Saturday, November 29, 2008

How I Spent My Thanksgiving Vacation

Ah, Thanksgiving; the preparation of the feast, the tidying of the house for guests, the smell of deadly cleaners wafting through the house...

I'm not sure why exactly this weekend turned into a cleaning-fest, maybe it was because I had a willing accomplice in my Beloved or maybe because there's a certain element in my life that feels out of control so I scurry around to make sure at least my home is order so I have some measure of sanity (can anyone out there relate?). Who knows, but for whatever reason we spent Thursday morning cleaning out the refrigerator, the pantry and the rest of the kitchen cabinets, Friday steam-cleaning the stairs and upstairs carpet and "rejuvenating" the wood floors in our foyer and steam-cleaning the second set of stairs on Saturday.

May I remind you that this was AFTER we had a house full of guests. No, we couldn't have done that BEFORE we had guests because, uh, we would have impressed our friends and family so much they would have felt uncomfortable at the blinding beauty of the stairs & wood floors. Yeah. That's it. I will say one thing, regardless of arguments of whether Saturday or Sunday is technically the Sabbath, we will be RESTING on Sunday!

As much as I jest, I have to say that the end result has been quite amazing. As I walk around our clean-floor home I am reminded again that a little savvyness (is that even a word?) applied to home maintenance can go a long way.

Carpet steam cleaner.

On this front we were lucky that our neighbor bought one from Costco recently for $189. With three kids, two dogs, two cats and two adults in their home, it has become a huge money saver for them. Before buying this gem I would estimate that she had her carpets cleaned about 3-4 times a year at about $200 a pop using a coupon. Now for the price of one cleaning she (and the rest of us neighbors) can steam clean anytime she wants!

Admittedly I don't know how using a steam cleaner can wear a carpet over time or if it destroys any warranties, but for those of us who live in homes with builder's grade carpet over 10 years old and have young children, the idea of spending just $189 for a carpet cleaner sure beats out spending THOUSANDS on new carpet. We moved into this house 5 years ago as the second owners and had always assumed we would get new carpet after the youngest Superstar was finished potty training. Now almost two years after that glorious occasion with the economy (and our budget) looking the way it does, it doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime soon. For you renters out there, it's also a great way to keep apartment/rental grade carpet looking good too!

The steam cleaner of today is a far cry from the ones you rent from the grocery store and they are so easy to use. Pull off the tank, fill with hot water and a bit of cleaning solution and voila, clean carpets. When finished, the carpet is still a little damp and takes about 1-2 hours to fully dry. We sent the Superstars to a neighbors house to play and everyone was happy. The stairs were the worst and as you can see, they cleaned up pretty well!

Remember, this is 10 year old carpet and the owners before us had 4 kids and a dog, but I think it will last us another 2-3 years if we're savvy!

Rejuvenating the Floor

You've seen the commercial on TV. Just apply this product and your floors will look brand new! I admit even as I was skeptical about the product there was a part of me that really just wanted to try it. When my friend said he used it in a house they were selling I knew that I had to give it a shot.
Remember the builder's grade carpet? Well, we have builder's grade engineered plank wood floors in the foyer. Soon after moving in we ripped out all the carpet downstairs and replaced it with wood floors matching what was in the foyer.

Even though it was the same floor, there were obvious wear-and-tear differences. In an attempt to off-set those difference we added some floor rugs to help hide the wear and to keep it from wearing even more. All-in-all it's worked pretty well, but as of late, it has looked pretty sorry.

So we went and bought a bottle of Rejuvenate at the home improvement store. I would tell you which one, but I can't remember since we bought it TWO YEARS AGO. I mean, c'mon, you have a free hour or two and you want to...Rejuvenate the floors? Yeah, right.
I don't know if I am the only one who does this, but sometimes I make things a whole lot more complicated and difficult in my mind and then just psyche myself up NOT to do a task. This was one of those times. Turns out it was totally easy - from start to finish it took about 1 hour.

First I used Bruce's Clean 'n' Strip which says it helps clean up wax build-up. I don't use wax on my floors, but I figured it would cut through any junk on them. Unfortunately the stuff was TOXIC. I used latex gloves and a dust mask and opened up the windows and it was still heady stuff. In fact, when I was finished, I rinsed out the cloth only to find that the cleaner dissolved the latex glove! EEK!

Then because of said glove-melting I was afraid that some chemical in the Bruce's would combine with the Rejuvenate and cause a noxious gas that would kill me so I washed the floors again with Murphy's Wood Soap. Thankfully that seemed to cut down the smell as well.

After the floor was dry I put a microfiber cloth on my Swiffer, poured a little bit of Rejuvenate on the floor and slowly spread it across like painting (once you cover the surface, move on, don't rub it in). It was the fastest and easiest part of the job. The best part is that the floors look AWESOME. If I remember right the Rejuvenate was maybe $15, the Bruce's floor cleaner $5 and the Murphy's was $1.50 so for less than $20 my floors look almost as good as the newer ones. You can see in the before picture some of the scratches on the wood, and it seems the wood looks darker in the second. And can you see the reflection of the front door in the floor????

So there you have it, what I did during my Thanksgiving vacation,
because nothing says Thanksgiving like updating wood floors and steam-cleaning carpets! Can't imagine what we'll be able to accomplish during Christmas vacation...

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