10 Brilliant Cleaning Tricks You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Posted on October 31, 2014.

ServiceMaster proudly serves Minnepolis, St Paul, Burnsville, Eagan, Chaska, Shakopee, and other surrounding areas. Our 
services include capret cleaning, duct cleaning, trauma and vandalism cleaning; and fire, smoke, and water damage restoration

1.Squeegee Pet Hair

Use a squeegee to clean your rugs and carpets. You will be amazed and disgusted by what you get out of a carpet that you thought was pretty clean.

2.Use half of an onion to clean a hot grill

Cut an onion in half and, using tongs, rub the onion vigorously over the grill grate to clean the char off. The result is a very clean (and lightly seasoned) grill

3.Clean a scorched pan using white vinegar and baking soda

We all burn a pan from time to time but that doesn’t mean you have to throw it out. Put enough water in the pan to cover the bottom. Add a cup of white vinegar. Bring it to a boil. Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Scrub it clean with minimal effort.

4.Use bread to clean out a coffee or spice grinder

Toss a few hunks of stale bread into your coffee or spice grinder along with a teaspoon of baking soda. The bread will capture and remove any debris and the baking soda will neutralize any lingering odors.

5.Clean your oven out with ammonia.

Place a bowl of ammonia ($1/bottle at most drugstores) into a cold oven and leave it overnight. In the morning, remove the bowl and wipe the oven clean. No scrubbing required.

6.Use tinfoil to remove baked on stains from your glass baking dishes.

Over time glass baking dishes accumulate unappealing baked on stains. To make your bake ware look new, ball a piece of tin foil and use a small amount of dish liquid to scrub them clean. Works like a charm.

7.Use vegetable oil to clean grease spatters from your stove.

Oil attracts oil. So, to clean grease spatters from your stove dab a little bit of olive oil on a paper towel and use it to wipe down your stove. This is particularly effective on stainless steel.

8. Use rubbing alcohol, a white sponge, and a soft bristled brush to clean microfiber furniture.

If your microfiber furniture is looking a little dingy spray it all over with a fine mist of rubbing alcohol. Use a white sponge to scrub it down. Finish using hard bristled brush to fluff the fibers and keep it soft. You’ll be amazed at the results.

9.Use vinegar and baking soda to clean out your dishwasher.

This beloved cleaning machine takes on the difficult and important task of cleaning your eating utensils every day. Show it some love with a monthly deep clean. Step 1) Place a cup of white vinegar in a dishwasher safe container on the top rack of and empty dishwasher. Step 2)  Run the dishwasher on the hottest cycle. Step 3) Sprinkle 1 cup of baking soda into the bottom of your dishwasher and run it again on the hottest cycle. Enjoy your fresh, sparkling clean dishwasher.

10.Use bleach and vinegar to clean out your washing machine.

Your washing machine cleans some pretty nasty things so regular cleaning is a must. The best method we’ve tried involves bleach to kill mold spores and bacteria, and vinegar to conquer soap scum and hard water buildup. Step 1) Fill your washer with hot water then pour 1 cup of bleach inside let it agitate for a minute to mix, then let stand for 20 minutes to an hour. Allow cycle to complete. Bacteria and mold- obliterated! Step 2) Fill your washer with hot water then pour 3-4 cups of white vinegar inside. Allow agitation to mix then let stand for 20 minutes to an hour. Finish out the cycle. Hard water and soap scum- annihilated!

30 Alternatives to Halloween Candy For Kids

Posted on October 24, 2014.

[Candy corn photo: Brent Hofacker on Shutterstock]

All year we encourage our children to make healthy food choices. We read food labels like they hold the key to eternal life. We try to feed them a rainbow assortment of healthy fruits and vegetables, plus lean proteins and whole grains. Then, Halloween comes and all bets are off. Hoards of trick or treaters flood the streets of Minneapolis dressed as their favorite superhero or Disney character. So, why shouldn’t we fill their pumpkin buckets and pillowcases with sugar and additive laden, tooth rotting, kid crack?  Well, obvious sugar considerations aside, a recent study conducted by Lancet, a British Medical Journal, found that food additives like artificial food coloring and sodium benzoate increase hyperactivity in children and reduce their ability to control themselves. Most candy is loaded with these additives.  So, as you shop for Halloween goodies for the neighborhood kids this year consider the following alternatives.

Edible Treats

If you give trick or treaters food items they should always be pre-packaged and individually wrapped. It may seem like a good idea to give out apples or oranges or ziplock baggies full of homemade treats; but it’s not safe. Any smart parent will probably just throw those things out.

1. Pretzels. You can get a box with 60 individual bags for $24.99

2. Juice boxes- Make sure to get the “no sugar added” ones or you may as well get candy.

3. Granola bars

4. Fruit Leather

5. Popcorn.

6. Fruit or applesauce cups. Watch out for high fructose corn syrup. Its fruit and its already sweet.

7. Go-Go Squeezees– Applesauce in a squeezable pouch.

8. Cheese Sticks. Grab a sharpie and make them ghosts!

9. Cheese and Crackers packs

10. Honey Sticks. Sweet and delicious without the scary additives!

Non-food Goodies

Kids will love these not food alternatives and (bonus!) most of them are more budget friendly than food.

11. Stickers. Frozen is all the rage this year so these Frozen stickers might be just the ticket.

12. Stick on Tattoos. Kids love them.

13. Bouncy balls.

14. Glow Sticks or glow jewlery.

15.Fun themed Pencils.

16. Mini-bottles of Bubbles

17.Quarters, dimes, nickels, pennies are perfect. Drop a handful of pennies into a 3 year olds bucket and watch his eyes light up!

18. Mini-stampers. These are cheap and fun.

19. Chinese finger Traps. Remember these?

20.Character Band-Aids


22. Trading Cards. Pokémon is all the rage and baseball cards are still classic.

23. Bouncy Balls

24. Paper fans. You can get 4 dozen of these for 8 bucks.

25. Mini Decks of Playing Cards. These are awesome for roadtrips.

26. Crazy Straws

27. Mini-Playdough Tubs

28. Folding Fans. Four dozen for 8 bucks!

29. Finger Puppets

30. Crazy Eye Patches








How To Use A Fire Extinguisher – The Basics Everybody Ought to Know

Posted on October 21, 2014.

how to use a fire extinguisher

After smoke detectors, fire extinguishers might be your best defense in the event of a fire in your home or office. Used properly, on the right type of fire, they can prevent the spread of flames, reduce smoke and fire damage, and maybe even save your life. Learning how to use a fire extinguisher can save a building or even your life in an emergency situation.

First, fire extinguishers have limits. They are intended for use on small, contained fires. A fire can quickly get out of control, so call 911 right away, even if you think you can or have put the fire out. Always fight the fire with your back to an unobstructed exit, and if the room is filling with smoke, or the flames are taller than you, get out. Make sure you have a fire escape plan before a fire emergency occurs.

Make Sure You Use the Right Extinguisher on the Right Type of Fire.

Fire extinguishers can prevent a small fire from becoming a large fire. It’s important to be familiar with the different types of extinguishers so you know which one to use, and when to use it. Fire extinguishers can be classified as type A, B, C, D or some combination of these letters.

https://content.artofmanliness.com/uploads//2013/01/60px-Fire_type_A.jpg     Class A fire extinguishers are used to put out fires that started with solid organic materials like wood, paper, or cardboard.

https://content.artofmanliness.com/uploads//2013/01/60px-Fire_type_B.jpg     Class B fire extinguishers are used to put out fires linked to flammable liquids or gases like kerosene or gasoline.

https://content.artofmanliness.com/uploads//2013/01/60px-Class_C_fire_icon.jpg     Class C fire extinguishers are used to put out electrical fires.

how to use a fire extinguisher that is class d     Class D fire extinguishers are used to put out fires caused by combustible metals.

60px-Class_K_fire_icon     Class K fire extinguishers are generally only seen in commercial kitchens and are used to put out serious grease fires.

Most experts recommend purchasing multipurpose class A/B/C fire extinguishers for home use. Class A/B/C extinguishers use mono ammonium phosphate which can be used to extinguish paper/wood fires, flammable liquid fires, and electrical fires. Buy the largest one you can comfortably handle and keep it fully charged and pressurized.

Put Your Extinguishers in the Right Places.

You should have at least one fire extinguisher on each level of your home. They should be kept out of reach of children, but easily accessible for adults. Keep them where a fire is most likely to start and near an exit. The kitchen and the garage are common starting places for house fires. You should also keep a fire extinguisher in the room if you have a wood-burning fireplace.

Knowing How to Use Your Fire Extinguisher.

So now you understand the limits and benefits of fire extinguishers. You have bought and strategically placed them around your house. But do you know how to use one? According to FEMA, most Americans don’t know how to use a fire extinguisher.  You don’t want to be Googling directions or looking up a Youtube video while your stovetop becomes a blazing inferno.

Just remember to PASS. Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep.

Pull the pin.

Aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire.

Squeeze the trigger carefully. The contents are under pressure so squeeze with control.

Sweep the flames out. Continue aiming at the base of the fire and use a sweeping back and forth motion to extinguish the fire.



Whew! You put the fire out. Keep an eye on ground zero (the origin of the fire) while you wait for the fire department to arrive. Tiny embers have a sneaky way of re-igniting. Be sure to get your fire extinguisher recharged and re-pressurized right away; or dispose of and replace a disposable one. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Check out our fire safety check list here.

If you experience a fire in your home or office ServiceMaster of the Twin Cities can help with the cleanup. We know how traumatizing a fire can be and that you just want things to get back to normal. Fire damage restoration, smoke damage restoration, and odor removal are key to helping you get back on track and on with your life. Call us today at 612-871-3885. We take calls 24/7.



Outreach materials and educational programs. (n.d.). Fema.gov. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/

osha.gov. (n.d.). Evacuation Plans and Procedures eTool | Portable Fire Extinguishers. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/evacuation/portable.html

PS You can buy the poster at safetymedia.co.uk

Fire Escape Plans Save Lives- Do You Have One?

Posted on October 16, 2014.

Fire escape plans save lives. Period.

In 2011, the National Fire Protection Agency conducted a study which found that 7 Americans die in a fire every single day. If this figure alarms you, you are not alone. The American Red Cross launched a national campaign on October 7, 2014 to educate people about the life-saving benefits of smoke detectors and fire escape plans.  ServiceMaster of the Twin Cities cares about your safety. Take time to create and practice a fire escape plan with your family. In the event of a fire, it is important that everyone in your home or facility know exactly what to expect and what to do. Your fire escape plan might look something like this.

In the Event of a Fire We Will…

Act Quickly

If the fire is still small, use a fire extinguisher or another fire extinguishing method. If the fire is spreading rapidly, get out. There is no time to grab valuables. Get away from the fire as quickly as possible.

Know to Crawl.

Deadly black smoke and scorching high temperatures rise. Stay low to the ground and crawl to safety.

 Know That Fire is Dark.

The initial flames are bright, but a room on fire quickly fills with pitch black smoke. You may not be able to see anything; which is another important reason to practice.

Know Two Ways Out of Every Room.

Generally, a window and a door are your best options. Crawl to the door. Touch the handle with the back of your hand. If it burns you, don’t open it! Quickly head to the window. Use something to break it if necessary.

Head to the Agreed Upon Meeting Place.

Everyone should agree on a place to meet in the event of a fire. It should be in front of your home or facility where fire fighters can see you, but far enough away from the flames for safety.

After you have created your fire escape plan, practice it once a month. Include everyone, even small children. A minor flame can get out of control and turn into a major fire in as little as 30 seconds. Be prepared. Learn more about the American Red Cross’ fire safety campaign here.

If you experience a fire in your home or office ServiceMaster of the Twin Cities can help with the cleanup. We know how traumatizing a fire can be; and that you just want things to get back to normal. Fire damage restoration, smoke damage restoration, and odor removal are key to helping you get back on track; and on with your life. Call us today at 612-871-3885. We answer our phone 24/7.

Follow This Fire Safety Checklist to Prevent Fire Damage

Posted on October 6, 2014.

ServiceMaster of the Twin Cities provides Fire Damage Restoration, Smoke Damage Restoration, Water Damage Restoration, Duct Cleaning, Carpet Cleaning, and other services.

October is fire safety month! Be sure to check all of the important safety tips of of this list. An ounce of
prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Fire Safety Checklist

Smoke Alarms

  • There should be a smoke detector on every level of the home.
  • Smoke alarms should be cleaned and tested once a month. Set a reminder on your phone.
  • Smoke alarm batteries should be changed once a year. Pick a memorable day, like Thanksgiving or a birthday.
  • Own fire extinguishers and know how to use them! Significant fire damage can be avoided by using a fire extinguisher.

Safe Cooking

  • Don’t leave your stove-top or grill unattended when cooking. Kitchen fires are the number one cause of household fire damage.
  • Make sure your stove hood is clean and vented to the outside.
  • Keep flammable items (like paper towels) away from the cooking area.

Electrical/Appliance Safety

  • Make sure all cords are in good condition. Replace damaged ones. Electrical problems are the second leading cause of home fire damage.
  • Don’t run cords under rugs.
  • Plug all appliances directly into the wall.
  • Make sure dryer lint trap and ventilation system are clean.

Candle Safety

  • Always blow out candles when you leave a room.
  • Never leave children or pets alone with lit candles.

Heating Safety

  • Have your heating system inspected and cleaned by a professional once a year.
  • Keep all furniture and other potential flammables at least 3 feet away from heat sources including fireplaces, heating vents, space heaters, and radiators.
  • Space heaters are plugged directly into the wall.

One of the most important fire safety steps is to create a fire escape plan and practice it once a month! (See follow up post here)

If you have had a fire in your home or office call ServiceMaster of the Twin Cities today. We are proud to be the foremost experts in fire damage restoration and smoke damage restoration. (612)871-3885

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