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Keeping your pet safe in the garden

Spring and summer are the perfect seasons to spend time in the garden with your family and pets. However, your garden can contain things that can be dangerous for your pet. Here is some advice for keeping your pet safe in the garden. 

Bee and wasp stings 

As the weather starts to warm up, there is inevitably an increase in bees and wasps, creating a risk to your pets. Dogs are the most likely to be stung as they are inquisitive and playful in nature. Many stings will only cause minor discomfort and shouldn’t need a trip to the vet. Gently scrape the stinger away. Don’t use tweezers as this can in fact release more venom. Wrap in an ice pack to reduce swelling and help with the pain. 

The risk can be more severe if your pet has an allergic reaction to the sting, especially if they have been stung several times or stung in the mouth or throat. If this is the case, then contact your vet immediately. Signs of an allergic reaction include excessive swelling, difficulty breathing, and general weakness. 

Spring Bulbs 

Many of us use the warmer weather to head into the garden and get planting, but did you know that spring bulbs are in fact toxic to pets? Eating spring bulbs causes a range of issues from vomiting and diarrhoea, to excessive drooling and feeling disorientated, and can even cause more severe issues such as heart problems. The main types of spring bulbs that are toxic include:

  • Tulips
  • Lilies
  • Bluebells
  • Hyacinths 
  • Daffodils

 

The easiest way to avoid these problems is to avoid having these flowers in your garden. There is a range of pet-friendly plants which make much better, safer options. Whilst toxic poisoning from bulbs is fortunately rare, eating or nibbling on spring bulbs can make your pet feel poorly. If you suspect your pet has eaten one, then contact your vet for advice.

Poisonous chemicals 

Most households have a range of chemicals stored in our sheds or garages to use in our garden and we may not automatically think about the consequences of having them near our pets. For example, slug killer is something many of us have, however, if a cat or dog were to eat some of it, it can cause fits and twitching that can last several days. Fertilisers can cause vomiting and diarrhea if consumed by pets. Some households will have more severe chemicals as well such as rat poison. If a cat or dog were to consume this, it could result in excessive bleeding and can lead to severe vomiting, bruising, and weakness. Weed killers can also lead to severe dehydration, vomiting, difficulty in breathing, and even heart issues.

Before you let your pets out in the garden, ensure these harmful chemicals are stored out of reach. Also, try and avoid having these items in your home. You can now get versions of some of these products that are not toxic to animals, so always check the packaging first before purchasing. 

With dogs, you can usually restrict them to your own garden, but this is a lot harder with cats. The difficulty with outdoor cats is that realistically they will roam where they want to and you will have no control over whose gardens they go into. 

Garden Tools

Keen gardeners will have a range of garden tools to help with the tougher jobs. For example, lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, chainsaws, and more. Whilst some of these tools are not a direct threat to pets, some can be potentially extremely dangerous, so it is always best to keep your pets inside when you are undertaking these jobs. Whilst the potential danger of chainsaws is obvious, it can often be the noise the tools make that causes the problem. Cats in particular can become stressed when hearing loud, unexpected noises. 

Compost

A compost heap can often be full of bacteria that can be potentially dangerous to pets. Therefore, ensure the compost heap is fenced off or placed in a proper compost bin that your pets cannot access to avoid them becoming ill.

Allergies 

Pets can suffer from pollen, plant, and insect allergies just like humans. The allergies can cause hayfever-like symptoms such as itchy eyes that water easily, sneezing, or a sore throat. These allergies can also cause skin irritation. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your vet. Whilst all dogs can develop these symptoms at any point, some dog breeds can be more susceptible to allergies such as English bulldogs.

6 Cleaning hacks that don't really work

When it comes to cleaning hacks - the internet is awash with all kinds of miracle fixes and supposed time-saving tips, but not all of them can be trusted. If you're feeling lost in the wild west of online cleaning advice then look no further. Let's clear up some cleaning hacks that don't really work.

1 - Hairspray to remove ink

Let’s begin with an old-school cleaning myth that’s done the rounds for years. Ever had a pen explode in your pocket? You’d be forgiven for reaching for the hairspray to erase the bulk of the stain left behind. However, while this fix may have worked in years gone by due to the alcohol content – today’s hairsprays generally contain less alcohol and more stain-inducing elements, so it’s best avoided. Opt for an isopropyl alcohol fluid to do the job instead.

2 – Coca Cola as a toilet cleaner

Besides being an expensive way of cleaning your toilet, coca-cola just flat out doesn't work when it comes to scrubbing your bowl. While it does have properties that can remove rust and some light stains, it will leave behind a sticky goop that will attract bacteria growth. Standard toilet cleaners are affordable, readily available, and do the job much better.

3 - Mixing baking soda and vinegar for a super cleaner

Unless you have a chemistry degree, it's best to avoid mixing cleaning products. Case in point: baking soda and vinegar. While these two products are excellent and versatile household cleaning products, mix them and they will fizz up and neutralize each other's best properties.

4 - Hot water as an antibacterial cleaner

If you want to blast away germs then you need more than simply hot water alone. While hot water can be effective, it needs to be more than 212 degrees to work best. If you want to make the most of hot water then you need to add a disinfectant to it. Chlorine bleach is one of the most powerful options, but if you want something a little less nuclear then try pine oil instead.

5 – Adding more detergent will make your clothes cleaner

It might sound counter-intuitive but adding more detergent doesn't make your clothes cleaner in the long run. Using too much will leave behind residue that can leave your clothes sticky and in need of another wash. Try and stick to the instructions on the back of your product and make use of your washing machine's modes and settings if you require a deeper clean.

6 - Removing chewing gum with peanut butter

Finally, another cleaning urban legend that's made its way onto many an internet forum and cleaning blog. Chewing gum can cause a big problem on clothing but - whatever you do - don't reach for the peanut butter to get rid. All you'll do is create an even bigger mess and waste a delicious sandwich filling. Instead, opt for coconut oil or olive oil to help clean up the gum.

10 Ways you can use WD-40 around your home

When it comes to cleaning and DIY, there are certain products or household items that pop up again and again. You can't get too far on the internet without seeing at least a few enthusiastic mentions of white vinegar and baking soda for instance. Another common "miracle product" that is often praised is WD-40. Let's explore some of the reasons why you should pick some up on your next shopping trip.

What is WD-40?

First arriving on shelves in the early 1960s, WD-40 stands for Water Displacement 40. An American-designed product, WD-40 is primarily a multi-purpose lubricant and is typically used to prevent rust and corrosion, lubricate parts, and displace moisture. However, some of its other uses might just surprise you.

1 - Remove Permanent Marker Stains

Permanent marker fear is real! If you've caught a piece of clothing or furniture with a marker, then it can be easy to go into panic mode. WD-40 is exactly what you need in this scenario. Shoot a few short bursts from your can onto the stain and underneath the fabric, and then simply wait a few minutes for the oil to break down the ink before washing as normal.

2 - Chewing Gum Removal

There's nothing more "ick" inducing than chewing gum on your shoe. Catching a glimpse of a hairy piece of gum on your shoe is enough to turn the hardiest of stomachs. WD-40 makes the job quick and pain-free, however. Spray your WD-40 onto the gum, wait approximately 30 seconds and then gently remove the gum with a butter knife before washing down your shoe.

3 - Untangle Jewellery

Another surprising use for WD-40 is to untangle your jewellery. Necklaces and chains can easily form knots that can be difficult to loosen. If you find your patience tested, then reach for the WD-40. The lubricant helps the chains to loosen and the links to easily glide apart which can make the job much more manageable. Just be sure to clean down your jewellery with warm water, soap and a paper towel afterwards.

4 - Restore Shine to Plastic Products

Do you have plastic patio furniture in your garden? Over time the elements can leave your white chairs looking green with mildew and mould. A simple spray of WD-40 and a wipe down with a paper towel can remedy that.

5 - Removing Carpet Stains

Red wine, food mess, pet stains - carpets are loved for their cushioning underfoot but they can be all too easy to damage and expensive to repair. Preventing serious harm to your carpet is all about damage limitation. You can help prevent the lion's share of stains by going barefoot and having a matt at your front door to reduce grit and gravel travel. But for liquid stains, you need to act quickly. WD-40 can cut through grease which makes it very handy for carpet stains. Soak up as much liquid as you can with a paper towel, spray your WD-40, let it soak for a minute and then wash down with a sponge and warm water. You may need to repeat this a couple of times.

6 - Water-Proof Your Shoes

WD-40 can act as a barrier against moisture too. You can take advantage of this in the colder months by spraying a little WD-40 onto a cloth and wiping it across your boots to waterproof them. Just make sure that you opt for a pair of darker toned boots or shoes, so as not to damage any of the colourings.

7 - Stop Creaky Hinges

One of the more popular uses of WD-40 is as a lubricant for metals. You can put this to use around your home with any hinges or claps that might be creaking or jarring when you open them. Simply spray a little across doors or cupboard hinges and wipe away any excess liquid with a cloth.

8 - Remove Sticker Residue

As we mentioned earlier, WD-40 can really help with removing chewing gum. Similarly, it can be used for battling other sticky residues such as paper or vinyl stickers. Often when you remove a sticker it will leave behind some glue and paper, that can be hard to dislodge. By spraying a little WD-40 on there you can make the job painless enough.

9 - Ease off Jewellery

There are plenty of tips and tricks regarding how to remove stubborn jewellery. We can't speak for all of them, but we do know that WD-40 can help remove a tight ring in a panic.

10 - Remove Crayon and Marker from Walls

Ask almost anyone with kids and they will no doubt be able to tell you a horror story involving crayons and a freshly painted wall. If your child decides to paint you a wonderful mural, then be sure to document it with a photograph before you use WD-40 to remove it forever!

Top Tips to declutter your kitchen

If your kitchen is cluttered, full of items you do not use, with chaotic worktops, and cupboards and drawers filled to the brim, it is time to have a good tidy up and get organised.

It can seem like a mammoth task, but once you break it down and focus on one small task at a time, it can be quick and easy to declutter your kitchen and maintain.

Declutter your kitchen and help to ensure it stays that way by following these top tips and be the envy of your friends and family with your immaculate kitchen.

Set a timer

Having a timed declutter will help to keep you focused. Set a time limit of 30 to 60 minutes, depending on how much work needs to be done, and just do as much as you can in that time.

Tidy up

Start by sorting through anything that is in plain sight. Throw away any junk, and donate, recycle or sell items you do not need or use.

Clear the surfaces

One of the quickest and most effective ways to make your kitchen look less cluttered is to clear the worktops and other flat surfaces.

Take everything off and only put back on the things that need to be out. Put away or get rid of everything else.

There is no point in having appliances that you rarely use on your worktop. Keep them in a cupboard and just get them out when you need to use them, then put them back.

Rearrange

You should make the best use of the space you have so that your kitchen works for you and not the other way around.

Consider what you do most often in your kitchen, such as making a drink. Try to have things that you use together, such as the kettle, mugs, teaspoon, tea, and coffee, near each other.

The items which you use most frequently should be the most accessible. Tidy away anything that you do not use often.

Reduce spares

If you have 16 sets of cutlery, plates, mugs, etc. but there are only four people at home, then you should cut back.

Chances are that some are worse for wear or you have twice as many mugs as you actually would ever need at one time.

Only keep enough of anything for a couple of meals or drinks a day, plus a few spares for visitors or in case of breakages.

Utilize space

Make sure that you are making the most of all your storage space.

Fill cupboards from the back to the front, with the things you reach for most often or with the soonest expiry date towards the front.

Use storage racks, organisers, shelves, holders, and boxes to best optimise the space and keep things organised and easy to find.

Hire help

If you are short on time, or would simply prefer to leave it to the professionals, you may want to consider hiring a cleaner to take care of your cleaning and ironing for you.

Time For You specialises in providing properly screened and vetted domestic cleaners to private households to provide you, our client, with more time for you.

Find a cleaner near you by simply entering your postcode, and let us take care of the cleaning, so you do not have to.

Time For You is the premier international house cleaning service company with hundreds of local business owners which clean tens of thousands of homes around the world every week.

How to Improve Sleep

A good night’s sleep is something that a lot of people struggle with and can be unpleasant.  Restlessness or insomnia can lead to feeling exhausted and unproductive during the day and can lead to other health issues if it is a long-term problem. However, there are some things people can implement into their daily routine to try and make falling asleep and staying asleep is an easier thing to do. Here are just some ways how to improve sleep and ensure a restful slumber.

Keep your bedroom as a place to relax and sleep
 

It is common to have our bedrooms as not just places to sleep. Many of us have TVs in our rooms and use spend ages lying down in bed scrolling through our phones. However, this behaviour is not helping us sleep. Experts say that bedrooms should remain a place to simply relax and sleep, so try and avoid having a TV in there or watching anything on your phone. 

Also, take into account the temperature of your bedroom. People sleep best when the temperature is comfortably cool and when the room is well ventilated and dark. You could make your room darker by investing in shutters or blackout blinds to improve sleep quality. A cheaper option is to buy an eye mask. Also, ensure your mattress and pillows suit you and are changed regularly. Mattresses should be replaced approximately every 8-10 years.

Keeping your bedroom as a calm and comfy room will help your brain associate your bedroom with sleep. 

Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake
 

Reducing caffeine is something that seems obvious and is often the first thing people try when they are struggling to sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake so it is important to avoid drinking this for 4-6 hours before going to sleep. Many people opt for decaf coffee in the evening but some people forget about other items that contain caffeine such as cola drink, tea, and some pain medication. 

Whilst drinking alcohol can initially make you feel sleepy and can in fact help you fall asleep. You will often end up having a disturbed or restless night’s sleep. This is because, after a while, alcohol also acts as a stimulant. After a few hours, you will probably find yourself waking up after drinking a substantial amount of alcohol or having a bad quality night’s sleep. To combat this and improve sleep quality, limit alcohol consumption to 1-2 drinks a day as a maximum and avoid drinking within 3 hours of your bedtime.

If you are a smoker, you should also try and avoid smoking too close to bedtime as well due to the nicotine in tobacco which also can act as a stimulant. 

Use a meditation or sleep story app
 

Whilst using your phone late at night can be counter-productive when you are staring at the screen, your phone can help you sleep if you use it in the right way. Try downloading a meditation or sleep story app. These apps can play soothing music or will read a story that is designed to help people drift off to sleep. They have been proven to be very effective in improving sleep quality for some people. 

Have a relaxing pre-bed routine

Quality of sleep can often be determined by the things you do before you go to sleep. So, establishing some sleep habits can make a huge difference. Try taking a bath, reading a book, or doing yoga or meditation. Avoiding activities that are stimulating, like doing work, can secrete the stress hormone cortisol which increases alertness. If you are struggling to sleep because you have a lot on your mind, try taking a notepad and pen to bed with you and jot down anything you need to remember. This can help empty your mind and allow you to fall asleep.

Go to sleep when you are tired 

Whilst having a routine and a regular bedtime can be greatly beneficial, don’t force yourself to go to sleep. Only go to sleep when you are truly tired. Otherwise, you will lie awake, getting frustrated that you are too awake to go to sleep. If you have not fallen asleep after 20 minutes, take this as a sign that you are not tired enough and get out of bed. Use this time to do a task that is relaxing like reading or listening quietly to music. During this time, don’t have any bright lights on as this will make you more alert.

Be careful with naps
 

If you are partial to a nap, which is perfectly normal, just be careful when you time them. You need to make sure the naps are not too late in the day. Try and make sure naps are only taken before 5 pm and are not too long. If you take long naps regularly, this could be one of the main reasons why you struggle to sleep well when nighttime comes.

Turn your clock away from you 

It can be horrible when you cannot sleep and you end up staring at your clock. This doesn’t help at all and can impact you falling back to sleep. So instead, turn your alarm clock away so you cannot watch the time. Alternatively, some clocks automatically switch the screen off until the alarm goes off to help stop you from simply staring at the clock in the middle of the night.

Don’t eat heavy meals before bed
 

Where possible, avoid eating your evening meal too late and have it finished several hours before you go to sleep. Also, try and avoid foods that are prone to causing indigestion. If you are eating, later on, try and avoid dairy or heavy carbohydrates that could potentially impact the quality of your sleep.

All of the methods above are what researchers identify as ways to improve your “sleep hygiene”. Whilst some of them may take time to adapt to, there are some things that you can change immediately and make part of your daily routine. So, whether you have just had one bad night's sleep, you have jet lag, you have awkward work shift patterns, or it is an ongoing issue, following these tips will hopefully mean you have found some ways to improve your sleep. 

Bad cleaning habits that need to be broken

We all have our own cleaning routines. However, whilst we have established tried and tested methods to clean our home, they may not all be as effective as we think and could in fact be a waste of time and could potentially even cause damage. Here, we share some bad cleaning habits that need to be broken.

Leaving wet towels discarded 

Don’t leave wet towels discarded on the floor, over the banister, on the bed, or scrunched up on the back of the bathroom door. This is a bad cleaning habit because this will mean you have to change your towels a lot more regularly as without proper ventilation the towels quickly start to smell and can cause mildew on bathroom surfaces. Place on a proper towel rail to avoid this problem. 

Using too much cleaning product 

It is a common misconception that the more cleaning product you use, the cleaner something will be or the faster it will work. However, this is not the case. Using too much product can be counter-productive. If there is an excess of cleaning product, you may not rinse it all away properly and this residue can help up trapping dirt and this will quickly build up. Using too much product will also be a waste of money in the long run, so only buy what you need and follow the instructions. 

Avoiding Paperwork 

From bills to Christmas cards, junk mail, and more, the average household gets a lot of paperwork and it can be easy to avoid dealing with this and let it gather up various places across yourself. To help tackle this issue, purchase a letter holder and place it in the hallway. Use this to place all your paperwork and once it is full, go through and sort through it, keeping what you need, recycling what you can, and shredding anything that you don’t need but contains sensitive information.  

Ignoring cleaning tools 

To do the best cleaning job we use several cleaning tools from cloths to a vacuum cleaner. You may clean regularly but how often do you clean your cleaning tools? Avoiding this job can cause damage to the tools and will also stop from doing as good a job. 

Wearing shoes in the house 

Make it a rule for people to remove their shoes before walking into the house. Keeping outdoor shoes on can trail in mud and germs into the rest of your home. This will lead to a lot more vacuuming and floor cleaning. To avoid giving yourself more work to do, make sure your guests and family know to remove their shoes and make it easy for them to store their shoes by using a shoe cabinet or shoe basket. 

Not storing cleaning products correctly  

You can often waste precious time by trying to find the correct cleaning products you need for a certain job. Avoid this bad cleaning habit by efficiently storing your products. Optimise the space under your kitchen sink by using baskets to store your cleaning products. You can organise this by product type or by room. When cleaning upstairs, use a basket to take everything you need in one go, saving you multiple trips up and down the stairs which just makes cleaning an exhausting and time-consuming task when it doesn’t need to be. 

Also, consider keeping all your bathroom products together in the bathroom itself. This makes cleaning a lot more convenient and there are plenty of nice units that are designed specifically for bathroom cleaning storage. 

Dusting last 

Dusting surfaces is often a task that people leave until last but this is the wrong way round. Do the dusting first as this will get all the dust onto the floor where you will later pick it up with the vacuum. If you leave the dusting until last, you are essentially ruining the hard work you have just done. 

Avoiding jobs all together  

There are some cleaning jobs that people simply hate doing and therefore avoid doing them. This can be damaging and harmful, depending on the task as it could be an issue that you will have to eventually deal with, by which point it will be a much harder cleaning task. Break this habit by tackling it head-on. If you don’t want to do it yourself, you can hire a cleaning service where you can specify which jobs you would ideally like doing.  

Whilst you may not be guilty of all of these, many people will be able to relate to atleast one. Ensuring you avoid these bad cleaning habits will enable you to get the job of cleaning and tidying your home much more efficiently.  

Stress-Free Moving Hacks

Moving house can be one of the most stressful things we can go through. It can be overwhelming how much stuff can be accumulated in one house and it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to packing. Here are some stress-free packing and moving tips. 

Collect packing supplies as soon as you can  

The first of our moving tips is all about preparation. As soon as you know you are moving or even when you start thinking about moving, start collecting packing supplies. This is a simple tip but it will save you a lot of time and frustration when it actually comes to packing.

Ask friends, local Facebook groups, or local shops to see if they have any spare boxes you can have. If you start asking well in advance, when it comes to packing you will be able to get started straight away and not waste time with last-minute dashes to the shop. A lot of people want to rid of their boxes if they have just moved themselves so it is a win-win situation. You can save a significant amount of money doing it this way as well.  

In addition to boxes, ensure you have enough duct tape, old newspapers, bubble wrap, and packing paper and marker pens. They will all be packing necessities. Keep all the packing supplies together so you know exactly where to find them. 

Roll Clothes, not fold them  

This moving tip is not just perfect when you are trying to fit more into a suitcase when you go on holiday. It’s also great for when you are moving house. It can save a lot of room. Just make sure you don’t make the boxes too heavy.  

Keep clothes on hangers 

For clothes that are hanging up in your wardrobe, keep them on the hangers, group them into piles, then wrap them in strong bin bags. It doesn’t look the best but saves you a lot of time and space as they can lie flat and means you don’t have to waste time packing the hangers away separately which can take up a lot of space. 

Use shoes as extra storage 

The third of our moving tips is about creative use of storage. Shoes can take up a lot of room but use this to your advantage. You can use your shoes to place smaller items. Not only does this save room, but it can also help keep smaller items safe during transit. 

Use towels and bedding as packaging materials  

Make the most of your towels and bedding by using them as padding around other more fragile items. This moving tip can help reduce the number of packaging materials you use and make the most out of the space you have. 

Be creative with jewellery storage  

Jewellery can be a difficult thing to pack up as the items are often small, fragile, and valuable. You can use a pill box or something with lots of compartments, like DIY storage to keep all of your pairs of earrings. Keep your best to one side and pack these separately so that you can carry these items yourself rather than packing with the rest of your clothes. 

Pack an essentials box  

This moving tip will make unpacking much easier. From your kettle, to a set of bedding, phone chargers, eating utensils, toilet paper, tools for building furniture, etc, there is a list of essential items that you will need first when you move into your new home. Once you arrive, it can take a while to unpack and you will not necessarily feel up to doing this straight away. So have a box of all of these essential items, so that if you only unpack one box, to begin with, it’s the box with everything you need for the next day or until you have time to unpack properly 

Label boxes correctly  

When you label boxes, state roughly what's in them and the room you need to put them in. You could also colour code the boxes by room. This moving tip may seem obvious but this makes it easier for anyone helping you unpack know exactly which room it needs to go in. Have a notebook handy and state in more detail what is in which box. For example, label the box with Kitchen 1, then in your notebook explain that this box has x,y, and z in. It will make your life a lot easier when it comes to unpacking. Also always label the boxes on the sides as well as the top, so it is visible which box is which from all angles 

Mattress Care 

When moving your mattress place a fitting bed sheet on both sides. This will avoid the mattress getting dirty when it's in transit.  

Top furniture moving tip  

When you have to dismantle pieces of furniture from your old house, keep all the screws, nuts, and bolts in a sandwich bag. Then keep this with the rest of the pieces for that particular piece. This will save you a lot of time at the other end. 

Also ensure that any pieces of furniture that you cant dismantle like sofas, have newspaper or bubble wrap around their legs to avoid any damage during moving. 

Quick cutlery trick  

When packing cutlery, don’t bother taking it out of the cutlery holder. Place the whole thing inside a plastic bag instead to keep everything together and save time when you are unpacking. 

Eat your leftovers 

Make it a goal to eat as much of the food that you already have in your house before moving day arrives. If you haven't managed to eat it, but you don’t fancy taking it with you to the new house, you can donate it to a food bank who will be so grateful. 

Donate, Donate, Donate 

This moving tip is all about giving back. When you are packing your house, don’t just do it absent-mindedly. Really think about what you are packing. When it comes to your clothes, are you packing items that you don’t like anymore or haven't worn in years because it doesn’t fit right? Instead of packing it, place it in a separate pile and donate it to charity. It will free up precious packing space, will mean you have less to unpack the other end and it will save you time.  

Save on moving costs 

This moving tip is important to save yourself some money. Don’t leave it too late before choosing a removal company. Make sure you do your research ahead of time and get a few quotes before you decide. The cost of removal vans and services can differ greatly in both the level of service and the price they charge, so shop around rather than going for the first company you find. Also, try and be as flexible as possible. It can be tricky to get a set moving date but where possible try and make it mid-week to save a substantial amount. The more flexible you are, the best rates you will be able to get. 

Pack a picnic 

Moving is hungry work and it is easy to forget to eat. So pack a small picnic with water bottles and easy-to-eat snacks. These are great for the car journey as well as when you get to your new home. Also, organise what your evening meal will be before you move. If you are super organised you can, of course, cook a meal in your new kitchen. But also think about pre-ordering from a local takeaway for a convenient option.  

Give yourself a deadline 

People pack efficiently and quickly often when they are moving house because they have a deadline and a specific moving date. However, once they are in their new home, it can take a lot longer to unpack. Therefore, set yourself a deadline and stick to it. Organising a housewarming is a great way to do this. It will motivate you to have all your boxes unpacked before guests arrive to see your new home. 

Whilst some of these moving tips will be common practice to some, there could be some new tips you haven't tried yet. Moving house will always have an element of stress. However, if you can be as prepared as possible in advance, you can make the task of packing and moving that much more achievable and stress-free.

Top Self Care Tips

Self-care is extremely important. The world today can come with a whole host of stresses and many of us can struggle with how busy our lives are which can cause us to feel stressed and anxious. That is why we need to take time for ourselves. This article explains more about what self-care is and some top self-care tips. 

What is self-care? 

Self-care is a general term that involves regularly taking time to do things for yourself. Things that will make you feel good. Self-care is important to our mental health and overall emotional wellbeing. We often spend time working for other people or putting other people’s needs before our own, which is why it is key to look after ourselves as well. The term is extremely loose as it self care can involve a myriad of things. Whether it's spending a bit of time on your own to read a book, having a nice relaxing bath or booking yourself a holiday. By deliberately giving yourself time to prioritise yourself, you can end up feeling well rested, invigorated and feeling a lot better. Which benefits those around you too.  

Top Self Care Tips: 

Schedule time in  

If you find it difficult to find time for self-care, make a conscious effort to schedule it in. The first of our self-care tips is to make time for yourself. This doesn’t have to be on a daily basis. Try starting with one time a week where you know it is specifically for self-care. It doesn’t have to be a long period of time either. It could be spending 30 minutes in the morning or before bed reading a book, 20 minutes to meditate or an hour to go and visit a friend for a cup of coffee or glass of wine. 

Once you get into a routine, you can schedule more time once you decide which activities are your favourite when it comes to self-care. Once you have time scheduled, don’t let anything get in your way. Emergencies aside, you should let those close to you know that you have this time set aside for yourself and that you would appreciate it if you are not disturbed during this time. 

Try Meditation  

The main rule of self-care is that it can be any activity, as long as it brings you joy and makes you feel happy and relaxed. So meditation may not be for you, but until you try it, how do you know? This self-care tip focuses on taking a step back. A lot of people love meditation and find that it really helps them feel calm and help change their mindset.  Meditation can help you clear your mind, as it makes you focus on the present. This can help those who are feeling particularly stressed and have a lot of thoughts whirring around in their head.  

There are many proven benefits to meditation including reducing stress levels, regulating your mood and can even help you increase productivity. 

You can meditate in silence or with peaceful music playing in the background. If you don’t know where to start, there are a lot of meditation practices on Youtube and there are also lots of dedicated apps, like Calm that have meditations tailored to different needs. 

Get moving in ways you enjoy 

Our third self-care tip is all about movement. We often get pressured to do a certain amount of exercise a week and whilst this is extremely important for our overall health, many people feel intimidated by the pressure on them to exercise. People also often struggle to find time to go to the gym. However, gyms are not essential. Yes, of course, you can head to the gym if this brings you joy, yet there are loads of other ways to stay active.  

Whether it be a swim, going for a run, doing yoga, dancing around your house or simply going for a walk, however, you decide to move is great. The main thing is that you are moving in a way that makes you happy and not miserable. Exercise should be seen as fun and enjoyable, not something you despise and try and avoid at all costs. When you find something you like doing, you won't find it a chore. When your body feels healthy and strong, it has been proven to help improve your mood. Therefore, physical exercise is one of the best methods of self-care. 

Learn to say no  

This self-care tip can be challenging. This is a massive change for many people as many of us find it difficult to say no. Whether this is at work or in our personal lives. Whilst it can feel great saying yes and knowing you have lots of social events coming up, it can also be overwhelming and give us too much to do. Saying yes to too much can lead to you spreading yourself too thin which can leave you feeling exhausted, not enjoying yourself and not necessarily producing quality work. Downtime is necessary, so make sure you have downtime booked into your diary too for the best of both worlds. 

Have fun 

An important aspect of self-care is that you choose activities that you find fun. This could be a range of different things. From trying a new sport, going somewhere on holiday, starting a new arts & craft project or simply dancing around your house to your favourite song. One of the best self-care tips we can give is to enjoy the moment.

It is easy when we are feeling particularly stressed to forget to have fun which is why we need to focus on activities that bring us joy. 

Try switching off from technology  

Whilst watching our favourite programme is often something we choose to do as part of self-care, other technology like our computers or mobiles sometimes make us feel worse. We are often always connected to the internet and are always available to other people which can be a massive distraction. We can spend hours looking at our emails or scrolling through social media which can cause information overload which doesn’t actually make us feel great about ourselves. If this applies to you, try exercising this self-care tip by having some dedicated time where you step away from your computer and do not access your emails at all. You can also either switch your phone off or set apps such as Instagram or Facebook to only be able to be used a certain amount of time a day. Alternatively, you can delete the apps for a weekend and then reinstall them when you are ready to end your digital detox.  

Drink more water and get enough sleep  

These aren't just self-care tips, both are key pieces of health advice that we often get told but they can also be part of your self-care routine. Ensuring you stay hydrated can help you feel more productive and focused whilst also kick-starting your digestion system and being great for your skin as well as your overall health.  

It is also important to get enough sleep. Whilst it is generally recommended to get 7-8 hours sleep, the amount you need changes from person to person. Understand how much sleep you feel you need each night to make you feel at your best. Once you know this time, create a bedtime routine to make sure you are asleep at the best time for you. Try and keep your bedtime steady for the most effective nights sleep. Also, ensure you give yourself time to unwind before you go to sleep. This may be spending 20 minutes before you go to sleep reading, or listening to a podcast or calming music.  

Find time for your hobbies  

You may have a hobby that you used to love doing but haven't found time to do it for ages. Is there a hobby you have always wanted to try but never got around to? Use your self-care time to do these hobbies. Whether it be baking, crafting, doing yoga or painting, these are some of the activities that can let your mind focus on a particular task that can help reduce stress and calm you down. If you’re not sure where to start, head online for hobby inspiration. There is something out there for everyone. 

Embrace Nature 

This self-care tip you can do anywhere! Being around nature has been proven to make people feel calmer, happier and have more productive days. So try and embrace nature wherever you can. If you live in the countryside, head outside for a long nature walk. If you are urban-based, head to your nearest local park or green space. Also, think about how you can incorporate nature into your own home. Purchase some house plants as they not only help oxygenate the room and help you feel better, they look lovely. If you are worried that you will not be able to look after house plants, go for peace lilies, spider plants or rubber plants to begin with as these are all easy to care for options. 

A lot of happened to us all over the past few years, which is why self-care has never been so important. Having time to spend on self-care is not a selfish act. Doing so can benefit not just yourself but those around you. If you are feeling happier, more relaxed and positive, you can pass this mentality on to friends and family too. With the self-care tips we discussed in this article, you can improve both your emotional as well as physical health, so make sure you allow yourself the self-care time you deserve. 

The Ultimate Winter Cleaning Checklist

Whilst it is often Spring that we associate with cleaning, it is not the only season we need to consider. With shorter days, and busier social calendars, it can often be tough to find time to keep on top of housework but Winter is a great time to get a head start on your cleaning. Here is the ultimate winter cleaning checklist.

Winter Cleaning Checklist: Every Room

Dusting: Don’t just dust surfaces, make sure you dust all the skirting boards and every corner of the room. Dust carries pathogens that can cause illness, so keeping on top of this task all year round will improve the air quality

Vacuum: Regularly vacuum each room to make sure there is nothing horrible lurking. Pay close attention to carpets and rugs where dirt likes to gather
Wash floors: Depending on the material of your floors, you should wash the floors to get rid of any bacteria that is lurking. Especially in the kitchen.

Freshen up paint: Inevitably over time walls will get scuffs and marks. Try removing these first with clever tools like magic erasers which you simply wet and rub on the wall. If these don’t work, touch up the paint. If you have a specific colour on the walls, ensure you have spare tester pots to help with this task

Varnish wooden furniture: This is a job that is often avoided but is important to keep wooden furniture looking its best

Clean light fixtures: Dust lampshades, clean any glass shades and check to see if any bulbs need changing.

Winter Cleaning Checklist: Bedroom

Swap the mattress: Flip the mattress and give it a good clean

Switch to a thinner duvet: At the start and end of the season switch your duvet to reflect the weather. Changing to a thicker duvet at the beginning of Winter will help you reduce heating bills and ensure you remain cosy all season long

Switch your clothes: When winter starts, grab your winter clothes (all those cosy jumpers, scarfs and gloves) and get rid of your summer clothes. You won't be needing them for a while!

Winter Cleaning Checklist: Kitchen

Empty cupboards and pantry: Empty all your cupboards and pantry and make note of what you have. Doing this each season will avoid you keeping food way best its sell-by date and will make it easier to see what you have and what you need more of

Clean Washing Machine: Use a specific washing machine cleaner or use bicarbonate of soda and white wine vinegar for a thorough wash. Finish by removing the drawer and making sure there isn't a build-up behind the drawer. If this is left unattended, odours can start to release and make your clothes smell

Clean Dishwasher: Same as your washing machine, your dishwasher needs cleaning regularly to ensure your dishes are being washed correctly. Use white vinegar or buy a purpose dishwasher cleaner which you simply place in the machine and put on a hot cycle

Clean Washing machine filter: It's not just the washing machine itself that needs cleaning. Empty your filter every now and then to avoid a blockage that can over time cause damage to the machine. Empty the filter of your tumble dryer even more often. If this isn't done regularly, It can be extremely dangerous

Clean microwave: Use lemon and water for a quick and natural way to clean the microwave and banish any odours.

Winter Cleaning Checklist: Bathroom

Deep clean toilets: Whilst cleaning toilets should be a weekly task, use this as an opportunity for a deeper clean

Clean shower head: If you live in a hard water area, you may notice limescale building up. Whilst you can purchase specific products that tackle this problem you can simply place coca-cola into a sandwich bag. Place the shower head in it and tape it to keep it secure. Leave for as long as you can (at least a few hours) and then you should notice a significant improvement without any hard work

No matter if you are wanted to freshen up a couple of rooms, or your entire home, this ultimate winter cleaning checklist is here to help you. Whilst this season doesn’t provide the same sense of freshness as Spring does, it doesn’t mean you cant freshen up your home this season. Whilst this list may seem long, if you break it down, this ultimate winter cleaning checklist can help that your house remains fresh, even during the coldest time of the year.

Are you using cleaning products correctly?

When it comes to cleaning your home, you want to make sure you are doing it most efficiently and effectively. We try and do this by ensuring we are purchasing the best cleaning products for the job. However, do you actually know how to go about using cleaning products correctly? It turns out that many people don’t and by using some products wrong, you could be wasting time and money. Worse than that, it can be dangerous when products are misused.

Here we explain some of the common things that people are doing wrong when it comes to using their cleaning products

Mixing the wrong products

It is common to think that more is more. The more cleaning products we use, surely the more clean the house will be which is not a bad thing? Well, that, unfortunately, isn't true. Sometimes using too many products is just a waste of time and money. But, sometimes, it can actually lead to dangerous results that can be harmful to the household. For example, NEVER mix bleach with other cleaners.

Bleach should NEVER be mixed with ammonia as this chemical reaction can create a hazardous and harmful tox gas. Whilst this combination is an extreme example, it is best never to mix bleach with any other cleaning products, even ingredients such as vinegar or salt which are deemed more natural and less toxic cleaning products.
Some products may not be pure bleach but contain some bleach, so ensure you check the ingredients before you start to use them.

Not giving enough products time to work

We can all be guilty of being impatient at times and this can often happen when we are cleaning. We have set ourselves a task to clean a certain amount of rooms that day or you need to quickly clean a room before you leave the house for an errand. Whilst this is a common occurrence, people need to ensure they are still using the products correctly as otherwise, the rush job will leave your house as dirty as it was before you started.

Many people, for example, fail to leave cleaning sprays on surfaces long enough before they wipe them off. Alternatively, they are not using enough of the product. For example, when you use disinfectant sprays, make sure you are leaving the products to soak onto the surface for a good 5- 10 minutes before wiping away. Whilst there are some products now on the market that say you can spray and immediately wipe, the majority of sprays do not follow this rule. So spray, leave for a bit and continue with another task, before returning to wipe away. This will leave you with a much cleaner surface.

Leaving disinfectant wipes to dry out

Disinfectant wipes are a convenient product to have when cleaning but they can lead to several cleaning mistakes. One is that they can easily start to dry out. If they are kept airtight, the wipes can remain wet for up to two years, however, once open, you may find that they can dry out relatively quickly. To avoid waste and make sure they are still effective.

You can revive the wipes by adding 70% isopropyl alcohol to the container and leave until the wipes have absorbed the liquid before you use them.

The second mistake a lot of people mistake with wipes is spreading them too thin and trying to clean too large an area with a single wipe. Using one or two to clean an entire room will not be sufficient. You must ensure the area is sufficiently wet when you are using them, otherwise you won't be cleaning enough. Also, check to ensure the wipes you are using are disinfecting. Some are not and people merely assume that they are.

Not reading the instructions

A lot of the mistakes that happen when cleaning often come from simply not reading the instructions. Don’t rush into using a product, especially if it is something you haven't used before. Make sure you know how to use the project before you start. Often without reading the instructions, people end up using the products for the wrong purpose, using them on the wrong materials and surfaces which could cause damage, or using the wrong quantity of the item. It only takes a moment to read the instructions and will save you a lot of potential hassle in the long term.

Not protecting the skin

Whenever you use products that have cleaning chemicals in them, make sure you are wearing protective clothing. Rubber gloves are the go-to. Not only will it protect your skin from any harmful chemicals, but it will also stop your hands from smelling and reduce the spread of bacteria if you remove the gloves straight away.

It is not just rubber gloves that you should consider though. When using items containing bleach, always wear clothes that are not your best. Just in case there are any accidental spillages or splashes. Some products can also produce very strong odours. In these extreme cases, you may even want to wear eye protection.

Using the wrong amount of products

People often don’t use enough product, in the case of disinfectant sprays as explained above. Either because they are not aware of how much needs to be used, or don’t want to use too much as otherwise they will have to refill sooner.

Alternatively, there are some products that people tend to overuse. Liquid washing detergent and fabric softener are popular examples. Using too much detergent can leave sticky residue on the fabrics and can end up trapping bacteria that over time will produce odours. So whilst you make think that using more will result in cleaner clothes, the opposite is true.

Not having adequate ventilation

Best practice is to open a window whenever you are cleaning, no matter what type of products you are using. Many products can cause cleaning fumes which can cause irritation and in some extreme cases be harmful. However, you should open your windows any way as it’s a great way to circulate air throughout your home and makes your cleaning extra effective as the room will feel particularly fresh once you have finished.

Using old products

We all probably have old cleaning products hidden and tucked away at the back of the cupboards that we can't remember the last time we used. Whilst some of these products will still be fine to use, others can deteriorate over time and become less effective, so be careful when using these. If you cannot remember how long ago you purchased it and opened it, it may be safer to not use it.

Forgetting to clean your tools

You cannot expect to leave your home clean if the tools you are using are dirty. Its often the case that people forget to clean their dusters, mops, cloths, and vacuums. However, this should be a task that is added to your to-do list. Keeping all your tools in check and in top condition will make them last longer and do their job better.

These are just some of the ways we are misusing our cleaning products. Even if we have the best intentions, purchase the best products for the job, if we are not using them correctly, what's the point? Keeping the issues we have discussed in mind when you next tackle the big clean will help you ensure you are cleaning in the most effective way possible.