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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Reweaving

It’s sweater weather. I don’t know about you but the older I get, the colder I get. Dressing in layers for me is really important. On a recent Wednesday, I went to put a sweater on and found a hole in it. Bad news because I had to quickly scramble and find something else, but the good news is that many times a sweater with a hole can be repaired.

If you have a garment with a hole in it, don’t write it off. Depending on the size and condition of the area, one of these methods may be applied:

1. French Weave - Also known as the Invisible Weave, this technique is done on select fabrics with small tears, holes and burns. Individual thread strands from hidden areas, such as a cuff or inseam, are actually woven together by hand. This creates new fabric as it closes the hole and the repair is virtually indistinguishable from the surrounding fabric. Some fabrics, such as gabardine, don’t always lend to completely invisible results.

2. Inweaving - For larger tears, and when the French weave is not practical. The weaver cuts a patch of hidden fabric and places it over the damaged area, matching the fabric’s pattern. The frayed edges are then hand woven into the material. The edges of the repair are invisible to the eye.

3. Reknitting - Similar to the French weave, this involves taking hidden strands from sweaters, double knits and wool knits and knitting them into the damaged area. Intricate care is taken in matching the garment’s knit pattern and style.

Unfortunately, not every garment is a candidate for reweaving or reknitting, and because of its time consuming nature, it can be a costly process. But check with us first. We might be able to help you save a favorite garment.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Nice Tip

I never lose track of money, but my husband has a habit of leaving change or a few dollars in his pants pockets. Whenever I discover money while doing laundry, I simply place it in a jar in the laundry room. I’ll let it build up for a bit, then Gray and I will take it and go do something fun like get frozen yogurt. I consider it my tip. But that’s not our policy at A Cleaner World. If we find money in a customer’s clothes, we return it.

Recently I was talking to Norman Fitzwater, Owner of the A Cleaner World in Blacksburg, Virginia. Norman had an employee of about 12 years – Pam. He spoke highly of her – her work ethic and the fact that she was a single mom. One day while writing up an order, Pam discovered a lot of money in a customer’s pocket - $5,600.

Norman immediately called the customer to say that they had found a large amount of money in his pocket. The customer asked how much, like around $1,000? When Norman told him the amount, the customer said, “Wow. I had been to the race track and won a bit, but I didn’t realize how much.”

When the customer came to pick up the clothes, we returned the money. He was so grateful that he purchased a $250 gift certificate for Pam just to show his appreciation. That’s a way better tip than some frozen yogurt.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Another Party Dress

My husband started working for his current employer in October 2009. One of the first things he learned about was their Christmas Party, in particular that it is a huge deal. Not knowing what to expect and not having much direction, I opted for a black skirt and sweater. I was incredibly under dressed. Good thing I am a fast learner because the next year I too went all out.

So as our 4th party approached, I started searching for a dress. My husband asked, “Why can’t you just wear one you’ve already worn before?” He’s kidding, right? But in all honesty, I’d already purchased two dresses that I’ve only worn once. Remembering a story I saw on Fox & Friends about renting designer dresses, I checked out www.renttherunway.com.

Here’s how it works:

• Select the dress and accessories you want. They even offer you a guaranteed fit by sending you a second
size for free just in case. Then if none of the dresses fit, they issue a credit.
• Select the date you want it to arrive.
• Mail it back when you are done.

So I set up an account and got started. The choices are lovely and endless, and they have a user friendly filter that helps you search according to your taste.  I found several things I really liked but ultimately I ended up buying another dress, and here’s why. First, as much as I’d like to wear a Nina Ricci or a Badgley Mischka, I’d be the only one to know that. It’s not like there will be someone at the party interviewing me on the red carpet. Second, all the dresses I picked out rented for $200 or more (but many do rent for $50 - $100).  I purchased my dress for less than $100, and it’s just as lovely.

So while I didn't take advantage of renttherunway.com this year, I will keep it in mind for next year or other occasions.  This year I'll just add to my collection again. Perhaps in another 5 years, provided it’s still in style, I’ll find the nerve to wear it again.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Don’t Wear It Too Often

Whenever I admit to one of my crazy quirks, I worry that I may be revealing a bit too much about myself. But here goes. Whenever I worked in an office every day, I used to keep track of my outfits to make sure I didn’t wear the same thing too often. Oh I hope my husband doesn’t read this.

To keep track of it I simply rotated the clothes in my closet accordingly. If something was folded, I strategically placed it on the shelf or in the drawer. And even though I had a reasonably simple system, I occasionally got things out of order.

I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I get when I discover an app on the iPhone that helps me more efficiently handle my quirks. Let me just share with you the latest thing I have discovered – Pocket Closet. It’s an app that can turn your iPhone or iPod touch into a personal wardrobe manager. Below is a link so you can click on it if you’re interested in more details. But there are three things this app does that I really like.

1. You can organize your clothes by type
2. You can record outfits already worn on a built in calendar, then you can look back to see when you last wore it
3. Just shake your iPhone or iPod touch and it gives you outfit suggestions

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pocket-closet/id298037006?mt=8

It’s a really nifty tool. And since there is an app, I assume there are lots of folks like me out there with crazy quirks. That gives me comfort.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Give A Kid A Coat 2012

Give A Kid A Coat wrapped up its 2012 campaign this past Saturday. This year 20,433 coats were donated for those in need. Plus Give A Kid A Coat hit a milestone this year surpassing 750,000 coats since the program’s inception in 1987.

So I wanted to write some sort of wrap up that cited statistics on the number of families helped or the number of coats given out, but I was e-mailed these pictures a few days ago and thought this would convey that information way better. This is why we do Give A Kid A Coat:

Thanks for your continued support.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Meet Kevan

I like to refer to him as Mr. Thomasville. Meet Kevan Callicut, manager of our Thomasville A Cleaner World, for the last 10 years and an A Cleaner World employee for almost 22 years.

If you know Kevan, then you know why I call him that. He is really involved in the community and is incredibly generous with his time. He’s been involved with the Thomasville Jaycees. Currently he’s on the board of directors for the Thomasville Chamber of Commerce, Thomasville Habitat for Humanity, PACE, and Shepherd Homeless Shelter. Plus he’s active with his church, coaches several ball teams, and is the PTO President at two schools. And now he can add school board member to his volunteer resume.

I’ve always been amazed by his energy. After all, our managers work 55 hours a week. Plus he has a wife and two kids. After reading a nice article about his latest adventure in the online The-Dispatch (http://www.the-dispatch.com/article/20120726/News/307269986), I had two questions for him.

First, how in the world to you fit all of this in?

“It’s very hard,” he said. “I’m fortunate to work for a great company that recognizes the importance of community service, and they allow me the flexibility in my schedule to participate in meetings. And of course, I drag my kids with me everywhere. It’s not unusual to see my son sitting beside me at a Habitat meeting.”

That has transferred into recognition by his kids of the importance in being involved in the community. They can identify leaders and city officials that most kids can’t. Plus they know the important roles those folks play.

Second, why in the world would you put something else on your plate?

“It runs in the family,” said Kevan. “My dad was really involved in the community, and that was a part of my life as I was growing up. Plus I have this curse of not being able to say no.”

To that I say the folks in Thomasville are awfully fortunate to have Kevan as a part of their community.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dealing With Head Lice

Now that my child is in school, there are so many new things to worry about – influences of other kids, academic performance, and this: head lice. I’m grossed out just in typing those two little words.

Every Wednesday morning, I volunteer in Gray’s class. On a recent Wednesday, I was going to sign out in the office when I overheard a conversation between a guidance counselor and a female student. Based on what the counselor was saying – it’s hard to get rid of, don’t share brushes and hair ribbons – I gathered that there was a case in my son’s school.

I came home and immediately read up on it. Here are the highlights on what I learned:

• They are parasites that are found on people’s heads
• They are spread by personal contact or contact with contaminated belongings
• They are common among preschool and school age children
• Over-the-counter or prescription medications can be used to treat those affected
• Besides medication, treat your entire house if your child has a case –
     o Wash bed linens and clothing in hot water that the infested person touched during the two days before treatment
     o Heat dry fabric items in the dryer
     o Dry cleaning items that aren’t washable
     o Store any items that cannot be cleaned in a plastic bag and seal it for 30 days
     o Soak combs and brushes in Lysol or hot soapy water for one hour
     o Vacuum the floor and furniture

For more detailed information, check out the CDC’s website -- http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Shoe Matching

Shoes have always been a problem for me – first knowing what pair to wear with which outfit and second just not liking to wear them. I have really wide feet so many things that are in style aren’t all that comfortable for me. So I typically live in flip flops – even in pretty cold weather. But there are occasions when flip flops aren’t appropriate. So what’s a girl like me to do?

I started searching online and ran across all kinds of articles addressing specific outfits or colors but what about something interactive? I wondered – in the iPhone world we live in – would there be a shoe matching app out there?

I finally stumbled onto an article from May from New Straits Times. Crocs has a mobile application that will help you choose its products. All you do is take a picture of your outfit then the app allows you to choose shoe colors and matches the best pair of Crocs shoes to coordinate with the clothes. That’s exactly what I was thinking! Here’s a link to the article:

http://www.nst.com.my/life-times/tech/shoe-matching-apps-anyone-1.85948#ixzz23ReI9VFw

While I think this is super cool, I’m unable to find any other apps that feature shoe matching other than Crocs. And just like with flip flops, I assume there’s a time and place for Crocs.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Mudroom (aka the dump everything in here room)

When we first looked at our house, I was intrigued by a room they referred to as the ‘mudroom’. I’d never heard of such a thing. Would we even use it much? Turns out we use it a lot. In fact because of the way our house is situated, it’s the room that we, and everyone that knows us well, (Thank goodness guests go to the front door.) go through first before entering the house.

But besides being the ‘mudroom’, it has also become the room that Matt and Gray dump everything in. Matt’s got 8 pairs of shoes out there; Gray has 6. There are jackets, umbrellas, outdoor play toys, the dog’s stuff, the deep freezer…… You get the idea. I am not one that can stand clutter for long. Periodically I go through and put things where they belong. But in time, they always seem to find their way back to that room.

On a recent trip to my parent’s house, I was flipping through some magazines my mom had when I stumbled onto an article in Family Circle about organizing your mudroom. I was inspired! When I got home I shared my grand vision with Matt, and he liked it. Especially because that meant he got to build something.

I had hoped that the new and improved (plus cute) mudroom would have been done by now. Alas, the custom shelving unit is a work in progress, and we still need to paint the steps. So here’s one improvement that has helped the mess a bit – wall hooks. They are a great way to create storage and order on an open wall. They come in many different shapes, styles, and sizes. There’s a hook for every purpose and every room. I do need to issue a warning here. Be careful what you hang on hooks as prolonged hanging could distort the shape of certain items. We’re using these hooks for everyday jackets and play clothes. Our nicer coats are still being hung in the closet on good quality hangers.


So stay tuned. This project will be completed soon, and I will unveil it. And hopefully will be able to share some more tips on how to organize an out of control space.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ask Before You Go

If I have a bad experience with a business, I just tend to not go back. Here’s a lesson on why I should speak up before departing.

A few years ago, whenever a Roanoke A Cleaner World customer would go into her closet to get clean clothes out to put on, she’d notice spots on them. Assuming that it was our fault, she stopped using us and switched to another dry cleaner. But the problem still persisted so she switched to another cleaner and then another and another.

Frustrated by the situation, she mentioned it to a friend who suggested she take a closer look at her closet. When she did, she discovered mold in her walk-in closet. It turns out that during an addition done to her home, the contractor failed to do the drainage properly which in turn led to a mold problem.

She quickly called her insurance company who had the contractor fix the drainage problem. They also called ServiceMaster to work on the mold problem in the closet. Here’s the interesting part – ServiceMaster called Mike Taylor’s Roanoke A Cleaner World location to get the mold out of her clothes. When the customer learned of this, she called Mike confessing her initial thoughts.

But no worries; it has all worked out in the end with a non-moldy closet and spot free clothes. And today, she is once again a happy customer of an A Cleaner World Roanoke location.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Clothing App

I must confess that I haven’t had an iPhone for very long. In fact, my husband had to talk me into getting one. Before I got one, I used to make fun of Matt on how attached he was to his. He carried it with him everywhere. He pulled it out for every little thing. Once we went somewhere and he forgot it – talk about lost. And then there were all those crazy apps he put on it.

I never understood – until I got one of my own. Now I too am addicted to my iPhone. I also pull it out for every little thing. But there is one difference – I am very selective on which apps I put on my phone. I think it has something to do with an aversion to clutter. But there is a category of apps that completely fascinate me – clothing/closet organizing and planning.

There a number of them out there, but in a nutshell they help you organize clothes, create outfits, categorize outfits, assign outfits to certain days in a calendar, and so on. There are two things that I find especially appealing. First, you can create a packing list for trips. I make lists for everything, including what clothes I am going to take on a trip. No more digging through the closet or drawers to figure out what to take. I can put together that list say while waiting in the car rider line at school. Second, there are lots of days I just stand in my closet feeling uninspired. Many of these apps have a random button – hit it and the app puts together an outfit for you. It’s like having your own personal Stacy London.

On this app, I was especially eager to add it to my phone!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Firefighter

A dry cleaner wears many hats – bookkeeper, manager, stain removal expert, firefighter. Wait - firefighter?

Brent Dixon has worked for A Cleaner World for years. While he now manages our store on Strickland Road in Raleigh, he managed our Golden Gate location in Greensboro for a number of years. Two things about our managers – they know their customers, and they like to talk. And both were a good thing for this particular customer.

Several years ago while still at our Golden Gate location, Brent was chatting with a customer in the store’s drive through while a CSR retrieved her order. As they were talking, Brent smelled smoke and happened to notice that the customer’s engine was on fire! He got her out of the car, ran and got the fire extinguisher, pulled the car away from the building, and put the fire out. I suspect she was pretty happy that Brent decided to wear a new hat that day.

Just another day in the life of a dry cleaner.....Nice job!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Halloween Costume Safety

I like homemade Halloween costumes.  And even though I am sewing and creatively challenged, we’ve come up with a couple of good ones over the years.  This is the one Gray wore to school last year.

Matt’s company has for years opened its doors so that the employee’s kids could trick-or-treat in a safe and fun environment. The adults really get into it, many decorating their areas and even dressing up.

Gray remembered how much fun it was to trick-or-treat at Matt’s office and couldn’t wait to do it again. But he didn’t want to go as a cowboy – last year he wanted to be a ghost. And he talked about it for weeks leading up to Halloween. I thought it would be easy enough, and it turned out to be fairly cute. But while trick-or-treating at Matt’s office, we figured out there were several flaws with the costume.



Much of the fun for the adults is that they get to see all the kids. One major problem with this costume is that no one knew who it was. But the biggest flaw was that the costume really wasn’t safe. His vision was a bit restricted, and he kept tripping over the sheet. I didn’t think it completely through before saying yes to his request. Below is a link that has some fantastic tips on dressing wisely for Halloween. I’ll be following these suggestions a bit more closely this year.

http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=1457

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Flashback

A couple of months ago, Matt surprised me with a unique date night at a Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre. I was super excited about a night out with adults only and especially excited that he made a special effort to come up with something different. I wasn’t, however, excited when I read the confirmation e-mail. They suggested we come dressed in 80’s attire. I cringed.

It was a date night, and I wasn’t going to head out feeling hokie so I wore a lovely knee length black and white dress with a pair of black wedge heels. I wasn’t the only one that opted out. But there were a number of couples – might I add much younger couples – that went all out in 80’s garb. Again, I cringed.

Now I graduated from high school in 1986. I found myself wondering - Is that what we looked like back then? Then I thought back to my high school years and felt bad. When we had fun events at school, we dressed up in 60’s attire. And at that moment, I knew how my parents felt. Sorry mom and dad.



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Good As New

Stuffed animals are an important part of a child’s life.  My son Gray has two favorites – Bruce and Arrow, and both came from Build-A-Bear.
Bruce has been with our family for about two years and has seen lots of love. Arrow is a relatively new addition to our family having only been with us since May.
Bruce and Arrow move around the house during the day but at night they are a must have for bedtime. Not too long ago we had a near tragedy before bedtime when we noticed that Arrow was coming un-sewn. I went to get my trusty sewing kit, but Gray quickly stopped me. Apparently he was worried that I might not do a good job. He wanted (in his words) ‘a professional’ to fix Arrow. We took him back to Build-A-Bear where they stitched him up to be good as new.

I admit that I get attached to things too – but mostly my clothes.  Over the years A Cleaner World has stitched a number of things up for me so that they too were good as new.  A good thing to know in case a garment you are attached to is need of a professional.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Keeping Whites White

To me there is just something about the plain white t-shirt. I have lots of them – crew neck, scoop neck, split neck, v-neck….you get the idea. They just go with everything and when they are nice and bright and white they provide such a crisp clean look.

Unfortunately, all white cotton and cotton blend shirts eventually start yellowing around the neck and under the arms. While there isn’t anything you can do to completely stop this, you can do a few things to slow the process. Below is a list of suggestions from Mike Feudale, District Manager for A Cleaner World.

• Wash white garments (for that matter all garments) as soon as possible after wearing.
• Never use chlorine bleach on whites as a general brightener. Chlorine bleach should really only be used to eliminate germs and bacteria. It can, however, be used on white cotton and cotton blends to remove a localized stain that remains after washing. Chlorine bleach does not make things whiter. In the long run it actually breaks down the optical brightener in white dye and turns things yellow or brown.
• If you can, use deodorant instead of antiperspirant. Antiperspirant contains aluminum chlorohydrate which tends to clump in cotton and damage the fibers. It never completely washes out and will build up over time.
• One way to brighten your whites is in an overnight soak. Start the wash load with a normal amount of soap and hot water. Allow it to agitate for a minute or two. Then add up to double the recommended amount of non-chlorine bleach. Agitate for several minutes and let the load stand overnight. Complete the cycle the next morning and tumble dry on medium.
• Avoid high drying temperatures. Medium works just as well and reduces wrinkling. Or if you’re inclined, hang your whites on a line outside until dry. Your great grandmother was right; sunshine can function as a brightener.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

No Scouts This Year

My son is a very inquisitive little boy. He is also a huge fan of Phineas and Ferb. Apparently one of the characters on the show is a “Fireside Girl”. One afternoon he started asking questions about the “Fireside Girls”. In particular he wanted to know if there was a male version of this group. I explained that the “Fireside Girls” were a pretend group based on the Girl Scouts. So I shared my experiences as a Girl Scout and what I knew about Boy Scouts.

Another thing I should mention about my son is that when he gets fixated on a subject, he worries me to death about it. He decided that afternoon that he wanted to be a Cub Scout. When Matt got home from work, Gray was so excited to share with his daddy his latest quest. Matt was thrilled as he wanted to introduce scouts to Gray, so we got started. And then we quickly got stopped.

I assumed that you could begin participating in scouts in Kindergarten. You actually have to be 7 years old or in first grade. Devastation set in and then he began to worry me to death about not forgetting to let him join when he starts first grade. I won’t forget. I’m looking forward to Gray participating in scouts. It’s such a great program that helps teach responsible citizenship and character development. Plus you get to earn all those awesome patches and wear a cool uniform!

A Cleaner World is proud of its association with the Boy Scouts. For more information about scouts, go to BeAScout.org

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

More than Clothes in Her Express Bag

A while back I did a list of crazy things A Cleaner World has found in clothes over the years. Mike Taylor, with 35 years of service, has seen his share of some craziness. But there is one crazy thing he experienced a number of years ago that would have completely send me over the edge. And he was completely calm as he told me this story:

A couple that had been long-time customers divorced. They both continued to use Mike’s store. On her regular drop off day, she brought in an express bag full of clothes. After she left a CSR began to sort and tag the order, and as she did, a garter snake crawled out of the bag.

A few days later the ex-husband came in to drop off clothes. Mike proceeded to tell him what they found. Mike said the ex was not surprised at all as the snake had been lost in the house for some time! Mike couldn’t get over the guy’s easy going response. Now I will admit that I thought Mike was going to tell me that the ex-husband did it, so I too was surprised by the response but in a different way.

Now a dry cleaning manager wears many hats -- but snake catcher? I get the chills whenever I think about it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Poison Ivy is Nasty Stuff

Have you ever had a bad case of poison ivy? I sure have, and I will never forget it. Matt and I hadn’t been married very long. There was a lady at our church that needed some help tearing out an arbor in her backyard, so we offered to help. We spent a Saturday afternoon helping her, and a couple of days later we were both miserable. Now that we live in the country, I come across it pretty frequently. I also now know how to identify the plant.

There’s one thing I really want to stress about poison ivy -- oil from poison ivy is extremely stable and will stay potent, essentially forever. You can get a rash from clothes that have the oil from last summer. Both dry cleaning and laundering are acceptable cleaning methods for removing poison ivy from clothing. But laundering is actually preferred because of the multiple flushes used in the process. It is best to wear gloves and wash the contaminated clothing separately so the oil won’t spread to other garments. Casual contact with other people's clothing should be okay, but be sure to wash any areas that contact the clothing with soap and water. This precaution will usually prevent a rash from appearing.

There are lots of websites out there with great information on poison ivy. Here’s a link to the CDC’s site. But if you have poison ivy/laundry related questions, please let us know.

http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/plants/

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Fashion Era

While searching online for the lastest trends in fashion, I stumbled on this quiz “What Fashion Era Do You Belong To?” It looked like fun so I gave it a shot. The results didn’t surprise me that much -- apparently I belong in the 50’s. This is what it said about me:

'You’re a prepster at heart: Bring on the pearls, sweaters, khakis, and ballet flats. Like Audrey Hepburn, you love classic A-line cuts, feminine prints, and timeless pieces in neutral hues. The attitude in the 1950s was fresh, crisp, and youthful, and that’s your look to a T.'

It describes me awfully well – minus the ballet flats. Below is a link to the quiz. Let me know how you score.

http://just-for-mom.quiz.kaboose.com/86-what-fashion-era-do-you-belong-to

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Complete Loss

I’m sure you’ve seen advertisements on television for those space saving bags. You know the ones where you can place half your house in a bag and vacuum shrink it down to 3 inches by 5 inches.

Not too long ago, a customer at our Hickory location brought in a beautiful handmade, mostly white quilt that she had stored in one of those vacuum sealed bags for three years. When she opened it, she discovered it had suffered terrible yellowing. Upon examination, we were able to determine that moisture had gotten trapped against the quilt, and that in turn caused the yellowing.

I think those space saving bags are a fascinating idea, but you need to be extremely careful when using. It is possible that you could use a product like that and never have an issue. But it is also possible that humidity could get trapped in the bag creating the ideal situation for mildew.

The best way to store out of season bedding is to:

1. Wash and dry the items. Never store any type of soiled fabric.
2. Fold the items, but not too tightly. You want them to be able to breathe.
3. Keep the items away from sunlight – it can cause the fabric to fade. The best place to store would be in a drawer or closet.
4. For an extra measure - place a few cedar balls in the drawer or closet – but not directly on the fabric.

Our staff worked diligently on that handmade quilt, but sadly we were unable to restore it. If you have a one of a kind special item you want to store, we’d recommend you avoid anything that could possibly trap moisture in the packaging. And as always if ever in doubt, ask us. We’re glad to answer any questions you may have.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Kindergarten and The Strict Dress Code

Today my son started Kindergarten, so the last few weeks have been spent buying supplies and new clothes. Growing up, I always enjoyed the back to school shopping. Doing it for Gray – I didn’t enjoy it so much. Here’s why: the school system here has an incredibly strict four page dress code – only black, khaki, navy pants and shorts; plain jeans; long and short sleeve polo style shirts in specific colors; and button up dress shirts in specific colors.

In the long list of do’s and don’ts I found two things really difficult to deal with – first, no logos. It seems that most polo style shirts have some sort of logo on them. Second, no cargo pants. When we started the process, Gray only had one pair of shorts (including his nicer ones) that didn’t have cargo pockets.

Once again, my mom bailed me out. (I really owe this woman a lot.) She found a brand, Greendog, at Macy’s that fits the bill. Greendog has solid color polo shirts without logos for around $10, and flat front shorts for around $15. So if you are in the same pickle we were, I recommend the brand. They seem to make basic items at decent quality and not terrible prices. Perhaps we didn’t get to fully take advantage of the great back to school sales, but we’ll definitely be in line with the dress code.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Jinxed Clothes

I had a lovely wedding. But as awesome as the wedding was – the honeymoon was even better. Well except for the day that Matt talked me into going deep sea fishing or should I say deep sea puking. We look back and laugh now, but at the time it wasn’t funny. I think the same thing holds true for a couple that Mike Taylor at our Roanoke A Cleaner World helped out.

Imagine Mike’s surprise when he was tracked down at a July 4th party by Roanoke police a number of years ago. A couple that had just gotten married realized that they failed to pick up their honeymoon clothes from A Cleaner World, and they desperately needed Mike’s help.

When Mike got to the store, there were two voice messages from the couple. The first one was from the husband explaining the situation. The second was from a crying bride. Mike gladly took care of them and sent them happily off on their cruise.

Unfortunately, they never got to wear those crisp clean items on their honeymoon. The cruise line accidently dropped their suitcase into the water before the cruise even started. They had to get by on swimsuits, shorts, and t-shirts purchased along the way.

When they returned from their trip, they immediately returned to the store, and handed the entire order back over to the Mike. They also were able to laugh as they did – saying they were certain the order was doomed. So Mike once again made their clothes crisp and clean – and ready hopefully for better vacation some time down the road.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Thirty Five Years of Service

Through a series of conversations, I discovered that we have an employee that’s been with A Cleaner World for over 35 years. Meet Mike Taylor, our A Cleaner World Roanoke Division Manager. Here’s his story:

Mike was hired as a part-time Customer Service Representative/Janitor while still in high school. Shortly after he graduated, the store manager left, the company ran an ad in the paper to fill the position, and in the meantime Mike managed the location – at age 18. They gave him a few weeks of training and somehow the situation became permanent.

Mike hadn’t been a manager too long when the company was sold to Ray Edwards. Mike sent out resumes and was actively searching for a job when he met Ray. The two hit it off, and Mike agreed to stay and give it a shot. I’d say he was successful – he took a relatively small location and transformed it into two solid locations.

How did he grow the business? Ray believes Mike gets lots of satisfaction out of doing a great job, and that happens to show up as fantastic quality and customer service. Things like not charging a family if he knows there has been a death or personally delivering clothes or rugs after hours are commonplace. In an age where we are so detached, that level of service is recognized and word spreads.

But gosh, 35 years. That’s a really long time and so unusual in this day. I had to ask Mike – running a dry cleaning plant is tough work with the long hours, extreme heat, physical aspect – why in the world would he stay so long? “I think it was because Ray saw something in me I didn’t know I had,” he said. That translated into allowing Mike to be a partner in the business. “I think it’s because he knows we have 100% confidence in him and allow him to run his business,” Ray stated. “In all 35 years, I’ve made one suggestion to him. Plus he’s more than just a partner; he’s a friend of the family.”

It has been said that you should not become friends with business partners. This is one example that would prove that saying wrong. I think that says a lot about both Mike and the A Cleaner World family.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Great Birthday Memory

I love Ronald Regan – he declared July National Ice Cream Month. I also love the month of July. Not just for the ice cream thing but also because my birthday is in July. I am one of those people that celebrates all month long. July is typically a fun month for me!

Birthdays come and go and after you’ve had several, the memories tend to fade. But I have a handful of favorite birthday celebrations. One in particular was in 2000. For a number of years, A Cleaner World sponsored a summer reading program called Read to Ride. The program was designed to encourage kids to read during summer break. For every book they read, they entered for a chance to win one of 50 bicycles we planned on giving away.

We decided a great way to wrap up the program was to bring all the winners together to celebrate. This particular year we opted to meet at Triad Park and have the kids bring their bicycles. Given it was a hot Saturday in July, we asked Carvel to bring their ice cream cart. Now can you think of a better way to spend your birthday than with 50 excited kids and a hot fudge sundae for breakfast?

So I hesitated to include this but here’s a picture from that fun birthday. Keep in mind it was 12 years ago so please no comments about the hair!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

We Clean American Flags for Free

A Cleaner World has cleaned American Flags for free for as long as anyone can remember. No one really knows when the tradition started, but apparently it’s a common thing that most dry cleaners do. But other than our A Cleaner World on Peter’s Creek Parkway in Winston-Salem (they clean 200 per year for the local Veteran’s organization), not many folks take advantage of this.

My grandpa was a Veteran of World War II, earning a Bronze Star Medal. He passed away when I was in college. Shortly before his death, I asked him lots of questions about the war. But I never asked him what the American Flag meant to him. The thought really never occurred to me at age 20. And while I wouldn’t consider myself to be over or under patriotic today, I believe there is something sacred about the American flag.

I post most of my blogs on Wednesdays, and I thought one on the American flag would be appropriate today. Since my grandpa is no longer here, I asked one of our staff members, Mike Feudale as he served in the military, and I thought his perspective would be especially poignant. Here’s what he said:

“My military experience has fostered a respect for the flag, its custom, meaning, and associated protocol. I take great pride in cleaning and restoring these flags at no charge. I feel honored that a surviving family member trusts us to restore or care for the flag that once was placed over a soldier or sailors casket.”

If you have a flag that needs cleaning or repairing, call on us. I know many folks in our organization that would be honored to take care of it. And on an additional note – we can also help see to the appropriate destruction of a flag if you have a worn or faded one through our affiliation with the Boy Scouts.

“The American flag represents all of us and all the values we hold sacred.” – Adrian Cronauer

Have a safe & happy July 4th!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Energy Saving Tips for your Tank Style Water Heater

Did you know that the water heater is the 3rd costliest appliance to operate in your home? It uses 14% of an average home’s cost. Here’s why – most homes have tank style water heaters. That means the heater is continuously heating the water so that hot water will be available when you want it.

According to Kevin Lawson, Vice President of Tri-State Laundry Equipment Co., tank-less water heaters are becoming more popular. “They are definitely the way to go,” said Lawson. “The cost of the heater itself continues to decline and then there are the tax advantages. But there is a considerable cost involved to convert to a tank-less system. It can take around 5 years to realize a payback.”

If you are like me, you’ll be using your current tank style heater for some time to come. Here are some things you can do to make it more cost efficient:

On both electric and gas heaters –

• Turn them off or set the temperature way back when gone for an extended period. There’s no sense heating water if you’re not there to use it.
• Set your water heater to 120 degrees F. According to energysavers.gov, for each 10 degree reduction in water temperature, you can save between 3 – 5% in energy costs.
• Wrap your water heater in an insulating jacket. This will reduce the heat lost through the walls of the tank. Just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s specifications, don’t cover the thermostat, and don’t restrict the air inlet on gas heaters.

On electric heaters - Keep elements changed out. Lime and minerals deposits build up on the heating elements and heat has to get through that stuff to heat the water. This reduces the efficiency of the heater and can easily be replaced for a minimal cost.

On gas heaters – Make sure the gas pressure set properly. The lack of pressure along with the demands put on the water heater can cause the burner to stay on more often to keep up or recover.

We hope these tips will cause your water heater to not so costly. We welcome any suggestions you may have.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Exciting Find

I love long hot showers. So does my husband, and now that I work from home, he gets in the shower first Monday through Friday. Recently as I was standing in the shower feeling the water getting less and less warm, I began to wonder about the inner workings of a hot water heater. More importantly, I began to wonder how I could go about ensuring I could have a hot shower instead of a lukewarm one.

Knowing that I am stuck with our current water heater until it gives out, I decided to learn a little about it. Seems we have a standard electric water heater with a 50 gallon capacity. Then I wondered how many gallons of water the average person uses while showering. The average person takes a ten minute shower and if you have a regular shower head, you can use as much as 42 gallons of water.

Notice I mentioned that the average person takes a ten minute shower. Matt spends the first five minutes merely standing under the hot water just to wake up. Based on the above information, I figure he ends his showers just as he has depleted all the hot water from the heater.

Knowing that changing his habit is pretty unlikely, I’ve decided to purchase a 1.5 GPM Energy and Water Saving Shower head. This particular one I found has a trickle savings mode that activates when the water reaches 95 degrees F. The best part is that is saves about 8 gallons of water for every five minutes spent in the shower.

I see many benefits from this small change – reducing our water use, saving on utility costs, and no more lukewarm showers for me!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Snags

I recently purchased some new running clothes. It was long overdue; many of my things were starting to show their age. I stumbled on to a good sale at a local sporting goods store, and I invested in some nicer stuff.  Imagine my disappointment when I pulled a tank from the washer after wearing it only once to find that there were three snags on the front.

I quickly called someone at A Cleaner World for help. Mike’s thought was that delicate undergarments with hooks could be causing the problem, but he also suggested that there could be an issue with the washer or dryer wheel. I had already narrowed it down to the washer so he suggested that I do a thorough inspection of the inside of the washer using a flashlight to look slowly and carefully, paying attention to the edge where the ribs join on the wheel. After the visual check he also suggested a physical check. I thought this was a very clever idea – taking an old pair of nylon hose, I slipped them tightly over my spread fingers and palm. Then I wiped down the wheel in a controlled and measured fashion, making sure I covered every square inch.

I pulled my hand from the washer to find several snags on the nylons. After further investigation, I found two decent size nicks on the smooth part of the wheel just inside the door.  I am certain of the culprit but will not (this time) throw my husband under the bus.

Mike said I should do some investigating but that Matt could probably use a file and some steel wool to smooth out the nicks. I showed Matt my finding and the solution, and he was able to fit the problem easily.  But I am still placing anything I consider to be precious into a mesh bag before placing it in the washer. Mike said he does that with all his delicate items as well as turning them inside out before placing in the washer. Great advice. Thanks A Cleaner World!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I Smell Like Bacon

I love bacon. I probably on average eat it once a week unless its summer and tomatoes are in. Then I eat BLT’s several times a week. I learned a long time ago that baking it in the oven is way less messy. No more worries about splashing grease on my clothes or smelling like bacon. Or so I thought.

Recently I was driving to pick Gray up from preschool, and I kept smelling bacon. I thought perhaps it was because I had just eaten a bacon sandwich before getting into the car. But as the afternoon went on, I still smelled it, and I was surprised. I called Mike Feudale and posed this question: “How do you handle food smells in clothing, especially if you go out to lunch and then must return to an office?” Unfortunately, there’s no advice during the day if you already have your lunch smell on you. “If you smell like popcorn shrimp from lunch, and you work in an office,” said Mike, “you are stuck.”

Some good news is that most of the time simply airing the garments before washing and then washing following the manufacturers suggestion will take care of the odors at the end of the day. Adding baking soda in the wash load can also help. But what about the popcorn shrimp at lunch problem?  Mike has two these suggestions:

1. Certain materials absorb odors more than others – avoid wearing cotton, which is the most absorbent of the fibers, on days you know you are eating lunch out.

2. Some odors are stronger than others. Consider avoiding places that serve fried, spicy, or garlicky foods if you must head back to the office.

While Mike can’t guarantee these tips will completely solve the problem, he did have this to say, “Folks that smell like bacon make me hungry.”

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

PB&J

My child is a peanut butter and jelly freak. And while he has a fairly sophisticated palate for a 5 year old, he would, if I’d allow, eat pb&j morning, noon, and night. I regularly pack peanut butter and jelly in his lunch. I rationalize the nutrition – whole grain bread, natural peanut butter, homemade jelly by me, and Horizon organic milk box. Not too bad, right?


But he has this awful habit of wiping his face on his shirt sleeve. We’re working on perfecting our table manners, but this one seems especially difficult to break. So I have perfected the removal of the peanut butter stain. Here’s my method:

• Carefully scrape the excess off the sleeve

• Pre-treat with a stain remover and let it soak in for a few minutes

• Then pre-treat with dishwashing liquid and let that soak in as well

• Wash in the hottest water safe for the garment

• Never put it in the dryer – always air dry

And thank goodness I have. His nicer clothes were becoming play clothes, leaving not much to choose from for school. There was a period of time when I was considering sending him without a shirt. Perhaps then he’d learn to use a napkin.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Strawberry Jam

I am certain that I’ve mentioned before that I am a big foodie. But I’m not sure that I confessed that I am really a food snob. There are so many things I’m not brand loyal on until it comes to food. Then there are the foods that I refuse to buy in the store – I insist on only eating homemade. One such item would be jelly.

I have been blessed with a mom that’s incredibly industrious in the kitchen. She has taught me so many things – things that I believe are a dying art – like making bread from scratch, canning, and making jelly. And while she is incredibly industrious in the kitchen, she is also incredibly messy in the kitchen.

We’re in strawberry season, and that means I’ll be heading to my parents house to make strawberry jam. Since I got strawberry stains on me the last time we did this, I am certain I will again. And given the popularity of strawberries this time of year, I am certain I will not be the only person. Here are some removal tips for clothing:

• Don’t wait too long. The sooner you attack any stain, the more likely you’ll be able to remove it.
• Rinse the stain with cool water
• Soak the garment in a mixture of cold water, white vinegar and liquid laundry detergent. Try 1 T. vinegar and ½ t. detergent for every quart of water.
• Rinse after soaking.
• Launder with a color-safe bleach and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
• Always examine the garment before placing in the dryer. If the stain is still there, try again.
• Never throw a stained garment in the dryer as the heat will cause the stain to set.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Local Lightning Strike

Its here – thunderstorm season. And though it is early in the season, it seems like we’ve already had our fair share for this year. According to the National Lightning Safety Institute, the odds of being struck by lightning are 1 in 280,000. But did you know that the odds of your home being struck by lightning are 1 in 200?

I was surprised by that number. But in March there was a story (http://myfox8.com/2012/03/21/lightning-catches-house-on-fire-no-injuries/) on Fox 8 about a couple in High Point whose home was struck by lightning. In the story, Kay Brown described hearing a boom around 7 p.m. She went to investigate and found that the back of her house was on fire. Both Mrs. Brown and her husband, Robert, were surprised it happened to them. Mr. Brown wasn’t home at the time, and thankfully Mrs. Brown and the family pet made it out safely.

The story went on to explain that they were able to salvage some things and their home will need ample repairs. And while many of us have sentimental things, things can be replaced. The most important thing during a storm is to protect yourself and your family.

Here are some tips to help you stay safe during a lightning storm:

Seek safe shelter – a place that is fully enclosed with a roof, walls, and a floor. Avoid seeking shelter in things like carports, covered patios, metal buildings, etc. Second, stay off of landline phones, computers, and any other electrical equipment. Also stay away from all plumbing outlets. Cell phones are safe to use should you need to call 911.

If you don’t have access to a safe shelter, hard topped automobiles are an option. Avoid touching any part of the metal frame or wired device in the vehicle. Things like golf carts and convertibles don’t provide adequate shelter.

The Nation Weather Service has more detailed information about lightning safety on their website. Go to http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/outdoors.htm for more information.

If your home receives damage, feel free to call our company expert Chuck Brammer at 336-992-0700. He’ll be glad to answer any questions you might have.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Gross Habit

About a year and a half ago, my husband adjusted his hours, going in earlier and staying later, so that he could start running at lunch. He went to lots of trouble to get just the right gym bag. Then he gave me a list of items he needed so that he could keep his bag stocked at all times.

Here’s his routine on a day he’s going to the gym at lunch. He gets his gym bag – now typically he leaves it in the trunk of the car though lately he’s been throwing it into the laundry room as he walks in the back door – pulls the dirty clothes from the side pocket from his prior visit and places clean clothes in the main part of the bag.

Now my husband does lots of things that irritate, but this habit just grosses me out. Here’s why: wet gear that’s left in a gym bag can begin breeding bacteria within hours. The odor from bacteria can be a rather intense smell. But besides the odor, sweat is mostly salt and if left on fabric can stain it and eventually corrode it.

I’d like to say that I have a solution, but I don’t. So I continue on – being grossed out by the habit, using my finger tips when I pick through those items before washing, and scrubbing my hands immediately afterwards. If anyone has a suggestion to my latest laundry dilemma, I welcome it eagerly!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Add an Extra Rinse

“Don’t forget the extra rinse,” my mom called down the stairs to me. She reminds me of this every time I help with the laundry while visiting and for good reason. A number of years ago, my dad developed a rash (don’t worry, I asked if I could share this) around his waistline. The diagnosis from the family physician was too much laundry detergent.

Before writing this blog, I took a look at a number of articles on this topic. Most said something like the dyes, chemicals, and perfumes in detergent, if not completely rinsed out, can cause skin irritation. I became curious about what was exactly in the product I like to use so I pulled up the MSDS. Some of the ingredients include Ethanol, Ethanolamine, and Anionic and Nonionic Surfactants. Under signs and symptoms of exposure for skin it said prolonged contact with concentrated material may be drying or transiently irritating to skin. My dad has really sensitive skin so it makes sense that his clothes with soap residue remaining rubbing against his skin day after day would cause irritation. Based what I read, it’s a fairly common problem.

Here are three simple things you can do to ensure there is no detergent residue left in your clothes. First, use less detergent. Experiment with the amount to see how little you can use and still get your clothes clean. Second, add an extra rinse. Finally, add vinegar to the final rinse as it helps remove any excess residue.

Let us know if you’ve experienced this problem and if you have any tips to share!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Down Side of a HE Washer

Almost a year ago I got a HE washer and dryer. I immediately noticed some benefits – lower water bills, reduced drying times, using a lot less detergent. But as time moved on, I noticed some negatives too. For instance, it spins so hard and fast that I worry we’re causing structural damage to our house. You can’t use powder detergent. Then there’s the weird musty smell when I walk into the laundry room.

I mentioned the smell to my mom, and she said the same thing happened with her washer. She recommended I leave the door open. I started doing that but still experienced the smell so I got online to investigate. Turns out that it’s a common problem with HE washers. Here’s the site where I got all my information:

http://housewares.about.com/od/laundryappliances/qt/preventingmold.htm

I was already doing most of what they suggested, so I purchased some Tide Washing Machine Cleaner. I’m not sure how well it worked as the majority of the powder was still in the dispenser after the cycle was finished. Here’s what worked for me – while still doing what they suggest – leave the door and dispenser open, never leave clothes overnight, etc. – is now washing my whites on hot and adding vinegar. I realize using hot water goes against my tip of washing in cooler water to save money and your clothes, but I think it’s better than having a smelly laundry room.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dress Up To Stay Home?

A little less than two years ago, I went from going to an office 4 – 5 days a week to working part time from home. It was late May, and I was excited by the thought of tank tops and shorts daily. I will admit that the first couple of months were fun. Gray and I played outside a lot, hit the pool almost daily, and learned our way around Nashville.

At the beginning of August Gray started pre-school a few days a week. After dropping him off a few times, I noticed the mom’s that ‘dressed’ and the one’s that didn’t. I took a look at myself (as one of those that didn’t) and quickly felt like a slug-o. The next day I put on makeup, did more to my hair than just blow it dry, and put on a summer dress and sandals. I felt amazing! I came home and sat down at the computer to work, and I actually felt like I was working.

It’s unbelievable how appearance and emotions go hand in hand. I will admit there are days (sometimes when Gray doesn’t have school) that I still put on yoga pants and a t-shirt, but I have settled into a casual but put together look. And I no longer feel like a slug-o.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Libby Has Fleas?

For thirteen years, I had an adorably sweet dog named Libby. Libby was a mix between a silky terrier and poodle, but my mom always said Libby was half human. I took great care of Libby – weekly baths, regular vet visits, daily walks. So when Libby got fleas, I was horrified. I used Frontline most of the time, but didn’t use it in what I considered to be the off season for fleas. Big mistake.

I am thankful that we caught it early. Our vet dipped her. We went to using Frontline year around. Fortunately we had no issues in our house.

It’s April so fleas are on the increase in our area with the peak season being in the hottest months. There are two main ways to prevent flea infestations. First, get rid of susceptible places inside the house. Second, use some sort of outdoor treatment or insecticide to make sure they don’t make your yard their home. It takes several weeks to get rid of them so I’m here to share a few tips so that they don’t invade your home to begin with.

1. Keep your grass trimmed and regularly apply a flea treatment to your lawn.
2. Clean weekly the areas, both inside and out, where your dog hangs out. That includes regularly washing their bedding.
3. Kill the fleas on your pet by bathing him regularly with a flea prevention shampoo and by using a monthly topical medication.
4. Vacuum everything that’s fabric related and do it regularly.

One final thing - start now! The life cycle of a flea is three to four weeks, so it will take that long to get rid of them if they’ve already arrived. Hopefully they’ve not, and you can begin your proactive prevention plan today.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Clutter Drives Me Crazy

I found this statement in the “I’m an Organizing Junkie” blog and have been using it regularly with my husband.

‘Clutter = anything you don’t love or use OR have the space to store’

Meet my husband Matt – a man that parts with nothing.

Just a little less than two years ago, we relocated to Tennessee. Matt moved here several months before I did, leaving me to sell the house and such. I hear myself sounding like he did nothing – and that’s not the case. He traveled back and forth between Tennessee and North Carolina regularly and each time he packed up stuff and transported it. But one thing he didn’t do is pack up his office. He asked that I do it and promised he would go through and purge before unpacking in our new house.

Initially those boxes were stacked in the office of our new house. That lasted a number of months until I could no longer stand it. The office – once his domain only – is a shared space because I now work from home. I went through many of the boxes and came up with a number of things I thought he could part with. Many of those items he put back in boxes. Then came the next step – I moved all those boxes into the upstairs storage room. That solution worked until this past Christmas.

Having first grown weary of not being able to walk in that room and second not being able to use it as it was designed; I pulled boxes out and created a big mess in our bonus room. I came up with three trash bags full of clothes that I donated to our local Salvation Army. Seeing my enthusiasm, Matt got involved and widdled his 25 boxes down to 8. I call that progress.

I am pleased by our steps to de-clutter but we are nowhere close to where we need to be – at least in my opinion. I am going to continue my crusade to de-clutter my home, and I will continue to donate items to The Salvation Army. I’d like to encourage you to do the same. Get rid of that stuff you don’t love or use and donate it to a worthwhile cause.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Our Latest Disaster – Water Damage

We were having one of those days – you know the kind where my husband could do nothing right, and I reacted wrongly every time. But just when I thought the day couldn’t get worse, it did. Around 7 p.m. on a Sunday evening in January, I walked into the laundry room to discover that Matt had left the water running in the sink and the laundry room was flooded -- flooded to the point that water was running down the furnace vent and into the kitchen.

After getting over my initial thought of wanting to strangle him, I had a second thought – I wonder if I can turn this into a blog post? We removed everything from the room except the washer and dryer, then used a shop-vac to suck out all the water. I waited until everything was dry then put the stuff back in the laundry room.

I always leave the door to the laundry room shut unless I am in there working. After the big incident I noticed that the room felt especially cold whenever I walked in there. So Matt crawled under the house to find that there was water standing in the ducts. Once again my crazy life can be an example of what not to do.

If you have a water disaster, you may want to consider calling a professional. Not knowing how long the water had been running, we had no idea the extent of the damage. Given the amount of water sitting in the ducts, it might have been worse than we initially thought. Standing water in ducts can lead to mold issues, so every time the furnace kicks on it could be blowing moldy air. Also, the laundry room floor is linoleum. If water got under the linoleum, there again could be a mold issue and over time the sub-floor could rot. You get the idea.

There are lots of fantastic certified contractors out there than can help if you too experience a water disaster. Here’s a handy little tool to help you find one in your area.

http://www.certifiedcleaners.org/locator.shtml

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dogonit – We’ve Got New Commercials

We usually don’t watch television while eating dinner but it is March Madness after all. So last week we were eating dinner and watching the Wichita State/VCU game. Gray quickly perked up (as he hasn’t fully grasped the importance of this sporting event yet) when a commercial with talking babies came on.

The next day Chris (Edwards, President of A Cleaner World) sent me a link with our latest commercials. I was 5 seconds into the first commercial when I hit pause and hollered for Gray. Our new commercials feature something way better than talking babies, and Gray quickly became a big fan. In fact, he’s now asked if watching them can be his special treat.

Here’s the link so you can check them out for yourself.

http://www.youtube.com/user/acleanerworld?feature=watch

After watching them a number of times and offering his thoughts, he’s picked his favorite. But what we’re more interested in is – which one is your favorite?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Talking Home Fire with Your Kids

About a month ago I shared with you Gray’s latest question, “What happens if our house catches on fire?”, and how we handled it. At the end of the post, I mentioned that in my research I found an exhibit sponsored by Liberty Mutual at Walt Disney World's Epcot that uses a hands-on method to teach kids fire safety. As luck would have it, we had the chance to visit that exhibit two weeks ago.

This thing was done in typical Disney fashion -- top-notch all the way. First, Gray and I did a timed fire safety quiz on a touch-screen monitor while waiting in line in front of the ‘house’.



Just a few short minutes later, we were paired up in the “Where’s the Fire?” game. We both had flashlights and searched six rooms of the house to find and eliminate fire hazards.



After the game, the kids went over to a miniature house where a Disney Team Member put them through different home fire scenarios.



Gray learned a few things but more importantly I learned a few things too. Here they are:
• We’ve talked about what to do and walked through it should we have a fire, but we’ve not had home fire drills. The folks at the exhibit stressed the importance of home fire drills – even at night.
• Make sure your kids can unlock the doors and windows and open them. Even have them climb out a window or two for practice.
• Set a designated meeting place outside for your family.

We're going to continue working on fire safety in our home. Here’s a link to the U.S. Fire Administration for Kids website. There’s lots of terrific information on home fire safety along with great information for your kids. We hope you find it helpful.

http://www.usfa.fema.gov/kids/flash.shtm

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Some Important Information on Mats

I am on the planning committee for our church’s ladies retreat. At the first meeting, I was sitting waiting for it to start when a very animated woman walked in carrying a donut-shaped pillow. She placed it in her chair and gingerly sat down. Someone inquired and here’s the bottom line of the story – she slipped and fell on a wet floor at a restaurant. That business should have read my December blog post on our Commercial Division. Advantage number three: ‘Mats also help during inclement weather to prevent slip hazards.’

According to fallsarentfunny.org, more than 2.2 million American’s visit the emergency room because of an accidental fall, and every 8 seconds, someone is injured because of a slip or fall. I read on a number of sites that the number three main cause of a slip or fall is wet floors. There are a number of ways to combat this problem, and one is by using a mat. Unfortunately mats themselves can cause a trip or be a fall hazard so it is important to use the proper mat. According an on-line article by the Healthy Facilities Institute, there are over 50 types of floor mats in existence for commercial use. That’s a lot of information to sift through, so I’m here to share a few things with you.

• Size does matter – use a mat large enough so it is not kicked around or stepped over.
• Mats should be constructed to lay flat. If they begin to curl, consider replacing or taping the corners down.
• They should be designed in a way that will stop and store water and dirt right there.
• They should be safe and slip resistant.

Debbie has a great sense of humor and laughed about the incident as she shared it with us. But falling is no laughing matter. There is a link to the article below should you need more detailed information. If after reading the link below you have questions about mats, call A Cleaner World’s Commercial Division Manager at 336-870-6299. He is an expert in this area. Be safe out there!

http://www.healthyfacilitiesinstitute.com/a_175-Floor_Matting_Applications

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Beloved Bunny

Meet Bunny -



He is a bunny and that is his name. Matt’s sister and her family gave Gray Bunny when he was born, and Gray started carrying him around by the neck before he could walk. In fact I have pictures of Gray taking his first steps and Bunny was clutched in his chubby little hand.

While Bruce (the horse and probably worthy of his own blog) goes everywhere local with us, Bunny gets to take the big trips. Since Bunny travels, he’s prone to get dirty. And I mean really dirty – like the time Gray threw up tomato soup on him on the way to Gatlinburg. Thank goodness the place we were staying at had a washer and dryer. Here’s how we restored Bunny:

• Checked the label. Bunny’s label said surface wash only. But because he was stuffed with polyester, I knew he would be safe in the washer.
• Sprayed him with a pre-treater.
• Washed him in the washing machine in cold water on gentle.
• Hung him up by his ears to air dry.

Stuffed animals can get really disgusting but most can easily be cleaned up. There are some great sites out there with tips on how to do so. Here’s a link to one that looks pretty good. Of course, if ever in doubt, we’ll be glad to help. We know what an important part of the family the fuzzy stuffed critters are.

http://www.howtocleanstuff.net/how-to-clean-stuffed-toys/

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Talking Home Fire with Your Kids

“What happens if our house catches on fire,” Gray recently asked. My first thought was where in the world does he come up with these things. Then my second thought was – wow that’s a really good question on a topic we probably should have talked about a long time ago.

We talked about an escape plan should we have a home fire and even practiced what to do. Since his bedroom is on the second floor, we purchased an escape ladder. But I wondered how much really sunk in. Here’s a great kid-focused site that I used a few days later to go over it with him again. Check it out and make sure that you and your family have a plan.

http://www.sparky.org/family.html

But as I searched for information, I discovered that Epcot at Walt Disney World has a house-sized exhibit that uses a hands-on method to teach kids fire safety. Here’s the link.

http://www.befiresmart.com/protect-your-family/where-s-the-fire-exhibit/where-s-the-fire-exhibit-overview/

I was so excited to find this as my parents and I are taking Gray to Disney World next week. We’ll check out the exhibit, and I’ll let you know what we learn.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Do you need a sewing kit?

Even I – a person that really hates sewing – have a sewing kit. I think every home needs to have a basic sewing kit in it. It comes in handy, especially when you have to perform emergency surgery on an important family member like Bruce the stuffed horse.

Before sending you to a link, I would like to share with you two little tips. Take it from a woman that’s had plenty of sewing debacles.

First, you really do need more than one needle in various sizes. One size does not fit all in this instance.

Second, invest in a really good pair of scissors. Keep them in your sewing kit and don’t let your husband use them for his projects or to open food packages. They really need to stay clean and sharp.

So what items should you have in your sewing kit? Here’s a great resource:

http://sewing.about.com/od/beginner1/ig/Sewing-Tools/Sewing-Kit.htm

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Small Act of Kindness

Have you ever noticed that when you do something nice for someone, something good usually happens to you? That’s what Bob Burns, Manager of the A Cleaner World in Durham recently discovered.

A few weeks ago, Bob received a phone call from an elderly lady that lives across the street from his store in a retirement community. She wondered if he would mind coming over to pick up some clothes to clean for her and then bring them back to her once they were done. Of course he was happy to do so.

She was so grateful for Bob’s help and called to thank him for making such a special effort. She also made it a point to tell a number of folks in her community. As a result, a gentleman that had never used A Cleaner World before dropped off an order. After using the store for a couple of visits, he told Bob that he heard of Bob’s kindness to his neighbor and because of that and the quality of the store’s work, we had “won him over”.

That one act of kindness turned into a nice relationship with more than one person. Nice job Bob!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Another Place for Dirt to Accumulate

I fear that with each confession like this, you will stop believing that I really am an obsessive clean freak. It’s a title I am quite proud of.

This past weekend I went to hang up a jacket in the mudroom and noticed that the light switches by the back door were dirty. I didn’t think much about it as they are right inside the door and frequently Matt reaches his dirty (from working outside) hands in to flip on a switch. I wiped the dirt off using a paper towel and some cleaning solution. As I walked into the kitchen, I glanced at the next set of switches and noticed they too were dirty. Then I looked at the ones in the dining room – also dirty.

I armed myself with an old towel, some q-tips, and 409 anti-bacterial cleaner. Then I spent the next 20 minutes cleaning all the switches in the house. While I was at it, I wiped all the door knobs too. When I was done I showed my husband the towel. He replied with sarcasm in his voice, “You’re a terrible housekeeper.” I didn’t need to hear that – that’s exactly how I was feeling.

LewRockwell.com listed the light switch as number 6 in “8 Spots Germs Love to Lurk in Your Home”. The author says, “Touching the light switch is practically unavoidable, but keeping it clean is not. The bathroom light switch can have as many germs as the trash bin. Disinfect light switches twice a week, or every day if a member of your household is sick.”

I do wipe the switches and knobs in the bathrooms once a week when I clean those rooms. I’ll admit that I don’t go to that great detail in other rooms – until now. Now when I clean a room I will make sure I include that little (and important) task as well.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Hero For The Day

Not too long ago, I wrote a blog about Steve Plantone, our Manager in Hickory. In it I shared a story where he was a customer’s hero for a day. I too have an A Cleaner World hero for a day – his name is Alan Peatross.

My husband and I were friends for about a year before we started dating. Shortly after we started dating, he asked me over to his place so he could cook dinner for me. After dinner, we decided to take our glasses of red wine and sit outside to continue chatting. It was a chilly evening so I asked Matt if he had a jacket I could wear. He handed me a brand new, tags still on sweatshirt he’d recently gotten during a trip to Maine. I pulled the tags off, put it on, and we went outside. It was dark, so he didn’t notice when I spilled some wine on the sleeve.

I immediately rolled up the sleeves a bit and decided I’d figure out a way to wear it home. The next morning before going into the office, I headed straight to Alan’s store. Alan, who is now a District Manager, was the manager of one of our High Point locations at the time. Alan is an interesting fellow. He sort of reminds me of the turtle in ‘the tortoise and the hare story’. He doesn’t get really excited. He walks sort of slowly, but in the end he always gets the job done. I hadn’t been with the company very long and didn’t know him that well, so I was a bit apprehensive as I left the store given that he didn’t display the same sort of urgency that I felt.

But I tell you that he came through for me – no problem. He called me the next day to tell me the sweatshirt was ready. I picked it up after work that night, thanked Alan repeatedly, returned it to Matt a few days later, and he never knew until…..well some time later.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Restoring After A Fire

Thankfully, we’ve never experienced a home fire, but I know a number of folks that have. I’ll never forget a story that my High School Senior English Teacher shared with us during class one day. Her home caught on fire a few years before. She explained that they had a list of important numbers – police, poison control, fire department, etc. – posted on the wall next to the telephone in the kitchen. Once it was determined to be safe, they went in to the house to assess the damage. They noticed something quite strange with that list of numbers. Both the top and bottom of that piece of paper were torched leaving only one phone number still readable in the middle of the sheet – for the fire department. Talk about unsettling.

As I write this, I’m thinking about all the special things we have in our home -- my wedding gown, my very first stuffed bear, the outfit we brought Gray home from the hospital in, quilts my grandmother made. Until A Cleaner World got into the restoration cleaning industry, it never occurred to me that many times cherished soft goods could be restored. That is if immediate and appropriate action is taken.

If you experience a home fire, Chuck Brammer, President of A Cleaner World Restoration Dry Cleaning, recommends two things. First, contact your insurance agent for suggestions and advice. Second, work with your insurance agent and contact a professional fire restorer. Certified and properly trained fire restorers have the knowledge and materials to refurbish textiles after a fire.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Importance of Renter’s Insurance

After graduating from college, I got my first apartment. It was very charming – basically it was half a house in an older neighborhood in Evansville, Indiana. I had saved money from a summer job and used it to purchase a brand new sofa and chair. My parents found a really nice used kitchen table, which they bought for me. I took my bedroom furniture from home, and my parents helped me stock the kitchen with all the supplies I would need. It was a big investment. It never occurred to me, until my dad pressed the issue, that I should get renter’s insurance.

My guess is that many folks think either the way I did or perhaps don’t see the importance of having renter’s insurance. Chuck Brammer, Owner/President of A Cleaner World Restoration Dry Cleaning confirmed that thought during a recent conversation. “Most people don’t think about it until something happens,” said Brammer. “Then it is too late.”

Renter’s insurance is designed to protect tenants from loss of personal property. If there is a fire in your apartment or rented home or perhaps a burglary, renter’s insurance provides money for the value of the damaged or stolen items. It can also protect against liability to the rented property if someone is hurt while at your place.

Renter’s insurance is pretty inexpensive. “Usually you can get it for about the price of a soda per day,” said Brammer. “Then you have the coverage and peace of mind should something catastrophic happen.” Wise words – from both Chuck and my dad. Of course, I purchased renter’s insurance shortly after moving into my first apartment. Thankfully I never needed to use it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Great Customer Service

I like feedback – both positive and negative. As long as negative feedback is constructive, I believe it can be incredibly helpful in improving service. But because we rarely hear positive feedback, we tend to be taken back when it comes our way.

A couple of months ago, @KristenDaukas of Twin City Sales and Marketing tweeted to @cleaner_world this: “Just wanted to say how much I LOVE Cheryl at the Robinhood location. Such a great team member for you guys!” When I passed the good word onto her supervisor, I found out that Cheryl receives many compliments from customers. It got me thinking this: in a day where we rarely hear positive feedback, what is it about Cheryl that makes folks speak up? I decided to ask Kristen to find out.

In talking with Kristen, she expressed something that I feel often (and I would guess that many of you do too), that we’ve become so accustomed to dealing with folks who work the front line that are not thrilled with being on the job. In contrast, “Cheryl always has a smile, always greets me by name, and always has a compliment or something kind or fun to say,” said Kristen.

Apparently Cheryl is this way all the time, even when negative feedback comes her way. “A couple of years ago, I brought a pair of pants back because I had discovered they had holes in them,” said Kristen. “My thinking was that something happened in the cleaning process.” Instead of being defensive or offended, Cheryl happily took the concern to the manager to investigate. Once the manager diagnosed the problem Kristen said, “Both she and the manager took the time to educate me on the dangers of moths.”

Service like that makes folks want to come back. Think about some of the places you frequent. Kristen feels the same way. “There are other places that are cheaper but with staff like her, I will continue to use A Cleaner World,” she concluded.

Thanks Cheryl for setting such a great example. The world needs more folks like you.
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