products

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  44. This blog has very distinct features. Thanks non slip stair treads

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  45. Awesome products.. For me cleaning is most important activity and I hire end of lease cleaning services for deep cleaning of my home and office

    ReplyDelete
  46. I will prefer this blog because it has much more informative stuff. fresher cleaning

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  47. I love cleaning. It is something that I find relaxing. The one item that I am grateful for is a washing machine. Without a washing machine my clothes would never get clean. http://www.harcoco.com/productsmain.php?pageID=4&prod=9

    ReplyDelete

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