Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dog Day Morning

By John Hitch

I’ll start out by admitting that I’m an idiot sometimes. My wife told me not to give that mammoth store-bought ham bone to our boxer, whose allergies include but are not excluded to: gluten, poultry, dust and grass. Ham wasn’t on the list, so I thought it would be cool. After the dog devoured that pig femur down to the marrow, my wife kindly showed me the warning label that advised against dogs doing such a thing. The shards could really do severe damage to a dog’s intestinal track, so we watched her closely for that Thursday night and the following day. She seemed fine, so I thought the crisis was averted. Stories where crises are averted don’t wind up on floor care companies’ blogs, so you can imagine what I woke up to the next day was pretty horrific.

Like napalm, nothing else smells like this type of carpet bombing. And you would have to be pretty twisted to love the smell of it in the morning. Our sand-colored low-pile carpet is less than a year old and I thought this was going to be a pretty dark mark on its permanent record. And our five-month old, now fussing in the next room, was about to start crawling. Not in this war zone, I dejectedly lamented.

The best action to fight any stain is immediate action. So I grabbed the trash can and roll of toilet paper and started scooping up the watery scat before my embarrassingly brash gag reflex kicked in and caused an even bigger mess. All the professionals say to blot pet stains with a paper towel and a white vinegar/water mix, a brand name solution or soapy water. That’s an arduous process for someone who hasn’t had a jolt of caffeine yet. Luckily, I had a secret weapon in the kitchen: my Dual Power Pro.

One of Hoover’s newest carpet cleaners, this Wal-Mart exclusive uses two tanks (for clean and dirty water) and a DualTech brush system. This feature makes it my most valuable cleaner. Using a rotating powerbrush up front and five SpinScrub brushes behind it, the Dual Power Pro beats the stains out of the carpet at every angle. I poured some hot water and Hoover Platinum solution in, turned the machine on and slowly and nervously drove over the mess, muttering to myself like Lady MacBeth. The clean boost button dispenses even more solution, and was liberally pressed. After about two minutes of slow and steady passes, the stain had completely disappeared. (Take a look at the picture above to see for yourself.)  I immediately took down the “Free Boxer” ad off of Craig’s List and after taking out the trash and dumping the dirty water in the toilet, life returned to the normal amount of controlled chaos.

Before I started working at Hoover and realized how affordable carpet washers are, I would rent one for $40-50 at the grocery store or Home Depot. Now, especially after this morning, I feel the need to evangelize the merits of owning one. I remember one frantic late December day fighting traffic to pick up and drop off the bulky machine, that’s been used by who knows who, to spiff up the carpets for our Christmas party. Now I don’t ever have to worry about that. My carpets and upholstery are clean any time guests arrive. Even if you use it four times within its two year warranty, it pays for itself. And for the unexpected, but inevitable, messy moments in life, a carpet washer may just make you look like a genius/hero to your family.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

De-winterize Your Floors (and rest of your home)

By John Hitch

After many months of sub-zero temperatures and an endless barrage of blizzards, the spring thaw has arrived. The cold, dark visage of winter has no doubt cast its icy glare on your home, but it’s time to shake it off and open your doors to the sun’s shining, happy smile.

Be prepared, though. All that light is going to reveal some pretty nasty stuff, down to every last salt and mud deposits dragged in by the family.

So now is the time to de-winterize your floors.

Follow these steps and you’re on the right path to a quick and painless spring cleaning:

Spray the way 
Usually when cleaning, you start on the inside and work your way out. Not this time. On the next sunny, warm-ish day you can, open the valves to your outside water supply and hook up your hose. If you have dogs, pick up all the decaying fossils the receding glaciers in your front yard have revealed. You don’t want to track that in. This valuable excrement excavation tool will help. Next, use your hose or a pressure washer to wash away all the salt build-up, laying down a few buckets of solution for an even better clean.

Start near your entryways and work down towards the sidewalk. Some sites will recommend you use bleach, which does eventually end up in your storm drains. An environmentally conscious alternative is a white vinegar or citrus solution.

Institute the draft 
What your home needs most is a breath of fresh air. Raise or remove your storm windows and let in a cool, refreshing breeze. If you have a furnace filter, now is a great time to change that as well.

Now vacuum out your window sills and get at your vents, too. Our new Air Cordless Lift gets these jobs done so quickly you could actually enjoy the nice weather.

Take ‘em to the cleaners 
That salt and dirt gets everywhere, especially your coats. And especially if you have had to navigate in between cars parked annoyingly close at the grocery store. Before you put them away, drop them off at the dry cleaner. They kept you warm all winter. It’s the least you could do.

That red and green table cloth looked great during the holidays. Now it’s time to lighten your dining room up with brighter colors and wash and store the winter linen. If you have heavy winter curtains, time to change those out as well.

Carpet Diem! 
We mentioned all those salt and mud stains tracked in from outside, which by now you may have forgotten aren’t an avant garde pattern. The Dual Power Pro uses rotating SpinScrub brushes and a spinning Power Brush, which is like a deep scalp massage for your carpets.

Don’t be surprised if the family thinks you got new carpets while they were gone at work and school!

Hit the Decks 
You’re almost done. The last thing to do is scrub away all your hard surfaces. You don’t want to track grit and grime back on to your newly washed carpets, after all. Sure, you can get on your hands and knees to scrub away like Cinderella, but we have a more elegant solution: the FloorMate Deluxe.

A grime-fighting mix of water and solution scrubs away winter’s last remnants, and then gets sucked back into the other tank. Our latest version, the FloorMate Cordless has even more bippidi-boppidy-boo. We replaced the cord with a LithiumLife battery. And it doesn’t turn back into a mop and bucket after midnight!

Now you’re all ready for your next cleaning assignment: Spring Cleaning! If you have any other helpful tips, share them with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Spring (Cleaning) Training

By John Hitch

As baseball’s spring training winds down in preparation for the season, most of us are gearing up for spring cleaning, in preparation for not living in a pigsty.

While we can’t wait for Opening Day and America’s past time starts up again, we will pass the time getting our homes clean. (They’re not dirty, per se, but the windows were closed for six months and humans shed all their outer skin cells in about four weeks.) We thought that while coaches are busy tinkering with their rosters, we should create our own batting order to beat up on dirt. So here’s our fantasy team, along with a detailed scouting report, on the Hoover products to draft for a successful cleaning season.

1) You want a nimble cleaner leading off. You can’t do much better than the seven-pound Air Cordless 2-in-1. It works double duty as a stick vac and hand vac. Bare floors, carpets, couches, cars. You name it, the 2-in-1 can get to it, even stuff above the wall. It’s like this.

2) You need a little more power, but don’t want to sacrifice maneuverability or increase the weight? Then plug in the Air Steerable. Using our WindTunnel 3 technology, this 13-pounder has plenty of pop. And watch it turn the corner. Oh, did we mention it’s under $140 and comes with a five-year limited warranty? That’s a contract any GM would love.

3) Your best, most versatile slugger should always fill the three-hole. Pull the ball, go to the opposite field, just make contact. Whatever you, the coach, asks of the Air Cordless Lift, it will produce. Upright vacuum that can do carpet and bare floors? Check. Lift away canister to get stairs, cars and anywhere in your home? Check. Two fade-free LithiumLife batteries that supply the same power in the 9th inning as in the 1st? Check! And when you need to enhance the performance at rally time, just press the Boost button. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly legal in this league.

4) So your once pristine carpet has been battered and bruised, stained and abused. That’s why you should have the Dual Power Pro on your team. Your vacuum sets things up by getting rid of all the little dust bunnies and lint balls, but when you need to go deep, you want this powerhouse up to bat. Implementing the DualTech system— a power brushroll and SpinScrub brushes— the Dual Power Pro obliterates set-in mud and gunk at every angle. It’s 15-inch Wide Path nozzle ensures the job is over quickly, too. An 8-foot hose, SpinScrub Spot Cleaner tool, pre-treater wand and upholstery tool are included to ensure no stain is out of reach.

5) Our perennial all-star, the FloorMate Deluxe may seem like a luxury to have in your home if you already have a mop and bucket. Use a FloorMate and you will consider a mop and bucket as outdated as a horse and carriage. After spraying and scrubbing solution into your sealed hard floors, it sucks it right back up into a separate tank. Your knees never have to touch the floor, so it saves time and cartilage. And the last thing you want to do is blow out your knee or back at the beginning of spring cleaning. If you want to go ’27 Yankees, pick up the new FloorMate Cordless and really wipe the floor with the competition.

6) If you have a baby at home, find a spot on your squad for the Steam Scrub Touch, which sanitizes, kills and removes 99.9 percent of harmful bacteria on sealed hard floors. If the FloorMate is your workhorse, this steam mop is your specialist that comes in once a week to eradicate the germs in your crawling baby’s path. It heats up in less than 20 seconds and its SteamStream Technology allows your solution and/or steam to funnel through the front nozzle to blast away tough messes. An array of sturdy bristles is tucked into the base, which pops off so you can scrub off all that dried ketchup and mustard from your last hot dog binge.

7) Speaking of dogs, if you have any, the WindTunnel 2 Rewind Pet (a little more than $100 on Amazon) could be an everyday player or nice utility vacuum for shedding season. It’s a gold glover when it comes to fur. The rubberized tools snag hair due to electrostatic attraction, and the turbo tool scoops it out of the stairs and upholstery. There’s a little razzle dazzle, too, if you consider watching a cord wind up into a vacuum razzle dazzle.

8) For vacuum purists, nothing can ever replace a bagged vacuum. It’s like the debate about the designated hitter. Well, if you think the only thing dirt cups are good for is batting practice, you’ll love the Hoover Platinum Collection Lightweight. Using direct air flow, it’s a throwback to the days when vacuums rarely, if ever, clogged. Its cool LED fingertip controls and two-speeds of suction tip you off that it’s a modern classic. You also get a canister to take care of bare floors and above floor cleaning.

9) Steam is really hot right now, so we thought we’d add another to cap off the line-up. That’s exactly what the Steam Scrub 2-in-1 does: it’s the finishing touch on your cleaning, like a sanitized cherry. And it can do everything the Touch can do, and has a pull out portable steam for sinks and crevices. Sometimes the team needs hit, sometimes a well-placed bunt. With the 12 tools it comes, with you’re guaranteed to handle any situation, whatever the scenario.

Let us know if you agree with our list, and what you would add on Facebook or Twitter. Now play ball!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Batteries Included: Picking the Right Cordless Cleaner

By John Hitch

When we released our first-ever cordless, full-size upright, we noticed an instant effect. Unencumbered by a cord, vacuuming became less of a chore. The cord may be a silly thing, but not having it changes the way you clean. You don’t stop. You just keep going. It made you rethink cleaning.

The latest expansion of our cordless line of cleaners will make you rethink cleaning — again.

Our full line of cordless cleaners runs on the LithiumLife battery platform. So you can move the battery from the Air Cordless to the new Air Cordless 2-in-1. Or from the Air Cordless Lift to the FloorMate Cordless.

Our goal from the beginning was to inject freedom into all aspects of your cleaning routine while still providing the power you need to get the job done. . And we made the LithiumLife batteries interchangeable, so you can seamlessly transition from one cleaner to the next without skipping a beat, or looking for a socket.

We’ll help you learn more about our cordless cleaners — and the beauty is you can expand at any time to make other aspects of your cleaning even more effortless.

The Air Cordless 3.0
Price: $199
Weight: 9.9 pounds
Bin capacity: 1.05 liters
Warranty: 5 years

In 2014, when we introduced the Air Cordless, we found a way to remove the cord but keep everything else. We wanted to provide powerful suction. And it was important to incorporate the steerable design and WindTunnel 3 technology utilized by our previous Air uprights. It also carries the additional benefit of an LED headlight.

Even though it weighs the same as an average three-month old baby, it can take on your whole home, from carpets to bare floors. Most impressively, you can vacuum, on average, an entire 2,500-square foot home with no loss of suction and without having to stop and recharge. That’s because the two LithiumLife batteries it comes with each have a 25-minute run time.

“We wanted it to be a game changer,” product manager Steve Jenson says.

When Jenson said having this in his home made his whole family want to clean more, I was initially skeptical of that as well. Things changed for me when we appropriated one for our office area. It is used quite often after a vending machine binge. Then I gave my mother one this past Christmas and she said it was her favorite gift. And that she used it every day to fight her chocolate lab’s ever increasing fur army. If you are currently looking for an everyday vacuum, this is the cordless for you.

The Air Cordless 2-in-1 
Price: $149
Weight: 6.9 pounds
Bin capacity: 0.7 liters
Warranty: 2 years (5 for battery)

While the obvious choice to introduce the world to our cordless line was the upright category, launching a stick vac/hand vac combo was no less important. “The field was full of anemic, underperforming products,” says Jenson, who notes that most battery-powered stick vacs are used as a quick sweeper for kitchen floors and area rugs. “Our plan was to create a stick vac that works great on bare floors, really well on carpet and that has a powerful hand vac.”

Think of the Air Cordless 3.0 as a luxury sedan and this as a sleek, nimble roadster. Powered by a slimmer version of our original LithiumLife, the 2-in-1 can run for 12-15 minutes per battery. (It’s compatible with the regular size batteries, too, which will double the runtime.) As far as usability is concerned, it has the skateboard-emulating maneuverability and edge cleaning of the Air Cordless and with fingertips controls, it seamlessly transitions from your hardwood to carpets. The brushroll turns on or off with a swipe of a thumb.

That’s just the stick vac. A removable hand vac can pop out to clean furniture, stairs and hard-to-reach places. Unholster the crevice tool from the body to get at dust bunnies in between appliances and on your work desk. The powerful hand vac is rated for use in cars, as well, so no more searching for quarters to feed the gas station behemoth that has no doubt had to clean unspeakable messes in its lifetime.

The modest dirt cup capacity makes this a bit too small to replace your home’s primary vacuum, but the 2-in-1 is the perfect complementary cleaner. For meticulous neat freaks or those of us just trying to stay ahead of the kids’ next mess, you’ll find you’re always taking this out for a spin.

Air Cordless Lift 
Price: $399
Weight: 10.7 pounds
Bin Capacity: 1.05 liters
Warranty: 5 years

Hoover’s first lift canister comes without a cord. It will quite possibly be the easiest way you’ve ever cleaned your stairs.

“The Air Cordless Lift delivers on the promise of true cordless cleaning freedom,” Jenson says.

That freedom extends to everywhere in your home and even your car. It doesn’t care if there’s an outlet nearby. It goes where you want. In upright mode you can clean your bare floors and carpet, and in canister mode, you get eight feet of above floor cleaning.

The handle slides off to become an extension wand for your hose. Now let’s talk about power. Like the Air Cordless 3.0, you receive two batteries which give 50 minutes of continuous runtime. If you have a stubborn mess, you get to use one of the Lift’s coolest feature, the Boost button. Things are just better when they have a Boost button. Case in point. In either mode, just press it to activate an extra burst of suction. Use it wisely, for it does require more battery power. Or don’t. It only takes three hours for a battery to full charge again.

For anyone with a lot of stairs in their home, or who wants a great blend of power and versatility, the Lift is a great choice.

FloorMate Cordless 
Price: $249
Weight: 12.6 pounds
Tank capacity: .75 quarts (each tank)
Warranty: 2 years (5 for battery)

You can use any of the three vacuums to clear the debris from your sealed hard floors, but they won’t get your muddy footprints or, worse, pet accidents, up off the floor.

This will.

Using the same Dual Tank system as our FloorMate Deluxe, this hard floor cleaner will put down solution and water from the clean tank, scrub your floors using our patented counter-rotating SpinScub brushes and pick it back up into the recovery tank. It includes one LithiumLife battery which will give you an average runtime of 30 minutes.

Like our other FloorMate cleaners, our cordless version gives your floors a hands-and-knees clean without the aching body afterwards. It’s great for anyone with sealed hard floors, especially those with children and pets.

So which is for you? Tell us which combination you’d use in your home.

Friday, February 6, 2015

A Cleaning Guide for Your First Dinner Party

By John Hitch

So you're fresh out of college with a new apartment and a new job: How do you balance work and life and still keep your place clean enough to throw grown-up dinner parties?

If you’re a young professional, it probably wasn’t that long ago that you were slurping ramen noodles in your dorm room or mom’s meatloaf in her basement. Now look at you: a great new job and tons of new work friends. And you just invited them all over to your new condo for your first bona fide dinner party.

You have enough to worry about with the food and drink situation, so let us help with the cleaning.

Here are some tips to getting your apartment or house clean enough for guests for a big night or spontaneous get-together, leaving you plenty of time for your work and social life.

Stick to a schedule
Designate a certain time every week to clean. Whether it’s Sunday morning before a nice hike or Friday night before catching a movie, keep to it every week. And get it all done at once. It’s counterproductive to vacuum on Tuesday and dust on Thursday. Get it done in one fell swoop. You will find a routine that works for you, but I find this to be a tried-and-true method: Straighten up clutter Dust and wipe horizontal surfaces Vacuum Wash the floors. And clean the kitchen before the bathroom. And don’t get discouraged if it takes a few hours at first. You will get faster, and the more you clean, the less you have to clean. Now for those of you who want to clean quickly right away, we do have a short cut. It’s our new Air Cordless Lift. Of course it works as a normal upright vacuum that can do carpets and hard floors, so no need for a broom.  And the Boost button ensures you don’t have to go over the same spot five times to get that resilient lint ball. Pop off the canister and get just about anywhere with the hose and tools.

Be a good roommate
In college, you may have thought it acceptable to leave your dishes in the sink while you catch your friend’s ’80s cover band. You only had three dishes and if Steve wants cereal, he’ll clean ‘em, right? Adult roommates don’t do your dishes. They will leave passive aggressive notes. Or kick you out. Just rotate days on who does dishes and you shouldn’t have a 33-dish pile up. Pull your weight in the cleaning department and maybe your roommate will be so impressed that when he or she wins two concert tickets by being the fifth caller, you’ll be going, too.

Really Clean!
Were you the type of kid who, when asked to clean your room, would stuff everything under the bed or in the closet? I know I was. Sure you can still do that with dirty laundry or bills you don’t want to pay, but you can’t very well cram germs and bacteria into some corner and forget about them. You can however, blast them with a quick burst of steam, thanks to the Floormate SteamScrub 2-in-1. It sanitizes, kills and removes 99.9% of harmful bacteria on sealed hard floors.

Zach Franklin, a 23-year-old product manager for Hoover, helped design the steamer, which he uses for a majority of his deep cleaning about twice a month. “This is my first time living in my own place and I don’t always have a lot of time to clean,” he says. “I’ll clean my kitchen floors with it, then I’ll use the portable steamer to melt off the dried food from my stove and take it to clean my shower, too.”

Get the right tools for the job
Professional house cleaners, who are the masters of cleaning time management, will tell you to have a few basic items in a carrying caddy, like an all-purpose cleaner, sponges and gloves. Homesessive.com has a nice list of 12 items. Number 5 is our favorite.  One thing they left out is baking soda, which has at least 27 cleaning uses (!) and should be in every home.

Know your stains and what cleans them
First, take this quiz from howstuffworks.com.

Don’t worry, I didn’t do as well as I thought, either. And that’s after writing this handy stain cheat sheet a month ago. There could be several remedies to any stain, but when all else fails, remember this:  soapy water and blotting does the trick in a pinch, don’t mix ammonia and bleach EVER, and investing in a good carpet washer is cheaper than losing your security deposit. Before or after the party, it’s always nice to have on hand. Check out this guide to see which one may be right for you.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

What Should I Clean When I Move Into A New Home?

By John Hitch

A new home should mean a fresh start, but how fresh it actually is depends entirely on how clean the previous owners left it. Strategically placed furniture may have made them more likely to “forget” to take all those stains, cobwebs and remnants of cooking catastrophes past with them. Ultimately, the onus is on you when it comes to moving into a clean home. And you should do it before the moving van arrives. The good news is that this will be the easiest your house will ever be to clean. Follow these tips and it will be even easier.

Recruit your cleaning crew: Nothing makes your friends’ backaches flare up like thinking about helping you move.

“Oh, all I have to do for these three slices of pizza is help you carry a 250-pound armoire down a narrow staircase? Seems legit.” – No One Ever

No, helping someone move is pretty much the worst thing ever and you know it. Asking to only help clean for a few hours is, by comparison, a pardon from the governor. They will jump at the chance. Save the heavy lifting for professionals or the friend who brags about their gym routine on his or her Facebook page every day.

Pack a cleaning box: You probably have all your household solvents, like glass cleaner, bleach and degreaser, in a box already, but don’t forget oven cleaner, baking soda and apple cider vinegar for any lingering pet smells. Loads of rags, paper towels and garbage bags are also a must. Also, pack a separate box for your tools. You’ll need:
  • Flat-head and Philips screwdrivers 
  • Pliers 
  • Wrench set 
  • Hammer 
  • Gloves 
  • Duct tape 
  • Paint scraper 
  • Sand paper 
  • Vacuum 
  • Door mats 
  • Step ladder 

Clean top to bottom: You have the workforce and the supplies. Now you need a game plan. Start in the bedrooms and clear out any weird, possibly cursed dolls and other stuff left in the closets, and dust what you can. Vacuum out the window sills and use a crevice tool to suck up whatever’s left in the corners. The Whole House Elite has a 12-foot long hose and 29-inch extension wand, making it a perfect choice. Once the dry work is done, wipe everything with soapy rags. Don’t forget to unscrew the vents and give those a good cleaning. Repeat this process in every room and close the door after to keep kicked up dirt from re-entering. Save the common areas for last.

Detail the kitchen: This is where you’re going to be preparing your family’s meals for years to come, so be extra fastidious here. Use a step ladder to reach the tops of the cabinets, which may have paint or food caked on to the cupboard doors. Move all the appliances and vacuum out and wipe down every nook and cranny. After that, lay down some drawer paper so you can just pop in all your dishes when you are unpacking. Also check the oven and use cleaner or baking soda paste to knock out all that burnt grease and cheese caked on the bottom.

Wash the carpets: Once the gang is gone, clean the carpets. This is one thing you definitely want to do before bringing in the furniture. The Power Path Pro XL has 1.25-gallon tanks, so you can do the whole house with fewer fill ups. You may be tempted to just do a quick wash, but we recommend following in rinse mode, meaning only water is laid down and extracted. This ensures no soapy reside or dirt is left behind. Soapy residue can actually attract dirt, making your carpets dirtier faster. Now your new home will be looking and smelling fresh.

Now all you have to do is take a breath, stretch and get ready for the hard work of moving everything in. Good luck!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Five Ways Your Foyer Can Be Way More Functional

Easy, Doable Solutions To Avoid “Black Holes”


By Amber Matheson

If you’re like me, you have a few black holes in your house. Our dining room table is one — it’s the first and (often) final resting spot for just about anything handheld, from sandwiches to the Sunday paper. The entryway is another. My family of four accumulates approximately 80 billion articles of outdoor clothing and shoes on any given week, and it mostly ends up in a heap by the door. Tack on snowy, muddy, salty conditions, and it’s not just a depository; it’s a disaster.

With the bustle of the holidays over and winter in full swing, we’re attempting to clean up our act. Here’s how I plan to do it.

Multiple Mats. This is a tip we mention often. Less debris tracked in by foot means less of the most destructive dirt, like tiny particles of cement and glass that damage your carpet over time. Place a thick, scrubby doormat outside your door, then a second one just inside your doorway to trap more dirt before it makes its way into your home.

A Slipper Station. This Martha Stewart tip is genius, of course, but it’s also a great trigger for a New Year’s resolution to have a better work-life balance. We’re going to set up a slipper basket next to a tray for shoes. When we come in, we’ll take off our shoes, and metaphorically take off our busy day. Sliding in to comfortable slippers will be a physical sign that we’re done with work and ready to spend time with our family.

A Convenient Cleaner. We’re setting up a charging station near our entryway, so we always have a battery ready to go for our Air Cordless vacuum. It’s lightweight and steerable, so we use it pretty much every day. Keeping it near the place in the house where we create the most mess just makes sense.

More Hooks. No hangers. Get rid of all the hangers. Have you figured out a way to get your family to consistently hang their jackets on hangers? Me either. Hooks are easy, and that’s what you need in a black-hole zone. Easy.

Labeled Bins. This is a trick gleaned from organizational pros: childcare workers. When my son arrives at daycare, he makes a beeline for his labeled cubby. If it’s good enough for a gaggle of three-year-olds, I’m confident it’s something we can do here. We’re instituting labeled bins at home where we can chuck outdoor gear like scarves and mittens, plus items we need to deliver to a friend, donate or return.

How do you keep your entryway clean? Tell us your best tips on Facebook and Twitter.