Posts Tagged How to Buy a Vacuum

Part 2 -Tools of The Trade: TOOLS

In Part 1 CLEANERS, I emphasized Less is More. In Part 2 TOOLS, I am reversing this rule, here More is More!

You need to own more well-built tools, learn the proper safe way of using them, and use them often to Green Clean your home!

5 is a good number- five tools is the minimum not including your vacuum and mop.

Your 5 must have Cleaning Tools:

1. Apron

If you visit my website, you’ll see my picture wearing an apron. Never in the fifteen years in the business of keeping Connecticut homes clean have I left home without it! (

Batman wears a utility belt to tackle tough jobs in a serious and efficient manner and you need to do the same.

Would you hire a carpenter that goes up and down a ladder to get a nail every time he/she needs one?

Cleaning your home is time consuming. Take it seriously, make sure it’s done safely and efficiently to get the best results with the least amount of pain!!

2. Toilet Brush

Choose a simple, well-contoured, well-built toilet brush with strong bristles and a handle with a good grip. A toilet brush is a multi-purpose tool. Plus it’s good to own more than one!

Why not? Toilet brushes are good for bathroom work, but they can also be used for other cleaning tasks in your home.

We use a TILE BRUSH to scrub bathroom tiles, tubs and sinks but in a pinch, you can use a (new) toilet brush. Designate one for your specific cleaning job. I wish they made them in different colors!

3. White Scrub Pad

As a tool for use in the kitchen or bathroom, this is one of my favorites and most challenging tools as it needs to be kept dry at all times.

A CLEAN SECRET:  Bacteria thrive in moist wet environments. Keep your white pad and all your tools HIGH & DRY!

Why White instead of Green? Because the white pad is gentler. For routine cleanings use the white. If you have a tougher job—like cleaning the stove—use the green pad.

Note: If you can’t get an area cleaned with the tool you are using, STOP (scrubbing harder!!!) and use a different tool!

TIP BOARD: NEVER use any tools on a DRY surface unless specified in the how-to manual. Doing so may damage the surface.

4. Feather Duster

We use ostrich feather dusters, however whatever type of duster you like to use make sure it’s of good quality and you know how to use it. If not, in your cleaning travels, you may leave unwanted feathers behind or worse breakage!

5. Cleaning Cloths

We use 100% white cotton cleaning cloths (they look like regular napkins) instead of paper towels. If you like to use paper towels use the plain, not the printed kind. The color will bleed!

TIP BOARD: A TRAY is good to have to keep all of your supplies organized and clean.  We always carry in our trays a pair of medium-size Nitril gloves.


Dust brooms are great to use as they don’t require electricity and are quiet. They are a combination of broom and dustpan. My local diner uses a dust broom often as they are open 24/7.  I also like a good quality BROOM WITH SYNTHETIC FIBERS rather than a straw (witch) broom, which often leaves evidence behind!

TIP BOARD: ALWAYS keep your tools in impeccable shape and, in turn, they will help you keep your home in shape!

If you keep things tidy at home and use the right tools often, at the end of the day you will spend less time cleaning.

Enjoy a Green Clean home!

Happy Cleaning!


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Need a Vacuum?

Whether you are buying a vacuum for your home—or, like me, for home and business—do your homework.  As a must-have cleaning tool, a vacuum also happens to be the highest priced item you will purchase for your home.

Here are the 8 steps to vacuum bliss:

When I started Penguin’s Best 15 years ago I needed I great, cheap vacuum. First thing I did was open the phone book and looked under “V” for vacuums, and started calling.

This is a must-do step. God forbid you ever order a vacuum by mail. By the time you finish reading you’ll know why…The first store I visited on my quest was not very helpful.  The employees were not friendly, and I had too many questions. But the second store was a winner! The store owners had daughters my age who also had owned a commercial cleaning business. The owner and his wife gave me a vacuum tutorial that lasted all morning.
To this day, Penguin’s Best uses the same exact vacuum model from the same store (STANTON MILES, Westport, CT).

If you think the more expensive model will clean better, you are wrong. Ask the store owner for an average priced vacuum. Also ask for the warranty, the cost of parts, and if they service the vacuums in-house.

There are two types of vacuums: a canister or an upright. I like the upright. It is easy to handle, and unlike the canister, you worry only about what’s in front of you.

Most people pick a vacuum with all the attachments ON. Don’t. Most people feel they need and will use every single attachment. You won’t. When was the last time you vacuumed your furniture while vacuuming the house?

It’s lucky you have time to vacuum the house! Get the attachments in a separate box. Your vacuum will be lighter and easier to handle.

** A footnote on the weight: keep your vacuum even lighter by changing the bag (or empty the dirt if bag-less) when the vacuum is half-full. The motor will work better and your vacuum will last longer.

This is an important step. Have the store’s employees show you how your vacuum works. Don’t settle with the book. You’ll never read it unless there is a problem. You want to learn preventive vacuum care. Ask them to show you how to change the bag, how to change the belt. Practice changing both at the store. If changing the belt needs a box of tools and a few hours, you need to fall out of love with that vacuum model.

Next, test drive the vacuum. Go ahead and vacuum the store. How does it handle? Take your new vacuum home and start a happy relationship with a tool that will help you Keep it Clean at home for many happy years.

7. BAGS.  If you are buying a vacuum WITH a bag you need extra bags (normally with your purchase you get two free bags).  Buy at least two packs with 12 bags in each packet.  They should last you a few years.  Depending on use, change your vacuum bag every month at worse every two months.

Familiarize yourself with the brand and code of the vacuum bag designed for your model vacuum.

Remember you cannot use any other bag for your vacuum.  ALL BAGS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL.

Also, if the vacuum uses a filter buy extra while at the store.  Ask your new friend at the store how often you need to change the filter and get enough for two years.

8. MAKE A FRIEND.  Establish a good relationship with the store owner.  A thank you card is in order. Your luck with vacuums has just changed.  Mazal tov!

TIP BOARD: Before bringing your new vacuum home ask the store to change the cord to a longer one (often the same hook can hold longer cords) so you can vacuum an average size house by plugging it in (a hallway outlet) only once. DUPLICATE: Have a working vacuum (same model and design) on every floor. Easy access to a cleaning tool is a good thing!

Happy vacuuming!

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